Roy L. Hayes recently visited Solar to the People to find out how much money installing solar panels could save in parts of California. What he found was that the question should be rephrased "how much do Californians lose by not installing solar?"
In this article for CleanTechnica, Hayes outline the summar of his findings. In San Diego, he found the average installation should pay for itself in just 8 years. In 20 years, owners who paid cash could save over $26,000, and owners who paid with a loan at 5% interest could save more than $20,000. Homeowners who lease their panels instead of purchasing could still save over $17,000.
And that's all from energy savings. it doesn't include the tax credits. Heres what happens when Solar to the People adds in the tax credit:
Solar to the People calculated that when you include the solar investment tax credit (ITC), theaverage Californian solar system is 5.5 kW and, after the incentives and tax credits have been taken off, costs about $18,675. Some of the lowest cost per installed kilowatt systems are in the Redding and Shasta/Cascades region, so they tend to be larger (6.7 kW) and more expensive ($20,698). People in the Central Coast tend to purchase systems that are 20% smaller and less expensive ($16.212) than average. San Diego is right in the middle, a 5.5 kW system for $18,580.