How to Navigate a Home Improvement Show

Spring has sprung, which means home improvement shows are in full swing. The prospect of perusing rows of vendors and booths is exciting, but can also be overwhelming. We’re popping up at shows around the Tristate area all year, and have some helpful tips to share on how to make the most out of home improvement shows.WandaSidebarTemplate

Keep savings in sight. Home shows are filled with gorgeous new additions to better your home, but consider the ROI on potential purchases. Granite countertops and a backyard fountain are tempting, but their value depreciates the minute they’re installed. Solar panels are the home improvement option that pay for themselves; they add value to your home while lowering the cost of your electric bills. Upping your home value and saving thousands of dollars? Yes, please.

Get organized. Most booths or tables will have business cards, brochures, flyers and giveaways; keep your thoughts organized by taking a binder and notepad to save what you pick up and write down your thoughts. Home improvement shows can seem overwhelming, but keeping track of what you find will help you remember which vendors you liked and which ones you want to take out of the running.

Check certifications. Ask a potential vendor if they have any certifications, which can help differentiate which businesses are a cut above the rest. Our team is made up of NABCEP-certified installers and are Green Umbrella, Green Energy Ohio and US Green Building Council members, keeping us at the forefront of new solar technology and developments. We’re devoted to making sure our team is qualified to exceed expectations, and certifications are a sure sign that a business cares about their customers and their service.

Ask questions! Home improvements are a big investment, and you want to be sure your potential vendor is knowledgeable and personable. If you have solar specifically on your mind, here are the questions you should consider asking a solar panel company (and how our team would answer them).

We’ve loved meeting new folks at home improvement shows; check out our schedule of upcoming events to meet our team of solar experts and find out more about how solar can improve your home!

Looking to Improve Your Home? Solar Power Can Help.

DearWanda

Dear Wanda,
I’m ready to make some big home improvements, but I’m not sure what’s the best use of my money. A finished basement? A new kitchen? Or are solar panels a wise investment?
Thanks,
Intrigued Homeowner

Dear Intrigued Homeowner,

First off, kudos to you for giving some good research and thought on how to use your hard-earned money. Home improvements are exciting (take it from someone who watches a lot of HGTV), and it’s tempting to spend your money on new, shiny things like a new kitchen or basement. But how much return on investment do you get from home renovations? While those improvements will certainly increase the value of your home, they won’t make you any money. What will? Solar panels, of course!

Solar power is the home improvement investment that will pay for itself (sorry, granite countertops!) and adds tens of thousands of dollars to the value of your home. Unlike other improvements that age and lose value, solar panels work to save you money and add value to your home over time, with an ROI of well over 100 percent. The new hardwood floors might be pretty, but they’ll only get you 50-60 percent ROI and then only when you sell your home, and as your Wealth Warrior, you probably know which of those investments I would recommend.

I get where you’re coming from; home improvement is all about making your home look spiffy, and solar panels can have a reputation for being an eyesore. Luckily for you, Icon Solar specializes in attractive solar panels that are matte, solid black and blend in with your roof.

Need more reasons to invest your money into the power of solar? Talk to the team of experts at Icon Solar. They’ll walk you through the whole process from start to finish and get you on track to add value to your home and save thousands.

Happy home improving!
Wanda, Your Wealth Warrior

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Five Questions to Ask a Solar Power Company at a Home Improvement Show (And Our Answers)

‘Tis the season for home improvement shows at convention centers and meeting spaces around the country! It’s the beginning of the year and everyone is heading out to home improvement shows looking for the best ways to invest in their homes. We may be experts in solar power, but solar panel companies should be your first stop. Whether you are interested in saving thousands on your electric bill or reducing your carbon footprint, solar panels give one of the best returns on your investment of any change you can make to your home. Take our advice, and be sure to ask these five questions, too.

