Solar Frequently Asked Questions
Is solar right for my home?
A roof’s strong structural integrity and a south-facing roof are two key factors for home solar energy. A south-facing roof receives the most sun exposure, and the quality of your roof and the roofing material affects the installation process.
How much roof space do I need?
Every 100 square feet installed is equivalent to a kilowatt. The average home solar system requires 300 to 600 feet and produces 3 to 6 kilowatts of energy.
What is the life span of a solar electric system?
Your system can last between 25 and 35 years. Some leasing arrangements offer a performance guarantee.
What happens if I sell my home under a leasing agreement?
Some leasing agreements offer the opportunity to renew the lease, buy or return the system, or, if you sell your home at any time during the term of the lease, you may have the chance to buy the system for the remaining value amount, or transfer the lease to the new owner.
What happens to the electricity in my home during bad weather?
During inclement weather, solar panels will not produce at 100%, but the system will still produce solar energy. It doesn’t have to be completely sunny for your panels to produce electricity. If there is significant snow accumulation on the solar panels, the system will not produce electricity. Based on where you live, snow days will be considered when projecting your system’s production. Most solar panels are guaranteed to withstand 3/4 inch hail balls at 120 miles per hour, and they are also built to withstand direct lightning strikes.
How will my home use solar energy at night?
Your system will be tied to the electric grid, day or night. During the day, when sun is at its highest point in the sky, a solar electric system is producing optimum electricity; some of this electricity is not being used. This additional electricity flows back into the utility grid and runs the meter backwards, allowing for the excess energy to supply electricity when the sun is down or during inclement weather.
Will I still be connected to the grid?
Yes. The excess electricity you produce with a solar electric system is fed back into the grid. When energy is not available through your home solar panels, electricity from the grid will be supplied for your home.
Do I still receive utility bills?
Yes. You’ll stay connected to the utility grid and keep your current local utility company. On days when your solar electric system produces more electricity than your home is using, the excess electricity is fed back into the grid and your meter “turns back.” At night, and on days when your home uses more electricity than what your home solar system feeds into the grid, the bill from your electric utility company will charge you for the difference between your system produced and what was used. This arrangement is called net metering.
If the power goes out, will my solar electric system keep producing electricity?
In the event of an outage, your system will shut off to protect utility workers who might be working on power lines from being exposed to live electricity. As soon as the power company repairs the outage, your system should begin producing electricity once again.
PowerSaver Frequently Asked Questions
What is the FHA PowerSaver program?
PowerSaver is a new insurance program from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) that will enable homeowners to make cost effective, energy saving improvements to their homes. PowerSaver will provide federal loan insurance and other incentives to participating lenders to deliver low-cost home energy improvement loans. Homeowners will be able to borrow up to $25,000 for terms of 15 years (up to 20 years for certain improvements) to make proven home energy improvements of their choice, based on a list developed by FHA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
What are the benefits of PowerSaver loans for consumers?
More homeowners are seeking the practical, money saving benefits of more energy efficient homes. PowerSaver loans will enable homeowners to make cost-effective energy improvements of their choice that will lower their home’s energy use and should result in lower energy bills and fewer greenhouses gas emissions. For many consumers, PowerSaver loans will be less expensive and easier to access than other kinds of financing for home improvements, such as credit cards and home equity loans. This is because FHA is providing mortgage insurance and other incentives to lenders to lower costs for homeowners.
What are the expected interest rates, closing costs and fees for PowerSaver loans?
FHA has selected lenders in part based on their commitment to provide the most affordable financing to consumers. In addition, FHA will allow – and encourage – local communities and private organizations to help lower interest rates and other costs to consumers.
Is there a prepayment penalty?
Is the interest payment tax deductible?
Generally, yes, if the loan is secured.
What types of home energy improvements can borrowers make with PowerSaver?
All PowerSaver loans must be used to make cost-effective energy saving improvements, based on a list published by FHA and DOE. Examples include insulation, duct sealing, energy efficient doors, windows, HVAC systems and water heaters, solar panels and geothermal systems.
What are the basic borrower criteria for PowerSaver loans?
PowerSaver loans are available to homeowners who have the following:
- Minimum credit score: 660
- Maximum total debt to income ratio: 45%
- Maximum combined loan-to-value (first mortgage loan balance & PowerSaver): 100%
- Property type: Existing 1-unit, owner-occupied, detached, principal residence properties only.
- Appraisal requirement: Exterior-only inspection residential appraisal or other FHA accepted method of property valuation.
How are consumers protected under the PowerSaver program?
PowerSaver has been carefully designed to meet a need in the marketplace for borrowers who have the ability and motivation to take on modest additional debt to realize the savings over time from a home energy improvement. PowerSaver loans are only available to borrowers with good credit, manageable overall debt and at least some equity in their home.
Also, PowerSaver, like the underlying FHA Title I program, provides up to 90 percent insurance against loan default. Lenders are responsible for the remainder, which provides strong market- based incentives to lenders to perform high-quality underwriting. FHA will carefully select PowerSaver lenders and closely review their activities.
How do PowerSaver loans compare to other similar products in the marketplace?
PowerSaver helps fill a gap in the marketplace. There is no widely available and affordable home mortgage product specifically for home energy improvements. Current consumer options are generally limited to unsecured personal loans, credit cards, contractor liens (which generally have higher interest rates), and home equity lines of credit (which generally are limited to borrowers with very high credit scores and significant home equity).
Given the widely varying consumer credit profiles, financial capacity and current home values, more than one financing option is needed to increase the scale of home energy improvements nationwide. For many homeowners and communities PowerSaver should provide an appealing option.