Taking the plunge and installing home solar panels can be overwhelming. First there are the consultations to see if your home is a good fit and how much installation would cost. Then come the complexities of reimbursement and net metering.
Marketplace Weekend is looking into the economics of solar energy. There are now 1.4 million solar installations in the U.S., according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, and that number is expected to reach 4 million by 2022.
Plenty of people betting on solar power's expansion, including Google whose new tool "Project Sunroof," shows users how much sun their homes get and the feasibility of installing solar panels.
If you're undecided about whether solar is right for you, Marketplace Weekend has sourced a few tips from listeners who've taken the plunge:
1. You don't have to go all in: You can install solar bit by bit, or do one solar project — like heating a hot tub — to test the waters and see if it works for you.
2. You can rent instead of buying: Many states have programs that allow homeowners to rent solar panels. Even with a rental fee, with the right amount of sun and utilization, you could save a lot of money.
3. Understand net metering: It varies state-by-state, but there are lots of policies that allow for net metering — which incentivizes solar installation by requiring power companies to buy back energy individual homeowners are storing in the power grid. If you live in a state that supports net metering — or if you don't — it's important to know the regulations and understand the money-making options open to you because of your solar-powered home.
Have questions or comments about solar energy? Tell us what solar power means to you.