1)Tell me about your experience.
Experience typically correlates with quality of work. The more experience, the better work they do. But, don’t let that be your only question here; see if you can get to know the company and what they stand for. Ask: how many installations have you completed? Are you certified? Do you belong to any industry organizations? How are customer complaints handled?

At Icon Solar, we have hundreds of installations under our belt. Our team of experts includes NABCEP-certified professionals, installers with years of experience and hundreds of installations, and we are Green Umbrella, Green Energy Ohio, and U.S. Green Building Council members, keeping us at the forefront of new solar technology and developments. We are passionately driven to save our customers money (lots of it!) and committed to full-circle customer service for a worry and hassle-free solar journey. (Now, that was a good answer!)

2)What will my home solar system look like?
No home solar system is exactly the same. There are a variety of manufacturers, equipment types and warranties. Your solar array will depend on roof size, energy consumption and any design requests. It’s important to know what type of system you’ll need, if you can customize your design and what the actual product looks like.

At Icon Solar we use black panels with black frames designed to match rooftops; they’re much more attractive than typical blue cell panels you may picture when you think of solar panels. Plus, our team of experts works with each customer to create an array that meets your energy and design needs.

3)What kind of value will solar panels add to my home?
Common reasons for home improvement are to make your home more functional, more luxurious or change its style. Another big reason is to add value. If that’s part of your interest in going solar, you’ll be very pleased! Solar panels do that and then some. For every $1 in electric bill savings (and trust us, you’ll save a lot!), value increases by $20, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the value of your home.

Wanda4)What are the other benefits of this investment?
Going solar is a big investment. Like any major home improvement, you’ll want to know what bang you’re getting for your buck. With solar panels, we’re talking increased home value; sustainable clean energy production; reduced carbon footprint; increased energy independence; government and municipality rebates and credits; tens of thousands in savings and not to mention an electric bill that costs less than a cup of coffee. Whew, that’s a lot!

5)How do I get started?
Because, after all that, how can you not want solar panels? The simple way to get started is to call Icon Solar! We’re dedicated to walking each customer through their solar journey from start to finish.

We’ll be at home improvement shows all year. Check out where we’ll be and come see us!

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

Four Benefits of Storing Your Solar Energy

Whether you’re thinking about getting solar panels or already have a home solar system, you want to get the most out of your clean-energy-producing panels. The best way to do that? Install a home battery. Home batteries amp up your solar benefits and savings. Here’s how.

1) Home batteries store your solar energy.
Similar to regular AA batteries, home batteries contain lithium-ion battery cells that hold a specific ratio of materials that can hold, store and power electric current. But, unlike the AA battery powering your TV remote, a home battery can power major appliances, electronic devices and other critical items in your home (just a bit more powerful, right?).

Oftentimes, you won’t use all the energy your solar panels generate during a 24-hour period. Also, solar panels don’t generate new energy at night. With a home battery that energy can be stored and used around the clock, whenever you need it, day or night.

2) Home batteries increase your energy independence.
By storing the energy your home solar system produces, you become less dependent on the utility grid. Plus, you avoid relying on the utility company and its ever-increasing utility rates. If your solar system overproduces, that energy is stored for later use. So, instead of pulling energy from the utility grid, you’re pulling clean, solar produced energy from your home battery.

The sun offers free and abundant power, so why not take advantage of that and get the most out of your home solar system? (We can’t think of any good reasons not to, either!).

3) Home batteries serve as backup power.
If you have energy stored – independent of the utility grid – power outages don’t mean a thing! Your home battery will protect your home as a backup power generator, just a much cleaner, quieter, no-maintenance, long-lasting one. Plus, with a seamless hook-up to the grid and to your circuit breaker, using power from your home battery requires no action on your part. It just happens.WandaSidebarTemplate

4) Home batteries create a sustainable energy future.
By generating, storing and using your own clean solar energy, we’ve determined you can rely less on the utility grid. But, this also means you’re relying less on fossil fuels which significantly reduces your carbon footprint.

