PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

Solar Homes

Homebuyers in California have fallen in love with their new energy-efficient homes, which feature solar panels. Their utility bills are only $50 a month, compared to over $200 for a comparable house.

In order to lower the cost of the photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, increased insulation levels and other energy saving features like ENERGY STAR windows and appliances were first implemented. By decreasing the overall energy need, a smaller and less expensive PV system could be used.

The solar panels' cost was further reduced by 50% with a rebate from the local utility, ConSol. The panels also qualified for a federal tax credit that lowers the cost by another $2,000.

This was the first time that the builder installed solar panels, and although it took him a little while to get up to speed, he is now a big fan, and plans to install them on more homes because of the positive response from homeowners.

What does this mean for you? Don't accept 'no' as an answer from a builder or remodeler who isn't comfortable installing solar panels. Either find a contractor who is willing to install them, or convince your contractor to install them regardless of his or her hesitation.


First lower the home's demand for energy by building an energy-efficient home. Then you can install solar panels. This approach will save you lots of money, and make your home more comfortable.

When you do decide to purchase and install solar panels, there are many local, state and federal rebates to make it more cost-effective. You should also consider whether there are any net metering laws in effect in your area. Net metering mandates that your local utility buy any extra electricity generated by your solar system. It'll make your electric meter run backward!

Read more about this PATH case study.

Content updated on 2/27/2007

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