Congress has renewed and increased the tax credit for wind power, solar power, geothermal and other energy saving power plans.
Buyers of green homes will benefit, but homeowners who install solar power in their present homes will get a 30 percent one-time investment credit in 2009. If you install a typical $25,000 solar panel system on your roof, you will get $7,500 in income tax credits. That’s up from a $2,000 credit under the old arrangement.
Home builders are finding that including solar power attracts more buyers. Big builders such as Centex and Pulte are including them more often. Even in a soft housing market, when Standard Pacific Homes put solar systems in a group of new models in a development, they sold out. The builder decided to put solar panels on all 304 homes in the development.
Sun power is most attractive in markets where energy costs are the highest, such as California, Connecticut and New Jersey. At OnGrid Solar, an industry research firm, they predict that the pretax rate of return on a typical solar system in these areas will be better than 15 percent each year.
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which studies the effects of eco-features on real estate values, says more homeowners now view solar panels as a long-term asset.