Number of Americans using solar power expected to more than triple by 2030

Number of Americans with solar power expected to more than triple by 2030

More Americans are tapping into the power of the sun to provide electricity for their homes, as the cost to go solar continues to drop. 

Massachusetts homeowner Peter Samsel recently installed solar panels on his roof in an effort to help the environment. 

"I want it to be a proven technology and now it is," he told CBS News correspondent Chris Martinez. 

Going solar — converting energy from the sun into electrical energy — cost Martinez $21,000 after tax credits and rebates. 

The investment was well worth it, according to Samsel, who expects to save roughly $3,000 a year in energy costs by using solar panels. 

"It should pay me back within about seven or eight years, so that I break even at that point and then start saving," he said. 

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John Pariseau, also a Massachusetts resident, made the switch to solar two years ago. He relies almost exclusively on energy from sunlight to power his home — but occasionally uses electricity from the grid when it snows. 

The government gives him a credit when the panels produce excess energy, which Pariseau said makes the move a "no brainer." 

Incentives like these, coupled with more affordable prices, mean solar panel installations are on the rise in the U.S.

The cost to install solar dropped by more than 70% over the past decade, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Roughly 4% of homes in the U.S. are powered by solar energy. More than 13% of homes are expected to use solar power by 2020, according to SEIA. 

The technology is most popular in states like California where it's warm and sunny. 

 "But it's now being adopted in colder parts of the country," Martinez said. 

Pariseau, for one, has been "very happy with the results."

Large corporations are also embracing clean energy solutions. Facebook this month reached a key environmental goal sooner than expected. The social media company said it purchases enough renewable energy to run all of its operations globally. Tech companies Microsoft, Apple and Alphabet — the parent company of Google, have also committed to ambitious green energy goals.

Electric-car company Tesla also makes sleek-looking solar roof tiles for homes, as well as panels for existing roofs that reduce homeowners' dependence on the grid. 

Wisconsin homeowner Jason Lassen has embraced the "futuristic" roof design, he told CBS News. 

Tesla's Solar Roof costs "about three times" the price of a well-built shingle roof, according to Lassen. 

The power it creates recharges a battery that distributes electricity to the house. 

"We love it," Lassen said. 


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