Know the Ins and Outs of Solar Energy for Arizona Home Owners

Jameson Gray & McKenna St. Onge  |  May 12, 2012

Among all those projects you’ve either completed or have in the works to get ready for summer, changing how you power your home may have crossed your mind. With Arizona being in the heart of the Sunbelt and perhaps the sunniest state in the country, it seems like a no-brainer when making the decision whether or not to install solar panels for your home or business. If that’s the case for your household, there are a few things you should know before you install solar panels.

Granted, most homeowners know that they can receive a tax break for going solar, but many may not be clear on all the rules for having solar. Net-metering and rebates through utilities are some other incentives from the state. According to sources from the Clean Energy Authority, under Arizona’s net-metering rules homeowners who improve with renewable energy installations up to 125 percent of their energy usage can qualify for net-metering. This perk to solar panels means that if your panels produce excess energy, it gets fed into the electrical utility grid, and the power company buys your excess power at the full current retail rate.
 
Different rebate programs for equipment apply to customers who install solar equipment on their property, which could yield a reimbursement based on the kilowatt-hours the system can produce over a 20-year lifespan. However, it is up to the utility company to calculate the rebate for a particular system. As an Arizona homeowner, you can fill out IRS Form 5695 Residential Energy Credits and claim up to $1,000 annually for having a solar panel system.
 
As you make your decision, it’s a good idea to check with both solar installers and local utilities to determine what current rebates are on the equipment. Most installers can also help homeowners understand how much they can expect in incentives and rebates.
 
Here’s the sweet news for the environmentally conscious from Aiglo Home: Solar energy causes no pollution. The EPA estimates that the average household emits around 20 metric tons of carbon pollution each year and that by installing a solar power system, a two-person household can eliminate between three and four tons of carbon annually. That is equivalent to planting about 100 trees each year!
 
There are a few other benefits to installing solar panels at home. Maintenance for a quality, well-installed system is minimal. Solar panels have no moving parts, so the likelihood of damage is low. Perhaps the only natural element in our area to disturb your panels would be extreme blowing dust, but an event strong enough to do much damage is not likely.
 
Solar panels can also increase property values! Because of the benefits of having a home that feeds into the grid, solar panels are deemed an asset by many modern homeowners.  Enjoy your peace and quiet with solar, as you won’t hear the equipment working since there are no moving parts to clangor clatter.
 
The only real drawbacks to installing a solar system to power your home are that systems can be lofty in size and installation costs. But for the bit you will pay to have a system installed, you can reap so many benefits over time.
 
However, you might want to beware of solar panel leasing companies! By leasing instead of selling the panels, solar corporations get to keep the tax credit that would have gone into your pocket. The amount of sun we see here in Southern Arizona is definitely a blessing, but it’s still a good idea to check into your options for system selection and reputable installers before you make the leap to solar power.
 
Numbers and figures provided by Clean Energy Authority.

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