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 Rockford, IL
Even though Rockford is known for its strong midwest winds–Illinois is ranked 4th in the nation for its wind power industry–now is also a great time for residents to explore the benefits of adopting a solar energy system. Solar systems are less expensive than ever. Prices have plummeted 70% since 1998. Additionally, the state of Illinois has adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that mandates at least 6% of the energy generated within the state come from solar power.
This has led to the creation of generous financial incentives from state, local municipalities, and the utility companies to encourage homeowners to shift to solar power. We are already seeing the positive impact of these policies. Illinois currently has 55MW of solar energy installed–enough energy to power 8,000 Illinois homes, and capacity is steadily increasing as solar energy systems become more affordable.
In addition to saving you money on (and possibly eliminating) your monthly utility bills, a solar energy system will also help decrease your family’s environmental footprint. Currently, electrical companies produce an estimated 70% of their electricity from fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. The adoption of more aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standards will help change this, but in the meantime fossil fuels used for energy generation represent 37% of all atmospheric CO2, making them one of the leading causes of global warming. By making the switch to solar power, you can help dramatically decrease your family’s dependence on fossil fuel based energy, doing your part to decrease CO2 emissions and keeping your local environment (air and water) clean.
What Type of Solar Technology is Right for Me?
Two of the most popular types of solar technology being utilized in Rockford are photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and solar hot water systems. You should consult with a licensed solar installer to determine what type and what size of solar system will best meet your energy needs.
- If your roof is well maintained, rooftop solar panels could be a great option for you. Your roof provides a large clear space for maximum energy collection–your panels should ideally be south facing for best results. Don’t let long or extreme winters deter you from setting up solar panels either. Even the most minimal amount of sunlight will penetrate the snow, causing the panels to warm and eventually melt the snow. To speed up the process, you can also try spraying the panels with water from a garden hose or using a snow rake with a rubber squeegee blade. Take caution when trying to clear your panels during or immediately after a period of inclement weather. In most cases, if the panels are not easily accessible to you from the ground, it may be best to consult a professional.
- Heating water for showers, laundry, washing dishes, etc. is one of the primary functions of your home’s energy system. It’s a near-constant need and it adds up. In just one year, an 80-gallon electric water heater averages about $500 to run, uses 4,800 kWh of electricity and contributes about 6,600 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere. Traditional electric water heaters will hit you in the pocketbook and they take a hefty toll on the environment. Solar water heaters are a much preferred eco-friendly and budget-friendly option. Solar water heaters use the sun’s thermal energy to heat water. For Rockford’s brutally cold winters, a closed-loop or indirect system may be your best bet because they utilize a non-freezing liquid to transfer heat from the sun to water in a storage tank.
Available Incentives and Rebates for Rockford Residents
Illinois is committed to increasing the percentage of its energy that comes from renewable resources as evidenced by their generous incentives for consumers who install solar electric or solar hot water systems. In addition to any state or local incentives, consumers are also eligible for The Solar Investment Tax Credit. This 30% federal tax credit remains in effect through December 31, 2016. Additional state and local incentives include:
- Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) offers a rebate for all Rockford-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. If your solar electric system regularly generates more energy than you consume, this is a great opportunity to make a steady stream of additional income each month. Illinois’ RPS charges utilities with generating at least 6% of their energy from solar power. Some utilities lack the capacity or desire to create this energy, so they will buy your excess energy (in the form of SRECs) in order to avoid paying higher alternative compliance fees to the state. Your utility will ask you to sign a five year contract, agreeing to sell your SRECs to them and you can expect to receive an average payment of $168 a month.
- One of the motivating factors in installing a solar electric system is that it can significantly increase your home’s value, while also making it more competitive on the real estate market. That said, how does it affect 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.