So, when it all comes down to it, combining your home solar system with a home battery will make you a sustainable, clean-energy producing machine, with massive savings, too!

Icon Solar is a certified installer of Tesla Powerwall, a premier home battery that is a step toward your complete home energy solution. Give us a call today to learn more about your energy independence and solar savings!

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

“And They Said a Phone Wouldn’t Work…” The Next Best Technology (That Will Save You Thousands)

Let us tell you a story that may make you think differently about a major money-saving endeavor.

It is fabled that in the late 1800s Alexander Graham Bell offered to sell his patent on the telephone to Western Union for $100,000. As the story goes, the committee assigned to investigate the telephone invention included the following in its report:

“We do not see that this device will be ever capable of sending recognizable speech over a distance of several miles. Messer Hubbard and Bell want to install one of their ‘telephone devices’ in every city. The idea is idiotic on the face of it. Furthermore, why would any person want to use this ungainly and impractical device when he can send a messenger to the telegraph office and have a clear written message sent to any large city in the United States? … Mr. G.G. Hubbard’s fanciful predictions, while they sound rosy, are based on wild-eyed imagination and lack of understanding of the technical and economic facts of the situation, and a posture of ignoring the obvious limitations of his device, which is hardly more than a toy … This device is inherently of no use to us. We do not recommend its purchase.” *

This would be a good time to say, “I told you so!” Regardless of whether the story is true, it paints the picture of how it’s difficult to anticipate how or at what pace a new technology will work or supplement an old one. That is certainly the case with solar power.

In fact, solar power has really been around for quite some time. The first photovoltaic cell was produced at Bell Telephone Laboratories (see how it all ties together here?) in 1954, and the first solar powered telecommunications satellite was launch by (you guessed it!) Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1962.

WandaSidebarTemplateToday, we take things like TVs, phones, internet, GPS and more for granted. You may not know,  but these everyday technologies rely upon solar power to work. Think about if you couldn’t watch TV, use your phone, get on the internet or use your GPS for a day. (That does not sound fun!)

An interruption of solar power to a telecommunications satellite would probably make us realize how much we rely upon solar power. Even the little things, like the winter finale of Grey’s Anatomy or directions to the new pizza place, are ones on which we all rely on solar power to enjoy. But, solar power is so reliable that many of us don’t even notice that we use solar power in some way every day.

If solar power is so established and so reliable, why don’t more people use it to power their homes? Well, that is a good question! At some point the folks at Western Union wondered how they could be so wrong about the telephone. The telegraph was such a major part of Western Union’s business (which at the time was doing very well) that Western Union could hardly envision the day when the telegraph wouldn’t exist and most people would own a phone that they carry with them everywhere they go.

Similarly, it is difficult for many homeowners to consider getting their electricity from anything but the utility company. Just for a second, envision how it would feel to receive a utility bill with an amount due that’s less than a cup of coffee. Like that feeling? So do all of Icon Solar’s customers.

It’s time for you to decide whether you are going to stick with the telegraph or invest in the telephone (metaphorically speaking of course!). Investing in a home solar system is good for the environment and will save you money. Lots of money. Invest in your own wallet and embrace a future full of sunshine and savings!

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

 

*Yarrow, J (2014, Jan 2), This Apocryphal Story About The Telephone Should Be An Inspiration To Every Young Company, http://www.businessinsider.com/why-people-thought-telephones-would-fail-2014-1

Solar Panels = Home Improvement

“I don’t think I’ll live in my home long enough to see the benefit of solar panels.” “I’m planning on moving within a few years, so I’m not sure solar panels are worth it.”

These are common obstacles our customers face when thinking about investing in a home solar system. We’re here to step you through it. Whether you stay in your home for the next year or 25 years, solar panels increase the value of your home and give you an instant return on investment while you live in your home. How? Let us tell you.

