Residential solar panels can boost the value of your home by an average of $15,000, according to research commissioned by the Department of Energy. The study, conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, found that potential home buyers were willing to pay about four dollars per watt more for a home with photovoltaic solar panels than for a similar home without them. The average American solar home has a capacity of about 3,600 watts.
While there have been studies on the effect of solar energy systems on home value in the past, the scope of the Department of Energy's research was unprecedented. The report analyzes data for almost 23,000 home sales in eight states from 2002 to 2013. About 4,000 of the homes had solar photovoltaic systems, more than in any previous study.
This research is especially important as the diving cost of solar technology has encouraged more people than ever to consider home solar panel installation. According to the report, more than a half million U.S. homes had solar energy systems by the middle of last year. Still catching up, however, is the real estate industry. Because of its rapid adoption, realtors have been unsure just how much solar systems affect property value, if at all.
"This study is important for the buying public and the lending side," Sandra Adomatis, an expert in green valuation and one of the study's authors, told the New York Times. "Appraisers can say, 'here's some proof there is some value to the system.'"
The Department of Energy study comes a few months after Fannie Mae recognized the need to adapt to the solar market. In December, it issued a guideline specifying that, if a house has an owned solar energy system, the appraiser should analyze the system and the market to see if it adds value. This research confirms just how important that guideline can be.
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