Solar Powered Homes Gaining Popularity

December 24, 2013

Got Solar?

Americans are finally catching on to the concept that solar energy is renewable and can reduce utility costs. Back in February 2013, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) published the results of its 2012 home buyer preferences survey. It revealed that energy efficiency is the number one attraction in today’s housing market. Since solar power is a great source for renewable energy, it’s no wonder the technology has taken off.

Even though they are still in the minority, the number of homes powered by the sun is on the rise. The actual solar modules or panels used to convert solar energy into electricity are referred to as “photovoltaic” or PV systems.

Across the country, state and local governments are working in conjunction with federal programs and offering tax incentives and rebates for solar energy conversions. It’s a good thing too, considering that the NAHB survey found that today’s homeowners rank the importance of having energy efficient components in a home as very high.

In 2005, Congress created a 30 percent tax credit for homeowners who made energy efficient upgrades. The IRS confirmed that, “this program promoted a total of $1.5 billion in solar property in approximately 100,000 homes in 2010.”

A November 29th story on, reported on the “Solarize Connecticut” campaign. The effort is backed by a $27 million fund that is being made possible by utility ratepayers. noted that, “the goal of this statewide effort is to boost nonpolluting energy, reduce demand on the electric grid relied upon by utilities and cut dependence on overseas sources of power such as oil.” It was also confirmed by Bob Wall, the director of Connecticut’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, that the agency is running solar panel installation campaigns in 22 of the state’s 169 towns and cities and has completed solar energy installation campaigns in nine towns. Over 2100 CT homes have been slated for solar conversions in the last 22 months. Although CT is to be commended for this effort, the U.S. Department of Energy says that virtually every state offers loans, grants, rebates and other incentives to support broader use of residential solar panels.

Recent data from two studies from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (“Tracking the Sun VI” and “SEIA/GTM Research U.S. Solar Market Insight 2012 Year in Review”), provided details that mapped out the state-level counts of solar-powered single-family homes. Their “heat” map, illustrates the share of the single-family housing stock in each state that used PV systems through 2012.

Not surprisingly, the largest count of solar-power homes is in California, with a total of more than 143,000 houses. Coming in second is Arizona with nearly 24,000 residential solar powered properties. The trend definitely appears to have strong footing in both Hawaii and New Jersey. Those two states each have more than 15,000 homes with PV systems.

It makes sense that the warmer, dryer, western region of the U.S. would be more of a hotbed of activity for solar power awareness. The NAHB information indicates a large percentage of solar-powered residences are concentrated in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. Analysts for the study reflected that the explanation might be due to higher income levels in those areas that allow homebuyers to achieve their desired housing preferences. Furthermore, in NJ, the combination of state renewable energy rules and monetary incentives is sizeable. NAHB’s analytical team also pointed out that those states with more expensive electric costs, such as those in the northern region, have even more motivation to tap into solar power.

Looking ahead, it appears inevitable that the appeal of solar energy for residential use with only increase in popularity. In addition to the tax credits, there is a growing movement among architects, builders, and developers to go green which means more solar installations at the residential level.

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