You might be considering finding alternative sources of energy for your home, but aren’t sure what the best option is for your home. Solar has become the world’s most popular type of renewable energy and it’s a great place to start. Using solar panels and an inverter, homeowners can harness sunlight to generate power. It’s a more effective, efficient form of renewable energy than both wind and geothermal. Here are the top five benefits of solar energy for homes.

Good for the environment

With a solar power system, homeowners will have peace of mind knowing that their energy usage isn’t contributing to environmental pollution. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), coal power plants produce roughly 42 percent of all mercury emissions released in the United States. Because solar power systems use sunlight to generate electricity, they don’t produce mercury, sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) or other harmful byproducts of coal.

Tax deductible

Under the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which was recently renewed by Congress, homeowners can deduct 30 percent of the cost of a solar power system from their federal taxes for the year in which it was published. For a system that costs $9,000, for example, the ITC allows for a deduction of $2,700.

Saves money on electricity

Not only are solar power systems tax deductible, but they also save homeowners money on their monthly electricity bills. Assuming the homeowner buys a solar power system rather than leases it, he or she will receive free electricity.

Sell unused electricity for credits

It’s a common assumption that excess electricity generated by a solar power system is wasted, but this isn’t necessarily true. Homeowners can typically enter a contract with a utility company in which they sell their excess, unused electricity for credits on their bill. Known as net metering, it’s available in 43 states, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Minimal maintenance required

Solar power systems are incredibly easy to maintain. The only maintenance a typical solar panel requires is an occasional cleaning to remove leaves, dirt, and debris. And if that’s too much work, homeowners can always hire a professional to clean their panels.

Given its array of benefits, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that hundreds of thousands of homeowners throughout the United States have invested in a solar power system. A solar power system is a wise investment that’s good for the environment, saves homeowners money on their taxes, requires minimal maintenance and more.