Report: 50% of U.S. homebuilders to offer rooftop solar for single-family homes by 2016
- Rooftop solar could be offered as a standard feature for single-family homes by more than 50% of all American homebuilders within two years, according to a new study by McGraw Hill Construction and the National Association of Homebuilders, an increase from 12% in 2013.
- The drop in solar installation prices, increasing consumer knowledge about energy efficiency, home generation, and climate change, and construction trends are all contributing factors to the rise of solar panels as standard for new homes.
- Most rooftop solar homes are concentrated in sunny states in the Southwest, but the successful solar market in New Jersey demonstrates the nationwide potential for solar.
Construction firm Meritage Homes has partnered with solar firm SunPower and now installs about 500 rooftop solar systems annually. The price of installation works out to $4 per watt, which the customer can pay back to Meritage as an extra charge on their mortgage. The size of the extra charge depends entirely on the size of the solar array.
"For most of our customers that choose to go solar, it boils down to a simple financial play, just like better windows or better insulation," said Meritage CEO C.R. Herro. For example, a very efficient 3.5 KW solar array could reduce electricity costs by up to 75%.
Another good example is Balfour Beattie Communities, which builds homes on U.S. military installations and has been offering solar to customers since 2012. In Fort Bliss, New Mexico, the company's 4,700 homes will eventually host a 13.2 MW solar-powered microgrid for the housing scheme -- a success it hopes to repeat elsewhere.
"Solar panels are a very visible manifestation of a home's construction," said Homebuilders' Association director Kevin Morrow. "Increasingly, people understand what they can do for them, either by reducing their environmental footprint or by reducing their energy costs."