Unexpected Ways Solar Improves Your Property

by Lauren PezzulloMay 16, 2017

The perks of solar are no joke. A rooftop system can do more than just cut down or even eliminate your utility bills. A solar panel installation generates energy from a renewable source and reduces CO2 emissions for your household. Solar panels work hardest when the sun is shining and when AC use increases your home’s energy demand. Plus, the homeowners that install them qualify for lots of incentives and tax rebate programs—talk about a win-win!

But there’s a lot more to solar than free, clean energy and lower electricity bills — although, admittedly, that part of the deal is pretty sweet. Installing panels on your property comes with a bunch of unexpected bonuses, too. From protecting your roof to increasing your property values, solar can do a whole lot for your house. Read on for the full scoop — and get ready to be blown away by all the surprising ways solar is making a difference.

Solar Keeps Homes Cooler

Homes in sunny locations make excellent candidates for a solar installation—they get plenty of daylight, after all. These places also generally have a longer cooling season, which drives up electricity bills. Not only does solar offset these energy demands at a time when it’s most needed, it may also lower the temperature throughout those homes with solar installed.

After listening to plenty of anecdotal accounts about this unexpected side effect, a team of researchers at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering decided to investigate the theory that solar shades roofs. Using thermal imaging, they deduced that panels do indeed reduce temperatures inside homes. In fact, ceilings underneath solar installations were an average five degrees cooler than conventional roofs. That may not seem like a lot, but think how different your home feels when it’s 80 inside versus 75. Those findings do seem to corroborate solar homeowners’ claims that their houses stayed cooler once the panels went up. And that means they likely use less AC, too. Talk about having it made in the shade!

Solar Panels May Protect Your Roof

Most roofing materials aren’t made to last a lifetime. Unless you have terracotta or slate tiles installed on your home, you can plan on replacing your roof every fifteen to twenty-five years. Roofs are constantly exposed to the elements, and over time that leads to weathering, degrading, and crumbling surfaces. Asphalt shingles, in particular, while much cheaper than other roofing options, are subject to cracking from temperature extremes and lifts from heavy winds. But solar panels may provide a buffer against some of that weather.

According to the US Green Building Council, installing solar can slightly extend the life of your roof by protecting it from wind, rain, snow, and hail. In fact, new solar products are being designed with durability in mind: some solar roof manufacturers, for instance, now claim to produce a product that can withstand three times the force of conventional roofing materials. So solar definitely has staying power, to say the least.

Solar Significantly Boosts Property Values

Installing solar soon? Don’t be surprised if you get a little bump on your valuation! Several studies have confirmed that solar adds to home sale prices, although just how much depends on a couple of factors. A team of economists with the National Bureau of Economic Research, for instance, noticed a 3.5 percent premium for solar homes, while a larger study from Berkeley Lab put it at an average additional $15,000 for homes decked out with solar panels.

As you might expect, regional demographics have an effect on the value of solar in your area. For instance, if you live in a locale with lots of green-minded households (think Priuses and registered Green Party voters), then your solar panels will probably be worth a little bit more. Ditto in spots with high average electricity prices. But no matter where you are, you’ll probably get back what you spend when you resell. Solar panels are one of the few home improvements you can make with a near 100 percent cost-to-value ratio. It may be an investment, but in the long term, it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home’s value!

And It Can Sell Your Home Faster

An elevated closing price might not be the only benefit you receive when you put your solar house up for sale. Some initial case studies from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory showed that solar houses spend less time on the market. In this lengthy report, NREL looked at homes in several new subdivisions, some where the builder had installed solar panels, and some where they had not.

The solar houses sold at an overwhelmingly accelerated rate. In fact, homes outfitted with PV panels potentially spend 17 percent less time on the market. The report cleared up a common misunderstanding: homebuyers do not find solar arrays so unattractive that they’re unwilling to buy solar houses. On the contrary, comparable solar homes do quite well on the market. So don’t be afraid to show off those solar panels!

Plus It Lowers Average Utility Rates

When you install solar for your household, you’re doing everyone else on the grid a big favor. A study found that grid-connected PV installations consistently reduce local utility rates—even for those homes without solar panels.

Because solar cells use more efficient processes to harvest energy than conventional power plants, their operation costs less for your utility company. In fact, BU’s research showed that every kilowatt hour of energy generated by solar panels reduces overall electricity prices by about 1 cent per kilowatt hour. When that savings is passed on to homeowners, everyone in your neighborhood wins!

With benefits like that, solar is a boon to the whole community, so even your neighbors will thank you later!

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About The Author
Lauren Pezzullo
Lauren Pezzullo is a writer, editor, and musicophile who's passionate about vegetarianism and sustainable eating. As an editor for Modernize, she writes about energy-efficient living in the home. She's currently writing her debut novel.

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