These days, it is unusual to read about houses selling for a premium, but that is exactly what is happening with those that have installed a residential solar power system.  Two separate studies show that homes that have solar energy systems are realizing increased sale prices compared to homes without solar installations. Even better, the premiums at least cover the investment made by the homeowner in the system - and sometimes exceeds that amount.

Recent Studies Show "Solar Premium"

In early spring  2011, the US Dept. of Energy (DOE) published the findings of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California which studied home sales in that state for a 10-year period covering 2000 - 2009.  Of the approximately 72,000 homes they examined, researchers noted that the 2,000 houses that had solar energy systems installed sold for considerably higher prices than the others, with all other variables being accounted for.  This "solar premium" was approximated to be an average of $5 per watt, or around $17,000 for a 3100 watt system. As one might expect, older systems did not garner the premium that newer installations did, while, surprisingly, new construction that was built with solar features incorporated into the design did not command the price premium of houses whose installations were retrofitted.

A newer study released in July 2011 by the National Bureau of Economic Research upheld the findings of the earlier study, noting  the premium resale prices enjoyed by solar powered homes.  Additionally, this report showed that home solar power systems were the reason for a 3.5% rise in sale prices in the counties of San Diego and Sacramento between 2003 and the end of the study.

In addition to increased sales prices, the DOE notes in its "Homebuilder's Guide to Going Solar" that a solar powered home will spend only half the amount of time on the market as a house without solar.  Furthermore, opinion polls indicate that consumers would like to see newly constructed homes offer solar as a standard feature.

Savvy Consumers Want Lower Energy Bills

Buyers willing to pay so much more for these homes expect to pay much lower monthly energy bills, and they do.  DOE states that for every $1 that is saved on yearly utility bills, the value of the home rose by $20.  Obviously, a 20-fold increase in value is nothing to sneeze at and shows the emphasis consumers put on energy savings. These savings can be steep, as some quick figuring on the Calfinder blog shows. Using home solar power systems can save the average US household approximately 50% off of their yearly electricity bills.  Add a solar thermal system to heat water, and the savings increase even more.

Installing solar power systems for homes is a home improvement project similar to kitchens and bathroom renovations considered to give back at closing as much or more than their original cost.  A unique advantage of home solar power is that this particular improvement  will dramatically decrease a homeowner's energy bills after the project is up and running.  Even though redesigning a kitchen with new energy-sipping appliances can reduce monthly energy consumption, it can't match the effect of a new solar energy system.

Find Out What You Could Save

Check out your possible energy savings with a solar energy installation by using one of the many solar calculators online. Usually, you will have to fill out your current energy usage, costs per kilowatt, as well as other details in order to figure out long-term payback and savings on energy bills.  The better calculators will also let you fill in any state or local rebates or subsidies, which you can find yourself at DSIRE.  Chances are that you'll be impressed enough to consider investing in home solar power even if don't plan to sell your house.