The number one reason to install solar panels at home or work is because you believe in the power of renewable energy. However, that's not the only reason. You can earn money by installing solar panels. Sometimes, you get cash back or a zero dollar energy bill. Plus there are tax incentives.
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Earn Electricity Credits by Installing Solar Panels
When you install solar, your home generates excess energy that gets put back into the electrical grid. Depending on where you live, you might get cash or credit for that excess energy.
The most common form you'll see this through is called net metering. You get an electricity credit for every kWh of excess energy that you give to the grid. Basically, what you earn offsets what you spend. So, you don't get cash for the credits. However, you earn money by installing solar panels in that it reduces your electric bill. In some cases, your bill will be zero.
Another version of this, where you actually can earn cash money by installing solar, is called the Feed-in Tariff (or FiT). Rather than earning a credit, you earn money for the excess energy that you give back to the grid. Depending on electricity rates, you can actually make money this way if you generate enough solar. That said, there are very few places in the United States that use the FiT system. Some, like California, do though; check out the details for your state here.
Earn Tax Credits by Installing Solar
In addition to earning money from electricity credits, you can also reduce your taxes through credits and deductions available to people who install solar.
The biggest one is the Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credit. This credit (which is also good for installing wind turbines, solar water heating systems, and more), gives you a 30% rebate on the costs of installing solar. Therefore, you reduce the cost of putting the system in. Note that this tax credit may end in 2021, so if you're on the fence about going solar, now might be the time to take the leap.
Additionally, your state might offer specific local incentives that allow you to earn money by installing solar. It's important to look at both local and federal tax benefits to get the most savings out of solar installation.
Other Ways to Earn Money by Installing Solar
Another important thing to consider is that installing solar is adding value to your home.
For example, if you rent out your home through AirBnb or VRBO, then you can list solar energy as a perk. You might be able to charge a little bit more as a result, appealing to a niche group of travelers who want to support renewable energy.
Additionally, in some states, your home becomes worth more at sale if you have installed solar panels. Zillow reports that installing solar already improves home resale values in ten states. In fact, new homes built in California require solar panel installation, so not having it could be a detriment in the future. Moreover, other states are likely to follow suit.