Idaho gets plenty of sunlight making solar panels a potential solution to help offset your utility bill. However, the state lacks a few common state tax breaks.
Electricity rates are on the rise , but the Idaho sun could be a solution.
Electricity rates are increasing across the country and fluctuate based on the prices and availability of fossil fuels like coal and gas. Fossil fuels produce carbon dioxide that harms the environment and negatively impacts air quality.
Since Idaho ranks in the top 20 states for sunlight, with an average of 4.92 peak sun hours per day, harnessing sunlight to save on your power bill could be a solution. Idahoans interested in renewable energy, reducing their electricity bill and gaining energy independence could consider installing solar panels. Its important to factor in all the available tax break and costs, though. Idaho does not offer property tax or sales tax exemptions like many other states do.
Here's how the Gem state's solar incentives and a federal tax credit can help you save money and boost Idaho's adoption of solar energy.
Here's a look at the average cash price for a 5-kilowatt system before factoring in tax credits incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com.
|System size (kW)||Price per watt||Total cost|
Solar panels can be a major investment. Consider all of your payment options before making a final decision. While some options have more potential benefits, it depends on your budget.
Cash: A cash purchase is best for a quicker return on investment since there are no fees and interest like with a loan. If you are planning ahead, consider putting savings flagged for solar purchase in a high-yield savings account which can earn interest while it sits.
Loans: Solar loans are an option but may result in interest and fees, which can add up to paying more in the long run. You can also consider home equity or personal loans from a bank or other lender, or a home equity line of credit. Home equity financing comes with its own risks -- your home is the collateral -- but might offer lower rates and better terms.
Other options: Solar leases and power purchase agreements are options to experience savings from solar without owning the panels yourself. For solar leases, you pay a fixed monthly price to the solar company, which installs and owns the panels. Power purchase agreements differ because you pay a fixed price per kilowatt-hour of electricity the solar panels use. You won't be eligible for the tax credits for those systems -- the company that owns them will get that credit.
Even with solar prices decreasing 52% in the last decade, installation is a substantial investment. Solar tax credits and incentives are available to make choosing green energy more affordable. Applying for the federal residential clean energy credit, a federal incentive, saves 30% on the total cost of a solar system and appears as a credit on your next filed tax return. The credit is valid from the beginning of 2022 through 2032 before decreasing to 26%. Its important to note that Idaho does not offer property or sales tax exemptions for a solar installation. This means, you could see a raise in your property taxes since a sola panel install can raise the value of your home and sales tax is likely added to your total price tag.
Here are other solar incentives in Idaho.
An income tax deduction of 40% of the cost of a solar system is applied the year of installation, then a 20% deduction the following three years. The maximum deduction for one year is $5,000 and $20,000 in total.
Idaho does not have regulations for net metering, so rates and policies may vary by the utility company. Avista offers net metering in which you receive electricity credits in exchange for excess generated energy. The credits can be applied to your next electricity bill.
Solar customers sell excess energy back to the utility company in exchange for credits.
The state offers low-interest loans for renewable energy projects on homes and businesses. Single-family homes can receive loans up to $50,000.
Receive a 30% federal tax credit on your next return for solar systems installed through 2032. The credit decreases in 2033 to 26% then 22% in 2034. The credit is set to expire after 2034.
Explore top solar companies in Idaho, including national and local companies. Some local installers give back to the community, while nationwide companies might offer more tools and insights. We recommend receiving quotes from multiple installers to find the best fit for your interests and budget.
Serving residential, commercial and agricultural customers in Idaho and Colorado, Big Dog Solar specializes in solar installations. The company provides three residential customer options: grid-tied, off-grid and grid-tied with battery storage. Staying connected to the grid and adding battery storage is beneficial for net metering credits and for use during lower production times, such as winter. Big Dog guides customers through the installation process and offers a 25-year quality of work warranty. The website currently does not display financing options, but the company provides a free custom quote.
Since 2010, EGT Solar installs custom solar designs for homes and businesses in the central and southern regions of Idaho. EGT Solar states it keeps every part of the process in-house with licensed contractors, which is helpful for clear communication and updates throughout the process. The company offers financing options, including loans through a third party, with rates ranging from 2.99% to 6.99%.
Headquartered in Boise, Idahome Solar provides solar panel and battery installations, repairs and maintenance. Though the business was founded in 2019, it is fully licensed, keeping every part of the process in-house. Idahome Solar says it donates to local nonprofits and sponsors athletic programs at local schools. The website does not detail financing options but offers a free estimate.
Founded in Texas, Sunnova is a national solar company providing services in 40 states, including Idaho. The company creates solar system designs custom to your home and includes a 25-year warranty through Sunnova Protect to ensure system performance. There are various payment options with Sunnova, including power purchase agreements, leases and loans. Sunnova offers a solar bundle with a home electric vehicle charger from ChargePoint. If you're considering an electric vehicle or EV, you might choose Sunnova to bundle products and save money.
As one of the largest nationwide solar companies, SunPower Solar, is CNET's pick for the best overall solar company. The company offers installation services and manufactures high-quality solar products. Financing options include a cash purchase, lease or loan. SunPower has a strong warranty, guaranteeing power production and quality of work for 25 years. While SunPower's reputable brand may be attractive to solar customers, it may come with a higher price tag. Compare the total costs and warranties from multiple solar companies before deciding.
Before deciding on installing solar panels or choosing a solar company, review the following questions.
1. Does your current insurance policy cover solar panels? If you need help, contact your home insurance company to update your policy.
2. Where is your home located? Solar panels perform best with direct sunlight. Even though solar panels can generate electricity with shade, consider whether your home is located in the best place for sunlight.
3. Are you part of an HOA? Homeowner associations in Idaho are not allowed to make rules prohibiting solar panels, but there may be guidelines for placement. Check the rules for your HOA or other neighborhood association for any restrictions.
4. What is your roof's condition? Repairs must be made before installation if you have an old or damaged roof. Removing solar panels to repair your roof is possible, but an additional expense. Factor any needed repairs into your total cost.
5. Are you a renter? Solar options for renters include community solar programs for a subscription-style service.
6. Is the process completed in-house? Some solar companies hire subcontractors to complete parts of the installation process, which can be confusing for communication. It is important to ask your selected company whether or not they do all of the work in-house. If not, ensure you have a list of who to contact during the process.
7. Have you received multiple quotes? Getting price estimates from multiple companies can help you decide which is right for your budget.
8. What is the company's warranty? Most companies offer a quality of work warranty in addition to manufacturer warranties. The warranties usually range from 10 to 25 years. When comparing price quotes, also compare the length and terms of the warranty.
The total cost for your home will depend on the system size, roof repair and additional equipment (like solar batteries).The national average cost is $2.99 per watt for an 8kW sized system, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.
Net metering is an agreement with the utility to receive credits for excess generated electricity. This means the energy generated from the solar system you don't use can save you money on your utility bill. In Idaho, net metering is not mandated by the state government. Check with your utility for its net metering policy.
Yes. Solar panels can save money on your utility bill and even make you money after the system's payback period, or how long it takes to see a return on investment. The payback period in Idaho for an 8-kilowatt system is estimated to take 25 years before factoring in tax credits and incentives.