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 Buying Guide for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Although the number of sunny days in Pittsburgh — 160 — is significantly lower than the national average of 205, solar power is still a viable option in the Steel City. Purchasing a solar panel system requires careful planning to ensure you receive the maximum benefit of solar energy. In addition, several important considerations are necessary before installing a solar panel system such as choosing the right contractor, the right system for your property, and utilizing cost cutting incentives available to Pittsburgh residents.
Pittsburgh Climate Considerations for Solar Power
Pittsburgh experiences 146 rainy days with measurable precipitation for an annual average of 36-inches of rain. Although the area is not known for its sunshine, it is still a viable candidate for solar power since the panels continue to produce electricity on cloudy days. Solar power in Pittsburgh can amount to significant energy savings for residents and business owners alike. Keep in mind, every KW of electricity your panels produce, is a KW you do not have to purchase from the big power companies.
Why Go Solar in Pittsburgh?
Aside from reduced energy costs, many additional benefits are realized through solar energy. Electricity derived from the sun’s photons provides us with a cleaner and cheaper power option versus the alternative: dirty, planet-fouling electricity from traditional power plants. Consider that for every residential solar panel system in place, three to four tons of harmful carbon emissions are eliminated each year. That is significant, considering the perils we face due to global warming. Moreover, solar energy is a sustainable power source, as our sun will continue to burn bright for approximately five billions years.
Assess Your Pittsburgh Home’s Energy Efficiency
One of the first steps you should take before installing solar power is to tighten your home’s exterior envelope. Many people fail to realize the amount of energy loss directly attributable to drafty windows and doors, leaking air ducts, and inadequate insulation that allows conditioned air to escape. The average cost of a home energy audit in Pittsburgh is $350.00. You may qualify for a rebate through First Energy Pittsburgh of up to $250.00 to offset the costs. Click here to find a participating energy auditor, rebate applications, and other energy-saving ideas.
Hire a Pittsburgh Solar Contractor
Pittsburgh residents considering solar panel installation should hire a licensed, certified solar contractor for the project. A solar contractor will be your guiding light throughout the installation and interconnection — connecting to the grid — phase. A solar contractor’s responsibilities include assessing structural and rooftop conditions prior to installation, designing the appropriate system for your property, ordering the necessary equipment, filing specific site plans to obtain required permits and overseeing the quality of the solar panel installation.
Heating Water in Pittsburgh with Solar Energy
Direct circulation solar water heaters use thermal energy from the sun to heat water. Roof mounted collectors absorb the sun’s thermal energy to heat water directly as it passes through the collector. In climates subjected to freezing temperatures, such as Pittsburgh, indirect circulation systems are more common. Pumps circulate a non-freezing transfer fluid, similar to a car’s antifreeze, through the collectors and a heat exchanger.
Obtaining Solar Permits in Pittsburgh
To obtain solar permit information for Pittsburgh, you must contact the Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections, 200 Ross Street, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, (412) 255-2175. You can also obtain permit information by visiting their website at http://pittsburghpa.gov/pli/.
Solar Rebate and Incentive Programs in Pittsburgh
The State of Pennsylvania offers residents and business owners incentives and rebates for renewable energy, including solar photovoltaics and thermal energy. You can discover many money-saving options available to Pittsburgh residents who purchase renewable energy technology by visiting CleanEnergyAuthority.com. In addition, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency website provides a searchable database of renewable policies, incentives and rebates by state. You may also qualify for the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit offered by the federal government. This program allows taxpayers to claim 30 percent of the cost of the system as a tax credit through the end of 2016.
Pittsburgh Solar Power: Leasing Vs. Purchasing
After deciding solar power is right for you, you must decide on how to purchase the system. You have two options, leasing or purchasing the system outright.
- The benefits of leasing a solar panel system are no out-of-pocket expense, reduced electricity costs, and no maintenance or upkeep responsibilities since you do not own the equipment.
- Purchasing the system outright when combined with the available rebates and incentive programs provides you with an investment that outpaces most mutual funds without the risk. Even if you borrow the principle amount to purchase the system, you will still realize an outstanding return on investment.
The benefits of solar power — sustainable, renewable, clean, cheap, and ever-lasting — are a winning combination for the future prosperity of our planet. The sooner you join the solar movement, the sooner you too can start reaping the rewards of solar power.