How to Get Government Grants for Residential Solar Power

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government grants residential solar power

photo credit: Living Off Grid

It’s fairly easy to get a government grant for installing a solar system.  And you will find all the information you need to apply for one below.  Solar power grants come in handy, as they are an extra incentive for saving on energy costs.  The solar power grant will help you offset the initial installation cost of the solar power system.

There are two main types of solar power systems: water heating systems and photovoltaic (PV) systems. Water heating systems use heat from the sun to heat the water in your home and photovoltaic systems use heat from the sun to generate electricity.  Solar water heating systems are simpler and less expensive to install than solar photovoltaic systems.

 

Getting Government Grants

Federal government grants are given in the form of tax credits. The current program in the United States started in 2006 and expires in 2016. The credit will give you 30 percent of the installation cost of your solar power system.  You have to purchase and install the system first, and then you can apply for the credit.

In addition to federal grants, consider applying for local and state grants.  Contact your local utility company for utility incentives that you may be eligible.  Use energy incentives database at desire.org to determine the local and state grants that you can apply for in your zip code.

Solar America

To apply for a federal grant, fill out IRS Form 5695 (instructions included) and submit it with your income taxes.  Form 5695 is a worksheet used to calculate the amount of tax credit you will receive.  The credit amount calculated from IRS form 5695 is then entered into line 52 of IRS form 1040.  Save all your receipts and the manufacturer’s certification statement for your records.  Your solar power system must have an efficiency of 30 percent or better, and at least 50 percent of your home’s energy must come from solar energy.

 

Federal Grants for Energy Efficient Improvements

You can claim an additional 10% tax credit for qualified energy efficient improvements.  These include insulation that meets the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) criteria, and doors, roofs, windows and skylights that meet or exceed the Energy Star program requirements.

To find out what exactly your insulation requirements are, go to the 2009 IECC page.  Once there, click on your state and then select your county.  The minimum insulation values (R-values) for your walls, roof (ceiling), floor, and slab are listed on the top right-hand side.  Once you know the minimum R-value, you can go to a home improvement store and purchase your insulation required.

For example, if your walls are made of wood, and your wood frame wall R-value is 13, go to a home improvement store (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, etc.) and tell them that you’re looking for R-13 insulation for your wood-framed walls.  They’ll know the type of insulation to get, and they can help you with the installation.

To find out if your other energy efficient improvements meet this credit’s requirements, go to the Energy Star page to find out what the roof’s solar reflectance should be, and use this criteria for your windows, skylights and doors.

To make energy efficient improvements on your roof, use a surface finish that has a solar reflectance value greater than the one indicated on the Energy Star page.  For most cases, the roof would only need to be painted white or topped with an aluminum sheet.  To give you an idea on the solar reflectance of several finishes, take a look at this table.  The table lists the roof surface absorptance value, which is the inverse of the solar reflectance value.  For example, if white paint shows an absorptance of 0.21, then its solar reflectance is 0.79.

 

A Few Facts on Solar Government Grants

  • The solar power system installed must be new.  Used products are not eligible for tax credits.
  • You are not required to have a private contractor to install the system.  You can install it yourself
  • For consumers building new homes, there is no upper limit on the 30% tax credit.
  • A tax credit reduces the amount of tax you have to pay. For example, if you owe $1,000 in taxes, and you get a $500 tax credit, you will owe $500 in taxes
  • To claim this credit, you need to submit your taxes with form 1040.  This credit cannot be claimed with form 1040EZ or 1040A.
  • The tax credit is not only for homeowners.  Condo and co-op owners can claim the credit as well.   People who rent are not eligible for this credit.
  • There is also a 30% tax credit for using wind energy, fuel cells or geothermal heat pumps.

 

Residential Solar System Cost

You can get details on the cost of a complete, grid-tied, solar PV system over at Solar America.  They make it really easy to understand how much a PV system for your house would cost and how to set it up depending on your location.


23 Comments

  1. MARIBEL

    How can I install it only on my ac unit, Is that possible? My normal bill is 49.00 but during the summer I spend around 230.00.

    • Mauro, LEED AP

      Maribel, yes it is possible. But you should check with an experienced solar contractor for the installation. I personally would still install solar power for the entire house as opposed to just one AC unit.

  2. Thank you. I will certainly use this information. Solar energy systems are so new that steps to put together are needed.

  3. I just forwarded this post to a friend who is looking into putting solar on her roof. Are these grants only for single family homes, or are they also for apartment buildings?

    • Mauro, LEED AP

      The grants apply for apartment buildings if you own the apartment. If you are renting the apartment, then the grants do not apply.

  4. Thank you so much for this information … it’s so timely as we are in the process of building a home and want to install both solar and photovoltaic systems. I knew there were tax incentives but didn’t really know how to go about applying for them. In this post, you’ve answered all my questions. Thanks so much!

    • Mauro, LEED AP

      You’re welcome. Glad to help. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  5. How do I get grant for solar panels

    • Mauro, LEED AP

      Hi Rich,

      You would have to install the solar system on your home first, and then use IRS Form 5695 to claim the 30% credit on your taxes.

  6. barbara

    am needing information where to call to inquire about solar panels and how to order and get assistance from government and utility company

  7. Regina Allman

    Send a email to gogreenacademy please respond thank you

    • Mauro, LEED AP

      Hi Regina,

      Can you resend it and say that it’s from you?

  8. renie burgess

    my husband and i are both disabled he is 75 and i am 65. we live on 4.75 acres in a old mobile home we would like to put in solar . is this feasable on social security?

  9. journey jourey

    Exactly I want to start a homestead that eventually will make money but right now I am on SSI and hubby is a CNA/MED TECH so not a lot of money here how can we get money to buy an old fixer upper farm house turn it into a homestead for several family going solar, and passive solar etc and eventually grow our own food and animals for food most of us are disabled as well. Will also be a wolf rescue sanctuary too. we will have a shop to sell excess and some of the awesome artwork from this group of people?

  10. deneen williams

    I was wondering if there was a company that does the paper work for applying for a grant to have the solar panels installed. As well as installing the solar panels

    • WILLIE WILLIAMS

      We are known as the Williams Group.We are a company that not only fills sthe grants for solar panels we also install solar panels. You can contact me at 8135232681. I f unavaible please leave a name and number where you can be reached and someone will return your call as soon as possible Thank you very much.

  11. Eric truitt

    Need it for my home just not making the money .

  12. cheryl shepley

    Great, but what if you are low income and just getting by on social security and subsistence income?

    • Mauro, LEED AP

      Hi Cheryl,

      If you own a home and have high electric bills, it’s worth it to see if you can get an energy efficient mortgage to cover your solar panels cost. After government incentives, there are cases were people end up paying less in monthly payments for installing a solar PV system than they did for their electric bills. This calculator can give you a rough estimate of the cost of installing a solar system on your roof.

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