Category Archives: Solar Power Systems

Top 6 Exterior Home Remodels with Best ROI, Plus Costs

Here are the top six exterior home improvements to spruce up your home and your backyard:

1. Outdoor Kitchen

credits HouseBeautiful.com

If you happen to live in a house with a nice backyard that gets plenty of sunshine, and you are the type of person who loves to entertain your guests and family outdoors, then investing in an outdoor kitchen can be a great way to make your home not only more valuable, but also more enjoyable. 😉

Cost-wise, an outdoor kitchen can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 for a fairly basic set-up, and between $50,000 and $100,000 for a more luxurious outdoor kitchen. On a per square foot basis, costs tend to run anywhere from $25 to $70 per sq. ft. depending on the choice of materials, the complexity of your design, and home’s geographic location.

ROI: If the upgrade you chose is appropriate for your area, and won’t price your home out of the market, then you can expect an ROI of up to 100% or more depending on the extent of work you had done and how suitable it’s for your particular house. To get the most bang for your buck, consider selling the home with an outdoor kitchen in the summer!

2. Deck

credits AbacusBuilders.com

A deck can make a major difference in terms of curb appeal and enjoyment value for your home.

Cost-wise: a typical deck will range in price from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the complexity of the design and the type of materials used. For DIY enthusiasts, a basic deck can be built for around $2,500. Average cost per square foot: $50 – $150, depending on the materials used, complexity of your design, and your home’s location.

ROI: Aside from a 100%+ return on enjoyment value and popularity with your friends and family, you can expect a return on investment of 80% to 100%, if you choose the right materials and appropriate design.

3. Pergola

Oh would it not be great to extend your home outdoors? That’s right, outdoors, where you can enjoy a bit of sun and fresh air, while also having a sense of shelter? That’s what a Pergola is! — An outdoor structure designed to shelter you from the sun.

There is not a better way to make your enjoyment of the backyard more stylish and fun. A pergola can be combined with a deck, or placed tastefully on your patio, with patio furniture right under the pergola. Pergolas can also be placed around outdoor kitchens.

Cost-wise: You can have a pergola professionally built for $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the complexity of your design. For DIY enthusiasts, a classy pergola can be built for around $1,000.

ROI: Like many other smaller outdoor home improvements, a pergola can have an ROI exceeding 100%, not too mention the enjoyment factor that a homeowner will derive from having a pergola in their property. 😉

The bottom line is that if your pergola is tastefully integrated with the rest of the features on your property, then you can easily recoup the cost of your investment. 😉

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Implications of California Mandating Solar on New Homes by 2020

California has become the first state to require new homes be built with solar power systems. Bloomberg says, “California just sent the clearest signal yet that rooftop power is moving beyond a niche market and becoming the norm”.

California is a trend setter, so Bloomberg might be right on the money. Its graph on the fast rise of solar in the decade ending in 2017 makes the case very emphatically.

The law applies to single-family homes and multi-unit residential buildings less than four stories high. It requires those built after January 1st, 2020 to be outfitted with a PV solar energy system.

The mandate is one of four key Building Energy Efficiency Standards released by the California Energy Commission.

  1. Solar PV systems with smart inverters with optional battery storage
  2. Demand/Response compliance options including battery storage and heat pump water heaters
  3. Healthy indoor air through controlled home ventilation and filtration
  4. Tighter home envelopes with house wrap, more insulation in the attic and walls, efficient windows and more

Implications of Mandating Solar Power in CA

The immediate impact was a rise in solar stock prices (Sunrun rose 15%, e.g.) and a fall in prices for residential construction companies.

No wonder. A lot more solar power systems are going to be sold. The demand for a new home might fall, while the costs are likely to rise.

Positive Implications

Carbon emissions will be reduced: California’s goal is a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. This legislation will produce small steps in that direction each year.

Utility costs will fall for solar homes: The CEC expects homes equipped with solar to save $19,000 over the projected 30-year life of the systems.

Negative Implications

New home cost will rise: The CEC states that average cost of these solar energy systems will be $9,500. The average home in CA uses a 2.5kW to 4kW system.

At current prices of $2.80 to $3.22 per watt, the Commission is estimating the average system to be 2.95kw to 3.4kW, so the estimation seems low on the upper end. Systems for homes with 4+ bedrooms are often more than 4kW, so cost for them might rise to the $11,000 to $13,500 range.

Jimmy Pethokoukis, American Enterprise Institute economic policy analyst told CNBC:

This is great for wealthier homeowners, but for everybody else it’s one more reason to not go to California or to leave ASAP.

Maybe that’s part of the California Energy Commission’s design! 😉

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