What to Know About Buying a Home with Renewable Energy
You’re in the market and found a property that checks all the boxes. However, you may not have anticipated your dream home would have solar panels. What should you know about buying a home with renewable energy?
First of all, smile — homes with sustainable upgrades typically save you money over time, as you’ll spend far less on utilities. However, you must ensure everything works as expected. Here’s what to know about buying a home with renewable energy.
When Were the Systems Inspected?
If you’re like many people, your home represents your biggest investment. It’s imperative to get an inspection before you buy to avoid dealing with pricey defects down the line. While this step costs a little extra, it’s a small price compared to discovering you purchased a money pit.
If you’re buying a home with renewable energy, seek an inspector with expertise in such systems. They can do more than just ensure your systems operate as intended. They can also educate you about the life expectancy of various parts and how long you can go without a replacement.
Having a home inspection gives you an out if you uncover damage you’d rather not have to repair yourself. You can insist on repair as a condition of sale or change your offer number accordingly to reflect the cost. If making an offer, add a contingency clause to it, allowing you to modify the terms in the case of a material defect.
On-Grid or Off-Grid?
Most homes with renewable energy remain connected to the grid. This option has several advantages:
- Security: You’re guaranteed a steady power supply, even if your panels don’t generate sufficient amounts to run your household.
- Incentives: Some states incentivize those who convert to solar, but only if they return unused energy to the grid.
- Ease: It’s very pricey to subcontract an off-grid system, meaning all but the most dedicated DIYers won’t tackle the project.
It’s rare to find an off-grid home. Typically, buyers who locate such properties are those who specifically search for them.
How Much Can You Save?
If you’re buying a home powered by renewable energy, ask the current owner if you can see their electric bills. They’ll probably be happy to produce them — why? The average customer saves anywhere from $20,000 to $97,000 over the life of their system.
While you’ll still have a bill, it can be as low as $20, just enough to cover taxes and operating costs of the infrastructure. That’s because when you have a surplus, the excess energy gets sold back to the grid. You receive a bill credit, covering months when you have less sunshine.
What Is the Average Maintenance?
All homes and HVAC systems require maintenance, regardless of what types of fuel they use. Fortunately, it’s not more problematic to take care of most renewable energy products than those burning oil or coal.
For example, solar panels require cleaning every six months to a year, although you might need to hose them off more frequently to maintain optimal power output in dusty regions. Soaping them up might not be too difficult if the structure is a rancher. However, you might need to call in the cleaners if your selected dream home is two stories or higher.
Is the Equipment Owned or Under Lease?
Perhaps the most important question to ask when buying a home with renewable energy is whether the owner purchased the equipment or leased it. If they own it free and clear, it adds to the property value.
However, leased solar panels require a little more work. The lease does not automatically transfer with the property. You must sign a separate contract to transfer the lease of the panels or ask the owner to pay for removal before purchase.
Buying a Home With Renewable Energy
You might be over the moon to find your dream home has renewable energy. Visions of low electric bills dance in your head as you dream of your new life.
However, you need to ask the right questions when buying a home with renewable energy. Do your diligence, and you’ll be rewarded with sustainable living for years to come.
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