Your Free Guide to Home Ownership

home ownership

Your Free Guide to Home Ownership

You will learn about:
  • How to choose and buy the right home for you
  • Available home services and how to hire them
  • The moving process...and more!

414 min – Estimated reading time

Your Free Guide to Home Ownership

Your Free Guide to Home Ownership

home ownership

Introduction to Home Ownership

Becoming a homeowner is considered to be an important benchmark of economic progress. Home value is a major part of most homeowner families’ net worth and owning a home can help you build wealth as property values increase over time.

Owning a home also gives owners security, stability and a close connection to their communities.

If you are a first-time homebuyer, congratulations! Even if you have owned a home for some time, there is still a lot to learn about protecting and maintaining your property.

Buying and Selling a Home

Buying a home is a complex transaction, financially, legally and personally. First-time home buyers stay in their home for 11.4 years, and those who have owned a home before stay put for 14.8 years on average. Where a person lives has a huge impact on work, friends, family, education and nearly every other aspect of life.

This section will talk about real estate professionals, what to look for in a new home, how to negotiate the best price and home inspections. 

While there are federal real estate laws, each state may have its own laws that govern real estate. Where this is the case, state laws will be noted in the section of this guide to which they apply.

Steps to Buying a Home

Finding and buying a new home is exciting, but it may also be confusing because there are so many factors to consider. Here are the steps.

  1. Determine where you want to live. This will be a city, town or general area. Price and your ability to pay will impact which neighborhood you should look into. 

Typically, people choose a location based on factors such as the location of an existing or anticipated job, proximity to family, cost of living and quality of life. For more details on choosing the location to move to, see the section “What to Look for in a New Home” in this guide.

  1. Decide how big a home you need, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

This will depend on how many people will be living in the home and others needs such as for a home office. See the section “Choosing the Right Size and Type of Home” for information on choosing the right size home.

  1. Figure out how much you can afford to pay for a home. 

You can calculate this amount based on the amount of money you have for a down payment, your income and your credit. Find out how to calculate the amount you can afford to spend on a new home in the section “Determining What You Can Afford” section of this guide.

  1. Shop around for the best mortgage rate and terms. 

The mortgage interest rate is the amount a lender charges you to borrow the money for a home. The terms of the mortgage are details such as the length of repayment, additional fees and whether the interest rate will remain the same or fluctuate.

Getting a mortgage with a lower interest rate and favorable terms can save you thousands of dollars. For more information on interest rates and terms, see the section “Types of Mortgages” in this guide.

  1. If possible, get pre-approved by the lender with the best rate and terms. This will improve your negotiating position and streamline the buying process.

A pre-approval is when you submit all of the required information such as the amount of your down payment, income, expenses and credit to a mortgage lender before you decide which house to buy. The lender will pre-approve you up to a certain amount of money. When you are ready to buy a home, you will submit the information about the purchase price and home to the lender to finalize the transaction. Find out more about home financing in the “Home Financing” section of this guide.

  1. Optional but recommended – Hire a real estate agent.

A real estate agent is a professional who can help you find homes that meet your price range, location and size criteria. Find out more about what real estate agents do in the section “How Real Estate Agents Operate.”

  1. View homes in person or virtually.
  1. When you find a home you would like to buy, make an offer. If it is not accepted, negotiate or keep looking.

An offer is when you give the seller a price you are willing to pay for the home. It may also include other requests regarding the property. See the section “Price Negotiation” for how to make an offer and negotiate with the seller.

  1. When your offer is accepted, sign a contract and pay earnest money.

Earnest money is a part of the down payment that you put in a special account to demonstrate to the seller that you are serious about buying the home. If you change your mind, you could potentially lose this money. See the section “The Contract.”

  1. Optional – Hire a real estate attorney. It is mandatory in some states to have a real estate attorney at the closing. 

Real estate attorneys are lawyers who specialize in real estate transactions.  They can help you to negotiate with the seller and understand the paperwork before you sign it.

  1. Get appraisal, seller disclosure and necessary inspections. Negotiate further if there is anything unexpected in these documents.

An appraisal is a professional’s assessment of the value of the property, and the seller disclosure informs the buyer of anything else important that could negatively impact the value and useability of the home. Inspections are professional assessments of the condition of the home. Find out more about inspections in the “Home Inspections” section of this guide.

  1. Close on the home.

The closing is the event where the final paperwork is signed and ownership of the property changes hands from seller to buyer. Find out what it entails in the section “The Closing.”

How Real Estate Agents Operate

There are two main types of real estate professionals: agents and brokers. Both agents and brokers are licensed professionals who represent the buyer or the seller in a real estate transaction. Real estate brokers typically have more training and may work independently or hire agents to work for them.

