Your thoughts on Solar for the home

I've been considering getting solar for my 2000 sq.ft. home.  I spend between $100-$150 a month on electricity...I have a pool.  I've talked to a couple companies who of course state that its a no brainer, but I wanted to hear your thoughts and possible experience on the subject.  Lastly, since my roof is not considered Solar approved as far as attaching the panels and such, I would need to get a new roof, at least on the portion where the panels would need to be installed.

What company would be recommended first hand, if any?
Jay SmithAsked:
Who is Participating?
The brief answer is - DO IT!
It will be your contribution to climate change prevention but , more importantly from a short term viewpoint, it will be financially advantageous.
My House is slightly smaller than yours (1800). Since putting in solar about 18 months ago my net electric bill has been below zero.  That is, I have gotten a monthly check from the electric company EVERY month. Of course there were some capital expenses; but, with interest rates as low as they have been, the cells are a better investment than I can expect elsewhere. The expense was helped by federal and state tax write-offs which are not as good now but the cells are cheaper too.
I put in a new roof, which was expensive, but helped noticeably with heating and cooling.
My recommendation on roofing and solar installation will not be helpful to you because they were local (NM). I would recommend them however. They worked hard, carefully, and quickly.
It really depends on your home layout and your electrical needs and what else you need to do to allow for solar to work.

How old is your roof?  If it's nearing it's life, then it makes sense to change it.  If it's new, then you're wasting money.  If it's somewhere in the middle, you'll have to consider the cost benefits over the lifetime of a new roof.

Do you have shade trees or shrubs that you must remove.  If the cost to remove them exceeds the savings, then you aren't saving.  Some homes have so many large trees that will cost thousands of dollars each to remove.

You should also identify where you're using excess electricity.  If you have older incandescent bulbs, you might just want to replace them with LEDs.  If you're using Air Conditioning, you might want to add insulation and maybe shade trees or shrubs on the sun facing sides of your home.  If you have an attic, an attic fan would reduce your AC needs.  Those can all make a huge difference in internal temperatures and reduce your electricity use.  Do you have an old Desktop computer that you don't really need?  Maybe a laptop would be sufficient and more energy efficient.  A lot of laptops have more than enough computing power for the average user's needs.  I ran a home server  24/7, and switching from a desktop to a laptop, dropped my monthly usage by around $20.

Reduce your usage a little first, then take a look at what your real electrical needs are before pricing out your solar installation.
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