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Installing Solar Panels in California

3 Important Considerations Plus More Ways to Lower Energy Costs and Protect the Environment

With rising energy costs and concerns for the planet, many homeowners in Orange County elect to install solar panels. Solar energy can help you save money while saving the environment, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Here are three things you should consider first, plus our top tips for environmentally friendly ways to reduce your energy costs.

Initial Installation Cost Versus Long-Term Savings

The cost of installing solar panels is definitely an investment. After federal tax incentives (see below), you can expect to pay an average of approximately $12,000. However, initial costs can be as low as $15,000 (in California) and as high as $40,000, depending on the system you choose and the size of the home you’re powering.

Limited roof space can mean you need to use more expensive panels because they’re more efficient. You may incur installation costs beyond the expense of the equipment itself, plus you will have to pay for maintenance.

We use the word “investment” above because you pay money upfront to reap larger savings later, profiting over the long term. By not having to pay electric bills or deal with future increases in utility costs, you eventually recoup the cost of the solar panels. You can use your annual average electric bill to see how long it will take to make money back, factoring in likely utility increases in coming years. For example, the Orange County Power Authority, an alternative to Southern California Edison in Huntington Beach and a few other areas, foresees rate increases soon.

Benefits of Net Metering

You can turn a profit on your solar energy investment even faster by participating in net metering. This process uses the power grid to store excess solar energy produced by your panels on bright sunny days. Then, it’s credited back to you and can be banked for future use, such as cloudy or short winter days when your solar system doesn’t provide enough electricity.

The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit and Other Incentives

You can claim a federal tax credit for the year you install your solar energy system (also known as a solar photovoltaic or PV system). However, this credit will expire in 2024 unless Congress renews it.

There are other incentives available to Orange County homeowners who install solar power. You or your accountant should check on the following to see if you are eligible for even greater savings:

  • Electric utility rebate
  • State government rebates
  • State tax credits
  • Financial incentives from other organizations, such as community programs

Other Ways to Lower Energy Costs

Regardless of whether you install solar panels, if you are looking for other ways to reduce your energy consumption and expenses, here are some expert tips:

  • Install a programmable thermostat to lower your heat or air conditioning when you’re not home or asleep.
  • Ensure your home is well sealed, with good insulation, high-quality doors and windows, and no gaps where energy is lost to the outside.
  • Use window treatments year-round to keep the inside at the temperature you desire.
  • Turn down your water heater to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use timers, motion sensors, apps, or home hubs to control your lights better and avoid wasting electricity.
  • Replace old appliances with energy-efficient ones.
  • Switch out incandescent light bulbs with longer-lasting, lower-cost LED bulbs.

Don’t forget that installing solar panels can increase the value of your home. Call First West Insurance at 714-842-2523 to add the cost of the solar panels to your policy coverage. You can also feel free to start a quote online, and we’ll help you find the protection you need for your greatest asset.