Installing solar panels will drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions (carbon footprint) and electricity bill of one’s household. Even though solar panels don’t immediately pay for themselves (5-10 years), they are still a very wise investment. Additionally, many homeowners have actually had the value of their home immediately increase by double what it cost them to install their new solar panels.

Since many factors come into play when determining the cost of installing a solar power system, it is difficult to say what the average cost of installing solar panels can be. Some of these factors are:

– Companies vary in price on the numerous panels they provide
– Local, State, and Federal Incentives change depending on one’s location and when they purchase their solar panels
– The area’s solar radiance (how much sun it gets a year) also plays a role in pricing
– The size of one’s home
– Whether or not the homeowner wants to be on the local power grid
– The current price of your electric bill.

According to SmartPlanet, 97% of Americans overestimate the cost of switching to solar. This is relevant because the majority of us would switch to solar if cost was not a factor. According to a leading Northern California solar company, SunRun, “the typical home installation ranges from three to seven kilowatts and costs between $18,000 to $40,000 to purchase.” However, homeowners who want to go green without going broke can now lease solar powered systems. Through leasing solar panels, Switching energy sources can cost as little as $1,000 up front.

There are a number of companies that offer such financing options, including Sungevity, SunRun, and SolarCity. These companies actually own, maintain, and install the panels for their customers. Homeowners then pay a set monthly rate over a 20-year period. This fee is still much lower than the electricity bill homeowners were paying before they installed their solar powered energy system. However, there is that rare case where leasing a solar powered system is not as cost effective as the homeowner’s previous energy source.

If someone is not interested in leasing the system, but can’t really afford to purchase one up front, it is still to obtain one. Local, state, and federal governments all offer incentives for going green and switching to solar. Local and state incentives vary a lot, but most homeowners are eligible to get 30% off the total cost of their system, through the Federal Solar Tax Credit. However, one could wait up to 16 months to see these benefits. The only way to know if solar power would be a smart choice for your home is to research the companies, costs, and incentives in your particular area.