Installing solar electric and/or solar hot water panels is one of the best ways to increase the value of your property, save on your monthly energy bills, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A Typical Grid-tied System
Home Value Appreciation
The practicality of solar goes beyond the monthly energy savings. Recent studies from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkely National Lab found that solar increased the value of homes by $5,500 per kilowatt installed.
Cost Savings and Reduced Emissions
Fossil fuel costs continue to rise and the emissions associated with fossil fuels are impacting our environment. Solar energy has zero emissions and the cost of solar has fallen sharply.
- Tax Credit: There is a 30% Federal Tax Credit for solar energy systems (available for both photovoltaics and solar water heating systems). Work with your solar installer and tax advisor to determine if you are eligible. More info here.
- Solar Water Heating Rebates: Eligible solar domestic hot water systems can receive a rebate from SoCal Gas for $70.00 per therm saved, up to $10,238. More info at the SoCalGas website: www.solarwaterheating101.com
- New Construction Rebate (New Solar Homes Partnership): Southern California Edison customers who commit to installing a solar PV system in conjunction with construction of a new, energy efficient home are potentially eligible for a rebate. Rebates are determined based on the expected performance of the solar system to encourage high-quality installations.
The incentive structure is divided into three incentive levels based on the energy efficiency of the home. The lowest incentive, "Code -Compliant," is available for homes that meet the 2013 Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24 Standards). The next highest incentive is "Tier 1," which is for buildings that exceed the energy efficiency requirements of California's current Title 24 Standards by at least 15%. The highest incentive, "Tier 2," is for buildings that exceed overall Title 24 Standards by at least 30% and exceed space cooling efficiency by the same margin. For example, the current incentive level for market-rate housing, step 8, provides between 50 cents and $1.25 per watt incentive, based on the energy efficiency of the project.
For NSHP FAQ, click here.
For all details on the New Solar Homes Partnership, including eligibility requirements and how to apply, see the Guidebook here: NSHP Guidebook Ninth Edition
There are many financing options: from traditional home equity loans, credit cards, and loans from solar installers, to the new PACE financing.
The City of Santa Monica is proud to offer Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing to Santa Monica property owners through the HERO Program. HERO is the #1 energy efficiency financing program in the United States and in 2014, HERO partnered with the City of Santa Monica to make energy efficient, water efficient, and renewable energy products more affordable for homeowners.
HERO offers low-fixed interest rates, flexible payment terms including 5/10/15/20 years for most products, and repayments are made through your property taxes. Additionally, if the property is sold before the HERO Financing is paid in full, the remaining payments can be passed on to a new property owner.
For more information visit: www.heroprogram.com/santamonica
Leasing solar power systems has been a popular option for homeowners thanks to the low-cost of entry. We recommend you compare the leasing options offered by Solar Santa Monica Preferred Contractors. Like leasing a car, there are many factors to consider in a solar lease contract: length of term, price per kWh, price escalator, power production guarantees, and end of term/buy out options. Request purchase, financed, and lease options from your potential solar installers to help you compare.
Plan Your System
Sunny roofspace is required. Look up your address at the LA County Solar Map. If you think there is an error in the aerial image, call us for a personal assessment. The County SolarMap also has resources to help size your system and estimate annual savings.
System sizing is based on your electricity consumption. There is no financial incentive to oversize! Divide your annual kWh usage by 1,600 to estimate the number of kW needed to offset your annual consumption.
Southern California Edison’s Rate Structures
Standard Residential Rate (Rate Schedule D)
- The more energy you use, the more you pay.
- Each household is given a set amount of kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity to use in each tier, each month. Similar to a full "bucket," there is a limit to the kWh you get in each tier.
- Once you use more electricity than is available in the first "bucket," you move to the next "bucket," which has a higher cost per kWh.
- Tier 1 (your baseline) provides electricity at the lowest cost per kWh.
- Tiers 3 and 4 are the most expensive, and when utility rates go up, they usually go up at the higher tiers, first. Every kWh you can save at this level, whether from efficiency or solar, can really lower your bill.
- Southern California Edison online at www.sce.com
Time-of-Use: Use Power in "Off-Peak" Hours and Save
Depending on your electricity usage habits, after installing solar it may be beneficial to switch from the tiered rate structure to a time-of-use (TOU) rate structure. If you use most of your electricity from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and all hours on weekends, you could benefit from Time-of-Use rates, which are lower than standard rates during certain periods.
Electric Vehicle Rates
SCE offers special electricity rate plans for EV owners. Learn more at www.sce.com/ev
Find a Contractor
If you're like most residents we talk to, buying solar is something brand new!
That's why Solar Santa Monica decided to go to the effort to find solar contractors who:
- meet city license and insurance requirements
- make personal visits before issuing a proposal
- carry the state solar rebate
- offer options for web monitoring and maintenance contracts
- offer standard warranties
- act in a professional manner
- have references available
- report on Santa Monica installations completed
We have solar electricity (photovoltaic), solar hot water (solar thermal), and solar pool heating experts on our list. These contractors were screened and selected after a memorandum of understanding was agreed upon.
Our local contractors offer free site-visits. Call three so you have experience, bids, equipment, and services to compare. Find a Contractor.