Do Solar Panels Save Money?


What you need to know about the costs and savings of solar

Solar panels help reduce emissions, but do they actually save money? The quick answer is yes. But how much, over how long? A 4kW solar system can generate between 20 to 100% of your home’s power throughout a year depending on how much sun you get and your electricity usage. That’s a nice reduction on your Hydro bill, but of course there are costs, especially up front.

So where and when do the savings kick in?

Think of installing solar panels as a long-term investment in your home. Installation costs are high and there are ongoing maintenance costs. It may take 10 years for the electricity savings to offset the total price of going solar. However, after that the benefits really start kicking in. You have a home that’s been upgraded, thus increasing its value. You continue producing your own energy without the cost of continually rising utility rates.

In other words, the longer you stay there, the more exponential the solar savings become.

One way to dodge the initial sticker shock is through Canadian incentives to go solar. Some cities have offered city and provincial rebates that cover 40% of the installation. Check for government programs in your municipality – making the switch at the right time could greatly reduce your initial outlay.

Where you live also affects long-term savings. A solar system offers more pronounced savings in provinces with higher electricity rates. Hydro prices are highest in Saskatchewan, PEI, and Nova Scotia, lowest in Quebec and Manitoba.

Keep in mind that solar panels don’t completely eliminate your old electricity bill. Instead, your home and your utility company continually exchange energy. Your home draws power from the grid when needed, and provides power back to the grid when excess energy has been stored in your batteries. The credits you earn from your utility company offset your bill when you need to rely on the power grid at night or during the winter.

The bottom line is that converting your home to solar power is an investment in future savings and the future of the environment. The sooner Canadians jump on the solar bandwagon, the greater the long-term benefits will be for their homes and for the conservation of Canada’s resources.

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