Is the Residential Clean Energy Credit Worth It? - Think Outside the Tax Box

Is the Residential Clean Energy Credit Worth It?

Have you ever gone into a dealership to purchase a car? It’s been a while for me, but one of the things that keeps me from vehicle shopping is just how difficult it is to ascertain the actual price of the vehicle. The salesperson wants to run a credit check and then talk to you about how much payment you can afford. They want to factor rebates and trade-in value of your existing vehicle to the payment they quote you without ever telling you what you are paying for the car. The entire negotiation often becomes about the monthly payment (regardless of the term of the loan) rather than the car’s price.

Indeed, personal finance websites almost always recommend negotiating the three aspects of your car purchase separately: the vehicle’s price, the trade-in amount for your vehicle, and the financing. Otherwise, you run the risk of both buying more car than you can afford and being upside down in the loan (owing more on the vehicle than the vehicle is worth) shortly after you make the purchase.

What does this have to do with the expansion of the Residential Clean Energy Credit, you ask? More than you might think. My husband, after talking to a neighbor, recently decided to start shopping for solar panel systems with the idea of saving money on (or largely eliminating) our monthly power bills. What followed was a crash course in residential solar energy sales and the associated economics.

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