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Chicago’s Potential for Solar Energy

Although most people typically don’t think of the Midwest when they think ‘solar energy’, this notion is beginning to change.  The region might not have the most desirable year-round climate, but there is actually a huge potential for solar energy here—in fact, Illinois has almost as many days where solar energy can be produced as the Sunshine State of Florida.

Sun Number, a SunShot-funded startup from the U.S. Department of Energy, has developed a patented process for analyzing the solar energy potential of U.S. cities using a scale from 1 to 100.  In an interview with Redfin, Sun Number co-founder David Herrmann explains, “Sun Number scores make it easy for homeowners and homebuyers to understand the solar potential of their current or future home, and Sun Number is committed to working with real estate companies like Redfin to make the scores widely available.”[1]

There are three main factors that go into calculating a home’s Sun Number score: a roof assessment (pitch, orientation, and size), the amount of solar radiation per square meter of roof, and local electricity rates.[2]  According to their rankings, Chicago checks in as the number two city in the Midwest region for solar power potential with an average Sun Number score of 80.  This is second only to Columbus, Ohio with a score of 82.

Not only is the area a great fit for solar energy, but the payoff for Chicagoland homeowners that invest in solar panels is substantial.  According to Redfin’s research, solar panels are viewed as an upgrade to a home—just like a kitchen renovation or a finished basement—and homebuyers across the U.S. are willing to pay an additional $15,000 for a home with solar panels.  Additionally, data from the Department of Energy shows that homes with solar panels sell faster than those without.

[1]Alanna Finn. “10 Midwestern Cities Where Solar Power Has a Big Payoff.” Redfin. 2017 Redfin, published 2 May 2017. Web. Accessed 13 May 2017. <https://www.redfin.com/blog/2017/05/10-midwestern-cities-where-solar-power-has-a-big-payoff.html>.
[2] “What Is Your Sun Number Score?” Sun Number™️. SunNumber 2016, n.d. Web. Accessed 13 May 2017. <http://www.sunnumber.com/>.

While the initial cost of installing solar panels seems high, it is an investment that will eventually net a profit in the form of reduced utility bills.  Plus, 30% of the installation cost can be recouped in the form of Federal tax rebates, and the State of Illinois also offers a cash rebate of up to $20,000 when available.  In a city referred to as the “Windy City”, the future of solar energy is certainly shining bright.  If you would like to learn more about solar power and the significant benefits associated with it, please contact the experts at SolarWerks tod

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