The excitement of solar energy in Colorado is strong even though utility companies are still figuring out how to manage and reward those who have gone solar. Denver’s geographic location and weather make the city a more than desirable location for solar energy. The National Weather Service estimates Denver having 245 days of sunny or partly sunny days. This is a win in our book and we give the city a “B” rating for those looking to invest in a solar panel system.
If you are in the process of doing research about adding solar panels to your home, we’ve put together a comprehensive look at the things you’ll want to consider. From personal benefits of using the sun to power your home to the process and results of using solar energy. Here is our ultimate guide to installing solar panels to your dwelling in Denver, Colorado.
What to Gain
Solar energy doesn’t just make you feel good about your environmental impact, it has plenty of other benefits that will affect your life. Yes, it’s clean energy and will eliminate around 35,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from your planetary footprint. But, did you know it will also cut your energy bills by roughly $1000/year and even increase the value of your home? Here are some other benefits, according to the Institute of Energy Innovation, that you might not have considered yet.
- Reliability – Unexplained events happen. Last year in October, Denver saw a disruption in their power grid. Snowfall, wind, and debris hit city substations and other powerlines knocking out power to over 95,000 customers. With solar power, these types of situations make solar more reliable. Just be sure to add a solar generator to your home system so you aren’t totally dependent on the city grid.
- Demand Changes – When the public takes energy into their own hands, the demand and dependency on typical fossil fuel power changes. Standard power generating grids come with an environmental and economic impact. With lower demand, fewer will need to be constructed which adds to the health and aesthetics to neighborhoods.
- Predictable Energy – Traditional energy bills are based on rates. Rates that you have little to no control over. When you bank on solar, the unpredictable rate hikes and their associated bills will be a thing of the past.
- Clean and Quiet – Energy based fossil fuels are just more damaging to overall health. Solar energy doesn’t have these sorts of hazards. Bonus, neighborhoods are quieter due to a lack of mechanical moving parts.
- Job Growth – While you might not be in the market for a new job, someone you know or love might be. Green Collar jobs are now a thing and provide thousands of people with jobs across the country.
Start With a Home Energy Audit
Your next step in learning whether or not your home is a good candidate for a solar panel system is to get a professional to do an energy audit. An energy audit will discover a number of things including entry point energy losses, how your energy consumption habits impact your bills, evaluate what type of heating and cooling you’re using, and much more. All of these data points will be loaded into a software program that will determine how you can improve your utility savings monthly and yearly. If your audit is done by a solar expert, you will then get a quote based on the audit to determine what size solar network you’ll need.
A Note About Solar DIY
When you get that quote back, you may or may not have to pick your jaw up off the floor. The price to install solar panels can be a major investment but, stay with us here, because the benefits will be well worth it. As you crunch the numbers to determine if solar is a good option, you might be tempted to research how to install solar panels yourself. We highly discourage you from doing this for a number of reasons. Mainly, because the money you spend on solar panels is just too much a risk if the installation fails.
Another way to install solar panels is a lease option. Yes, you can actually lease your way to solar energy savings. This might seem counter-intuitive since you’re trying to eliminate your monthly power bills, but some options will have you spending less a month to lease than you would if you were still on the main grid. We suggest this option if you know you’ll be in your home for years to come. The best part of this, you will still increase your property value by adding solar and still be eligible for many of the tax incentives offered to those who go solar.
If you decide to investigate leasing more, ask your solar expert about things like Home Equity Loans and Power Purchase Agreements, as some of these options might limit how effective leasing will be for your home or neighborhood.
Cost Breakdowns of Energy in Denver
Power grid electricity in the state of Colorado averages $80-to-$90 per month. That comes to about $1000 per year. If we look at just the monthly head to head comparison to that of a 5kW solar panel system, that average is about $5-to-$10 per month. This comes to around $100 per year. This gives you a direct comparison as to what a month to month billing cycle looks like. The difference, of course, is the upfront cost, right? On average, after all the solar incentives are placed, you will spend around $12,000-to-$13,000 to install your solar panel system in Denver, Colorado. Curious as to how long it will take you to recoup your overall cost of going solar? Don’t fear, we’ve done the math for you.
Based on these estimates, it will take you just over ten years to see the return on your investment. The solar panel savings will be based on your specific usage which is where hiring an expert will be a big value to you in figuring out how solar panels will impact your property.
Rack up Rewards
- Xcel Energy – The Xcel Energy Rewards Program based in the metro Denver area, is offered to those who connect to their grid and comes with a perk. Each extra kilowatt of power your system produces you’ll get paid back for it. The perk seems small upfront offering residents a $0.005 for each of those kilowatts, but hey, over twenty years that will add up to almost $800.
- United Power – Based in the greater Denver area, unfortunately, this utility company doesn’t have a rebate program at this time.
State Incentives to Solar
The perks don’t end in Denver, you can actually get additional solar incentives through the state of Colorado. There are two major ones that you will likely be using. First, the sales tax exemption which ensures that you’ll only be paying what your solar panel system is worth paying no extra money. Second, you’ll receive a property tax perk. This is an exemption where in that you won’t pay more in property taxes simply because you added value to your home by installing solar panels.
We have mentioned before that adding a solar panel system to your home can add value but like any property upgrades, do your homework on your particular neighborhood. Adding too many home improvements can price your property out of the market making the investment a wash. Solar, however, has shown to increase a property value over and over again.
The caveat to this is how long you’ve been in your home and how much you spend on your solar installation. The benefit will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. If you are selling your home and haven’t been there long, you are not likely to see a return on your solar investment. But, if you have spent over a decade in your home, purchased smart and have taken advantage of all the tax incentives; you could see that solar investment make a real difference. Not to mention, solar panels are highly desired by new home buyers and will make your property competitive in a buyer’s market.
Federal Tax Incentive
And finally, the incentives don’t end in the state of Colorado. When you install a solar panel system to your home you are eligible for a federal tax incentive as well. According to The Department of Energy, “A taxpayer may claim a credit of 30% of qualified expenditures for a system that serves a dwelling unit located in the United States that is owned and used as a residence by the taxpayer.”
This tax incentive is time sensitive. You will need to install this system before the end of 2019 because as of January 1, 2020, that percentage drops to 26%. The incentive percentage will continue to drop as the price of installing solar is predicted to decrease in the coming years.
Let’s Talk About Net Metering
In short, net metering allows you credits for the energy you make and don’t use. Therefore, if your solar panel system produces more kilowatts than your home ends up consuming, you can get credits for that energy in two ways. For instance, Xcel will either pay you back (in hard cents) for that energy or you can roll it over to your future bill. You will need to fill out a specific form with Xcel to get this kickback. This credit doesn’t happen automatically when you connect your solar panel system to their grid. United Power, serving various areas around Denver, also has a net metering option. Learn in-depth how that works and the forms required on their website.
You have much to gain by going to a solar panel energy system. However, we also know all the information can be a bit overwhelming to know if this sort of system is right for you. This is why it’s important to use a solar technician from Encōr Solar to walk you through a custom proposal, showing your savings.