Benefits of Solar Energy
Solar energy offers multiple benefits. Here are some highlights.
- Reduced carbon footprint: Utilizing solar is a surefire way to minimize your carbon footprint and home fossil fuel dependency.
- Better energy independence: Solar systems with energy storage function through blackouts and emergencies, and you won't have to depend on the electrical grid for your safety and comfort.
- Lower utility costs: Producing some or all of your own power will spend less on electricity long-term.
What Solar Incentives Are Available to Chicago Homeowners?
Illinois homeowners who decide on solar could qualify for rebates, special financing, reimbursements and tax credits. Here are just a few of the region's incentive offerings.
Incentive Type: Property Tax Incentive
Incentive Type: Rebate ProgramWebsite: comed.com
Air Purifier: $50
Clothes Washer: $50
Electric Clothes Dryer: $50
Room Air Conditioner: $25
Refrigerator/Freezer Recycling: Free pickup and $50, plus an additional $10 if recycling a room A/C at the same time
Heating & Cooling
Air Source Heat Pump: $400 - $600
Central A/C: $300 - $600
Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump: $400
Geothermal Heat Pump: Up to $6,000/home
Furnace Blower Motor (ECM): $50 - $100
Advanced Power Strip: $10
Air Sealing: Up to $400/home
Attic Insulation: Up to $300/home
Duct Sealing: Up to $500/home
Lighting: In-store discounts, varies
Pool Pump: $275
Smart Thermostat: $100
Wall Insulation: Up to $400/home
Incentive Type: Green Building IncentiveWebsite: cityofchicago.org
50% of Building Permit Fee amount up to $25,000. Varies by project type and sector.
Incentive Type: Solar Renewable Energy Credit ProgramWebsite: icc.illinois.gov
Negotiated with procurement administrators
Incentive Type: Personal Tax CreditWebsite: ecowatch.com
30% federal tax credit for systems placed in service after 12/31/2021 and before 01/01/2033. Good for: solar water heat, solar photovoltaics, biomass, geothermal heat pumps, wind (small), fuel cells using renewable fuels.
How To Choose the Best Solar Company in Chicago
The price and efficiency of solar panels often depend on the solar company that mounted them. Consider each of these criteria in your business search.
Licensing and Training
In Illinois, the state Commerce Commission licenses distributed generation energy contractors, including solar contractors. Solar providers can also earn accreditations from standards organizations and trade groups. The most recognized ones in the industry come from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Most company websites will prominently display earned credentials, but you should also ask your estimator for more information.
Cost of Solar Panels in Chicago
The kind of solar panels you choose decides how much energy you can generate. Monocrystalline panels cost more but give you the best performance. Polycrystalline panels work with a tried-and-true mechanism and cost less, but produce less power. Thin-film panels aren't meant for large home installations, but they're excellent for small projects like sheds and RVs.
You can also add electric car (EV) chargers and battery backup systems. These will increase your total project price, but they can boost your solar system's efficiency. Not all solar contractors provide these additional features, so look for a contractor that installs them if it's essential for you.
A majority of Chicago homeowners choose solar systems sized for five kilowatts (kW) of electrical capacity. These systems run about $18,800 to install, considering both materials and labor. You can see more specific cost information in the table.
|Solar Panel Cost
|Solar Home EV Charger
Financing Solar Energy in Chicago
Choosing the best financing plan will impact your overall solar system cost and expected savings. Common payment options include cash payments, loans, leases, and power purchase agreements. Though it requires a large up-front payment, cash is the most cost-effective choice because it qualifies you for solar incentives and doesn't accrue interest. Solar loans are the second most effective option. As with a car loan or mortgage, you'll pay a monthly rate towards system ownership, including interest. You can still apply for valuable solar incentives, and depending on your lender, you could put as little as $0 down. Solar leases allow you to pay a monthly rate to rent your panels, while a PPA lets you pay a variable rate based on only the energy you use. We generally don't recommend these options since you will not have ownership of your system and are disqualified from solar incentives, but they might be appropriate in particular circumstances. We suggest working with a contractor that offers multiple financing options. Speak with each salesperson about what's available, and get more than one estimate for the best odds of staying within your budget.
The table below lists the average payback periods for different capacities of solar systems in Chicago.
You are eligible for a 26% federal tax credit for new solar power systems until the year 2032. City and state officials and utility companies might also offer discounts, rebates, and dedicated financing plans that could save you more.
|Solar System Capacity
|Estimated Payback period
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Frequently Asked Questions About Solar in Chicago
How much energy and money could I save per year by switching to solar?
How common is solar energy in Chicago?
Will a solar PV system improve my Chicago home price?
Could I still use solar power if I live in a wooded, rainy, or dark area?
How do I care for my new solar system?
What is the average payback period for Chicago solar panels?
What are some "red flags" to watch for as I research companies?
- Aggressive sales pitch
- Being evasive about training and credentials, references, cost and warranties
- "One-size-fits-all" approach
- Superficial, rushed site evaluation
- Limited customer feedback
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