Fall is right around the corner, and as the needle drops below 100, we're all emerging from our air conditioned summer hibernation with the welcome expectation of cheaper electricity bills in the coming fall and winter months. But with some solar tax credits set to expire at the end of 2019, this is not the year to wait until the temperatures rise again before considering a solar purchase. Fall and winter 2019 might just be the best seasons yet to go solar.
It’s natural to think less about your energy expenses during Arizona’s temperate fall and winter months. It’s also natural to be less concerned about mitigating high summer utility bills through conservation efforts, or the addition of a rooftop solar energy system. In truth, however, fall is actually the best time to go solar, offering shorter wait times and much better opportunities to save when the needle starts to climb again next spring.
Sound counterintuitive? Let’s break it down. Below are four ways making the switch to solar in the fall will maximize your financial return while also easing the installation process from start to finish.
1. 30% Solar Tax Credit Ends in 2019
When you purchase and install a solar electric system you are eligible for both federal and state tax incentives that can offset more than 30% of the purchase in the form of a tax credit. To qualify, your system must be installed and commissioned before the end of the tax year you wish to file for. Beginning your solar hunt in late summer or early fall ensures ample time for you to complete installation and commissioning before the tax window closes.
The current 30% rate is in place through the end of 2019, so this is the last year to reap the maximum return from this lucrative program. In 2020, the ITC reduces to 26% and then drops again to 22% in 2021. From 2022 onward, the residential ITC no longer exists, but the commercial ITC will remain at 10%. So, if you're inclined to turn Arizona's most abundant natural resource into immediate energy savings, we strongly recommend grabbing the 30% rate before while it's still here.
2. Q3 & Q4 install schedules are filling fast
With the rush to claim the 30% tax credit in its final year, some cities are experiencing solar permit backlogs as long as six weeks. In addition, even the most talented installers need ample time to assess your unique consumption habits and structures before completing a customized design. Add more time for any necessary financing paperwork/approvals, and more again for your local utility to come out and commission the whole thing. In short, acting now will ensure the best chance at getting on a solar installer's schedule before the year ends.
3. Maximize and bank your excess energy
When you push back more energy to the grid than you consume, you have the potential to earn energy credits that can help offset your high-usage months during the summer. If your utility district supports net-metering or similar energy buyback programs, you’ll receive a significantly faster financial return by installing solar during the cooler months when you are more likely to produce more energy than you use. Selling that excess energy back to the utility when it’s cooler outside, will ensure that you’ll have credits available to help offset your highest bills during the summer.
4. Time to make the right decision
When you start your solar journey in the fall, you don’t have high electric bills pushing you to make a quick decision. This can benefit you extremely well as you have ample time to make the best decision for you and your family. Since picking a solar partner begins a relationship that can last for decades, giving yourself plenty of time to make the best choice is imperative. Look at all of your options, check review sites like Google or the Better Business Bureau, and make a confident decision on which company will help you best achieve your energy goals.
If you’ve been thinking about solar, now is the time to act to lock in the 26% ITC! Contact one of our solar experts for a custom solar quote. If you aren't quite ready for a quote, you can download our complimentary whitepaper: Is Solar Right for You?
*This blog has been updated since its original publication of 9/14/2016.