Know the Basics Before You Go With Solar

On a hot summer day, the sun can feel downright uncomfortable. But if you’re looking to save money, the sun is a real benefit.

“By going solar, you’re doing no harm to the environment,” says Tom Anderson, solar director of Greenlink Energy Solutions, a Rockford-based specialist in renewable energy, indoor air quality, efficiency and restoration. “In fact, you’re actually helping the environment, because you’re not burning fossil fuels.”

It’s pretty simple how solar energy works. Microprocessors located inside the panels on your roof collect the sun’s energy and turn it into electricity.

The energy collected by those panels goes straight to your outlets, and whatever you don’t use is net-metered with your utility. Think of it like an energy savings account for those times when the sun isn’t out – at night or on rainy days.

Whatever isn’t used is pushed back to the utility company’s power grid.

Greenlink staffers mount the solar panels to an aluminum rack that’s fixed to the trusses of your roof. The whole installation covers over your existing shingles. Wiring is run through the attic and down to your circuit panel. The installation process takes about two days.

For anyone who says they’re concerned about the costs, or if they’re still on the fence, Anderson has a 25-year chart that shows what a ComEd bill is today compared to what it could be 25 years from now.

He estimates the average homeowner who uses ComEd will pay about $75,000 for energy over 25 years, which is about how long a solar system will last. These solar systems cost about $30,000, but with state and federal rebates Anderson estimates homeowners will only pay about $15,000 in the end. As an added bonus, Anderson says those solar panels will add at least 5% to your resale value.

More homeowners have made the move to solar power just this year, spurred on by state and federal tax credits that are available for such improvements.

“I always hear people say they’re looking for a catch, but there isn’t one,” says Anderson. “I’d call it a no-brainer to go solar, because you’re going to cut your energy bill in half.” ❚

For an estimate, contact Greenlink at (815) 205-5965 or visit