Solar panels

A local homeowner purchased these solar panels which were installed on the back, southern exposure of their roof.

In this day and age of diminishing natural resources, we are all looking for ways to not only save money where we can, but also trying to do the right thing.

Our opportunities continually increase. Car manufacturers now offer energy-efficient models. Appliance and light bulb technology has reduced the energy needed for operation. Home windows and screens are much more energy efficient, and developing energy companies are promising lower monthly bills.

A recent energy-efficient trend that really isn’t new at all is solar, or photovoltaic, panels. They’ve been around a long time but were expensive, and it seemed only NASA and large corporations were utilizing them. But not anymore. The prices have come down dramatically while the technology continued improving. Now, solar panels are affordable for homeowners and are being installed in Central Texas.

There are a few options that should be considered prior to investing and installment. Doing your homework and getting the facts is so important, as it is with any major purchase. There are a few different types of solar panels as well as the option of purchasing or leasing panels.

Leasing solar panels is a growing market, offerings the benefits of solar power without the upfront, down payment costs. The leasing company owns the panels and provides maintenance and upgrades. Leasing panels is growing faster than buying and the homeowner starts saving immediately.

There is a drawback to leasing versus buying solar panels. According to Scot Arey with the Texas Solar Energy Society, “Solar PV systems are a tremendous solution to help hedge against future price increases. Owning your system provides you all the tax benefits of solar. Leasing a system takes away that advantage and may complicate the future sale of your home.”

When purchasing panels, it may take time to pay off the investment, but the owner of the panels can receive federal tax credits and state and energy company payback incentives.

Surprisingly affordable, I think utilizing solar panels is a sensible pathway for homeowners to explore.

Darla Horner Menking is a Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at

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