Austin Mueller Homes with Solar PanelsIf you’ve made a visit to Mueller Austin recently, it was probably impossible to ignore all the solar panels that are blanketing the neighborhood.  More than 200 homes have gone solar in Mueller, around 30%!  A once cost-prohibitive improvement is no longer – the incentives from Austin Energy coupled with the rebate being offered to Pecan Street ProjectParticipants & the federal tax incentive, solar panels are now a win-win-win situation.

Let me break it down for you:

  • The Austin Energy rebate for solar panels is $2.50/watt.  They also offered an additional incentive of $0.50/watt this summer for systems installed by September 30, 2011.   The rebate is capped at $18,000.
  • Participants in the Pecan Street Project receive an additional rebate of $0.50/watt for south-facing arrays, $0.75/watt for west-facing arrays & $0.80/watt for a combination of the two (provided an inverter for each directional orientation and at least 2 kW in west-facing installations)
  • 30% tax credit as a Federal incentive

Let’s do the math using a 6 kW system, as an example, that has both a south- and west-facing array, as described above.  Without any rebates, you could be looking at an approximate cost of $26,000 (depending on a myriad of factors, of course).  Taking into account all rebates and incentives:

  • $3/watt (Austin Energy) * 6000 watts = $18,000
  • $0.80/watt (Pecan Street Project) * 6000 = $4800
  • Out-of-pocket $3200 and a 30% Federal Tax Rebate brings us to a total cost of $2240

The payback period in terms of savings, of course depends on your homes’ energy usage.  For my household, it comes to about three years.  So, using today’s Austin Energy rates, we are looking to “break even” in three years.  And we haven’t even talked about what solar panels do to the market value of the home, but I’m willing to bet it increases the value by more than $2200.

So, do solar panels add value to my home?  

While there are lots of numbers and equations out there, which attribute a certain value to solar panels, the reality is when you’re talking about what it means to your bottom line when selling your house, the market is what gives the real answer.  So far, the market hasn’t had much of an opportunity speak; comparables are scarce and differ greatly from state-to-state, city-to-city and neighborhood-to-neighborhood.   The onus to prove their value is on the agent marketing your home – finding the right buyers who place value in an energy-efficient lifestyle and placing a spotlight on what it means financially speaking, as well.

Keep in mind one significant factor when pricing your home with solar panels: the rebates in place when selling your home.  Even though you have a $26,000 system, if potential buyers could receive the same or similar rebates as yourself, then that has an impact on how much they value it (or it should, at least).      

If you would like to discuss your home’s value and how your energy efficient features contribute to it, get in touch with me Hilary Herrin 913.8642,