Install Solar Panels to Improve Your Energy Score

Many people are familiar with the benefits of installing solar panels on their homes, such as allowing households to reduce their carbon footprint and to become more energy independent. According the Solar Energy Industries Association, a record number of new solar rooftop systems were installed in 2022. Since home energy scoring became a requirement in 2018 for Portland homes listed on the market, a newer benefit of solar panels has emerged: improving your home’s energy score. With this article we seek to highlight both the short-term incentives and long-term energy savings of going solar.

Solar Incentives and State Programs

Since the Pacific Northwest is defined by its rainy climate, Oregonians may assume that solar power is not a viable option for generating clean energy. But in reality, Oregon’s average of 142 days of sunshine per year is more than adequate for generating solar electricity. With state programs designed to support investments in solar power plus a significant federal incentive, installing solar panels on your home is more affordable and rewarding than ever.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

Last year under the Inflation Reduction Act, this federal tax credit – known as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) – was extended at 30% until 2032. This means that homeowners who purchase and install a new solar photovoltaic system can claim 30% of the cost as a credit on their tax return. There is no maximum limit for the credit.

Oregon Solar + Storage Rebate Program

This Oregon Department of Energy program offers Oregon homeowners a rebate worth up to $5,000 for a newly installed solar electric system or up to $2,500 for an energy storage system. Rebate amounts are determined by income level and eligibility for other incentives. To qualify, the system must be installed by an ODOE-approved contractor who will receive the rebate and deduct it from the total cost to the homeowner.

Solar Within Reach

The Solar Within Reach program was designed to make solar power accessible and affordable for lower income households and is limited to customers of Portland General Electric or Pacific Power. Through the program’s website, you can reach out to eligible Energy Trust solar contractors who are qualified to offer the incentive and install your new solar system. As with the Solar + Storage Rebate Program, the incentive amount is paid to the contractor and the savings is passed along to the new solar owner.

Net Metering

Oregon’s net metering program requires all utility companies to credit solar panel owners for the excess electricity that is generated by their systems and sent to the grid. This excess energy is converted to credits that can be stored up and used to lower your home energy bill when solar electrical output decreases – typically in the rainy winter months – translating to significant utility savings.

Ready to go Solar? What You Need to Know

Because of their high initial cost and long-term energy savings, it is wise to install solar panels if you plan to stay in your home longer than a few years to benefit from the return on your investment. On average, a home solar system will pay for itself in about six to ten years. While the cost to install a home solar system in Oregon depends on considerations like the number of panels and the scope of the installation, the average cost is $3.02/W, or an average gross price of $15,100. Applying the federal tax credit brings the total to $10,570 before other rebates and incentives that could lower the cost even further. Market Watch offers a helpful online calculator (separate from the quote) that considers the area where you live and other factors like roof material type and the size of your home to estimate the cost of a new solar system and the annual savings you might expect on your electric bill.

How Do Solar Panels Impact Your Home Value?

A final benefit of installing solar panels is that they increase the value of your home (see the recent research report), even here in the Pacific Northwest. When it comes to increasing the value of your home in the eyes of a potential buyer, solar panels are tangible evidence of the substantial long-term energy savings they provide for homeowners.

In short, solar panels can be considered a desirable feature for your home in terms of both energy efficiency and resale value. If you are considering investing in a home solar system, request a custom quote from a certified Energy Trust Trade Ally to ensure the best outcome for your home energy score. And if you would like to learn more ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency or find out how your new solar panels have impacted your score, schedule your home energy score appointment today!