How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar in Aurora, Illinois
As the second largest city in Illinois, the City of Aurora is a recognized regional leader in sustainability initiatives. Aurora has been recognized for its commitment to clean water and air, and for converting many government buildings into LEED certified buildings. With solar technology being at its lowest price ever–prices dropping 70% since 1998, and eco-friendly government incentives that help make the switch to solar more affordable for consumers, now is a great time to adopt solar in Aurora.
Two of the most popular types of solar technology being utilized in Aurora are photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and solar hot water systems:
- Rooftop solar panels are a great option for homeowners because residential roofs usually have enough space and are well-maintained for maximum energy production. Your roof should be clear and panels should ideally be south facing for best results. Solar panels can even stand up to the snow, as some sunlight will penetrate the snow, causing the panels to warm and eventually melt the snow. Spraying the panels with water from a garden hose or a snow rake with a rubber squeegee blade can speed things along. Please note that it is not advised to climb onto your roof during or immediately after inclement weather. If your system seems to be operating at less than peak capacity because of snow, consult a professional.
- Solar water heaters come in a wide variety of designs, all including a collector and storage tank, and all using the sun’s thermal energy to heat water. Solar water heaters are typically described according to the type of collector and the circulation system. For Aurora’s intense winters, a closed-loop or indirect system may be your best bet. These systems utilize a non-freezing liquid to transfer heat from the sun to water in a storage tank. The sun’s thermal energy heats the fluid in the solar collectors. Then, this fluid passes through a heat exchanger in the storage tank, transferring the heat to the water. The non-freezing fluid then cycles back to the collectors.
Available Incentives and Rebates
Current Illinois solar incentives include generous rebates for solar electric and solar hot water systems. The Solar Investment Tax Credit is a 30% federal tax credit for solar electric systems on residential and commercial properties that, under current law, remains in effect through December 31, 2016. Additional state and local incentives include:
- Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) offers a rebate for all Aurora-based customers $1,500/kW back on solar systems, up to 25% of project costs, or $10,000, whichever is less.
- Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) are relatively new to Illinois. When you generate excess energy from clean sources, like solar panels on your rooftop, you can sell that energy (in the form of SRECs) to the utility companies. The utility companies are responsible for obtaining at least 6% of their energy from solar power, based on the state’s RPS. Many utilities don’t have the desire or capability to set up their own renewable energy systems, so purchasing your excess energy allows them to avoid paying higher alternative compliance fees to the state. The price of SRECs in Illinois is expected to average $168 in 2016. SRECs won’t make you rich, but because the utility requires you to sign a five year contract agreeing to sell them your SRECs, it does create a reliable source of supplemental monthly income that can be helpful.
- Studies show that homes with solar panel systems have property values 3-4% above similar homes in the same area. They also sell twice as fast as the competition. This may sound like great news, but how does it impact your property taxes? Illinois has a property tax incentive to encourage solar power use. When you register your solar system with the chief county assessment officer your solar equipment will be valued at no more than the value that would be given to a conventional energy system.
- Unfortunately, Illinois offers no sales tax exemption for solar energy systems, so expect to pay between 6.25% to 10% of the installed costs. Many states do offer a 100% sales tax exemption, but Illinois only offers it for wind energy installations.
Should I wait for better technology?
You can wait for better technology, but why not reap the benefits now? Currently a PV module has no moving parts, is covered under warranty for 25 years, and should will last more than 40 years. The materials are abundant, readily available here in the U.S., and 95% recyclable.