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 Chicago, IL
Chicago may be known as, “the windy city,” but it also gets an average of 189 sunny days a year. Chicago’s weather, combined with eco-friendly policies that create incentives for residents to make the switch from fossil fuel based energy to renewables, and cheaper than every solar technology makes it a great time to invest in solar energy for your home.
Thanks to advances in solar technology, eco-friendly government policies, and the growth of solar manufacturers and installers, the cost of a solar energy system has plummeted 70% since 1998, from nearly $86,000 for a 5-kilowatt installation (the average size residential system ) to just $26,000 in 2014. If you want to calculate the full value of your investment, subtract the the price of the installation (accounting for any available incentives) from your total monthly energy costs for the next 25 years (the typical lifespan of a solar installation). In most cases, your investment in solar will yield a healthy return on your investment.
Switching to solar is a great way to decrease (and possibly eliminate) your monthly utility bills, while also decreasing your environmental impact. Traditional electrical companies produce an estimated 70% of their electricity from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. The cost of processing these materials and transporting them from production sites to the consumer, also takes a significant toll on the environment and drives up prices. It is estimated that electricity generation through fossil fuels causes 37% all atmospheric CO2, one of the leading causes of global warming. The decision to move to solar will help reduce your family’s carbon footprint, while also reducing pollution in your local environment.
Available Incentives and Rebates in Chicago
While Chicago is a leader in terms of harnessing wind power to create energy, part of the statewide Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandates that at least 6% of the state’s energy come from solar power. In order to meet this goal, state and local municipalities have created incentives to make adopting solar more affordable for customers. These incentives include:
- Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) offers a rebate for Chicago-based customers. The rebate offers $1,500/kW back on solar systems, up to 25% of project costs, or $10,000, whichever is less.
- 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.
- Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) are new to Chicago this year. When excess energy is created from clean sources, like solar panels on your rooftop, you can sell this energy to utility companies that don’t have the desire or capability to set up their own renewable energy systems. Purchasing your excess energy enables the utility companies to meet their RPS targets and avoid paying higher alternative compliance fees to the state. SRECs won’t make you wealthy– they are expected to average $168/month in 2016, but they can provide you with reliable source of extra monthly income as the utility companies will ask you to sign a 5 year contract to sell your excess energy to them.
- While homeowners are often excited for the increase in their home value that comes with installing a solar system, they don’t look forward to the increase in property taxes. Fortunately, 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.
- While Illinois offers a 100% sales tax exemption for wind energy installations, the legislations hasn’t caught up with solar yet. Expect to pay between 6.25% to 10% of the installed costs.
Net Metering for Chicago Residents
When you connect your solar system to the grid, your utility company will set up a system with you called net metering. With net metering, your utility company will track your renewable energy production and consumption during each monthly billing cycle. Any surplus energy you produce will be carried over as a credit onto your future bills–helpful for periods without much sunshine like during those brutal Chicago winters. One thing to be mindful of with net metering though, is that your credits expire at the end of the calendar year and revert back to the utility without any compensation to the homeowner.