How To Plan Your Home Solar Energy System

Wondering what it would take to get your own solar energy system? This guide should get you well on your way to saving the planet and your wallet.


If you’re not even thinking about solar energy, this is not your page. You might be more comfortable learning about how solar impacts your future.

If you’re curious about solar, if you’re looking to install your own solar power system, and if you’re looking for help installing a solar power system, this guide is specifically for you and only you.

Something as big and important as solar power needs a guide. Though much more affordable, solar power is still a big investment. You need all the best help today and all the way through the process.

That’s why we, your Home Professionals are here. Let’s get started.

Part 1: Get To Know Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

You need to know your starting point. Figure out the energy use in our home, how much it costs you monthly, and where most of your energy gets wasted.

How to Figure Out Your Home Energy Usage

A home energy audit can be performed by a professional – in which case you will get much more exact numbers, or it can be performed by you, the homeowner.

DIY Home Energy Audit

A do it yourself home energy audit is a compilation of assessing the following:

  • Air leaks
  • Ventilation & backdraft
  • Insulation
  • Heating & Cooling Equipment
  • Lighting
  • Appliances & Electronics
  • And compiling a house plan

Full details can be found in this DIY Home Energy Audit.

The next step to getting to know you home’s energy efficiency is make small fixes that will make your solar power system that much more impactful when you finally install.

Energy Efficiency Fixes

Among these small fixes, we recommend upgrading appliances to energy-efficient appliances (such as ENERGY STAR). These appliances are much kinder to your wallet and allow you to use solar energy that much more effectively.

Consider your lighting and HVAC system. Most likely you use electricity for your daily use of these systems. Make them more efficient, and you will reduce the electricity you’re using now as well as when you use your solar electricity. Energy efficient lighting helps you save energy, and proper insulation of the home should help your HVAC system run effectively.

Part 1 Takeaway:

You should have a deeper understanding of how much energy your home currently uses as well as a list of a few areas you could improve energy usage to save even more on your bill.

Part 2: Get To Know Your Personal Solar Possibilities

Just because you live in a state that has winter or which is overcast often, does not mean you can’t benefit from solar energy. That’s an old solar myth. This section helps you understand how solar actually works and what you need to know about your area before getting started with solar.

Solar energy uses both direct and scattered sunlight to create electricity. Which means the scattered sunlight coming out from behind clouds still works. However, how much power you can get does depend on the amount of sunlight and the size of your solar power system.

Getting a Solar Quote

This is where you’ll want a solar professional to visit your home (or even a couple different ones) so they can quote you. They have strong professional knowledge of the location, hours of sunlight, the position of the roof, and how well other solar systems in your area are performing. The energy audit performed in Part 1 can really come in handy here, as you can more definitely tell what you’d be saving in the long run.

If you are not quite ready to have a professional visit your home, you can also check out this solar mapping resource from the Office of Energy Efficiency And Renewable Energy which provides a few extra details regarding solar possibilities in your area.

Part 2 Takeaway:

The important thing here is that you have a very good idea of:

  • how much you would save with a solar power system

  • how big it would need to be

  • and how much it is going to cost you.

Part 3: Begin to Find Solar Payment Options for YOU

Don’t be shy, ask questions and get the best deal. This is an important part of deciding which solar power route is best for you. In this section we discuss the purchasing options for getting solar including renting, leasing, and more.

You don’t have to take out a huge loan to own your own solar system anymore. In fact, many would argue that’s maybe a dated way to get the benefits of solar energy.

There are many options and financial help for homeowners who want to switch to solar. Here are just a few of your options today:

  • Power Purchase Agreements (PPA):

    • You may essentially “rent” solar panels from a solar company and buy the electricity at a reduced rate. You can pretty much count on the fact that it is going to be a significant reduction from your current energy bill—if it wasn’t, this model wouldn’t be cost-effective for anyone. The PPA model is a great way for you to reap the benefits of solar energy without footing the bill yourself.

  • Solar Leasing:

    • A solar lease allows you to use the power the solar energy system produces, but someone else owns the power system itself. You would pay a fee to lease the power system; leasing usually includes some amount of an upfront investment and fixed monthly payments. These payments are usually based around the estimated energy production of the system and is often less than your original energy bill.

  • Purchase The Solar Panels Yourself:

    • You may also purchase your own system with a loan or cash upfront. This model does provide the biggest savings on energy since you own the panels. However, it does have a steeper upfront cost and will take some time before it more than pays for itself. You can usually sell your excess energy produced back to the grid for a profit as well. 

    • There are also several federal and state tax incentives or credits that can help you pay for purchasing solar upfront.

Part 3 Takeaway:

You now have at least 3 different options as far as paying for solar is concerned and it is time to consider how and when to make the switch to solar.

Part 4: Find the Perfect Solar Professional to Work With

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You’ve collected your data, now it is time to find the professional that will work best for you. This section is about finding and working with solar professionals

You now have a good idea of your energy use/efficiency. You have a savings report from a solar professional (at least so you know approximately how much you’ll save). And you also know which kind of financing route you want to try. Great! Now it’s time that you get serious about finding the best professionals for you.

Questions to Ask Your Solar Professional

For a list of important questions to ask your solar professionals, go to this great article here! It includes things like which questions to ask about panels and inverters, all the way to insurance and credential questions. Above all you want to know your chosen professional is ethical, has insurance and credentials, and will do a good job.

For the quickest and easiest way to find amazing solar professionals, Home Professionals will connect you to the best professionals in the industry. So, fill out the form below for available quotes in your area.

Get Your Free Quote: 888-653-4924

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They will need to verify your information over the phone before they will know if you are a good candidate for solar.

Frequently Asked Questions about Solar:

Q: What is the ITC?

A: The Federal Government in the year 2019 will pay for 30% of your solar cost. That's like the Federal Government paying 30% of your electric bill for the next 30 years.

Q: Is there a solar program that is 100% free?

A: No. There are programs without any enrollment, install, or maintenance costs. However, you still have to pay the lower power bill that comes accompanied with your electricity use.

Q: What energy efficient program offers the most savings?

A: Solar offers massive savings to the homeowner. Especially as electric rates tend to rise year after year, and homeowners are using more power as they are adding in home automation, tvs, speakers, etc.

Scale of Solar Prices Over Time

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Other Questions

You’ve got all the necessary tools to start. And we’re here to help you get the professionals you need at any step in your journey.

Got questions? Email us or comment below!

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