If you’re a homeowner in New Jersey, did you know about all the incredible incentives available to you if you decide to invest in solar power? Beyond the fantastic energy savings, there’s a lot of potential for tax savings and more.

If you’re new to renewable energy or don’t know much about the solar incentives in NJ, we’re sharing all the ins and outs below in this detailed guide. By the time you get through this guide, you’ll know what benefits you qualify for and how to get started.

What Are Solar Incentives, and How Do They Work?

What Are Solar Incentives & How Do They Work?

Solar incentives are strategies the government uses to convince more people to start using renewable energy through solar panels on their homes or businesses. These incentives could be tax credits, rebates, and more.

The purpose of solar incentives in NJ is to reduce the financial impact of the high up-front investment cost for solar panels. Most systems wind up in the $15,000-$20,000 range. These programs lessen the burden for homeowners to pay these up-front costs through incentives.

A Note About Solar Incentives in NJ

A Note About Solar Incentives in NJ

One thing that’s important to note about green energy incentives is that by design, they won’t last forever. The goal is to incentivize more people to start participating in renewable, clean energy.

As more and more people install solar systems, incentives will begin to go down until they run out eventually. At this point, enough people will be using solar power in New Jersey that the government won’t need to incentivize anymore, and it will phase out the programs.

Currently, New Jersey is in the first phase of solar incentives in NJ, called the Transition Incentive Program. Plans are still underway for moving into the next phase for the Successor Program.

It’s essential to consider this, as the quicker you decide to invest, the more benefit you’ll get. If you are hesitant and wait a year or two before you finally make a move, the incentives may not be as high as they are now.

State Programs

Now that you understand how incentives work, let’s explore the details of solar incentives in NJ.

New Jersey Net Metering

With a net metering program, your utility will track how much power your solar panel system generates and how much of that energy you use each year. Anything leftover is net energy and becomes available to sell back at the full retail rate.

New Jersey’s Net Metering program lets homeowners sell their excess energy back to the power grid at the retail rate, which is much higher than the wholesale rate that power plants typically receive. The state’s rules dictate that the utility company must credit your next bill with that energy at the retail rate, but if you run a surplus over the entire year, they’ll cut you a check for anything leftover.

This monetization is a great way to make some money back on your already low energy bill. It is also a great way to prevent excess energy from going to waste.

New Jersey runs its main net metering programs through Jersey Central Power & Light and PSE&G.

TREC Program

For every megawatt-hour of solar power energy that your system produces, you’re also generating a TREC. The 2018 NJ Clean Energy Act made TRECs available to sell back to utilities.

The price you can get for each TREC will vary based on the system that you installed. A residential rooftop system, for example, can earn you around $90 per TREC. Let’s say your system produces 7 MWh of energy per year. All in all, your TRECs could make you $630 back per year, just for doing the work you installed them to do.

This TREC program recently replaced the state’s former SREC program, which was similar. However, this is a perfect example of an incentive program reaching its goal and end. The SREC program ended earlier than initially intended because so many New Jersey residents switched to solar power quicker than expected.

Solar Investment Property Tax Exemption

Installing a solar-powered system on your property will make your property taxes go up, right? Wrong!

While adding a solar panel system to your home will increase the value when it comes time to sell, it won’t hurt you while you’re still living in it through property taxes. You are legally exempt from any higher property taxes due to your highly valuable solar system.

Solar Panel Sales Tax Exemption

Unlike home upgrades such as a new oven, garage door, or bathtub, you won’t have to pay any sales tax on your home solar system.

Sales tax is a small amount when buying small consumer items, but that percentage can turn into quite a few dollars when you’re purchasing something as expensive as solar panels. Luckily you get to pocket that 7% that you would otherwise be paying for something of that cost.

Low-Income Solar Programs

Back in 2019, the state of New Jersey developed a new type of solar incentives in NJ for low-income residents. This 3-year community pilot program aimed at low- and moderate-income households who would like to invest in renewable energy but are facing financial difficulties.

