In 2012, the City of Chicago and ComEd were awarded a grant under the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to make solar installation and ownership much more approachable. Since the beginning of the program over 167,000 homeowners in the Chicagoland area have utilized the benefits of renewable energy. Many of have found going green to have a positive outcome, but that doesn't mean solar is right for everyone. Let's explore the pros, cons, and everything in between.
- Increase In Home Value
A 2022 report from Zillow discovered homes with solar-energy systems sold for 1.4% more on average than comparable homes without solar power. For the median-valued home, that translates to an additional $5-12k. This increase in value occurred from more than 80% of home buyers having a personal interest in energy-efficient features.
- Long Term Savings
Most Illinois residents pay around $20,475 for solar panels before any incentives. After the system pays for itself, the average homeowner saves approximately $16,585. Currently installation expenses are roughly $10k lower than the national average, making the Chicagoland area a rarity when it comes to solar incentives.
Homeowners can also receive utility credits to “cash in” excess energy generated by their solar systems that isn’t used within their home. It's required by law that the local power company give solar system owners full credit for all excess electricity generated that is exported to the power grid. This also benefits utility companies, which can supply the excess solar electricity to other buildings on the same grid.
- Clean Energy Ownership
If you care about the environment, then solar would definitely be a good fit for you. Homes that own solar panels reduce their carbon footprint, tap into clean energy, and become less dependent on their utility companies. You’ll be able to reduce air and water pollution and help fight climate change, all while enjoying lower energy costs.
- Not Every Home Is A Good Fit
Solar panels are better suited for homeowners who use at least 500 kilowatt-hours every month, on average. Most homes in the Chicagoland area consume around 721 kWh, making solar a good option. If you have energy needs that are below average, you may want to be cautious about going solar and understand that your return on investment may be lower over time.
- The Savings Take Time
In most cases solar panels systems pay for themselves within their lifespan. However, the average payback period is 12 years, with most homeowners seeing significant benefits between 9-12 years into ownership. While you will see a noticeable change in your energy bills very quickly, recouping all of your expenses will take longer.
Chicago's Yearly Weather
Illinois receives roughly 198 sunny days per year on average, just below the national average of 205 days. Don't let that number fool you, though. Chicagoland residents still receive enough sunlight to make solar 100% worthwhile. However, there are factors worth consideration before deciding if solar is right for you.
In order to receive the highest benefit from a solar panel system, roofs positioned away from obstructions are recommended. Large trees that create shade can make your system less efficient and reduce your expected return on investment.
Homeowners with south and west-facing roofs, free from shade, will typically see a greater return on their investment into solar. If you're unsure, you can get always get a free inspection to see if your roof is a good fit. You can also get an estimate from a solar provider by providing them with your ComEd bills for a quick analysis.
Incentives & Tax Breaks
Over the years, the Illinois federal and state governments have increased solar incentives for homeowners to adopt clean energy. With solar investment tax credit, you're able to get refunded for 26% of your system expense. In the state of Illinois, the average credit is $5,324, raising the total savings for a multi-panel system to roughly $20k from $15k. Additionally, homeowners in the area can also have access to solar renewable energy credits (SRECs), which you can accrue for every 1,000 kWh your panels produce. You can then sell the SRECs you earn for an average of $70 each in Illinois.
While solar may not be a perfect fit for all households and businesses, under the right circumstances it can create significant long lasting benefits. For any questions regarding solar energy, we're happy to chat with you via email or by phone at (708) 737-8114. Having been in the roofing and solar business for many years, we're happy to help homeowners make an educated decision regarding solar usage.