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Can You Really Eliminate Your Utility Bill with Solar Panels?

May 13, 2022

City Utilities’ Solar Facts 

At City Utilities, we value and support renewable energy now more than ever. Our current power portfolio includes 41% renewable energy made up of wind, solar, hydro, and landfill gas. Solar prices have come down significantly in the past few years, but it remains a more expensive form of power. City Utilities is proud to have some of the lowest electricity rates in the region and state, which benefits everyone. Before purchasing solar panels, it is important to consider CU’s low electric rates, the cost of the panels over time, and how financing will factor into your overall costs.

Can I eliminate my utility bill?

You may have heard that you can eliminate your utility bill by installing solar panels. In order to zero out your utility bill, you would need to buy enough panels to cover the entire amount of electricity your household uses on an average day, which may be difficult due to space requirements and costs. For most City Utilities customers, your monthly bill also includes natural gas and water service so investing in solar will only affect the electric portion of your bill.

On average it may take up to 15 years to recover the amount you have spent on solar panels through electric savings – any financing charges will extend that payback period. Consumerreports.org suggests that buying your solar panels outright is best, but if you need to finance your solar panel purchase, the most cost-effective way to do it is to use a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit. Because your home serves as collateral, these options have low interest rates.

It’s important to use the right numbers when considering investing in solar panels.  For a CU residential customer, it is reasonable to use 10 cents per kWh, and an escalation factor of no more than 2% per year.

Considering solar panels? We are available to help answer your questions regarding your electric usage and solar panels. Please call us at (417) 874-8200.

 

Checklist Before You Go Solar

  • Start with making your home more energy efficient. The most effective way to save on energy costs is to limit your usage. Make sure your home is well insulated, your appliances are energy efficient, and you manage your thermostat settings.
  • Determine if your rooftop is a fit for solar panels based on exposure to direct sunlight and the age of your roof. If your roof needs to be replaced, you might incur costs to remove the solar panels and reinstall them.
  • Check with your homeowner’s insurance company about the addition of solar panels to your home.
  • Research the type of system that best fits your home or business’ energy needs.
  • Request proposals from 2-3 reputable solar contractors.
  • Determine whether purchasing or financing the solar panels is in your best interest.


Choosing a Solar Company

  • Verify the solar company has a local office. This is helpful in case you have questions or need to have the solar panels serviced.
  • Verify the solar company has a business license with the City of Springfield.
  • Verify the solar company carries insurance in case someone should get hurt on your property.
  • Ask for references.
  • Check with Better Business Bureau (BBB) regarding the company’s history.


Questions to Ask Your Contractor

 

  • What purchase and financing options are available?
  • What are the terms of financing?
  • What is the interest rate and duration (in years) of the financing agreement?
  • Will my monthly loan payments be equal or less than the savings on my electric bill?
  • What will the total cost be from start to finish including design and installation?
  • What is the warrantied life of the solar panels?
  • What is the warrantied life of the inverter?
  • What are the expected annual operational and maintenance costs?