Think about home improvement. Sure, new cabinets and countertops in the kitchen mayWandaGraphic look lovely. Or re-surfacing the driveway may improve your curb appeal. But as soon as those improvements are made, they begin aging and losing value.  Now is the time to flip the idea of home improvement on its head. The one value-add to your home that you might be overlooking – the one that will immediately begin recouping your investment and begin making you money – is solar power.

When you think home improvement, it’s typically with top-of-mind goals to make your home more functional, luxurious or efficient and to increase the value of your home. But to get any return on your investment, you have to leave the very home you just improved! Very few investments in home improvement pay for themselves with a correlating home value increase and make you wealthier while you still own your home. Solar panels do both of those things for you. A home solar system makes your electricity production more efficient, well, because it produces your energy! Plus, (the best part) solar is significantly less expensive than continually dishing out cash for increasing electric rates.

Solar also adds to your home value. For every dollar in energy bill savings (trust us, you’ll be saving lots of dollars!), an additional $20 is added to your home value. What does this add up to? For each kilowatt (kW) of solar installed, home value increases an average of $5,911. The average home solar system is 5kW. That’s $29,555!

Compare that to other home improvement options like a new front door or garage door that add under $2,000 in home value or a master suite upgrade or bathroom remodel that add about $10,000. And, don’t forget the kicker, these all lose value over time. But cold hard cash in a pocket never grows old like Aunt Harriet’s gold and avocado kitchen appliances did.

Obviously, smaller home improvements like replacing your front door or garage door cost less, giving you a higher return on investment above 90 percent. But only if you sell your home. Larger, more costly improvements, like a master suite upgrade or bathroom remodel tend to only yield about 60 percent return. Even a backup power generation system yields under 70 percent. But, again, you only gain a return from these types of home improvement if you sell your home.

Compare all of that to solar panels, which can return upwards of 100 percent, and then some. With a home solar system, you reap the benefits of little-to-no electric bill while you’re still living in your home AND increased home value when you sell.

Plus, unlike any other type of home improvement that begins depreciating the moment you’ve finished it, the energy produced by solar panels can actually increase in value. As electric rates become more expensive, the power your solar panels generate increases in value.

So, next time you think home improvement, think solar panels and how they can make money for you regardless of how long you’ll be in your home.

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

Dear Wanda: I’m Jealous of California. Can We Have Solar Here Too?

DearWanda

Dear Wanda,
I’ve lived in Cincinnati for a long time. On a recent trip to California, I saw tons of solar panels. Is that because they’re all a bunch of new-age folks out there? What’s the deal with solar panels? Can they even be used in the Tristate?
Sincerely,
California Traveler

Dear California Traveler,
Hope you had a great time! Oh, the sight of so many solar panels makes my heart skip a beat. California has often led the country with pollution-beating alternative energies, and sometimes that leaves the rest of us wondering why.

In the case of solar panels, Californians are making really smart decisions about how to spend their money (and trust me, I know a good money-saving decision when I see one). Solar panels are incredibly environmentally conscious, but also can save you thousands of dollars a year on your electric bill. Yes, you read that right.

Plus, solar panels can increase the value of your home and there are multiple tax credits, local incentives and utility grants that can put money right back into your wallet (where it belongs!). Did you know one of these is a 30 percent federal tax credit you can claim on your taxes and receive in addition to any refund you’re owed?

This money-saving investment is 100 percent viable in the Tristate. The availability, investment and capacity just keeps on going up! Over the next five years, Ohio alone is expected to install hundreds of kilowatts (kw) of solar power, which is more than six times the amount installed in the past five years.

Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana average between 4.2 and 4.7 peak hours of sun per day on an annual basis. Compare that to Florida, you know, the Sunshine State, that averages at 5 peak hours and California which ranges from 5 to 5.7 hours a day. So, what does that mean for solar in the Tristate? It means it works!

If you’re looking to my superior wealth wisdom, I’ll tell you your next step is to call the best in the solar business: Icon Solar. They’ll help get you started on your solar journey and handle every detail along the way, from permit and financing, to installation and grid hook-up.

