Portland, Oregon is one of the Top 20 cities in the US for solar panel usage — despite its rainy reputation. If you’re thinking of joining the renewable energy revolution by installing a photovoltaic system on the roof of your home, the big reasons to do it are that you’ll cut your electric bill and walk away with some nice-looking numbers on your Home Energy Score. However, the initial costs of solar panels can be steep, and the current average payback time for solar panels runs between ten and sixteen years. The time to install solar panels in Portland is not right before you sell your home (if you want to see a full return on your investment).
On the other hand, homeowners who plan to live in their homes a few years before putting them on the market are at an advantage. By investing in solar panels now, you can benefit from the long-term energy cost savings and improved home energy score when you do put your home on the Portland market. Although the home energy score policy is new, trends so far show that energy-saving improvements like solar panels will translate to a higher home value as home buyers become accustomed to comparing homes on this basis. And, a 2016 joint study by the federal government and real estate agents showed that solar-powered homes in Portland saw a 3.25% home value boost — and that was before the Home Energy Score policy changed the game.
How will solar panels affect my home energy report?
The answer is: Completely. The scoring metrics used by home energy assessors provide three key outputs, which comprise the three sections of the home energy report: The Score, Energy Costs, and Carbon Footprint. Let’s look at how photovoltaics can affect each of these.
- The Score measures the amount of energy a home needs, and subtracts the amount of energy generated on-site to come up with a net usage number. If you have solar panels meeting most or all of your energy needs, chances are your net energy consumption (energy you require from the city grid) will be next to nothing. Home Energy Scores in Portland are between the numbers 1 (worst) and 10 (best). While it’s too early to tell from assessments already performed, having solar panels that provide a significant portion of your home’s energy needs could shift a home from the 4.67 average toward a 10.
- Energy Costs estimate how much homeowners will actually pay to power the home. If solar panels cover 100% of your home’s electric needs, buyers looking at your Home Energy Score Report will see that the cost for their electricity is $0. That’s a nice number to include on the real estate listing!
- Carbon Footprint. This section of the Report calculates the emissions associated with the energy sources for your home. The more electricity that you generate yourself using solar panels, the smaller your carbon footprint (measured in tons of carbon emitted). However, if you use natural gas or another fuel source to supplement your electricity, this will result in a more tons of carbon emitted.
If getting solar panels is on your to-do list in 2018, keep your future home energy score in mind. Use a licensed contractor that is an Energy Trust Trade Ally. Trade allies receive training and support from Energy Trust to stay up to date on the latest solar installation standards, ensuring that you’ll receive the best possible home energy score out of your Portland solar panel investment.