A reader: Last year, my family moved into a larger home and the utility bills are staggering, especially in the summer time when you need air conditioning. We are now considering solar power. We are noticing lots of advertising by solar companies, but we are not sure what company is right for us. What should we look for when choosing a solar company?
Action Line: Congratulations on your new home! Solar power is very popular right now and there many avenues you can pursue to find what is right for you. Going solar is not only a good option for the environment, but it can also help you shave off money from your utility bill each month. Here are some important tips to consider before you decide to do business with a solar company:
Solar panels are an investment, and you want to be sure the reward outweighs the risk. Discuss with your energy company beforehand to calculate the number of sunny days in your area and your current energy needs. If your monthly electricity bill is under $100 every month you may want to explore other energy-saving options. Be sure to ask about local, state and federal laws concerning the standards and codes of solar panels.
Once you’ve decided to go ahead with installing solar panels make sure you locate a reputable installer. Try asking for recommendations from friends and family, and check with your BBB. Find out how long they’ve been in business and check to see if there have been any complaints filed. Also, make sure they are licensed through the Contractors State License Board since they will be doing work costing over $500.
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Most solar companies offer the choice to buy or lease the solar panels and that may determine what company you decide to hire. Compare costs and how much energy you use to determine what option is right for you. Call around and ask questions, or get recommendations from people you know who have had solar panels installed.
A properly installed solar system will not damage your roof, but you need to still be sure your roof is in good condition before beginning installation to avoid any future problems.
If you decide to go ahead with the installation make sure you thoroughly read over the contract before signing. Don’t sign unless you are 100 percent satisfied with the wording. Also, ask what will happen if the business promises a certain percentage of savings from your utility bill and those savings aren’t achieved. Make sure that is explained in writing.
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Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.