Houston homeowners, are you curious about whether solar panels are worth it?
Houston, known as the Energy Capital of the World, is home to an extensive network of energy companies including oil, natural gas, and renewable energy corporations. And Houston is a notable player in the social energy space as well, ranking in the top 20 at #16 for total installed solar PV capacity. (1)
If you’re thinking about getting a solar panel system to tap into the ample Texas sunshine and cut down on your regular electricity usage, it’s essential to take a close look at the costs and benefits. In this article, we’ll break down the pros, cons and financial considerations related to solar panels specifically for Houston. You’ll get an idea of whether you can get a good return on your investment. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to make a smart decision.
This will empower you to make an informed decision for a brighter future in Houston. Let’s explore the benefits and opportunities that solar energy can bring to your Houston home.
Understanding solar energy and its benefits
Solar panels work by capturing sunlight and converting it into electricity using a process called the photovoltaic effect. When sunlight hits the panels, special cells inside them absorb the light and generate an electric current. This current is then converted from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) through an inverter, making it usable to power your home.
Now, here’s the cool part: solar energy offers impressive benefits, including:
- Reduced dependence on the power grid.
- A clean, renewable and eco-friendly energy source.
- The opportunity to possibly lower your electric bills*.
- Protection from power outages if you add solar batteries**.
As you can see, solar panels are an attractive option for Houston homeowners who want to enjoy some of the benefits they provide.
As of July 2023, the current average residential electric rate in Texas is 14.19 cents per kWh—about 8.4% higher than 2022 rates. (2) Fortunately, solar energy gives you the chance to protect yourself from rising electricity rates.
There are a couple of different ways you could possibly enjoy energy savings by going solar:
- Use your solar panel system to power components of your home during the day, when the sun is shining.
- Add solar batteries and use solar energy as a source of power at night.
- Get credits on your electric bill by participating in net metering with your utility company1.
Net metering is a program that allows you to sell back your unused solar energy to your utility company. This energy is then fed into the power grid. Earning credits, which are applied to future electric bills, can help you save money on energy costs.
Solar panels help reduce your carbon footprint by supplying clean energy. They don’t release greenhouse gases, which pollute the environment, when they’re operating. (3) By opting for solar energy, Houston homeowners can actively participate in mitigating climate change and promoting sustainable practices within their community.
Sustainability has proven a top priority for Houston. The city ranks #1 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership Top 30 Local Government list. (4) All City of Houston municipal facilities are powered by 100% renewable energy. (5) These efforts contribute to the goals that Houston set in its Climate Action Plan:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Meet the Paris Agreement goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
- Lead a global energy transition.
Increase the resale value of your Houston home
In addition to the other benefits discussed earlier, getting solar panels installed can increase your home value. The results of a recent survey found that home listings with solar spend 13.3% less time on the market and are 24.7% more likely to sell over ask. (7)
A growing number of Houston homeowners are realizing the advantages of using solar energy. This recognition has helped solar panel systems become a desirable selling feature.
Protect your home with solar backup batteries
Texas was hit with a catastrophic power outage in 2021 due to the instability of the ERCOT grid. A severe winter storm knocked out power to more than 4.5 million homes. The fallout included 57 deaths and over $195 billion in property damage. (8) This disaster is especially concerning because of how many families depend on it to power their homes. Demand on the ERCOT grid is high, with 90% of the state’s population getting electricity from it. (9)
The 2021 Texas power crisis is far from the only time the grid has failed Houston homeowners. Power outages are a big pain point for Texans. Add severe weather events like hurricanes and winter storms that affect the area on a regular basis, and you have a real problem.
Solar panels won’t supply power to your home during an outage on their own. You’ll need a solar battery backup to make it happen. Solar panel batteries collect and store excess energy your solar panels generate during the day. You can then use the stored energy at night or during a power outage.
Keep in mind that the greater your energy needs are, and the more things you want to power, the more batteries you’ll need to add. The number of batteries you need depends entirely on your individual situation and factors like the size of your system.
A Solar Energy Specialist would be happy to walk you through the factors you should consider when making decisions about adding a solar battery backup.
Evaluating your Houston home’s solar potential
Before deciding whether solar is worth it for your Houston home, it’s crucial to assess your specific circumstances and preferences. Consider the following factors to make an informed decision:
- How much sunlight versus shade your roof gets.
- The direction your roof faces.
- Your average monthly energy costs.
- How much energy your family uses on average.
- Whether your roof needs to be replaced.
