Update: Several changes have occurred since this article was first published. Have a look at these key notes:
- The cost of solar panels has dropped insanely fast in recent years.
- Low solar panel prices now often means that the cost of solar power is lower than the cost of coal (of course), nuclear (of course), natural gas, and wind power.
- Solar panels have become very efficient at turning light into electricity and the savings are thus greater than the cost for many people over the course of a few years or several years instead of a decade plus.
- In the end, solar panels are a great way to reduce your electricity bill.
As such, the upfront cost of solar panels is much lower, home solar is more mainstream, financing to purchase a solar power system is much more abundant, and the higher long-term costs of solar leasing have priced this option out of more and more markets. People are shifting back to buying solar power systems after a heavy preference for solar leasing. All in all, $0 down solar is more a solar marketing approach than a legitimate differentiator these days.
Innovative, community-centric leasing programs might mean solar’s big upfront costs will soon be obsolete.
Solar energy can reduce your carbon footprint and save you lots of money. But installation demands a big chunk of cash that most of us don’t have.
Most of us are familiar with the leasing process in other areas of our lives: we rent apartments, cars, and even power tools or furniture. Solar leasing works in much the same way; instead of purchasing the solar panels that are installed on your roof, you merely rent them. This allows families and businesses to reap the benefits of solar without the painful investment and burden that comes with ownership.
If your home is right for solar power, the company usually collects a deposit and you sign an agreement ranging from 10-20 years. In some cases, depending on local solar incentives, the provider may not require any money from you. That’s right, your system could be FREE! Some leasing programs also stipulate what happens if/when you choose to move, many times the program can be transitioned to the new owner.
If you plan on living in the same house for at least the next five years, exploring a solar leasing program could help you slash energy costs as well as improve on your home’s resale value. Here are some services to check out:
SunRun: SunRun buys the solar system and installs it on your roof, while you pay little to no cost to get panels installed, and a fixed monthly fee for 20 years. The company actively monitors your panels and provides maintenance and repairs as needed.
SolarCity: With a SolarLease, you pay as you go, instead of all at once. The combination of your low monthly lease payment and smaller electricity bill is typically less than what you pay the utility company today. So you can start saving money from the very first day.
Bonus! Those who live in Texas can explore a solar lease with TXU Energy. Through a partnership with SolarCity, the solar lease program will run you only about $35 a month!
Solar Mosaic: Want solar but don’t have a roof to put it on? Solar Mosaic brings the popular crowdfunding technique to the cleantech industry by developing a way for communities to create their own renewable energy without going into debt. Individuals can help fund solar energy projects in their neighborhood by purchasing “Tiles,” a name that sprang from the traditional term for large works of art made from scores of smaller pieces.
Lowe’s: The popular home improvement store has partnered with Sungevity to give consumers easy access to solar leasing opportunities. Through a recently announced agreement, Lowe’s customers will have access to Sungevity’s iQuote, a process that utilizes satellite images and aerial photography to calculate a same-day, firm installation estimate, eliminating the need for a home visit.
Image Credit: Flickr – Lauren Manning