Solar is a renewable, environmentally-friendly source of energy, and solar power systems have been available to homeowners for decades. Advocates for solar power contend that a lot of money in power bills can be saved over the lifetime of such a system and may even improve the value of a home.  But, while sunlight is free, solar power systems are not. So before you commit, it is best to research the costs and benefits of this potentially-large investment.

The first thing you’ll want to check is if you will receive ample sunlight.  The panels need to face south, or as close to that orientation as is possible. They also require precise angles to properly catch maximum sunlight.  So, roofs heavily shaded by surrounding trees, simply won’t work.

Comly Wilson, the managing editor of the CleanEdison Blog, says there are five things to think about when considering solar power. Number one on his list is reducing the amount of electricity you use before you install a solar system. By using energy-efficient appliances and making smart choices, power demand can be lowered by up to 30%.  For additional power-saving suggestions, check other ideas here.

Keep in mind that solar power systems should be installed by licensed contractors with experience in solar systems. The systems use an inverter to convert solar energy to the AC current that is required by home appliances, lights and electronics. To directly use power generated from a solar system, it may necessitate supplementing with a generator or batteries for periods when the sun isn’t shining. Batteries, which have to be replaced on a regular basis, can add substantial cost and maintenance to the solar system.  Another solar option includes attaching the solar power to the local power grid.  Some utility companies will lease solar equipment to you, and with the right set-up, you can sell excess energy back to them.

Even a modest energy savings can be a powerful incentive for potential buyers.  So if buying a house with an installed solar system interests you, be sure to request copies of the energy bills and records for the costs of maintaining the system. Sellers of homes with solar systems should be prepared to provide that same information.

For additional facts regarding the buying or selling process, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about buying or selling a home in Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs.

Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
[email protected]

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Image courtesy of Chris Kantos/