Going Green is now more the norm than anything else. With a future that’s highly dependent on how we treat the environment over the next decade, it’s vital to take advantage of every opportunity to switch to efficient and renewable energy sources. Many have already made the investment in solar panels. If you haven’t upgraded your home to a grid, here are a few things to consider before making the leap.

How’s Your House?
The first place you have to start is where the magic is going to happen. Your house may or may not be suited for solar panels. Similar to wind turbines to harness wind energy, you need frequent access to sunlight to generate enough energy to power your home. Your roof needs direct light between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm with very little to no obstruction. Trees and chimneys, anything that can cast a shadow over your panels for any length of time are going to present an issue in using and storing energy.

Next, your roof has to be able to bear the weight of solar panels. Most solar panels will come with a warranty between 20 and 25 years. Assess the current condition of your roof and make any updates you need before installing panels. Otherwise, there will be a much larger headache of repairing the roof if you also have to concern yourself with disconnecting and moving your panels.

Lastly, you have to make as many energy efficient upgrades to your house as possible. Determining how many panels you’ll need will be dependent upon how much energy your house currently uses. You may already have energy efficient appliances, but also checking the windows and doors for any leaks and updating your insulation will affect the energy usage in your home. If there are any improvements you can make prior to panels, consider it.

Incentives, HOA, Ownership and Use
The cost of installing solar is quite expensive. But it provides an amazing amount of green energy that is necessary for our future. To make such a major investment more appealing there are all kinds of tax incentives on the federal and state level. Check your area to see what kind of rebates are available.

Before you cash in on those rebates (the federal level being anywhere between 30 and 50 percent) you have to dot your ‘I’s and cross your ‘T’s. Ownership of the panels will be a factor in your purchase. Remember how we said the cost was akin to a new car? Well, so are the purchase options. Buy it outright or lease it. If you lease, however, you might not be available for the tax incentives.

For as many nitpicky details as there are regarding incentives and ownership, there can be just as many nitpicky rules regarding HOAs and their visual aesthetics. Check whatever associations your need to acquire proper permission so as to avoid any fines.

Finally, you’ll want to research net-metering and how energy is stored and used by your panels. Many states use net-metering. During the day when there’s the most sun, your panels will generate more energy than is being used by your home. With net-metering your excess energy is sent to the communal grid, and that electricity is credited to your future bills. States like California and Massachusetts have a cap on their net-metering. Understand these finer points and you’re good to go.