Benefits of Residential Solar Power in Chicago, IL

The solar industry is a dynamic, ever-evolving sector, with technological developments, policies, and consumer preferences shaping its course. From massive industrial solar power plants to small residential solar power systems, solar technology’s scalability and modular design make it a vital component of the global energy transition.

Statista reports that 20% of the capacity of all solar installations in the United States is exclusively attributed to the residential segment. This segment has significantly grown, reaching around 3.6 million installations of residential solar power systems in 2022.

Besides, 2022 was a record-setting year in terms of the capacity of the newly installed residential solar power systems in the U.S., reaching 5.9 gigawatts.

Source: Statista
It’s no secret that the hustle and bustle of city life in the U.S. requires specific energy capacity and implies pretty high costs. Thanks to solar PV and residential solar thermal power, you can heat water, cool and heat homes, use electrical appliances, provide uninterrupted lighting, and much more.

Today, we will talk about residential solar power in Chicago, IL. This article will explore the intricacies of residential solar power Chicago, its potential, and the benefits of using residential solar power systems in the Windy City of Chicago.

The Potential of Chicago for the Generation and Use of Solar Energy

Chicago is the largest city in Illinois and one of the largest in the United States. It is located in the sunny belt of the USA, where, on average, sunny weather accounts for about 58.5% of daylight hours. On top of that, the state of Illinois is one of the top five states with the highest solar potential, even though it generates more electricity than any other state.

The U.S. Census Bureau, in its 5-year estimates (from 2018 to 2022), stated that there were around 1,129,908 households in Chicago, IL. With so much sunlight, Chicago has a massive potential for residential solar electric power.

The households located in the northeastern part of the country (where Chicago is located) have:

  • The second-highest rate (28%) of homes with solar panels
  • The highest percentage (16%) of residential solar power systems currently being installed

This insane desire of homeowners is confirmed by the countless number of residential solar power companies providing specialized services in Chicago.

A map showing pinned locations of installers, manufacturers, and other solar companies in Illinois
Source: SEIA
Chicago is all about progress and does not stop at what has already been achieved. The city has announced a plan to commit to clean energy starting in 2025. The commitment implies purchasing 100% clean, renewable energy for all city facilities and operations. This plan includes a significant expansion of solar power use (including residential solar power), which, according to forecasts, will reduce CO2 emissions by at least 290,000 metric tons per year. This figure is equal to the emissions of over 60,000 cars.

Chicago Climate Action Plan showing the progress, build scale capacity, and targets.
Source: Chicago Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2022

Main Benefits of Solar Energy

Let’s face it: if green energy were financially unprofitable, resource and time-consuming, or environmentally unfriendly, only some homeowners would be interested in this idea. And with even less probability, if any, would the government strive to act as an intermediary and actively promote the increase in demand for the installation of both commercial and solar power residential systems.

The popularity of solar energy in Chicago is beyond imaginable, and there are several reasons for this.

Government Incentives

Government support plays an important role in stimulating the development and use of solar energy. In Chicago, several programs make purchasing and installing solar panels more accessible to residents.

Adjustable Block Program “Illinois Shines”

This state program is one of the residential solar power incentives. It aims to issue credit contracts for green energy to develop the solar energy industry. It is expected that up to 50% of purchases will be made through this program.

3 main yearly goals of the program called "Illinois Shines" aiming to help the state harness renewable energy
Source: Illinois Shines
The main requirement for participation is to have a residential solar power system on personal property or the roof with a capacity of no more than 5 MW.

Participants get money in advance, depending on the expected amount of energy the solar installation can generate over the next 15 years. Additionally, the payout amount is based on the current value of the SREC contract at the time of application.

Illinois R-PACE Financing Program

To operate this program, municipalities and counties in the state are allowed to enter into voluntary agreements with you as property owners.

Then, as a program participant, you can borrow money to finance residential solar power installation. Then, you must repay them over several years through property tax assessments.

Thanks to these and other state programs, Chicago has become a leader in the installation and use of solar energy in the country.

Cost Savings

Installing solar power systems for residential use in Chicago is a profitable investment that will also save money on electricity bills for many years. So, what are the savings?

Reduced Cost of Solar Power System

The price of a solar power system depends on its size, type of panels and inverter, and other factors. But how much does a residential solar power system cost? In Chicago, the average cost is about $16,000.

A curved graph showing the lowest, average, and highest panel system costs in North Chicago
Source: Eco Watch
For families with low or below-average income, such amounts may seem unaffordable. However, tax credits and subsidies can significantly reduce the cost of residential solar power. For example, the Federal Tax Credit for solar energy entitles you to a 26% or 30% tax credit on the total cost of your system or residential solar power generators. The percentage depends on the year of installation.

Saving on Solar Residential Power Bills

Owners of solar power systems residential in Chicago can save up to 30% on their bills. By generating free electricity using your solar panels, you will significantly reduce your expenses on residential solar power costs and monthly utility bills.

The amount of savings will depend on:

  • The size of the installation
  • The amount of electricity consumed by you and your family
  • Local electricity tariffs

Return on Investment

The return on investment in installing solar panels basically follows the previous point. In a nutshell, if you save on bills for 15 years, the residential solar power system cost will pay off in 7-10 years.

After that, you will receive free solar power for residential use until the solar power system operates.

Increase of Home’s Value

If you plan to sell or rent out your home shortly, a residential solar power system will attract potential buyers’ attention, increase the price, and make the property more competitive.

The study by Zillow shows that six years ago, the value of a home with solar panels was 4% higher compared to similar properties without residential solar systems. The situation remains unchanged today, and solar-powered homes are still highly valued.

Income Potential

Home installations can save your budget and earn you money. This is called Net Metering, a billing mechanism that credits owners of solar power systems for the electricity they return to the grid.

Suppose solar panels produce more energy (especially during peak sunlight hours) than you need to meet your energy needs. In that case, you return the excess solar power, and the utility company provides credit for this solar power residential use. Thus, you turn your home into a mini power station with additional daily income.

Environmental Impact

Preferring solar power for residential use is not just a matter of money and energy independence but also a personal contribution to environmental preservation:

  • Minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and your carbon footprint
  • Fighting climate change
  • Reducing dependence on fossil fuels
  • Improving air quality in your region

So, is residential solar power cost-effective? Yes, it most certainly is.

Is Residential Solar Power Worth It in Chicago, IL?

Chicago is a city offering multiple opportunities for generating solar energy. After all, by installing the best residential solar power system for your Chicago home, you save money, contribute to solving global eco-problems, become independent of energy companies, and harness solar energy continuously.

Looking for the best residential solar power system in Chicago, IL? Fill out this form to get a solar quote and learn how you can benefit from going solar.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do solar panels last?

Solar companies generally provide a warranty that the best residential solar power systems will work for up to 25 years. You may also come across a figure of 30 years. Keep in mind that during operation, panels will decrease their efficiency. However, a solar panel that generates energy for 10 years will only lose 5-10% of its initial productivity.

Do solar panels need direct sunlight?

No, because solar energy is generated even on cloudy days and in winter. Residential solar power panels start working at sunrise. However, direct sunlight ensures maximum efficiency.

Can I finance solar panels in Chicago, IL?

Of course, this is the most affordable and fastest financing option since you don’t need to gather documents to participate in government programs, pay interest, or wait for approval of all details.