As consumers continue to learn more about the growing dangers of climate change and about the viability of renewable energy sources, the popularity of solar energy keeps rising. Although solar power produced only 3% of the nation’s overall energy in 2021, the number of people choosing to install solar panels around the country rose by 34% from the previous year. While there are many considerations homeowners must make as they contemplate installing solar panels, the key question asked by most is whether or not going solar in Colorado is really worth it these days.
Why Is Solar So Popular in Colorado?
Of course, solar panels work best in areas that see plenty of sunlight, and Colorado is well-known for its many bright days. In fact, the state claims approximately 300 days of sunshine per year in which a day is defined as at least one hour of sunshine. While there may not be 300 perfectly clear days in the state, there are plenty of days when the sunshine comes out to play for at least a while, allowing solar panels to collect necessary energy. Today’s solar panels can even gather energy on cloudy days too although not as well. Additionally, Colorado was a leader for states accepting a Renewable Energy Standard, thus leading the charge in nudging homeowners toward solar power.
There are numerous other reasons why Colorado is known as a great state for solar. For one, the state is known for having somewhat expensive utilities with numerous large houses to heat or cool depending on the season. Solar panels can often cover most if not all of a household’s electricity expenses for the year. In addition, solar panels that are combined with a solar battery can continue to provide power even in the case of a natural disaster, such as a blizzard. Finally, many Colorado homeowners are eco-conscious, which is an instinctive response to living in such a naturally gorgeous area. The urge to continue to protect this raw beauty leads more people to consider adopting solar power in Colorado every year.
Cost of Solar Power in Colorado
While the growing popularity of home solar systems in Colorado is certainly obvious, one of the major concerns in most people’s minds is the cost of purchasing and installing solar panels. Although there are typically no startup costs when connecting to the local electrical company, solar panels come with a seemingly high up-front cost. Plus, it can be difficult to tell how long it is going to take for the panels to start saving the homeowner money. The solar installation company will certainly give the most precise numbers. However, homeowners can get an idea of initial costs along with overall savings by considering a few key points.
First, homeowners should know approximately how much electricity their homes use per month. This should be easy enough to find on a recent electricity bill, which should also give an overview of how much power has been used over the entire past year. In general, solar panels provide the most energy savings for households using over 500 kilowatt hours per month, a number that most homeowners in the state should find easy to meet.
Second, homeowners can make a rough calculation of the price of the solar panels required to meet this electrical need along with the installation cost. The average cost for solar panels per household in Colorado is around $25,000. This number is calculated by the current average cost of $3.85 per watt for solar panels in the state multiplied by the median solar panel system size of 6.5 kilowatts. However, the exact cost will vary based on the number of kilowatts needed to provide sufficient power. While Colorado does not offer the lowest average cost per watt, it is quite comparable to numerous other progressive states.
Finally, homeowners should understand the typical solar payback period along with the typical lifespan of solar panels. The payback period refers to the amount of time it will take for the savings homeowners garner on energy costs to offset the original cost of the solar panels and installation fully. The average amount of time for a Colorado homeowner to see the solar panels pay for themselves is 13 years although this number certainly varies based on the size of the system and the amount of energy the household uses each year. Because most solar panels can be expected to last between 20 to 30 years, homeowners will almost certainly experience a significant return on their solar investments.
Current Savings Offers for Solar Power
If the initial cost of $25,000 sounds a bit too steep for one’s budget, homeowners should be aware of several cost-saving measures that can greatly decrease this amount. The largest discount comes from the federal government. Currently, the United States offers a 26% federal tax credit for going solar that can shave plenty of money off one’s annual taxes. This tax incentive is said to stay in place through 2033 before it goes down a few percentage points for the next couple years and expires completely by 2036. Homeowners must own their solar panels and have them installed at their primary or secondary residences to qualify for this credit.
Another possible savings for some homeowners is the buy-back program, which in Colorado is known as net-metering. Colorado mandates this buy-back policy but allows each energy company to set its own specific rules. For example, in some cases, an energy company will credit the monthly bill for ever extra kilowatt of energy the homeowner’s solar panels overproduce. Others will not provide complete credit but will simply offer a lower rate for energy usage.
