PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Brett Johnson loves his home and plans to be in it the rest of his life.

He also loves saving money, which is why he decided to invest in a rooftop renewable energy system.

“We decided to put in the solar panels primarily because the price of electricity is something I don’t see as ever going down, and this is a hedge against that,” said Johnson.

“If you have been thinking about solar panels, now is a good time to go ahead and install them because there is a federal tax credit in place right now for 30 percent back on the entire project installation if it’s done by Dec. 31 of 2016,” said Angie Hicks of Angie’s List.

Financial incentives helped solar energy projects surge to record levels in 2014, including a 51 percent increase in residential systems. The cost of the panels themselves has decreased by 80 percent in recent years, also driving the demand.

“What we’re looking to do in most cases is maximize the ROI, so how fast can I pay this system off? So we generally design with that major, with that in mind rather,” said Jeff Cole, an energy solutions expert.

According to energy experts, your return on investment can now be accomplished in as little as seven to 10 years. Most systems are installed on rooftops, but the panels can also be placed on pergolas, gazebos or even on the ground. Regardless where they’re installed, they provide clean energy and are virtually maintenance-free.

“Almost all systems that are installed come with online monitoring,” says Cole. “The homeowner can get online from any computer in the world and see what their system’s producing, and based on a sunny day like today, this homeowner would expect to get online and see that their system is producing close to 100 percent.”

“I’m happy with what we did,” said Johnson. “I like the idea that it’s something that you pay for once that continues to produce and doesn’t degrade at a particularly quick rate.”

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