Real Estate

NextRoof Real Estate Listings for Realtors

Green Roofing and Solar Panel Roofs
This Gold House
By installing solar roof paneling, you can literally turn your home into a life-long moneymaker.

The Beauty of Green Roofing

Believe it or not, one of the most effective ways to go green is with your roof. Over the past few years, the roofing industry has really hopped onto the environmental bandwagon, and come up with a number of eco-friendly green roof solutions. To be sure, some alternatives are costlier and more time consuming than others. Few of us could afford, for instance, to install and maintain a rooftop garden with actual trees and plants, like the ones that have been appearing atop some office buildings in larger cities. Though such systems certainly allow a structure to reduce the size of its overall carbon footprint, they are incredibly expensive and require a great deal of labor and upkeep. Not to mention the permit headaches they must create.
For those who want to go green without having to live beneath Sherwood Forest and the Sheriff of Nottingham, there are still plenty of viable options. One of them is the installation of solar roof shingles, which can enable you to save literally hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime. Everybody knows that solar roof shingles produce electricity, but you may not know that the technology behind solar cells has vastly improved over the past several years. Solar roof panels now produce far more electricity than they used to, even as the price on them is beginning to come down. Through the use of solar roof shingles, you can reduce both your guilt and your electricity bill.
In fact, you may even be able to reduce your bill to nothing. Or, even better, if your solar panels produce more electricity than you actually use, you can sell the surplus energy to the power company for a profit. In many places, the law actually requires public utilities to buy excess power produced by green roofs. That little trick is called net metering, and it’s currently valid in thirty states. And, in most cases, homeowners with solar roof shingles actually do end up producing at least some surplus, which they are able to sell to energy suppliers at the going market rate. That’s because, on a sunny day, it takes roughly a third of an exposed roof to power an entire home. That’s your television, refrigerator, washer and dryer, light bulbs, dishwasher, computer, ceiling fans, and everything else. From an economic standpoint, then, installing solar roof shingles really is a sound option. 

The Return of Photovoltaic Roofing

Like everything else that’s hip and groovy, the concept of installing solar or photovoltaic shingles came out of California in the 1970s. Jimmy Carter even installed them on the White House roof as a way of setting a more eco-friendly example. But the world just wasn’t ready for them. The solar roof shingles produced in the seventies were both lousy and expensive, and dissatisfied customers quickly gave them a bad rap. Even the photovoltaic panels on the White House had to come down. Then, once the price of fossil fuels became more affordable, Americans lost interest altogether.
But times have changed, as they always do. Photovoltaic roofing is back, and it’s hipper than a laptop in a coffee shop. Indeed, green roof sales climb between 20 and 30 percent each year, and there are entire subdivisions in California where solar roof shingles are installed before the homeowner moves in. In many ways, photovoltaic shingles are like the six million dollar man. They’re stronger, faster, and capable of generating more energy. The trouble is, even at more modest prices, they still produce a fair amount of sticker shock, which makes them a difficult sell.
To be fair, the initial investment for a photovoltaic roofing system can be quite hefty. On average, an installation runs about ten grand, which is big money for most people. If you have a large home, or a complex roof structure, the cost can go as high as fifty large, a price that knocks all but the wealthiest out of the running. There are reasons for these costs, though.

Solar Roofing: Costs and Benefits

For one, the photovoltaic panels are more expensive to produce than ordinary asphalt shingles. They require a specialized manufacturing process that is costly in its own right. The roof sheeting has to be coated with several layers of silicon, which then has to be tinted to the color of ordinary shingles. (That’s so your neighbors don’t gawk and point fingers at your hideous Pepto-Bismol colored roof). After the panels are cut into seven-foot shingles, they are then sealed inside a special layer of laminate, which keeps falling branches and other debris from knocking the solar cells out of commission.   
They’re not so easy to install, either. The builders who construct photovoltaic roofs have to be specially trained, and they need to stay abreast of the many developments in this rapidly changing field. They need to know how to align the panels in order to maximize their intake of sunlight, and they also have to know how to wire them together. Finally, once the photovoltaic shingles have been installed, the roofers drill a small hole, into which the electrical leads are fitted. An electrician then has to come behind them and connect the leads to the structure’s electrical system.      
As you can see, there’s a lot of specialized work involved, which is why the initial price tag can have you seeing double. Not to despair, though. The majority of states have laws on the books that can enable you to gain financial assistance for installing photovoltaic panels. These laws are mostly holdovers from the seventies, when the federal and state governments were looking to help consumers cut their energy costs. In many cases, you can get a full fifty percent refund. You shouldn’t have to do a lot of running around, either. Once you’ve found a reputable installer, he or she will know exactly what you need to do to qualify for such aid. As for the rest of the investment, you should recoup that in electricity costs over the next few years.
That leaves just one question: what to do with all the extra cash you’ll eventually have on hand? Somehow, buying a new Hummer just doesn’t seem like the right answer.