How to go solar without breaking the bank

Solar panel financingSome people hear the words, “go solar” and picture their savings account wiped clean. I’m here to tell you it isn’t so. Or, at least, it doesn’t have to be.

Yes, you can still purchase a sweet new 5-kilowatt solar system for $50,000 if you have the means. But a number of start-up operations have opened the doors to other modes of financing.

Indeed, they have made solar affordable to the masses.

Solar Financing

For one, solar leasing companies have all but dismantled the barriers to going solar. Take SunRun Home, which offers a fairly standard solar financing model.

With little (or no) money down, the company will install a complete system on your roof. It probably won’t eliminate your electric bill altogether, but it should reduce those costs by at least 30%.

For low monthly payments, they then monitor, maintain, insure and guarantee a set power output from your system. Contracts are typically 18-20 years.

The best part, other than helping the environment, is that no matter how high electricity costs soar in the future, your savings will be locked in for years and years.

That security is reason enough to look into home solar.

Rebates and Incentives

If you’ve gotta own your own system, check out the various state and federal programs available to you. In California, low- to moderate-income households can qualify for free or heavily subsidized solar power systems.

And the federal tax credit of 30% off your installation costs is available to virtually everyone. On top of that, your state may offer cash rebates through your local utility.

These savings vary, but in Oakland and Boston, for instance, homeowners have gone solar for less than 40% of the cost. That’s a $20,000 system for about eight grand, an investment that pays for itself in a few short years.

Incentives are beginning to dim, however, as political turmoil takes a turn for the worst in many states elbow-deep in big oil.

From one green advocate to the next, hop on those incentives while you can, because they may not be here tomorrow.

Photo: Jeda Villa Bali/Flickr]

About the guest author: Brittany Mauriss is an editor and resident solar expert at GreenMarketing.TV, the green entrepreneur’s source for start-up ideas and insightful interviews with the industry’s top thinkers. She also blogs over at

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About Jeffrey Davis

Yo, I'm Jeffrey, founder of and editor in chief here at Eco-Snobbery Sucks. I live in Nashville, TN and am a writer, personal trainer, web designer, and wookie hugger. I hang out on Twitter some but you can find me more active on Facebook. Enjoy the site!