The price of solar power has gone from $4 per watt in 2008 to $0.69 per watt in 2013. This price plunge is exactly the opposite of what more traditional power sources are doing; rising prices in the New England area have been in the news recently, with a 37% increase in electric rates for many homeowners in Massachusetts. Solar power is ideal for Canadians because it's at its most efficient in colder temperatures. The possibility of lower energy prices combined with the consumer incentives offered in Saskatchewan make solar power an unparalleled opportunity. If you're making the wise financial move of switching to solar power in your home, here are a few ways to make sure you get the best solar panel experience your budget will allow.

  1. Instead of skimping on size because of budgetary constraints, research the price ranges of different types of panels. Polycrystalline panels are more affordable than monocrystalline and are nearly as efficient. Thin-film solar panels, often used by commercial enterprises, are even more affordable on a budget; however, they require more space to produce the same amount of energy, so if your area is small they may not be a good fit.
  2. Be realistic about your energy needs. Calculate your energy consumption and look at your energy bills from the past several years, both winter and summer, to estimate your energy consumption. If you currently heat with gas and plan to start heating with solar, make sure you factor that in as well. 
  3. Factor in any planned increases in energy consumption, such as adding a room to your house or switching to electric cars. You'll need to plan ahead by arranging for a larger solar array to accommodate these future power drains. Don't worry about producing more energy than you use at first; if your array is connected to the grid, your power company can take the extra power and divert it to other homes. In this case they may either pay you for the extra power or "credit" your account so that, if you need it later, you can get that amount back for free.
  4. Read the warranty. A high-quality solar panel may last thirty to forty years, and its warranty should cover at least twenty years of its lifespan. Reputable companies can afford to offer these warranties because they know their products are worth it.
  5. Insure your solar array under your homeowner's insurance as soon as possible. Solar technology is much more reliable than it was a generation ago, but that doesn't necessarily mean it'll withstand a tornado or a falling tree.
  6. Consider your installation options. You may be able to install the panels yourself (with the help of a licensed electrician), but check the panels' warranty first. Some companies specify that self-installation voids the warranty. In this case, it's probably worth the extra cost to leave the warranty intact.
  7. Before solar panel installation, have your roof inspected. If repairs need to be done, it's more time- and cost-effective to complete them before installing the solar array.

In a global economy where environmentally friendly options are increasingly valued, the decline of solar power prices is a real boon for homeowners. Using these pointers to help you get the most value for your money, you can have your own independent solar power supply, take better care of the Earth, and stop paying inflated electrical bills. For more information, contact a company like Sweeney Electric Ltd.

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