With this program, program applicants (AKA the developers) can propose solar integration plans to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and 51% of the chosen projects must benefit these moderate- to low-income families.

NJ Clean Energy Program

The NJ Clean Energy Program is a statewide plan. Its goal is to help New Jersey residents, local governments, and business owners preserve energy. In the process, these beneficiaries save the environment and put some money back into their pockets.

While there aren’t solar rebates directly available through NJ Clean Energy Program, you can find a number of renewable energy resources. There are also a number of rebates for other energy efficiency purchases available to both New Jersey residents and businesses.

Federal Programs

There are additional benefits to investing in green energy outside solar incentives in NJ. The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit is the big one. Here’s what to know about this substantial advantage:

Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit

The most significant impact you’ll see after investing in green energy will come from the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit. Known as the ITC for short, this is a major perk if you decide to install photovoltaic panels on your property. The tax credit will cover 26% of the upfront cost of your solar panel, saving you thousands of dollars the year you install it.

For example, if your system costs you $20k, then your solar credit would be 26% of that, which is a whopping $5,200.

One thing to note is that the federal tax credit will fall from 26% to 22% by the end of 2022. If green energy has been on your mind, there’s never been a better time to make a move!

Getting the Most Out of Solar in NJ

Getting the Most Out of Solar in NJ

Investing in solar panels for your home is a great move. Not only will you cut back your energy costs drastically for years to come, but there are also several perks available to you up-front. However, not everyone is aware of the solar incentives in NJ, however, deterring them from pulling the trigger and making the investment.

There’s an opportunity for enormous savings through the federal solar investment tax credit paired with the various state incentive programs. You can sell back your unused energy, earn TRECs for every MWh of energy your system produces, and get great sales and property tax exemptions to sweeten the pot.

If you’re still on the fence about investing in renewable energy, what are you waiting for? As incentive programs dwindle over time, your best bet is to act as soon as you can.

Some states have a year-long summer. Others are cold for 12 months.

In New Jersey and the Delaware Valley, homeowners experience all four seasons. Under these circumstances, there are specific actions homeowners can take to get the most out of their home.

One of these actions is improving the attic — specifically, the attic’s energy efficiency.

Keeping the attic energy efficient helps keep the home healthy during all four seasons.

Here are 4 of the best ways to improve your attic energy efficiency.

1. Improve Your Attic’s Access Point

The attic access point — you probably see it every day without thinking twice about it.

Your scuttle hole and/or attic door could be wasting your home’s energy.

If the attic access point is not optimized for energy efficiency, air will be leaking between your living area and your attic. Your conditioned air can escape through the attic access point, wasting energy and money on conditioning the lower levels of your home. It doesn’t matter what season it is either — whether you are trying to keep your home toasty in the winter of cool in the summer, your attic access point can contribute to energy loss.

The solution?

We recommend two things:

  1. Weatherstripping
  2. Attic access cover

Attic accesses often have gaps between the door and the ceiling/attic floor. When these gaps are present, weatherstripping is a simple do-it-yourself solution.

For homeowners looking to get the most out of their time and effort, installing an attic access cover could be the perfect remedy.

Attic access covers are a simple installation made for attic scuttle holes and latches. They insulate the attic access and prevent the air from escaping in the same way that weatherstripping does. Other benefits of attic access insulation covers include:

  • Prevents bugs from entering the living area
  • Saves money on monthly energy bills
  • The material is durable and built to last

Weatherstripping and attic access covers are both excellent options. However, for the strongest means of insulation and energy saving, attic access covers provide the best results.

2. Improve Your Attic’s Sealing

After you tackle your attic access, the next step to improving attic energy efficiency is to improve the attic itself.

The first part of that is sealing.

The main goal of improving sealing is to prevent air leakage from the attic.

As mentioned in part 1, air can leak out of gaps and cracks in the attic access. However, the concept of air leakage can be a problem elsewhere.

Polyurethane foam seals gaps in wooden frame construction conserving energy.

