We all dream of a world where everyone uses renewable energy that won’t pollute the Earth. for that world to be a reality, we all need to do out part. Solar energy is one of the best ways to live a sustainable life and in recent years it has become more accessible than ever. Both homeowners and companies can enjoy solar power more easily than you might think. However, with so much information going around it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here are some basic things you need to know about solar energy before you get started.

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1. Solar energy is a growing market – In 2014, solar investments grew 25% and the market is expected to be 16-25% larger by the end of 2015. This is the result of both governments and companies trying to become more sustainable in later years. For you, it means having more options to choose from. Today, there are more solar power companies than ever, and they all offer a unique service to fit different needs. Before you commit to any one company, you should definitely research the options in your area.

2. Do your research right – Right now, residential solar power is only a small portion of the market, which means that not every solar energy company will support the residential market. Only 20% of 2014 solar panel installations were done in residential projects, so you need to keep that in mind when looking for the company that’s right for you.

3. There are tax incentives for you – If you live in the US, chances are you can benefit from several federal and local tax incentives for solar power installations. The bad news is that the US investment tax credit, the largest solar subsidy in the country, is set to expire at the end of 2016. This would really be the perfect time to invest in solar panels for your home.

4. The cost of solar energy is going down – Both residential and commercial systems costs are down by over 50%, which means both businesses and homeowners can profit from investing in solar energy. This doesn’t mean that the installation will be cheap, though. The initial investment includes costs for installation, permits and equipment, which can add up to more than $15,000. While that may seem pricey, the real value comes in money saved from your regular energy consumption. Besides, tax credits can really offset the cost and there are several financing and leasing options to make solar energy more accessible for everyone.

5. Not all systems are created the same – A Solar Thermal System will use solar panels to gather sunlight and transform it into energy during daylight to use it for heating water systems. On the other hand, a Photovoltaic System will convert energy into electricity to operate many appliances in your home. Find out what system is the one you need and take that into account when calculating costs and benefits.