Retirees and seniors who live on a fixed income know they need to be savvy with their money. For those looking for ways to reduce their bills, one method to consider is investing in solar energy. There are many reasons why solar power offers advantages to seniors. Here is a look at a few of them.

Reduced Energy Bills

Utility bills can be a major drain on a budget of those on a fixed or reduced income, especially during the summer or winter months. A solar power system can reduce or eliminate those bills and remove a sizable monthly burden. Seniors who pay about $100 per month for energy can save about $1,200 each year and use the money for other expenses.

Increased Power Independence

When a storm hits the area, and the lights go out, seniors with solar power won’t be left in the dark. They can maintain the security and peace of mind that comes with energy independence. While anyone might be glad to have power during an outage, seniors who depend on powered medical equipment can avoid an emergency. Also, seniors with mobility issues or dementia can maintain security in their homes and avoid the confusion that can set in during a power outage. Keeping the power on can make aging in place possible for seniors.

Decreased Emissions

Many seniors want to be part of the solution when it comes to environmental responsibility. Solar energy use is a great way for them to participate in the movement to lower emissions and reduce their carbon footprint while substantially restricting their dependence on nonrenewable resources. Using sustainable energy sources can leave a cleaner legacy for their children and grandchildren, and the peace of mind that effort provides is priceless.

Types of Solar Power

Solar panels might be the first thing most people think of when they hear about solar energy. The energy-collecting cells are mounted together in groups. These groups, known as PV arrays, are installed where they can reach maximum sunlight. PV arrays may be fixed in place or able to follow the sun throughout the day. Beyond solar panels, seniors can consider installing a solar water heater for the home, swimming pool or both. A solar water heater for the home uses a panel on the roof and an insulated tank where the hot water is stored. Pool systems circulate the heated water back into the pool rather than keeping it in a tank. A solar-powered attic fan can help cool the home in the summertime by drawing hot air from the attic and reducing the air conditioner load. An electric-powered attic fan can use quite a bit of electricity in the summer, while one that uses solar power runs at no cost.

Incentives for Solar Power Installation

Residents who install solar devices can take advantage of federal or state tax credits that allow them to deduct a portion of the cost from their taxes. Some states require utility companies to generate a specified amount of electricity from solar sources. In that case, the local company may purchase a solar renewable energy certificate, or SREC, from residents who use solar power. Purchasing power from customers who generate it helps the company meet its solar requirements.

Other incentives are available:

  • A few states offer solar incentives to low-income residents when the household earns at or below 80% of the area median income.
  • The local utility company, municipality or other solar-promotion groups may offer a cash rebate for solar power installation.
  • To help offset the installation cost, residents investing in solar equipment may qualify for a subsidized solar loan with a lower interest rate.

Energy-savvy seniors have many options to take advantage of solar power. Doing some research ahead of time to find out what incentives are available in the state or municipality can help with installation costs. Reducing or eliminating energy bills helps pay off the initial investment over time, but the satisfaction of leaving a greener legacy begins right away.