Air can leak in gaps in windows, walls, and the floor especially. Take a look around and examine if you have gaps around the following:

  • Wire holes
  • Can lights
  • Ducts or vents
  • Cracks in the floorboards
  • Spaces where walls/floors/ceilings meet

If you find spaces near these elements, materials such as sealant, caulk, and/or weatherstrips can often be good solutions. All three will help limit the amount of air leakage in the attic.

For those with duct-work in their attic, air sealing can be critical.

When your air is leaking from ducts, all of the air that would be funneled directly into your living room may not be leaking up from your attic access, but directly from the ducts themselves. Thanks to something know as the “stack effect” (rising heat in the house), air leakages from ducts happen constantly, even when your air is not running. The joints that hold the ducts together leak air, the space in between the ducts and walls leak air, and you end up paying for it (literally — in utility bills).

When it comes to sealing duct-work, a materials such as spray foam, duct mastic, or duct tape can be a homeowners best friend.

Homeowners should also consider the importance of insulating the ducts as well. This concept should actually be applied to the entirety of the attic.

3. Improve Your Attic Insulation

Thanks to infrared technology, we are able to further see where homes need insulation.

When our technicians go into homes, the attic is one of the usual suspects for under-insulation.

In the Delaware Valley, where recommended R-Value (resistance to heat) ranges from R38 to R60, having the right amount of insulation is a necessity if you want good whole-home health. R-Values vary by material, but to get a better sense of what kind of R-Values you may already have, check out this chart. For the most accurate measurements, it’s always best to have a healthy home professional inspect your attic and determine what R-Value will work best for your home.

So how do you insulate your attic?

First, consider R-Value.

Next, identify what kind of insulation and what amount of insulation you will need for optimal insulation.

Some of the most popular attic insulation materials include:

  • Fiberglass (comes as batt)
  • Cellulose (comes blown)
  • Mineral wool (comes batt or blown)

Your walls, joists, and attic floors may all need better insulation. You may be able to judge this with the naked eye, but we recommend having an expert take a look. Experienced technicians will be able to give you more insight into R-Values, identify every spot that needs insulation, and offer actionable advice on the best way to handle any under-insulation.

Bonus Tip: Use Multi-Layer Reflective Insulation.

Multi-Layer Reflective Insulation (MLI) is the hidden gem of insulation materials.

MLI reflects radiant heat from the sun that permeates through the roof to keep R-Value consistent, and the temperature in the living area contained.

While most MLI installations take place in the attic, we can apply our reflective insulation products anywhere in your home to better insulate your home. Attics, crawl spaces, garage doors, below your floors—we even have wraps for old hot water heaters. MLI can help you improve your home’s energy efficiency levels and enjoy increased savings and comfort.

4. Improve Your Attic Ventilation

Ventilation, often thought of as “airflow”, tends to be overlooked.

Unlike other parts of the country like the southern and western states where it is hot year-round and attics can reach deathly high temperatures, the northeast only experiences high-heat for about two months. Likewise, the importance of airflow in the attic can easily escape the minds of homeowners.

Plus, most people aren’t really hanging out in their attic. So why does your attic need ventilation?

The truth is, ventilation is needed during every month of the year.

If you don’t have a healthy stream of air in your attic in the summer, you could be looking at moisture damage and mold.

And if you don’t have that healthy airflow in the winter, you could be looking at different yet similar issues. The potential for mold growth will be there, and excess moisture could cause warped joists, unsafe ice damming on the roof, and rotting wood.

The solution?

We recommend using a solar attic fan in New Jersey.

Solar attic fans — as the name implies — run solely on the power of the sun. That means less electricity is needed and more energy efficiency is earned.

They regulate your attic by expelling hot air and circulating fresh outside air to maintain healthy, consistent air quality.

To learn more about the benefits of installing a solar attic fan, click here.

Take Action — Improve Your Attic

If you want to improve your attic, we recommend seeking out the advice of an expert. Our technicians offer free attic inspections and can give you personalized advice based on the condition of your house and the climates that your house will be going through. To get an expert’s perspective, contact us today for a free inspection.