As your Wealth Warrior, I must say this investment will set you up for more trips to California, and then some. Heck, you can even travel to Hawaii, then Australia, then Europe.

Happy saving (and traveling)!
– Wanda, Your Wealth Warrior

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Five Things You Need to Know About Solar Power and Your Home’s Value

“What if I move?” “I don’t think I’ll stay in this home long enough to get solar panels.” “If I’m planning on moving, why would I get solar panels?” “If I don’t live here long enough to pay off the investment, I can’t get solar panels.” These are questions and comments we’ve heard from some of our customers when they’ve begun to think about investing in solar panels for their home. Whether you live in your house your whole life, or you move in 5, 10, 15 years, going solar is a wise investment (that will pay off!).

WandaSidebar1.Solar panels increase the value of your home.
It’s that simple. An investment in solar panels isn’t only a way to save you money on your electric bill. Similar to finishing a basement, landscaping your yard or repaving your driveway, installing solar panels makes your home more desirable (and its energy source much more sustainable, we might add). For every $1 in electric bill savings, value increases by $20, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the value of your home.

2. Better (or equal) ROI to renovations.
Typically, when you think about increasing your home value, you think renovations like a bathroom remodel, deck addition or finished basement, or maybe more small scale like gardening or replacing a front door. Either way, one of your intentions is to increase your home value (with that ROI in mind). Where a renovated kitchen or bathroom can give you a 50-60 percent ROI, solar panels can give you upwards of 100 percent.

3. Less time on the market.
So maybe you purchase and install solar panels and then think about moving. Solar panels are an increasingly dominant residential trend, so having them on your home makes it stand out. Things like a big yard, renovated kitchen and solar panels will lead to a quicker home sale, less stress of staging and having that “always-ready-for-visitors” home. Don’t forget, solar increased your home value, so you’re walking away from that sale with more money, too.

4. Differentiates you from comparable homes.
If you’re in a neighborhood full of beautiful 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom homes with renovated kitchens and big back yards, solar panels could be your deal maker. Solar panels offer a new homeowner clean energy and a low electric bill. Plus, they’re already installed and turnkey-ready (so make sure they thank you). In what can sometimes be a volatile market, solar panels might as well be a real estate sign that says, “Pick me! I’ll save you money!”

5. Buyers want a home with a tiny electric bill.
Don’t you? If you invest in solar panels, you’ll save money on your electric bill while you live in your home. Then, if you move or decide to sell your home, the buyer inherits that itsy bitsy electric bill (as if already installed solar panels weren’t enough!).

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

Five Things You Need to Know About Home Batteries

You’ve read all about how solar panels generate clean energy and, just as importantly, save you massive amounts of money. But, have you read about home batteries? Home batteries are charged by the energy your solar panels generate to power your home. Think of a home battery like a regular battery, except that instead of powering your TV remote, it powers your house (so it’s just a little bit – okay a lot – bigger).

You don’t have to have a home battery to get solar panels, but having both significantly increases your energy independence. Home batteries are a sound investment if you already have solar panels or if you are thinking about going solar. Here are the five things you need to know about home batteries

WandaSidebar1. They store your solar power.
As your solar panels generate electricity, home batteries charge and subsequently store your energy. As you use your electricity, an inverter connected to your home battery transforms the current into usable energy. The inverter then sends this energy through your electrical panel and into your home. You can also set up a backup panel for powering critical loads depending on your energy needs. Check out this detailed look at how home batteries work.

2. They serve as a backup electricity supply.
Home battery kilowatt hour storage space varies, but typically can power your home in the evening and through the night from the energy generated by your solar panels throughout the day. If you have a home battery, you can pull stored energy from it during a utility outage. Imagine that, no more missing an episode of the Walking Dead; scrambling to find ice and a cooler to keep food from spoiling; trying to heat leftover pizza with a match instead of a microwave; doing your work by candlelight… well, you get the point.

