You've got the chance to save a boatload of money on your electric bill, and the electric company wants to help you do it.
Florida Power & Light announced earlier this week that it would be offering more than $3 million in rebates to customers who install solar equipment in their homes or businesses, continuing a popular program that started late last year. Starting May 3, customers can apply to get thousands of dollars handed over to them to help pay for the considerable up-front costs of setting up solar-powered electrical systems in their homes.
And at least one of these offers -- $1,000 toward a solar water heater -- is worth seriously considering, according to Jim Coryell, owner of Fort Lauderdale-based Broward Solar.
While customers can get up to $20,000 in rebates for installing a large photovoltaic panels on their home to generate electricity, large solar-power systems like that can cost upward of $50,000, Coryell said, putting them out of the reach of most people.
But solar-powered water heating systems generally cost around $5,000, he said, and when customers combine the $1,000 rebate with the hefty federal tax credit that comes with installing it, the numbers start looking pretty good.
"The water heating program that they have is actually the best program for your buck," Coryell said. "As soon as they buy the thing, it's halfway paid off."
FPL estimates the heating system can decrease water-heating costs by 85 percent. Coryell said that it would save around $50 a month for a household of three and that the system could pay for itself in a few years -- especially because you're saving not only on raw costs but on the steep taxes associated with buying the power.
"Every dollar you save with solar is equal to a buck and a quarter," he said. "They haven't figured out a way to tax the sun yet."
The new application period starts at 8:30 a.m. on May 3; Coryell said the money for some programs "will disappear in ten minutes when it comes online" because of the high demand, and FPL recommends that potential applicants get as much ready as possible before applications open. The FPL website
has the checklists and information about the other programs for full solar-power systems and businesses.