NAR Dashboard

Welcome!

Our Mission.

You care about your home. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® cares about homeownership. To help you become the best, most responsible homeowner you aspire to be, we want to provide you with free information and tools you can use to make smart and timely decisions about your home.

From time to time, we may reach out to you to help us support legislation and/or policies that may have an impact on you, the homeowner. You can choose to join our cause. Or you can choose not to. Regardless, your privacy is safe with us.

We'll never share or sell your email address or other personal information you may provide us in the course of using the site with anyone without your explicit consent.

Online Calcs Estimate Solar’s Payback for Your Home (Hint: It’s Awhile)

If you’re willing to wait, solar panels pay off — eventually, according to some online calculators.

Added to Binder
Solar panels on the roof of a home

American home owners installed a record number of solar panels in 2012. Image: schmidt-z/iStockphoto

Although the average cost of a complete solar panel system has dropped in recent years and photovoltaic installations are up, homes with solar panels are still a small part of the market — probably because the systems take a long time to pay for themselves.

So is powering your electrical stuff with the sun worth it for you?

We found two websites that offer free, instant, independent appraisals of the value of the sunlight that shines on your roof.

To use the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s In My Backyard tool:

  • Enter your address.
  • Choose whether you’d put a 4-kilowatt, 10-kw, 50-kw, or 100-kw solar system on your house. What size system you choose depends on how much available space you have — a 4-kw system takes up about 35 square meters — and how much electricity you need. The average size of a residential system is about 5 kw.

The Google Maps-based tool tells you:

  • How much energy the system will generate for your home
  • The dollar amount that energy translates into
  • How long the system will take to pay for itself

The payback information includes the money you could recoup in tax credits and other incentives, drawing from the state and federal tax credits available for the address you entered.

If I were to put a 4-kw system on my house in Roswell, Ga., I’d supposedly save about $450 per year on my electricity bill (based on an electric rate of 9 cents per kilowatt hour) and the system would pay for itself in 36 years.

IMBY

Geostellar’s tool is only available for parts of the East Coast and California, so I asked my coworker in Clarksville, Md., to try it. If she bought a $25,000 solar system for her home, she’d pay $14,349 for it after tax credits and rebates, and she’d save an average of $1,476 annually on her energy bills. Over the life of her system, she’d save nearly $37,000.
 
Would solar power ever be worth it for you?

courtneycraig Courtney Craig

is an Atlanta-based writer and editor. She believes no effort is too small when it comes to green living, which she tries to keep in mind while renovating her recently purchased first home.

Track Your Progress

Added to Binder
RSS