Infographic: What if Solar Were on Every Roof?

By Matthew Wheeland - July 27, 2011
Infographic: What if Solar Were on Every Roof?


infographic: what if solar were on every roof?

What if Solar Were on Every Family’s Roof?

The annual energy bill for a typical single family American home is $1,255, resulting in $144 billion spent per year for 115 million U.S. households. The amount of money you save by going solar depends on many different factors. Energy prices fluctuate by state. The national average per kilowatt-hour (kWh) is $0.117.

Going solar is even more cost effective if you live in one of the states with really expensive grid power: California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Alaska, or Delaware.

The position of your home and the way the sun hits it affects how much solar energy you can generate (and therefore, how much money you’ll save). Solar incentives and rebates vary by state.


One Family’s Solar Home Savings

For example, the average household in San Francisco could save this much by going solar:

  • Small solar system: $1,109.60/year (Ave. $92/month)
  • Medium solar system: $1,664.40/year (Ave. $139/month)
  • Large solar system: $3,328.80/year (Ave. $277/month)

National Impact

If every U.S. house had a medium solar system, saving each household on average $1,281 per year, national savings would reach $147 billion annually. Within solar paneling outputting for five hours a day, each household would produce 10,950 kilowatt hours per year, resulting in more than 1 trillion kilowatt hours nationwide per year.

Return on Investment

Solar can be pricey in states with low or no incentives, but more states have been launching these in recent years. New leasing programs, too, can sometimes make it possible to earn a return on investment with the very first month of having solar.

Estimated payback time (industry estimates):

  • Hybrid cars: 6.5 years
    A 2010 Honda Civic hybrid costs $3,545 more than a non-hybrid model, but drivers reap a few hundred dollars in gas savings each year, according to
  • Home solar electricity: 6 years
    In states with leading-edge solar-incentive programs like New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, that payback period can drop to as little as four years.
  • High-efficiency washing machines: 5 years
    The green premium is small: Whirlpool, for example, asks $70 more for the high-efficiency version of its basic washer and estimates it trims water bills by $15 a year.

U.S. Homeowners Warming to Solar

  • In spite of the recession, the U.S. market for residential solar panels doubled in 2009.
  • A 2010 study by National Renewable Energy Lab found that homes with solar panels sold 20% faster than non-solar homes and fetched a 17% higher asking price.
  • Solar adoption is in high gear in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, where a juicy incentive called SREC pays households to go solar. In New Jersey, for instance, solar households make an average of $5,000 to $7,000 a year, just for having panels on the roof.

Solar Power and Air Quality

The average U.S. home generates an average of 2,700 lbs. of air pollution annually. Within an estimated 115 million U.S. households in 2010, total air pollution estimates reach more than 310 billion lbs. per year. According to Rochester Solar Technologies, one 10 kWh solar system can prevent 4,237 lbs. of sulfur dioxide and 1,364 lbs. of nitrogen oxides entering the air over the system’s lifetime.


What’s ?

organizes group deals on solar energy. Since 2008, has run over 50 group deals in ten different U.S. states and helped thousands of homeowners go solar. We’ve been featured in dozens of publications and programs including The New York Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, USA Today, Marketplace, Wired, and GOOD Magazine. In 2010, sponsored the first-ever solar deal on and received a Heart of Green Award for “Best New Innovation.” Want to find out if there’s a group deal on solar in your area? Sign up for (it’s free). Not ready to go solar, but want to help take solar mainstream? Tell your friends about .


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