The switch is on--to solar energy

Usually, when someone says “The switch is on,” they’re talking about an electric switch. They may be talking to a youngster, thinking about the electricity being used, their rising utility bills – maybe even about protecting the environment.

But every day, because of my work, I witness firsthand a different kind of switch that’s on – the switch to solar energy.

Homeowners and commercial property owners are discovering the many benefits and affordability of ‘going solar.’ There’s a learning curve as with any ‘new’ technology – though using sunlight to get warm or for power isn’t really so new! But there are surprising advances in technology coupled with financial incentives that make the installation of solar shingles or panels a no-brainer.

First, Massachusetts homes get more sun than you think. The annual average is four sun hours per day, ranging from less than two in the winter to over five in the summer. We get 50% more sunshine per day than Germany, a world leader in solar installations.

Homeowners who need to replace their roof -- (How old is yours? Roofs typically last 20-30 years) -- may wish to consider installing solar singles at the same time. The cost will be higher, of course, but the payback and advantages far outweigh the initial investment.

There are Federal energy credits (a rebate of 30% off the installation price). There are Mass. Solar Program grants, and state income tax credits. Homeowners can earn Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC) and sell these to the utility! Now, that’s truly something new under the sun.

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