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Powering your home with solar energy is about as green as you can go. The benefits to the earth are well known, but there are some financial rewards to replacing traditional carbon-based power with solar power as well. Solar is an investment; you must actively go out and purchase solar equipment and install it on your home. However, after the initial costs, you save money from lowered energy bills and will see the value of your home increase.

If you install a solar water heater system for $4,000 and it saves you $50 a month on your power bill, the system will pay for itself in 80 months, or 6 years, 8 months.

Historical data indicates that, when you install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, you will automatically recoup nearly 100 percent of your investment. If you spend $25,000 on a PV system, your home's value will increase by around $25,000, maybe even more if utility rates increase precipitously.

In short, if you install solar, you'll be relatively risk free from exploding energy costs. If you install a solar PV system that produces as much electricity as you use in your home, you'll never have to worry about paying another electric bill. And you won't have to worry about utility rate increases.

When you go solar, your home increases in value. According to the National Association of Real Estate Appraisers (NAREA), for every dollar you save annually in energy costs with solar equipment, the value of your home increases by up to 20 times your annual energy savings, depending on the type of system you install. For a solar water heater investment of $4,000, the value of your home may increase by at least that much! How can this be? Solar is catching on, and homebuyers are willing to pay more for solar homes that promise energy savings. People are more and more willing to invest in energy systems that are clean and reliable, compared to the fossil fuel mainstay. In some communities, a solar home will sell much faster than a conventional home, and this may be important if you need to move quickly.

Right now, a wide range of government and industry programs are available to help you finance your solar investments. Governments are giving out tax breaks, utilities are offering rebates, and low-interest loans are available for solar investments. The net effect is to make your solar projects less expensive and more attractive on the bottom line. With any solar investment, it's important to consider the net cost, which is the original cost of the equipment minus any subsidies and rebates. For a PV system, the net cost can be as low as one-half of the original cost, which is a considerable savings.

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