Nine times out of ten a homeowners most expensive bill in their home is electricity. Solar can help that.
There are few certainties when it comes to household expenses. Last year’s sudden ice storms and pandemic shortages led to increased costs, with the looming possibility of rate hikes still on the horizon.
Even as household expenses steadily tick upward, how much you’ll be paying for electricity doesn’t have to be a question mark. Solar power is a solution more and more homeowners use to control their expenses and lock in what they’ll pay. Solar Power of Oklahoma’s solar system installations are up 275% this year over last — a trend that carries across the solar industry.
Jeff Jarrett, SPO solar advisor, sees firsthand how solar power makes sense as an investment, with short- and long-term gains. A new homeowner himself, Jarrett recently had solar power installed on his home and helps other property owners find out if it’s a good fit from a financial perspective.
“Most people are not looking to spend more than they already are on their electricity bill. Our customers stay at or below their current budget but they gain equity,” said Jarrett. “What’s different about solar compared to continuing to pay into your municipal utility provider is whether you pay cash or get a super low interest loan, that payment has an end date and it adds value to your home.”
Jarrett, a biomedical engineer with a minor in mathematics, likens solar power system installation to owning a home versus renting.
“Month after month, you are already spending on electricity. It is an inevitable expense that varies depending on usage and what the utility provider has to charge customers. You could take the same money you’re never getting any kind of return on and lock in a fixed rate for the next 20 years or until you decide to pay it off,” said Jarrett. “It’s the same reason people buy a house instead of renting. You are forever renting from your power company.”
Financing options typically replace the amount of money dedicated to an electricity bill each month. Jarrett looks at an average bill, multiples it by 12 months times the average loan period, up to 25 years, to talk through what homeowners can expect to pay for electricity over subsequent decades.
“Electric companies raise rates year over year, on average about 3.4% annually. It’s hard to say what those increases will be in five or 10 years. Even if there are zero rate increases and without factoring in inflation, setting up a predictable expense helps families plan,” said Jarrett.
Working with a traditional lender is an option to finance solar power systems. Jarrett recommends visiting your bank or credit union and comparing rates, as with any other loan. SPO can also offer three quotes from its lender portal.
“We do not make commission off the loans financed through the lenders we work with,” explained Jarrett. “The cost, rates and overall financial aspect of working with Solar Power of Oklahoma is the same regardless of who you finance through.”
The benefits of financing with SPO’s lenders are streamlining the paperwork process and accessing low interest rates with approved credit. Sunlight Financial, for example, offers a 0.99% interest rate. Credit scores of 640 or higher and without a recent history of bankruptcy typically qualify.
The loan application is routed through a single point of contact, an assigned solar advisor like Jarrett who can submit basic personal information online and get pre-qualification status with upfront interest rates immediately. A hard pull on the applicant’s credit does not even take place until the system is installed. Mosaic and GoodLeap are the other lenders SPO works with directly.
“We are fully transparent with all the options when it comes to lending,” said Jarrett. “Military personnel and some families with a background in agriculture may have other financing available to them.”
An important incentive for new customers is the 26% federal tax credit, a direct deduction of equipment and installation costs. Property owners have 18 months to file for and receive the credit, which can then be applied to the loan. The balance is reamortized. Payments usually start at 74% in light of applying the credit; however, if a homeowner chooses to instead apply the lump sum of cash to a different expense and instead finance 100% of their solar power system, they have the choice to do so.
“Because life is unpredictable, it can be a good thing to have a chunk of change headed your way, however you choose to apply that tax credit,” said Jarrett. “Nine times out of 10, electricity is the second biggest bill in the home but there’s no return on what you’re paying in since you’re basically renting a service. With solar, it’s a fixed rate and it’s equity. You control your usage and you own the equipment that in turn increases your home’s value.”
The loan is also transferable if the property is sold or the solar power system can actually be relocated to the owner’s new property. The added value from the sale of the home could also be used to simply pay off the loan.
Jarrett recommends securing your payment and factoring it into monthly household expenses, then saving or investing the difference from a traditional electric bill.
“It can actually be a good starting point to invest, especially if you’re in your forever home or a property you know you’ll stay in for at least 10 years,” said Jarrett. “If you take that balance of what you’re paying month over month and compare it to your electric bills from past years, especially during the summer’s peak season for air conditioner use and in high use winter weather, you’ll see the savings there, too.”
Through life’s uncertainties, SPO offers local service you can count on; unlike other solar power companies, Solar Power of Oklahoma is Oklahoma-owned and operated, with technicians who strive for same-day service.
If you have questions about whether solar power is right for your home, Jarrett and his co-workers can sit down with you to go over finance information. Tour SPO’s office and showroom at 14800 Santa Fe Crossing, or fill out the form below to get started.