Real estate agents must work for a real estate brokerage. The term “realtor” refers to agents, brokers, salespeople and other real estate professionals who are members of the realtor association. Going forward, “agent” will refer to both real estate agents and brokers. 

An example of where you can find a real estate agent is: https://www.realtor.com/.

For Buyers

The first decision you need to make once you decide to buy a home is whether to use a real estate professional. The buyer is generally not responsible for paying any commission to either your real estate agent or the listing agent, so in most cases there is no direct cost to you to hire a real estate agent.

The only exception would be if you buy a property that is listed “for sale by owner” which means that there is no listing agent. If the seller refuses to pay the commission, you may need to pay it to your real estate agent by adding it to the purchase price.

Multiple Listing Services (MLS) are online platforms where you can see homes that are listed for sale or rent in specific locations yourself. An example of an MLS website is: http://www.mls.com

Real estate agents can quickly narrow down choices to those that fit your budget and needs and give you helpful information about neighborhoods, specific properties and the real estate market in the area. They can also guide you through sometimes confusing real estate terminology and contracts, assist you with home inspections and repairs, and represent your interest in price negotiations.

The main disadvantage of using a real estate agent is that sellers might build the commission into the listing price, increasing the overall price.

If you do not have a real estate agent, you may be able to negotiate a 3–6% drop in the listing price that otherwise would have gone to your agent in commission.

Some real estate agents will ask you to sign a contract designating them as your exclusive agent and claiming commission on any home you end up buying. If your agent has not been helpful or given you value, you could do all the work of finding a home and they would still be compensated.

In most states, it is possible for the buyer and seller to both be represented by the same real estate agent. This is called dual agency. The benefits of dual agency is that the real estate commission may be negotiable since there is no other agent with whom to split the commission and quicker communication. On the negative side, because the agent represents both parties, neither side will have the benefit of the agent’s help in price negotiation.

In general, the agent’s self interest will skew to the seller, since the seller pays commission and the commission is based on the purchase price. This can leave the buyer at a disadvantage. Dual agency is prohibited by law in the following states:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Vermont

Real Estate Attorneys

If you decide not to use a real estate agent and you are not very experienced buying homes, hiring a real estate attorney is a good idea. A real estate attorney can advise you on contract negotiations, real estate jargon and legal matters.

Some states require buyers to hire a real estate attorney and to have that attorney present at the closing. States that require this are:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South California
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

For the remainder of the states, hiring a real estate attorney is optional.

Since hiring a real estate agent is always optional, it is possible to go through a real estate transaction completely without expert advice.

For Sellers

The real estate agent who represents the seller is called the listing agent. He or she is responsible for listing the property on the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. Each listing will have one or more photos of the home, a description, the listing price and a list of all of the home’s details such as the address, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lot size and any special features.

The listing agent also shows the home to potential buyers, sometimes holding open house events for multiple buyers at one time, and also represents the seller in negotiations with prospective buyers.

When a home is sold, the seller pays the listing agent a commission, which is usually 5-6% of the purchase price. If the buyer is also represented by a real estate agent, the listing agent will split the commission evenly with the other agent. Otherwise, the listing agent keeps the entire commission.

What to Look for in a New Home

Location

There are various factors to consider when looking for a location for your new home. These include but are not limited to the location’s proximity to:

  • Friends and family
  • Your place of work
  • Entertainment areas
  • Shopping areas
  • Schools
  • Parks
  • Other homes with high property values

Because your home is a major financial investment in addition to a place where you will live, consider choosing a neighborhood where property values have been going steadily up over the years.

By hiring a real estate agent, he or she will be able to help you find a home based on your preferences regarding the above.

Price

You need to find a home that you will be able to comfortably afford. To calculate this amount, see the section “Determining What You Can Afford.” You may be able to find homes priced at less than market value by looking at foreclosures and fixer-uppers.

Foreclosures

Foreclosures are homes that have been seized by the lender because the homeowner defaulted on the mortgage loan. This means that the homeowner did not pay back the loan in the timeframe that was established when they obtained the mortgage. Oftentimes, lenders are eager to convert this real estate into cash and are willing to sell the properties for less than they are worth.

Ask your real estate agent if there are any foreclosed properties available in your preferred neighborhoods. You can also find listings on foreclosed properties through the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) page here: https://www. hudhomestore.com/Home/Index.aspx.

Fixer-Uppers

Homes that are in need of extensive repairs and updating are usually listed at less-than-market price because sellers know that the buyer will need to invest a significant amount of money in the house after purchase.

Buying a fixer-upper is a good option if you are very handy or have construction expertise, have additional cash set aside and have the patience to wait while repairs and update work are being done in the home. Even so, beware of major structural issues like cracked foundations and expensive upgrades like replacing the entire home’s plumbing system.

