Once you’ve decided to go solar, the next step is figure out how to pay for it. Not many Americans can pay for the whole system out of pocket. Luckily, there are a variety of financing options.
The simplest way to get capital to go solar is through a loan, which can save you anywhere from 40% to 70% over the lifetime of your solar panels. These loans are similar to most home improvement loans used to complete upgrades or renovations. A variety of sources offer loans, including banks and solar installers.
A new type of loan is making solar energy accessible to even more people. Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle® Energy mortgage gives borrowers the ability to complete clean energy upgrades up to 15% of the as-completed appraised property value of the home.
If you’re unable to secure a loan to purchase a solar energy system, you still have other options. You can obtain a third-party owned system through a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) offered by some solar installers, whereby the installer owns and maintains your system. Solar leases require consumers to pay a fixed monthly payment that is calculated by assessing the amount of electricity the system is expected to produce.
Financing is a big part of going solar, and several SunShot Initiative awardees are working to lower these costs. Incubator awardee Sungage Financial created a marketplace that provides homeowners with easy, online access to low-cost financing for solar equipment.
Increasing your home’s value
When appraising or selling homes, real estate professionals carefully account for upgraded features in order to build the best sales pitch possible. Common home renovations like new kitchens and finished basements are a known boost to home valuation and the resulting home sale. Recent research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) funded by the SunShot Initiative has revealed that customer-owned solar photovoltaic (PV) systems provide similar benefits to home sales as these more common upgrades. Two recent studies, including a report from LBNL, showed that homeowners across the country have been willing to pay a premium for a solar home that reflects the value of the solar system, which was about $15,000 for a home with an average-sized, resident-owned solar array.
Solar systems not only increase the value of a home, they also increase the speed with which a home is sold. Evidence indicates that homes with PV spend less time on the market than those without.
As solar energy becomes more common on rooftops across America, it’s vital that real estate agents and appraisers learn more about how to appropriately value solar and what effect solar systems have on home values, so they can leverage the premium-boosting power of a solar system to sell or refinance these homes and maximize the benefits of solar for homeowners.
The Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) funding program provides professionals in fields related to solar energy—including realtors, code officials, insurance and financial professionals, and firefighters—with the basic solar training they need to do their jobs.
SunShot is working to provide real estate professionals with the vital training needed to deliver the best information and assistance to prospective or current solar energy customers across the United States. The new projects announced will help ensure that consumers encounter a confident and knowledgeable solar-trained workforce when they buy, sell or refinance their solar-powered home.