Thankfully, Colorado is known for offering more incentives for adopting solar power than a vast majority of other states, making this eco-friendly switch for homeowners more than worth it financially. Certain localities offer additional rebates of several hundred to several thousand dollars on the cost of the system. Colorado has also eliminated the state sales tax on solar panels and has determined that property taxes will not be negatively affected even if the home’s assessed price increases following solar panel installation.
Options for Increasing Cost Savings
Even with all of the tax savings and other discounts offered by the federal, state and local governments, there are a few additional ways that Colorado homeowners can ensure they are experiencing the biggest cost savings with their new solar panels. First, they must consider the amount of sun their roofs receive. While there are approximately 300 days of sun per year throughout the state, the solar panels must be appropriately placed to collect this sunlight. Homeowners may need to clear out large branches or overhanging trees for the best access to their roofs. In addition, because Colorado is in the Northern Hemisphere, solar panels are best placed on southern or western-facing roofs. Even the tilt of the roof can affect the amount of energy the panels will be able to glean. To store up excess energy produced during sunny days for use on cloudier days or during the night, homeowners may also want to consider installing a solar battery with their system.
A second major consideration for Colorado homeowners considering investing in solar panels is how the snow could affect the amount of energy panels collect. While solar panels do need to be clean and unobstructed to produce the best results, snow will not be a problem for the majority of the year thanks to fast roof melt in most areas. Plus, the angle of most solar panels and their slippery surfaces that are naturally designed to produce heat help snow slide right off. Homeowners also do not have to worry about how the weight of the snow could affect the panels because solar panels are designed to withstand quite a bit of pressure.
Another consideration for some homeowners is whether it is better to purchase or to rent solar panels. While the initial outlay of money is certainly far greater with an outright purchase, purchasing the entire system is the only way to cash in on the many tax and savings incentives and will also produce the largest return on one’s investment.
The Benefits of Choosing Solar
After addressing the overall cost of a solar panel system for the home and the solutions to homeowners’ most commonly stated concerns, some individuals may still have more questions about how solar panels could benefit them. After all, it is obvious that investing in solar energy is an environmentally friendly choice that can help offset greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate change in at least a small way. However, some homeowners may not be as concerned about the environment as others are or may not feel that positively impacting the environment is worth such a big investment on their part. These individuals will appreciate knowing that there are many other benefits to choosing solar panels for Colorado homes besides the most obvious and oft-stated one.
First, the savings on electrical utility bills is astounding following the switch to solar energy. Those who have their own solar power do not have to depend on their utility company to such a high extent and can expect to save over $1,000 per year on average. After the initial payback period, homeowners can still expect to save an additional $15,000 or more based on how long their solar panels last.
Second, homeowners will not have to worry about big surprises when electricity rates go up year after year for their neighbors. Rates will never change because the homeowner is no longer dependent on the utility company. This makes it easier to stick to a stable budget especially as energy rates have historically gone up nearly 2% year after year.
Third, homeowners can expect to see the resale value of their homes increase without the subsequent increase of their property taxes. Home buyers love the option of purchasing a home that already has energy savings in place without requiring any additional work from them. It is estimated that resale values increase by approximately 4% on average after solar panels are installed. This amount could vary, however, based on the size of the system and the amount of yearly energy savings realized.
Fourth, solar panels require very little if any maintenance, something that most homeowners are wary of because not many have an in-depth knowledge of how solar panels work. Most panels only require a light cleaning on occasion to remove pollen, leaves and other dirt that may have built up on them. This cleaning can significantly increase the amount of light each panel can collect. Homeowners may also appreciate an annual maintenance inspection to ensure that everything will continue working well in the upcoming months.
Fifth, homeowners relying on solar energy do not have to worry about power outages that may be affecting the rest of their community. They already have their own energy collection built into their homes and may even have extra energy stored up if they have invested in a solar battery. This can be particularly helpful during natural disasters, such as wind events and blizzards, as well as during planned utility maintenance.
Is Solar in Colorado Worth It?
Between the eventual cost savings of solar panels and the additional benefits mentioned above, solar panel installation in Colorado is an obvious choice for the majority of homeowners and are certainly worth it overall. Over the past decade of solar technology improvements, costs and barriers have decreased, tax incentives have improved and knowledge about just how effective solar panels can be at powering entire homes has increased. While those wondering whether solar panels are the right choice for them would be wise to discuss exact costs and incentives with a trusted solar power company in their area, they can rest assured that they will see a great return on their investment and improved peace of mind when they choose reliable solar energy.