Lina Panza (left), a Montclair resident and agent with Keller-Williams Realty, built her business on “green” values. Now, she’s upped her commitment to sustainable living by putting solar panels on her house, and is happily walking the photovoltaic walk.
This morning, at 9:00 sharp, Trinity Solar arrived at her house and began installation of her new eco-friendly renovation, which will not only save her energy, but money too.
“I did this for two reasons. First, I believe in the cause of not depending on foreign oil, and secondly it will make me money,” Panza said. She explained that the three “R’s” (reduce, reuse and recycle) aren’t only beneficial for the environment but for her finances as well. “”We have such high property taxes, we need to find savings we can control—such as our utility bills,” she said.
“It’s a little complicated. It takes me 16 thousand kilowatts to run my house per year and I will be making, on my solar panels, about 6 thousand kilowatts. I’m making a little more than a 3rd of the energy that I need, so that will save me about a thousand dollars a year.”
With federal tax credits, solar renewable energy credits, and other savings, conservative estimates project to Panza earning out installation cost after four years, and $4,000- $5,000 annual return in the years after that, depending on the value of federally mandated solar energy credits. Based on a conservative appraisal, solar panels also add over $7,500 to the value of the Panza home.
“Solar installation should be part of today’s math for reselling your home,” Panza said. “You can recoup around half the cost of your solar panels if you were to sell your home immediately after installation. Though kitchen and bath renovations are sexier than solar panels, they don’t pay your power bills and provide an annual cash flow for the next 15 years. It’s like having a little rental income that helps you pay your taxes every year. ”
In general, the upfront installation costs for solar panels range from $20,000 to $40,000, according to the State of New Jersey and federal sources. Panza said that while this upfront cost deters many homeowners from seriously considering solar conversion, federal and state laws lock in enormous cost advantages that eventually make solar a profitable investment. Most residential solar panel systems pay for themselves in 5 years or less. Incentives for installing a solar panel system include federal tax credits and solar energy credits that consumers can sell to utilities. Further, 100% of the value of a solar panel or renewable energy system is exempt from property taxes.
Panza explained that the state of NJ’s laws that require utility companies to generate a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources.
“PSE&G doesn’t have enough solar panels around, so I’m essentially selling them the credit I have from my solar panels. That’s what’s really valuable.”
When asked why she used Trinity Solar to do the installation, Panza answered with an analogy. “It’s kind of like Botox. My gynecologist does Botox, my dentist does Botox but if I wanted Botox, I would go to my dermatologist or plastic surgeon because that’s their field of expertise. Trinity doesn’t do anything else besides solar panels and energy related things. In other word I wouldn’t go to someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with them because I’ve seen some really ugly installations.”
Although there is a certain aesthetic component that’s involved with solar panels, Panza believes that the design is just a small price to pay for the benefits given to the environment and economy.
To learn more about how solar panels work, what to expect from installation, and additional financial incentives from NJ’s Clean Energy Program, click here.