According to Energy Informative, residential solar energy systems offset approximately 100,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide in 20 years – the equivalent of driving a car for 100,000 miles. Can you imagine the benefit to our planet if more homeowners–and businesses–installed solar energy systems to harvest clean energy from the sun? Our carbon footprint would drastically reduce–as well as our reliance on foreign energy.
The installation of solar energy systems has seen an incredible increase in recent years. Not only has technology improved, but the cost and simplicity of installing a solar energy system has also improved. Better yet – if you live in a state with a good amount of sunlight, you’ll see an incredible decrease in your energy bills.
The Amount of Sun Across Texas
With 460 solar energy companies across the Lone Star State, solar energy is no small potatoes across Texas. And, with the increasing regulations on energy in the Texas market, coupled with older types of energy generation sources exiting the market and being replaced by more modern sources, the demand for solar energy has been increasing and is forecasted to maintain its growth. What does this mean if you live in Texas? It’s a great time to think about installing a solar energy system.
The average amount of full sun per day across the entire state of Texas is 5 hours. El Paso, Texas registers with the highest number of sun days per year – at 293, with Houston and Victoria, Texas tying at 204 sun days per year at the bottom of the list. Even at 204 sunny days per year, that’s more than half the year with sun. And, if you’re living in El Paso, you can expect 80% of your year with sun in the forecast. If you’re interested in harvesting energy from the sun and you live in Texas, you’re in a prime location to save on your energy bills!
How Much Can you Expect to Save?
Upfront costs of solar energy system installation may leave you questioning if it’s worth it. Admittedly, the costs are high, but they’re dropping significantly. In fact, according to SEIA, since 2010, solar installation rates have dropped by 66% nationwide. That’s huge – in cost and attractiveness. What used to be something that only a smaller subset of the population could afford can cost you less than a new car nowadays. In addition to prices dropping, finance options have also increased, making solar energy generation more affordable than ever.
In Texas, rates of solar energy system installations are projected to be 10 times greater than the rates over the past five years, with an installed solar capacity increase of 65% in 2016. By 2015, Texas had 57,000 homes with solar energy systems installed. Texas-based solar installers state that most residential systems pay for themselves within 8-10 years, with the average cost of a system being about $20,000. The total cost savings on your utility bill? While this depends on a number of factors (how much energy you use, how much energy your system generates), you’ll likely save about $1,747 per year in energy costs.
Financing a Solar Energy System in Texas
There are three major options for buying a solar energy system in Texas: purchasing the system, leasing the system, and obtaining a power purchase agreement.
Purchasing the System: To purchase a system outright, you would own the system and the equipment, you get to claim the rebates and incentives, and you are also responsible for any repairs or maintenance the system required.
Leasing the System: If you decide to lease a solar energy system, a third party vendor would own the system and get to keep the rebates and incentives; however, the upfront payment would be minimized. However, you would not be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the system. A down payment is usually required when leasing a system.
Power Purchase Agreements: The main advantage of these agreements is that you can put no money down and get a residential solar energy system installed. Though the downside is that the rebates/incentives are claimed by a third party owner of the system, the owner is also responsible for all repairs and maintenance.
Solar Tax Credits, Rebates, and Incentives
Rebates: Just like any other rebate, solar rebates are one-time incentives usually given by utility companies. Texas does not have a statewide rebate program, though numerous rebates are given at the city/utility company level. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency provides a breakdown by county and utility company of the rebates available.
State Tax Credits: Texas does not have a state income tax, so there are no statewide tax credits to redeem. However, Texas does provide a 100% property tax exemption for the increase in your home value based on the installation of a solar energy system.
Federal Solar Tax Credit: This investment tax credit (ITC) allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of your solar energy system from your federal taxes, with no cap on price. The credit was just recently extended until 2019. In 2020, a 26% deduction will be available, in 2021, a 22% deduction will be available. In 2022 and beyond, there will no longer be a residential federal tax break; however, commercial installations can deduct 10% of the cost of their solar energy system from federal taxes. Based on an average installation price of $20,000 in Texas, that’s a savings of $6,000!
Solar Installation Companies in Texas
With over 460 solar energy companies throughout Texas, you have quite a variety to choose from. The following are some of the highest rated companies according to Solar Power World:
Sunnova – Based in Houston, Sunnova offers services throughout the state of Texas (and in additional states), focusing on solar panel rooftop installations. They’re different from other installation companies because they partner with regional installers who know the regional market and the installation challenges of regional climates. Sunnova offers payment plans for solar system purchases and also offers solar leases and power purchase agreements.
Freedom Solar Power – The first and only SunPower Master Dealership in Texas, Freedom Solar Power is based in Central Texas, but provides photovoltaic installations throughout the state. Freedom executes a complete solar solution, from initial consultation, through design, financing, permitting, installation, and monitoring. They stand behind their work and provide a 25-year power, product, and workmanship warranty.
Axium Solar – Texas’ leading solar contractor, Axium Solar is based in Plano, Texas and they claim to help homeowners and businesses to get the most out of solar energy. They offer a turnkey design and facilitate all phases of the solar installation project lifecycle. Licensed and award-winning, Axium Solar will walk you through the intricacies of solar rebates, tax credits, incentives, and finance options.
O3 Energy Solutions – This top-ranked solar provider based in Dallas, Texas specializes in the development, construction, and operations of energy generation systems and facilities. O3 Energy Solutions will take care of your needs from consultation through installation and follow-up, calculating available rebates, incentives, and cost savings. They service a variety of clients, including residential, commercial, utilities, municipalities, education buildings, and nonprofits.
Greenbelt Solar – This Austin based solar energy company serving Central Texas is a participating contractor in Austin Energy’s Solar Incentive Program, holds a Texas Electrical License, has NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installer crew members, and a Texas Master Electrician on staff.