We want to install solar and reduce our utility bills. If we do not have a southern exposure should we still consider solar and what about leasing vs. purchase?
A southern exposure is the most favorable and the easiest to design, however any of the other exposures, north, east or west will still generate energy, but you need to have a relatively superior designer that can make the system work for your roof. There are perfect placements that will generate maximum energy.
There are benefits to both leasing and purchasing of a solar system. If the system is purchased, the property owner owns the system; the property owner will receive the benefits of all rebates and any tax credits. If the system is leased, these benefits stay with the leasing company. If the solar system is purchased, 100% of the monthly electrical savings are applied to the homeowner. With any utility increase, the monthly savings to the homeowner will increase as well. If the system is leased, the homeowner will receive approximately $10 to $50 per month in savings – not 100% with the purchased system. Because the system is leased and if utility rates increased, there will be no increase in monthly savings that there is with a purchase system. With the purchased system, the average payback is anywhere from 4-7 years. With a lease, you will more than likely be required to pay for the system at a fair market value at the end of the lease term. An outright purchase will increase the value of your home according to the Appraisal Institute $20.73 for every $1 in annual electrical savings. If you lease the system, it must transfer if you ever sold your home or more than likely you would have to buy out the lease at the time of the sale, which can be costly. Of course, with the purchase, there is the upfront cost, with a lease; there is little or no up front cost, possible the first month payment and an application fee. There is financing available with wonderful low interest rates for a solar loan. Solar prices have dropped over the years, and the incentives have also continued to drop and some say they will disappear all together at some point.