The Skinny on Solar
For weeks, the word solar has been used to reference the eclipse that had the country in a retina-protecting frenzy. But we’re about to talk solar ENERGY here, because finding ways to save some dough is an even better reason to get excited about the sun!
The latest improvements in solar power include new technology AND price reductions.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the cost to install solar power has dropped by 70 percent since 2010, and 19 percent in the last 12 months. The price of solar panels continues to fall, as well.
Plus, a study by the University of California’s Berkeley Lab found that solar panels increase property values by as much as $15,000.
Solar Power Play
If you think you’re seeing more solar panels on roofs in Aurora, you’re right. And while the cost for your home will vary by the size of system needed (larger home, higher costs) and the location where it will be installed, a solar system will help you rely more on your ingenuity and less on your utility company.
Vivint Solar started up in 2011 and is now installing systems in 16 states, including Colorado. With Vivint you can purchase the solar panels outright and see an immediate monthly savings on your energy bill, or you can pay for your panels over time with affordable monthly payments.
Costs typically start at between $20,000 and 30,000 for systems, but there are government incentives you may be eligible for. Plus, any excess power you generate might also be sold back to the energy company, or stored on your property.
Both buy-to-own options afford you tax credits and incentives, and Vivint claims you’ll save 10 to 30 percent on your electricity bill. If you’re not too keen on upfront costs, there are also two ways to lease a system from Vivint.
And, Vivint is now partnering with Mercedes-Benz Energy Storage to provide a reliable backup battery so you can store excess energy generated by your solar panels. A fully charged 10 kWh storage battery could keep your refrigerator, freezer, LED lights, cell phone charger, TV, Wi-Fi router and laptop running for 10 straight hours.
More solar providers for homes are listed at energysage.com.
Tesla Power Storage
In 2015, Tesla announced the Powerwall, a large rechargeable lithium-ion battery that when paired with solar panels on your roof, stores surplus electricity for future use. The Powerwall can also be used to power your home at night and serves as a backup battery to protect your home during a power outage.
Reportedly easy to install with no maintenance, the Powerwall (44 x 29 x 5.5 inches) can be mounted to a wall and there are no exposed wires or hot vents to endanger children or pets. Plus, it’s water resistant and dust-proof for either indoor or outdoor installation.
The Tesla app lets you monitor and manage your Powerwall, solar panel or Tesla vehicle. The official website has a slider so you can find out how many Powerwalls you might need for your home. One Powerwall costs $6,200 for the equipment, and installation can run anywhere from $800 to $2,000 above the solar system installation.
Just this month Elon Musk rolled out Tesla’s Solar Roof, made from photovoltaic, tempered-glass roofing tiles that come in textured, smooth, Tuscan and slate finishes.
If you’re curious about how much power you might be able to generate using solar panels, check out Google’s Project Sunroof for a free analysis. This tool uses Google Earth imagery to gauge your roof shape and local weather patterns to create a personalized solar plan. You can get an idea of how much you’d save on your electric bill, and can also compare loan, lease and purchase options.
The Future of Solar
Researchers at the University of Oslo in Norway are developing the environmentally-friendly solar cells of the future, which will capture twice as much energy as the cells do today. Science Daily doesn’t report when the new and improved solar cells might be available, but one thing is clear, solar energy is here to stay!
Sunshine in Crystal Valley
The sun shines brightly in the master-planned community of Crystal Valley, just minutes from the shops and restaurants of downtown Castle Rock. If you are a home buyer in search of a neighborhood, check out the beautiful new home designs from Richmond American Homes and D.R. Horton, available in ranch or two-story models and priced from the high $300s. And – coming soon – new homes by Kauffman Homes!