Frequently Asked Questions
WHY GO SOLAR?
By adding solar to your home, you can save on utility costs and avoid ever-increasing electric rates while doing your part to protect the environment. Additionally, you can take advantage of financial incentives while they last and add value to your home in the process.
HOW DOES SOLAR HELP THE ENVIRONMENT?
Solar energy systems harness the power of the sun to produce perfectly clean electricity. Harvesting sunshine to produce power reduces the need to burn fossil fuels, in turn reducing the harmful emissions that contribute to climate change and helping to keep our air and water clean.
HOW DOES SOLAR SAVE ME MONEY?
Installing solar on your home can drastically reduce or eliminate your electric bill, saving you money every month for decades to come. These monthly savings are more than enough to pay for your investment over time, and usually many times over.
HOW MUCH CAN I SAVE?
How much you save will depend on how much energy you use, what type of system is installed and the utility to which you’re connected. When done properly, going solar is a smart investment wherever you live.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO START SAVING MONEY?
Right away! Because we design and install our own systems, we can have you up and running sooner. As soon as your system begins operating, you start saving money.
ARE THERE ANY INCENTIVES AVAILABLE IF I GO SOLAR?
Incentives vary by area and many will expire soon. Currently, the federal government will refund up to 30% of your investment when you install solar (for ownership only – leases and PPA’s are not eligible). Additional incentives are available from California, as well as some cities and utilities. Our energy consultant can provide details specific to you.
DOES SOLAR REALLY IMPROVE MY HOME VALUE?
Numerous studies by government agencies and by the real estate industry show that homes with solar sell faster and at a significant premium compared to non-solar homes, and appraisers can add the value of the system to your appraisal. (This is only true if you own your system, however. Leased solar can actually make your home more difficult to sell, and cannot be considered in the appraisal process.)
DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR MY SYSTEM UP FRONT OR IS FINANCING AVAILABLE?
Paying cash for solar means that your utility bill goes away immediately – and permanently. For those who can’t – or would rather not – pay cash, financing is available with as little as $0.00 down. Terms vary depending on credit and other factors, but we have programs for almost anyone, including those with credit challenges.
CAN I AFFORD TO GO SOLAR?
If you can afford to pay your electricity bill every month, you can afford to go solar (If you CAN’T afford your electricity bill every month, then you really NEED to go solar!) $0-down financing options make it easy for homeowners to start saving right away, and most find that an affordable and level monthly payment is easier to manage than electricity bills that spike every time the weather turns warm.
WILL SOLAR WORK ON MY HOME?
Solar efficiency depends on the direction and pitch of your roof, as well as any shading factors that are present. With our advanced-technology systems, Future Energy Savers can make solar work for you, even in cases where most other companies say it can’t be done.
WHAT SIZE SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM SHOULD I GET?
The recommended system size (capacity) for your home will vary based on your energy use as well as the cost of energy in your area and how excess generation is treated by your utility. Our energy consultant can walk you through your options and help you determine what size best meets your needs.
DO I NEED TO INSTALL SOLAR BATTERIES WITH MY SOLAR POWER SYSTEM?
Batteries are not required, or even necessary in many cases. With the dramatic increases in “peak” power rates and some utilities shutting down large sectors of the grid for fire protection, however, many homeowners are now turning to batteries. These storage and backup systems supply power to your home when the grid is down and can be used to defeat (and even profit from) the new Time-Of-Use rates.
CAN I USE MORE AIR CONDITIONING IF I HAVE SOLAR?
Imagine being able to turn down your thermostat on hot summer days to a level that’s comfortable for your family – not just bearable for your wallet!! You can size your solar system to provide extra energy if you need it, allowing you to live your life comfortably without stressing about the bill. After all, life’s too short to sweat in your own home!
WILL MY SOLAR WORK WHEN IT’S RAINY OR CLOUDY?
Solar will produce electricity any time there is light, even on cloudy and rainy days. Your system will generate more power, of course, on sunny days – especially the longer days of summer.
DO SOLAR PANELS WORK IN A BLACKOUT?
Unless you have battery backup, solar systems are designed to shut down in the case of a power failure. While that may sound counter-intuitive, it is a safety precaution to prevent the accidental electrocution of utility employees working to restore your power. Battery backup and storage systems are available for those who want to guarantee their home has power even in the event of extended power outages.
CAN I PUT SOLAR ON MY TYPE OF ROOF?
Not all roofing materials lend themselves to solar installation. However, Future Energy Savers’ professional installation crews have the experience and expertise to tackle even the most challenging roofs. If it can be done, we can do it! In those cases where the roof is simply not an option, we can also build free standing “ground-mount” arrays.
HOW MUCH MAINTENANCE IS INVOLVED?
Not all solar is created equal. So-called “low price” systems often use components that require ongoing maintenance and/or frequent, expensive replacement. High quality components can provide a long system life that’s virtually maintenance free and actually costs much less in the long run.
HOW LONG WILL MY SOLAR SYSTEM LAST?
In general, standard solar panels typically last for 20-25 years, while other essential components (like the inverter, for example) may need to be replaced every 10-12 years or sooner. High quality, high-endurance solar systems, on the other hand, will reliably generate electricity at high levels to meet your needs for 40 years or more.
IS “HIGH-QUALITY” SOLAR REALLY WORTH THE EXTRA INVESTMENT?
As with most things, “lowest price” usually doesn’t translate to “lowest cost” or “best value.” We all know the adage “you get what you pay for.” It’s no different with solar. Cheaper systems usually mean more maintenance and replacement of expensive components over time, and those extra costs can more than eat up any “savings” you thought you got by paying a lower price in the beginning. In solar, quality really does make a difference!
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO INSTALL SOLAR?
Future Energy Savers can design and install most systems within 2-3 weeks from the time you select your system options, including permits and utility or other required approvals. Your system will be powered up after a final inspection by your utility company, usually within another week or two. Shorter installation and start-up times mean you start saving money sooner!
WHAT ARE TIME-OF-USE OR TIME-OF-DAY RATES?
Time-of-Use (TOU) rates refer to the new way that California utilities are charging customers for electricity. By significantly increasing rates during high-demand, or “peak” periods, utilities hope to reduce their costs during the most expensive times of the day and ease the load on an already-strained power grid. Unfortunately for homeowners, those are the very hours when we need – and use – electricity the most, meaning higher and higher electricity bills!
WHAT IS NET METERING?
Net Metering is the system utilities use to credit solar-owners for the electricity their systems produce. With net metering, you only pay for energy that you use in excess of what your system produces, if any.
WHAT IS “PHOTOVOLTAIC” (“PV”)?
The term “Photovoltaic” (or “PV”) refers to the process of converting sunlight into electricity. It is derived from “phos,” the Greek word for light, and “volt,” the term for electric force.