Not all homes may be ideal for solar panels due to factors such as roof orientation, shading from trees or surrounding buildings and structural limitations. Before proceeding with a solar panel installation, we recommend you conduct a professional assessment to determine the suitability of your home and explore alternative solutions if necessary. One of our Solar Energy Specialists would be happy to help.
Your home’s energy consumption
Homeowners paying higher electricity bills will benefit more from solar panels. Why?
First, you can use solar energy in place of electricity from the grid during the day. If you add solar batteries, you can use it at night, as well. Second, if your utility provider offers a net metering program, you can earn credits on your electric bill by sending surplus energy to the grid.
Some households use very little energy, which typically results in a lower bill. Going solar might not be that beneficial for these families. The best way to determine how much energy your family uses is to speak with a Solar Energy Specialist. They can work with you to come up with an estimate of your energy consumption.
Consider your home’s roof
There are several factors about your roof to consider when deciding whether to go solar.
The condition of your roof is one of these things. Get an evaluation done of your roof’s condition if the roof is older. This is important because if your roof needs repairs or a complete replacement, it’s essential to get the work done before installing solar panels. A Solar Energy Specialist would be happy to share more details about what it could mean for you.
Other factors to think about include:
- How much space the roof has.
- The pitch angle of the roof.
- Whether the roof faces south or east/west.
- How much sun exposure the roof gets.
These considerations determine everything from how many panels can fit on your roof to how much energy your solar panel system produces.
Houston’s climate is ideal for solar panels
Houston’s climate, characterized by high humidity and occasional severe weather events, may raise concerns about the performance and durability of solar panels. However, it’s important to note that modern solar panels are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, including hail and strong winds.
Additionally, the abundant sunshine in Houston can offset any minor reduction in energy production during cloudy or rainy days. Houston gets 204 sunny days per year on average. (10) This is above the national average, making the city a great place for homeowners to go solar. Solar panels can still generate energy on cloudy days or during periods of rain, albeit at a lower rate. This means that a solar panel system can still pay off even during wet Houston summers.
Cost of going solar
One of the primary concerns for homeowners considering solar panels is the upfront investment required. The cost of solar panel installations can vary based on factors such as the size of the system, panel efficiency and installation labor. However, it’s crucial to remember that while the initial investment may be significant, it can be recouped over time through energy savings and incentives.
A Solar Energy Specialist can walk you through the different cost factors and come up with an estimate of how much going solar could cost you. They can help you decide whether getting a solar energy system installed is a good investment for you.
Financial incentives for installing solar panels
In Houston, homeowners who install solar panels can benefit from various tax incentives and rebates offered by both the state and federal governments. These incentives can help offset the upfront costs and make solar installations more affordable.
It’s essential to research the available incentives and consult with professionals to maximize your financial advantages. Understanding and maximizing these incentives can significantly improve the financial viability of solar panels.
Solar incentives that Houston homeowners might qualify for include:
- Federal solar investment tax credit—Now known as the residential clean energy credit, this incentive allows homeowners with eligible solar panel systems to claim a federal tax credit worth 30% the cost of their system. You can find out how the residential clean energy credit works from our helpful guide.
- Net metering—In a net metering arrangement, the homeowner receives credits from their utility company for any solar energy they send back to the grid. These credits can lower their bill or even zero it out completely. In some cases, homeowners might even get a negative bill.
You can learn more about Houston solar incentives by reading our helpful guide or by speaking with a Solar Energy Specialist.
How to choose a reputable solar installer in Houston
You should only work with a reputable solar panel installer or energy consultant who can assess your home, provide accurate cost estimates and address any specific concerns or questions you may have. Their expertise will ensure that you receive customized recommendations tailored to your unique situation.
A good solar installer will:
- Be NABCEP certified.
- Be properly licensed.
- Provide solid warranties.
- Have good reviews.
- Be established as a company.
Red flags to look out for include:
- “Free” solar panels scams.
- Questionable leases.
- Shady power purchase agreements.
So, is solar worth it in Houston?
Solar panels in Houston can be a worthwhile investment due to the region’s ample sunlight and potential cost savings. By installing solar panels, homeowners can reduce their dependence on traditional electricity sources, potentially leading to lower utility bills over time. Additionally, Houston’s supportive policies and incentives for renewable energy make it an opportune city for using solar power.
Schedule a free solar consultation with ADT Solar
Still not sure if a solar panel system is the right choice for your Houston home? Let one of our Solar Energy Specialists help you determine that with a free, no-obligation solar consultation.
This article was originally published in December 2021.