Solar Power for Homes Increases Resale Values

Here’s an idea to boost your home’s resale value: install a residential solar power system. Recent studies show that homes that have solar energy systems can increase their values to the point that the increase in sale price covers the investment made by the homeowner in the solar installation itself.

The Proof is in the Research

In the spring of 2011, the US Dept. of Energy (DOE) released the findings of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at UC Berkeley which studied California home sales between the years 2000 and 2009. Of the approximately 72,000 homes tallied, researchers noted that the 2,000 houses that had solar energy systems sold for a significantly higher price than the others, all other things being equal. This “solar premium” was estimated to be between $4 and $6 per watt or around $17,000 for a 3100-watt system. Interestingly, it was found that very old systems and those that were built into new construction did not command the price premium of houses whose installations were not too old and not too new, but apparently “just right”.

Another study released in July of 2011 by the National Bureau of Economic Research also noted the solar premium enjoyed by solar-powered homes. This report showed that home solar power systems were responsible for a 3.5% hike in sale prices in the counties of San Diego and Sacramento between 2003 and the present. In addition, the DOE states in its “Homebuilder’s Guide to Going Solar” that a solar-powered home will sell nearly twice as fast as a house without solar. They also mention polls where consumers indicate that they would like to see builders of new homes offer solar as a standard feature.

Consumers are Warming to Solar Energy

Why are buyers willing to pay so much more for these homes? Quite simply, because they expect to pay much lower monthly energy bills. DOE notes that for every $1 that is saved on yearly utility bills, the value of the home increased by $20. This certainly shows the emphasis consumers put on energy savings! These savings build up quickly, too: some quick figuring on the Calfinder blog shows that, on average, households using home solar power systems can expect to save approximately 50% off of their annual electricity bills. Add solar thermal into the mix, and the savings increase even more.
It is evident that installing solar power systems for homes now ranks right up there with other home improvement projects, such as renovating kitchens and baths, which give back as much or more than their original cost when the homeowner decides to sell. As far as home solar power is concerned, remember that this particular improvement has the added advantage of drastically decreasing a household’s energy bills after the project goes online. That is something that can’t be said about a redesigned kitchen or bath!

What Could You Save?

To figure out what you could save with a solar energy installation, use one of the many solar calculators online to figure out variables such as your current energy usage and costs, how large a solar system you would need, etc. The best calculators will also let you fill in any state or local rebates or subsidies, which you can find at DSIRE. You just may find that, whether you are planning to sell or not, a solar-powered home is a great investment anyway.