Solar Homes: Understanding Its Popularity in Utah

There are many reasons to get solar power for your home. In Utah, some weigh more heavily than others, particularly efficiency, price, and environmental concerns.

Elevation and the Sun

The concentration of sunlight or solar radiation increases by 6 to 8 percent for every 1,000 feet of elevation. At 4,000 feet, Salt Lake City receives 24 to 32 more sunlight than cities at sea level. The higher intensity is ideal for solar panels. They can be installed with minimal adjustments, regardless of the relative angle to the sun. The higher concentration of sunlight also makes your solar power system more efficient, allowing your household to use systems with lower wattage. Although Utah experiences a bit of snow during winter, the skies don’t remain overcast for very long. Carefully cleaning your rooftop panels with a snow broom should get them up and running, and the cooler temperature makes your system even more efficient.

Dropping Costs

solar panel

Advances in technology and prevailing market forces have made solar power systems practically free. From $8.50 per watt, prices have dropped to less than $2. As of October 2020, You can purchase a 10-kW solar power system for $8,000 to $12,000. A 10-kW system produces enough electricity to power a 3-bedroom home and sends a bit of extra to the grid to compensate for your nighttime use. While your home can make do with a smaller system, going bigger sends more electricity to the grid, which should give you credits to cover the winter months. 2021 is a crucial time to buy solar because the federal government’s solar incentives (which can cut your purchase costs by 22 percent) end by 2022.

Utah has its own solar incentive program, which can cut another $1,600 to your purchase costs. Even at $12,000, federal and state incentives should cut the amount to less than $7,800. An FHA loan at 5 to 7 percent shouldn’t have you paying more than $100 a month on a 10-year term ($155 if you opt for a 5-year term), and the savings on your electricity bill should cover your monthly premiums. Once you’re done paying, you’ll still have 25 to 35 years of free electricity, saving you another $25,000 to $35,000.

Cleaning the Air

Utah’s reliance on fossil fuels is the main reason for its poor air quality, especially during winter inversions. Installing a solar power system allows your home to achieve net-zero energy consumption from the grid. Solar-powered homes minimize the energy demand from the grid, allowing it to reduce production, and decrease the use of fossil fuels. You can even go to the next step and switch to an electric vehicle. Charging an electric car is practically free with your system, and you won’t be sending smoke and other particulates into the air. While electric cars can cost a bit more than the usual, you will save more than $2,000 on fuel each year, making them worth the money.

Utah is an ideal place for solar power, and more than a few Utahns have figured it out. The state has one of the highest rates of residential solar installations, and residents are doing it as much for the savings as they are for the environment.

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