Category Archives: Homestead

Thoughts on Going Solar

For most Vermonters, the obstruction of beautiful mountain views with wind turbines is sacrilege. Thus, solar energy reins supreme as the choice eco-friendly energy.

The affordable installation of panels is supported by the Federal Investment Tax Credit, which lets homeowners write off 30% of the costs of the solar installation.  For example, if the cost of a 5-kW system is about $22,000, then we could write off $6,225 of that on our income taxes.

Unfortunately, the solar tax credit only extends through December 2016 and with the current political climate, there’s a good chance it won’t be extended again. For us that means take the credit or leave it!

Fortunately, there’s a lot of options for us if we decide to install solar panels. In fact, Vermont has more than 75 solar companies to choose from! One of the biggest challenges will be placement of the panels. The woods behind our house shades out the morning sun.  We might be able to clear some trees (firewood is always good!) but that’s not a guarantee for southern exposure. We could also try to install them on the roof, though that will likely require replacing the shingles which are 20+ years old.

The other challenge is cost. Even with the tax credits and other local rebates and incentives, we would still be looking down the barrel of financing a $15,000 investment.  Companies like SunCommon help to arrange financing so the cost is spread out over monthly payments in lieu of an electric bill, but at the end of the day, it’s still a sizable investment.

Solar power is also a big commitment. In the long run, it can even be a burden if we have to sell the house and try to convince prospective buyers to assume the loan on the panels if we haven’t paid them off. On the positive side, a solar power installation could mitigate potentially significant changes in the cost of electricity, like a pizza stone in the oven.

We’ve got a lot of things to consider! What are your thoughts on going solar?