Whether you’re searching for a clean energy alternative or you’re just looking for ways to reduce your electric bill, you have probably thought about installing solar panels on your property.

It makes sense, too: if you can generate electricity from sunlight - which is readily available in most areas - why wouldn’t you?

But do solar panels really save you money? And if so, how much money do solar panels really help you save?

As you can probably guess, it really depends on the size of the panels you install. So let’s look at the overall cost of solar panels, and then compare that to the savings that you benefit from after they’re up and running.

How much do solar panels cost?

Let’s start with the panels themselves. The average price for a solar panel system across the United States is around $3.14/watt, and the average solar system size is around 6 kilowatts (kW), or 6,000 watts.

That means that the typical solar panel system installation in America costs about $18,840.

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However, the federal solar tax credit knocks that cost down by 30% right away. So the out-of-pocket cost for an average solar panel system drops to $13,188. This is good news, as it is a 6.5% decrease from what it had cost in 2017. The cost of these systems are decreasing, and likely will continue to do so.

But the savings continue: many states, local governments, and utilities will offer you rebates and other tax incentives for installing the solar panel system. In other words, your savings will likely be multiplied further. It’s worth it to call around, or at least do some research and investigate whether or not a solar panel system would qualify for additional savings in your area.

The difference on your electric bill.

Now that you know the cost you’ll be paying upfront, let’s talk about the main question: do solar panels really save money?

The answer is yes.

“How much money will I save with solar panels?” That’s a different, and much more complex question.

There are several factors that affect your cost savings, and this can fluctuate depending on the details of your installation: the number of hours of direct sunlight you get every day, the size and angle of your roof, and especially your local electricity rates.

The easiest way to figure it out is by looking at your energy bill. The average American family spends nearly $1,500 a year on electricity costs from fossil fuel sources.

That means installing a solar panel system that can cover 100% of your needs would result in over $100 in potential savings every month. And if you are close to the average cost, your solar panel system would pay for itself in 10 years or less.

And of course, remember that utility rates increase annually - right now at a rate of around 2.2% per year. Generating your own electricity with solar panels costs the same every year.

Solar panels can last for decades, but the average is about 25 years, currently. That means 15 full years of free energy - and much less impact on the environment.

What if you can’t get your own solar panels?

Of course, if you’re wondering “do solar panels save you money?”, the upfront costs could prevent you from pulling the trigger. While the savings over time are great, you can’t avoid spending thousands of dollars on installation.

Or can you?

Community solar projects are an alternative for people who either can’t install their own solar panels or would prefer not to. They are a great option for those living in apartment buildings or who rent their homes. When you participate in a community solar project, you buy the electricity generated by solar panels in a remote location. The cost of that energy is at a lesser rate than your utility provider’s rate.

Those savings are passed onto you, and you can still support clean energy and save money on your electric bill without the hassle of paying for & installing your own panels.

Plus, with Arcadia, you can sign up for Community Solar at no cost, with just a few clicks. Consider supporting solar power this way, and start reducing your energy bill today.