3. They can increase your energy independence.
By storing the energy you create with solar, you increase your independence from the utility company. Solar panels only generate energy during the day. Home batteries store excess, unused energy generated from your solar panels to then send power to your home around the clock. If your solar panels generate and home battery stores the same amount of energy you consume, you’ve become independent from the utility grid.

4. They can save you money!
With that newfound independence comes some serious savings. Essentially, you can go net zero. If you’re only using the energy you’ve generated and stored, you’re not pulling any electric from the utility grid. Do you know what that means? A zip, zilch, zero-dollar electric bill.

5. They are the best energy storage option.
The Tesla Powerwall Home Battery is the most advanced energy storage option available today. It works seamlessly with solar panels and requires no maintenance. Upfront, traditional generators may be less expensive, but home batteries diminish the need for ongoing maintenance and fuel costs a generator would need. Plus, they are much more environmentally friendly, and much quieter!

So, now what? Now, you call Icon Solar. There are various kinds of home batteries in the market, but we recommend the best. Icon Solar is an authorized reseller and certified installer of the Tesla Powerwall.  So if you’re ready for energy independence, give us a call!

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

 

10 Reasons You Should Install Solar Power Now

Although we may be biased, we think solar is one of the best investments you can make. Convinced? Great. Give us a call. If not (WARNING: you will be once you read this blog), here are 10 things you’ll get when you install solar panels on your home.

1.You get a tax credit worth thousands of dollars.
When you purchase and install a solar system on your home, you’re eligible to receive a 30 percent federal solar investment tax credit. This is thousands of dollars you’ll get right back into your pocket, significantly decreasing the cost of solar installation.

2. You save money. Lots of it. electric bill
Your electric bills will go down tremendously. Depending on your unique solar system and electric use, it is possible for solar panels to cover 100 percent of your utility costs. Our customers have seen their meter spin backwards, and even better, a $0 electric bill.

3. You increase your home value.
Solar panels can increase the value of your home by thousands of dollars. Even if you don’t think you’ll stay in your current home to pay off your panels, you’ll get that money back with an increased resale home value. The US Department of Energy recently released a study indicating that, on average, homes with solar panels sell for a whopping $15,000 more than homes without.

4.You’re helping the environment.
Solar panels take clean, pure energy from the sun and convert it into usable electric in your home. Solar panels reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the dependence on fossil fuels.

5. You get sleek-looking panels.
Our solar panels have a custom black frame and black background that mimic roof shingle patterns. Our panels are thinner than ever, making their appearance sleek, not clunky. Plus, our team will work with you to design a unique solar array that suits you.

6. You get an extended warranty.
Icon Solar offers top of the line equipment with a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty on your solar panels plus flexible financing options to help you achieve the benefits of solar energy within your budget. Sound like a good deal? That’s because it is.

7. You can harness the power of the sun.WandaSidebar
The sun always shines. Even on cloudy days, solar panels absorb the energy of the sun to power your home. As long as there is a sun is in the sky, you’ll have power. (If not, we’ve got bigger problems to worry about.)

8. Now you can store your solar.
You can also purchase and install a home battery. This will charge and store the electric your solar panels generate so you can then use the power around the clock. A home battery can offer you greater independence from the utility grid and serve as an emergency backup source of power. Icon Solar is an authorized reseller and certified installer of the Tesla PowerWall Home Battery, one of the most advanced storage solutions available.

9. You get Icon Solar’s turnkey service.
Solar panel installation is a big deal and you want it done right. Icon Solar’s team offers you turnkey service that covers measuring and planning, professional installation, utility interconnection for grid-tied systems and paperwork for permits, grants and rebates (and that awesome federal tax credit!).

10. Wanda, Your Wealth Warrior says so. (And she gives good advice.)

That’s a lot of good reasoning there, but we’re always happy to give you more. Are you ready to go solar? Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.