Solar Cost and Savings Factors for San Antonio Homeowners
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If San Antonio’s potential solar buyers only looked at solar costs, no one would buy it. However, that is a bit like looking at any other investment without considering the returns it can provide, especially since many solar companies offer zero-down payment programs. Since solar energy is a home improvement item with multifaceted benefits, the savings and rewards of solar panels drastically outweigh the cost.
One way to view the value of a solar investment is through the comparative cost of solar arrays. Although solar has a seemingly large price tag, when compared to the alternative cost of traditional fossil fuels, solar is the cheaper option. Even though the cost per watt of electricity in San Antonio is low compared to other areas in the US, it still costs more than a solar array over the 25-plus years of its warrantied life, and many systems produce as expected through 40-50-year ranges.
As solar panel performance goes up and solar costs decrease, this gap between solar and fossil fuel viability will continue to increase. The rate hikes that every utility company, including CPS Energy, considers and implements widens this gap even further. Understanding why solar is a great electricity solution turns the decision to install residential solar on a San Antonio home into an easy one.
The Determinants of Solar Savings
Several factors go into the potential savings of solar, making sure that all these factors line up is quite the balancing act. It takes a combination of on and off-the-panel factors, such as solar panel tilt and available space, including the supporting solar policy from the state, the state and applicable utility companies.
The good news is that San Antonio has learned to leverage this balancing act, and to the benefit of homeowners with solar power. There are two main reasons why San Antonio is an ideal place for residential solar installations.
- The first reason is that Texas is one of the sunniest states, which means they get plenty of sunlight year-round.
- The second is that San Antonio’s regulated utility, CPS Energy, has solar policies in place that favor residential installations.
Sunshine Impact on Solar in Texas
Sunlight is significant to solar panel efficiency. While places with little sunlight have proven that solar is still a viable option, it is even better when the sun is shining during the majority of the year. The longer the sun is out, the more power a solar array can generate in a day.
The peak sun hours or daily solar insolation of an area show how much energy a customer can expect to generate per square meter during a day. Texas has one of the highest daily solar readings — meaning an array needs fewer solar panels to reach the home’s energy needs. This is yet another reason why big cities in Texas, like San Antonio, stand to save much more with solar than homeowners in other locations throughout the US.
The Importance of Solid Solar Policy
While having enough sunlight throughout the year is critical, local red tape can impact solar costs as well. Texas has mid-market solar policies in place that make solar a viable option.
In Texas, there is a deregulated electricity market. As a result, net metering isn’t a requirement for utility companies. Cities without net metering policies for solar do not have the same benefits for homeowners regarding battery backup, which can safeguard consumers from reduced ROI on surplus power exported back onto the grid. However, in cities like San Antonio, where an environmentally-conscious municipality is in charge, net metering is available.
CPS Energy has a rebate program for residential solar installations as well as a net metering program. Texas also exempts solar from property taxes — yet another benefit for San Antonio homeowners.
In addition to these state and utility solar policies, the federal government has a solar tax credit that covers a significant amount of the cost of solar. All of these solar policies make solar easier for San Antonio homeowners to install.
San Antonio Solar Savings Calculators
One of the most common ways San Antonio’s potential solar customers search for general solar costs is through solar cost and savings calculators. There is a wide range of solar calculators on the internet, however, which can make finding accurate information difficult.
According to EnergySage’s solar data, the average cost of solar in 2019 was anywhere from $2.50 and $4.00 per watt. In Texas, the cost per watt was around $2.50. However, the NREL 2018 data showed that the average cost-per-watt was $2.70. These stats showcase why Texas is yet again viable for solar in terms of cost.
Solar products used, labor fees and permitting costs associated with the install all impact the cost of solar. However, the price of solar compared to local utility costs over the life of the array determines the savings of solar.
Programming Behind Solar Savings Calculators
Inputting all these variables would take forever, which is why solar calculators aren’t an accurate picture of the cost of solar. They don’t take into account all the variables at play, but they can steer you in the right direction.
While this is the case with any solar calculator, some are better than others. Company-specific savings calculators, such as Go Solar Group’s San Antonio Solar Savings Calculator, take into account the specific products used and the utilities in the areas they serve.
Making sure the solar calculator is taking into account factors that apply to the home’s area and products purchased is vital to the accuracy of any solar calculator estimate.
Why Solar Cost and Savings Calculators Are Different
Solar cost and savings calculators serve different functions. Solar cost calculators give an estimate of how much solar will cost a homeowner. This calculator shows the raw estimated numbers and without any context.
Solar savings calculators, however, take these costs and compare them to the local utility’s rates over the life of the solar array. While these estimates aren’t error-free, they give San Antonio homeowners a better idea of what they can expect to gain from a solar array. These cost estimates show Texans why solar is worth purchasing.