Food, music, sustainability — Austin, Texas is the perfect place for solar. That’s why we’ve put together a guide on going solar for Austinites just like you. Read along and we’ll walk through the process of putting solar panels on your home or business.
Step 1. Determine if your home or business is right for solar.
There are a few indicators that can help you decide if your property is right for solar. Does your home or business have a lot of exposed sun and is the roof in good condition? Is it relatively free from roof obstructions or trees? Does it face south, west or east?
Step 2: Think through your goals.
Are you interested in solar to save money on your electric bill? Or are you more concerned about avoiding power outages? Want to do your part for the environment? Whatever your goals are, it’s a good idea to articulate them early in the process.
Step 3: Do the math.
To know if a solar system makes financial sense, you’ll need to do the numbers. Fortunately, there are lots of solar calculators out there (here’s ours), which will help you figure out how much solar will cost, and what you can expect to save.
Step 4: Contact solar providers for a proposal.
Contact local solar companies with excellent reviews (such as Longhorn!). Your contractor will determine the right size of your system based on your home’s specifics, as well as your historical energy and whether you have plans to buy an EV or install batteries for backup power.
Right-sizing means you have the right number of panels on your roof to produce enough clean energy to power your home, but not more, and ideally, not less. The system design should be clearly presented in a proposal for your review, with all the financials as well as equipment specifications, clearly laid out.
Step 5: Compare your solar proposals.
If you contact more than one solar installer, and we recommend that you do, it can be difficult to compare different proposals. With different equipment and designs, the best way to compare costs apples-to-apples is to look at the price per watt. The proposal should also factor in any rebates and the federal tax credit.
In its Solar Education Program, which is required to qualify for the solar rebate, Austin Energy recommends calculating the price per watt after any installer or equipment discounts and before the tax credit. (Be sure to talk to a tax professional to confirm your eligibility to receive the tax credit.)
Here’s a handy chart that shows how to calculate price per watt.
Of course, price isn’t the only way to compare proposals. Make sure you understand any differences in the type of solar panel technology being used, as well as long-term product and performance warranties. In Austin, a good rule of thumb is the price should be no more than $4.00/watt, and could be much less.
Be sure to evaluate your solar provider on all these components, consider their longevity in the business, and their ability to stand behind product and performance warranties.
Step 6: Schedule your solar installation.
Your installer should schedule the date of your installation based on when the equipment will arrive, usually within 30-60 days after the contract is signed. The only preparation you should need to do is to make sure your electric panel is accessible to the installation team. At Longhorn, we are committed to working quickly and efficiently to install your system in 1 to 3 days. Once the system is installed and inspected, it will start producing power.
Step 7: Enjoy your energy savings from solar!
Once your system starts churning out clean energy, you begin to save money on your power bill from day one. In the case of Austin Energy, the utility will credit your bill for the amount of solar you produce using something called a “Value of Solar” formula. The amount of solar energy produced (expressed in kilowatt hours on your meter and on your bill) gets multiplied by a value of solar rate, currently $9.9 cents per kilowatt hour of energy produced.
If you live in an area outside the city of Austin, your utility may be Pedernales Valley Coop or Bluebonnet Electric Coop. Both coops also credit your bill for the energy you produce on site using slightly different formulas. Your Longhorn solar advisor can provide more details on these programs.
The steps to going solar in Austin are not complicated, but it does take time to go through the whole process — usually between six weeks and three months from beginning to end. The actual installation is brief, but to make sure you are making the right decision, we recommend you take time to carefully evaluate the options.
At Longhorn, we take pride in being the “no hassle” solar provider in Central Texas. We will never pester you or use hard sales tactics. If you have questions about solar for your home or business, feel free to contact us anytime.
Ready to take the next step on solar? Reach out to us for a free estimate.