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(Updated May 2017)

As energy prices continue to rise, solar and other renewable sources are becoming more affordable options for not only large utility-grade users, but also consumers. States help make the switch even more affordable with tax credits and other benefits currently on tap through at least 2016. This field guide explores the basics of solar energy, how to get in the game, as well as current credits available both from federal and local authorities. (A. Creitz, Information & Web Content Specialist)

Solar Panel

E – EBSCO articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the EBSCO Access Information page.

Green Designation 

Looking for more formal training in renewable energy and green building practices? NAR's Green designation provides real estate professionals with the knowledge and awareness of green building principles applied in residences, commercial properties, developments, and communities so that they can list, market, and manage green properties as well as guide buyer-clients in purchasing green homes and buildings.

For more information, visit the Green Resource Council page. 

The Basics

Solar Energy Basics, (National Renewal Energy Laboratory, July 2014).

Solar Subsidies Help Against Financing Headwinds, (Research Technology Management, Mar./Apr. 2014). E

The Far-reaching Benefits of the Energy Property Tax Credit, (HouseLogic, Feb. 18, 2014). — This tax season is the last you can claim it, unless Congress renews it for 2014, which is possible but not certain.

Solar Energy Technologies, (U.S. Department of Energy, Aug 16, 2013). — Solar energy technologies produce electricity from the energy of the sun.

La. Solar tax credit price tag far above estimates, (Business Week, Aug. 9, 2012).

Tracking the Sun III: The Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the U.S. from 1998-2009, (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Dec. 2010). — A new report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that the average cost of going solar in the U.S. decreased significantly in 2010 following global module price declines in 2009. These latest reductions are part of a downward solar cost trend that is due in part to federal, state and local policies that build American demand for renewable energy.

Adding Solar Energy

Evergreen Solar (National Council for Solar Growth, n.d.) — Nonprofit group with a mission to educate homeowners and businesses about the economic and environmental benefits of PV solar.

Top Four Benefits of Installing Solar Panels on Your Home, (U.S. Green Building Council, 2017). 

Installing and Maintaining a Home Solar Electric System, (U.S. Department of Energy, 2016).

Planning a Home Solar Electric System, (Energy, 2015).

Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment? (Washington Post, Mar. 26, 2014). — You’ll have to judge for yourself.

How to Lease Your Own Home Solar Power System, (Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July 2012) — The big news in solar is the rise of leasing, which makes home systems more affordable and can save you money right away on your electric bill.

One of State's Largest Solar Electrical Systems Powers Palatine Home, (Chicago Daily Herald, May 29, 2011).

A Bright Spot for Solar, (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Apr. 21, 2011) — U.S. Department of Energy's Berkeley Lab study finds that photovoltaic systems boost the sales price of California homes.

Capturing the Sun, (Journal of Property Management, 2010). E

Is Solar-Thermal Hot Water for You?, (HouseLogic, Oct. 7, 2010) — Roof-top solar panels that create hot water with sunshine significantly reduce energy bills and are relatively easy to install and maintain.

Tax Credits

Please note: While accurate at time of publication, tax credit information can change. Please check with Federal, State & Local authorities for the most up-to-date information.

Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency, (Energy Star, 2017). — Available federal tax credits for various energy efficiencies are detailed with information on requirements, deadlines, and how to get the credit.

Rooftop Solar Leases Scaring Buyers When Homeowners Sell, (Bloomberg, June 23, 2014) — While purchasing solar panels can increase the value of your home, leasing them can cost you up to 10 percent.

Energy Tax Credits, (HouseLogic, 2014) — A frequently updated resource of articles from HouseLogic.

Get Credit for Making Your Home Energy-Efficient, (IRS, Apr. 4, 2013).

What you need to know about the extended federal tax credits for energy efficiency, (Energy, 2013).

State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiencies, (DSIRE, 2013) — DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the N.C. Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. 

Tax Incentives for Going Green, (CPA Journal, Nov. 2010). — A summary of the tax incentives available for green projects and guidance for maximizing the available tax benefits, five of which apply to businesses, one that applies to both businesses and individuals, and two that apply only to individuals. E

eBooks & Other Resources

A Solar Buyer's Guide for the Home and Office (Kindle Book, OverDrive Read, EPUB eBook)

The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling (OverDrive Read, EPUB eBook)

The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Solar Power for your Home (Adobe eReader)

The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Green Property Management

Field Guide to Resource Efficient Mortgages

Information Services Blog

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.