The City of Las Vegas recently celebrated the inauguration of 15,000 new solar panels coming on line to generate power for a waste management facility. Having weighed the solar energy pros and cons, the city found ample reason to invest in solar power. Mayor Carolyn Goodman declared the project just one of many large-scale plans for sustainability, renewable energy, and recycling/waste management in Las Vegas.

If the City of Las Vegas believes in solar power despite the cons, does that make it favorable for Las Vegas homeowners?

In a town where the sun shines an average of 300 days per year, why not use it to pay some air conditioning bills instead of just causing them. Solar panels will cut the average home’s power bill down to size and then some. If your system is tied to the grid, excess power produced by solar equipment actually causes your power meter to spin backwards! This adds up to energy credits on your account.

Although some folks have concerns about the aesthetics of solar panels, manufacturers have addressed these by introducing sleek styles that blend in with existing roofing. If you’re in the market for a new roof or are building a new home, why not consider solar shingles as your roofing material of choice?

For those worried about homeowners association (HOA) rules, consult NRS 278.0208, which prohibits a governing body from prohibiting or unreasonably restricting use of a system for obtaining solar energy.

If you’re wondering about maintenance – don’t! Solar panels require no moving parts, so it’s unlikely that much can go wrong, and it’s almost impossible to overload the system. Just an occasional cleaning will take care of the panels.

Most systems also come with 25-30 year warranties, but the systems can be expected to last 30 years, if not longer. You can expect to lose approximately 0.5 percent in conversion efficiency annually.

If you’ve been counting the solar energy pros and cons so far, we have four in the plus column and nothing negative, unless you consider the low level of drop off in efficiency over time. Another advantage of solar power for Las Vegas homes is the added value at resale. Renewable energy installations typically increase home values by $3000-$5000.

The single biggest drawback to going solar for most homeowners is the price tag. Upfront costs are sizable at as much as $50,000. However, after factoring in the overall rate of return in energy cost savings and tax credits and incentives, the initial outlay is offset by savings after 3-5 years. Over a 25-year period, savings can total as much as $100,000.

When examining the solar energy pros and cons for a home in Las Vegas, the real question is not can you afford it? It is: Can you afford not to make this investment in a sustainable, cost-effective future for your home?