Using Your Roof to Go Green

Besides keeping you safe and dry, did you know that your roof can generate energy and income?

Residential solar energy is here to stay, and you may have noticed more homes with solar panels in your nieghbourhood. It’s no surprise that urban sprawl has put a strain on residential power supplies, and renewable energy is becoming more common to balance out the demand. So what’s the deal? The Government of Ontario is actually offering an incentive to residents who allow the installation of solar panels on their roofs. The energy collected from the sun is than contributed back into the local power grid.
Solar panel installation companies, such as Grasshopper Solar Corp or Pure Energies Inc, are offering the free installation and maintenance of the panels in many areas, including Burlington. Once they are in place, home owners receive an average of $400 per year for their energy contribution for up to 20 years. At the end of the term, the homeowner owns the solar panels and equipment outright, and can use them to power their home exclusively.

So why allow a third party company to install the solar panels as opposed to doing it yourself? Solar panel systems can run in between $20,000 – $30,000 for the average home. The initial investment is significant, and the repair and maintenance can be challenging for someone who isn’t familiar with the technology.
In order for your home to qualify, your property should be free of large shade-producing trees, and you should have between 300 and 1,200 square feet of south-facing roof surface.

Many homeowners are concerned about what will happen to their shingles over time, since the solar program is such a long term commitment. Of course, your roof should be in a good state of repair to begin with, and the solar panels actually block the harmful effects of prolonged sun exposure. As a result, your shingles are protected from the typical wear that they would normally be exposed to.
Many of the solar panel companies will suggest that installing a system adds value to your home, but this isn’t necessarily the case. The average buyer isn’t likely educated on the value of the program or the benefits of renewable energy, and will need to understand what is involved before making an offer on a home that is participating in the program. As a general rule of thumb, you are probably better off committing to the program if you plan on staying in the home long-term. However, if you decide to move, the benefits are transferrable to the new owners.

This program is still in its infancy and has a long way to go before it is considered a sustainable and significant player in Ontario’s suburban energy supply. If the idea of going green and doing your part to sustain your local power grid appeals to you, do your homework to find a reputable installer in your area. Ask for references and take a look at other homes they have serviced so you know what to expect once you commit.

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