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Consumer Guide to Solar

Have you ever wondered if solar energy makes sense for your home or business? There are a variety of reasons to go solar, but the four most common reasons are to save money, produce your own energy, support local jobs, and help protect the environment. 
 
MARC’s Consumer Guide to Solar provides answers to frequently asked questions, as well as guidance on how to get started with solar energy. 

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When people talk about “going solar,” they usually mean installing solar photovoltaic or “PV” panels, either on the roof or on the ground, to generate electricity. Solar PV panels are typically made out of crystalline silicon and work by producing electric current when exposed to sunlight. 

Is it sunny enough here?
Yes! In fact, a PV system in Kansas City will produce more than 80 percent of what a comparable PV system in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, produces.
 
There are two ways to pay for solar panels on your property — purchasing the panels outright or leasing them through a solar installer. The average home system is between 4 and 5 kilowatts and costs between $14,000 and $18,000 before tax credits and other incentives. While various financing options are available, including home equity loans, you may prefer to go solar by leasing PV panels. Leases generally require little or no money down, but still allow a home or business to take advantage of solar’s benefits. 
 
As with any major purchase for your home or business, you’ll want to do your homework. First, explore your solar potential with MARC’s solar mapping website at kcsolarmap.org. Simply type in your address to get estimates about system size, cost and return on investment. Next, check with your city or county to ask about local code restrictions. Finally, it’s a good idea to get quotes from three or more installers. The Guide provides information on how to select installers, as well as contact information.
 
There are many other things you can do to lower your electric bill, lessen your ecological footprint and reduce your reliance on conventional energy sources. You can make your home more energy efficient by adding insulation, replacing inefficient light bulbs and installing a programmable thermostat, among other actions. Find out more in the Guide and on MARC’s Beyond the Bulb website.
 
For more information, contact Laura Machala, Solar Energy Coordinator at lmachala@marc.org or 816-701-8244.