Was Solar Worth It? The Numbers After Two Years
It’s hard to believe, but we’ve had our rooftop solar panels for over two years now.
Which means we now have two years of data to analyze as we consider whether or not home solar energy was really a wise financial decision for our family.
Overall, our rooftop solar panels have performed exactly as expected.
Our monthly electric bills are a fraction of what they used to be. In fact, we’ve spent less on electricity over each of the past two years than we did during August of 2016, when we incurred our most expensive monthly bill ever.
During our first full year with rooftop solar panels, our power consumption declined by 0.3% from the prior year- and our electric bill dropped by 84%!
And over the past year, we used 5% more electricity than we did two years earlier – but our electric bill still plunged by 88%!
The savings have definitely been impressive.
Two years into our solar experiment, the money we’ve saved compared to our average pre-solar electric bill has paid back 17.2% of what we invested into our rooftop panels. That puts us on target for the system to pay for itself in less than 12 years.
Of course, this assumes we won’t need to put any more money into our home solar energy system. So far, that’s been the case, as our system has been maintenance free.
However, we’re likely to need a new inverter after about a decade, which will push our eventual payback period out a bit further. And after our initial ten year agreement with our local utility expires, the terms under which we supply power to them are subject to change. It’s hard for me to believe they’ll be more favorable for us than they are today, and it’s possible our savings could be smaller.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying we’re still far from reaching break-even on our investment!
We recognized payback would take a while when we had the panels installed, and acknowledged that from a purely financial perspective, it wasn’t clear rooftop solar was a great investment in our state.
But I’m still happy we made the decision.
I enjoy paying a tiny electric bill every month. Especially when the weather is unseasonably hot – as it has been recently – and our air conditioners are running almost constantly.
Our home is also likely worth more with solar panels, as a buyer would be able to take advantage of the system to keep their electric bills much lower than at an identical house without solar energy. A recent article at money.com noted Zillow estimates solar panels increase a home’s value by 4.1% across the U.S. That type of increase to what I think our home could sell for would more than cover the cost of our rooftop panels after tax incentives.
While we’re a long way from breaking even, we make progress every month, and are doing a little bit to reduce our reliance on non-renewable sources of energy. I’m sure I’ll appreciate our small utility bills even more when we finally reach early retirement and financial independence and I no longer have a bi-weekly paycheck!