Home Solar Systems Make Dollars and Sense

Rooftop solar panels not only enhance a home’s green credentials and reduce utility bills, they also make it more marketable and boost its resale value.

Solar installations boost home values: A recent study sponsored by the Department of Energy, and conducted by California-based Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), looked at sales data spanning eight states and nearly 23,000 homes from 2002 to 2013. The study found that home buyers were willing to pay as much as $15,000 more for a home with an average size photovoltaic system of 3.6 kilowatts or 3,600 watts, than for a similar home without solar panels.

On the whole the study found that buyers were willing to pay more for additional solar-generating power, and the larger the system, the larger the premium they would be willing to pay.

And homes sell faster: In active solar markets like New Jersey and California, returns on solar energy investment were higher than in places where the marketplace has not yet caught up with solar power. But regardless of the strength of the market, solar-powered homes enjoyed higher demand and shorter selling cycles than comparable non-solar homes. Interestingly, the LBL study found that homes with solar panels typically sold approximately 20% faster than homes without solar systems.

Considering that the cost of solar system installations has dropped dramatically while solar storage capacity has increased and technology has improved, investment in residential solar energy seems to make both dollars and sense. Through 2016, homeowners and business owners can take advantage of the federal Investment Tax Credit for residential and commercial solar energy applications. Plus, many states offer incentives above and beyond the federal government’s tax credit.

One final encouraging development regarding home solar installations: In December, Fannie Mae issued a guideline specifying that if a house has an owned solar system, appraisers should leverage the solar system into the appraisal.

Boost Your Home’s Look for Less: Try These $500 Hacks

Itching for a home improvement project but low on cash? Not every project has to break the bank; there are plenty of jobs that will boost your home’s appeal for under $500. Here are a few ideas:

Paint: Paint your kitchen, paint the baseboards, paint your front door, and paint some furniture. It’s amazing how a few coats of a new color (or a refreshing of the old one) can improve the overall look and feel of your home.

Work in the yard: You don’t have to have the best garden on the street, but a well-maintained front yard plays a huge role in curb appeal. Trim trees, replace or repair fences and install a new mailbox. If you haven’t touched your front walkway since moving in, consider a remodel.

Get organized: Most people have a place in their home that could benefit from a major reorganization. For messy closets, a DIY organization system can be installed individually or as a unit; big box stores have good selections at many price points.

Replace hardware: It’s expensive to replace cupboards and cabinets, but swapping out hardware can make a big impact for little money. Switch up handles and drawer pulls for updated (or antique) hardware to give your kitchen or bathroom a new look.

Replace your backsplash: If you’re handy, replacing your kitchen backsplash is fairly easy and instantly renews the look of the room. Tiles vary widely in price; know how much space you’ll need to cover and price out the project before shopping to avoid overspending.