Other Recurring Costs

In addition to your mortgage payment, other recurring costs, property tax and homeowners insurance premiums, depend on the value of the property. They are not tied to the purchase price, but rather the value as determined by your local tax assessor.

If you do not pay your property tax, the government has a right to put a lien on the property. A lien is collateral that gives the government a claim to the house, and is meant to ensure that you pay back your loan. The government can also foreclose on the property. Foreclosing on the property means to seize/take ownership of the home if you do not pay back the loan based on the established terms.

Most mortgage lenders will collect money each month from borrowers that they use to pay these third party costs. This collected money accumulates in a separate escrow account administered by the lender until the bills become due at which time they are paid.

By definition, escrow describes a situation wherein a third party holds an asset or money on behalf of two other parties that are currently going through a transaction. Escrow money is added to your monthly mortgage bill so it will increase your monthly payments.

Property Tax

Homeowners in all 50 states need to pay property tax. Property tax is an annual tax on a percentage of your property’s assessed value. The county assesses, or determines the value of, property periodically every few years. For this reason, the assessed value lags behind the market value.

If you have a homestead exemption that applies to property taxes (see Homestead Exemption on page 36), the amount of your exemption is subtracted from the assessed value to produce the value that is taxable.

State and local governments use the revenue from property taxes to fund schools, the construction and maintenance of roads, government salaries and other costs and sometimes local police, fire rescue and emergency medical technician services. Property tax rates vary by state. As of 2020, the highest effective property tax rate in the U.S. is in New Jersey, at 2.13% where the median amount of property tax is $7,410.

Effective Property Tax Rates and Median Property Tax Amounts by Location
StateMedian Property TaxEffective Tax Rate
Alabama $5430.37%
Alaska$2,9561.02%
American SamoaN/AN/A
Arizona$1,3560.64%
Arkansas$6930.63%
*California$3,1040.70%
Colorado$1,4890.53%
Commonwealth of N. Mariana IslandsN/AN/A
Connecticut$5,3271.68%
Delaware$1,2430.58%
District of Columbia$2,9300.85%
Florida$1,6860.89%
Georgia$1,3970.88%
Guam$3,3320.17%
Hawaii$1,4060.30%
Idaho$1,2460.72%
Illinois$3,9951.95%
Indiana$1,0850.82%
Iowa$1,9161.46%
Kansas$1,8491.28%
Kentucky$1,0420.79%
Louisiana$7070.51%
Maine$2,2591.24%
Maryland$3,1421.00%
Massachusetts$3,9891.10%
Michigan$2,1741.37%
Minnesota$2,2001.06%
Mississippi$8130.62%
Missouri$1,3870.97%
Montana$1,6520.73%
Nebraska$2,4671.61%
Nevada$1,4810.60%
New Hampshire$5,1001.94%
New Jersey$7,4102.13%
New Mexico$1,1880.62%
New York$4,6001.32%
North Carolina$1,3220.81%
North Dakota$1,7220.90%
Ohio$2,0321.54%
Oklahoma$1,0360.87%
Oregon$2,5630.91%
Pennsylvania$2,5531.46%
Puerto Rico$6891.03% but some municipalities asssess an additional tax called the Contribución Adicional Especial or CAE on real estate.
Rhode Island$3,8841.43%
South Carolina$7980.52%
South Dakota$1,8791.18%
Tennessee$1,0620.68%
Texas$2,5781.62%
U.S. Tribal NationsNoneN/A
Utah$1,4720.58%
Vermont$3,7951,79%
U.S. Virgin Islands$2,4380.0075%
Virginia$1,9480.84%
Washington$2,8050.85%
West Virginia$6070.54%
Wisconsin$3,2481.63%
Wyoming$1,1960.58%

*If you live in California, you may also need to pay Mello-Roos taxes. This is an additional property tax that is used to pay for infrastructure in specific local areas. Only people who live in a Mello-Roos Community Facilities District (“CFD”) have to pay this tax. When looking for properties, ask your real estate agent if the home is subject to Mello- Roos taxes and if so, how much those taxes will be.

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance insures your home against damage and theft. Because damage to a home from a natural disaster, fire or flood can be so substantial that it can reduce property value, mortgage lenders require borrowers to have a homeowners insurance policy on the property.

In addition to protecting the lender, homeowners insurance protects homeowners from the bulk of major repair costs. For this reason, homeowners insurance is considered a must-have, whether you have a mortgage or not.

Homeowners insurance covers damage and destruction to the interior and exterior of the home as well as furniture and other personal items if damaged by a covered event. It also typically includes coverage for personal liability for damage or injuries. So if another person gets hurt while on your property or their property gets damaged from something on your property and sues you, the insurance company will pay to defend you and possibly pay damages up to a certain amount outlined in your policy.

Finally, homeowners insurance covers theft of items from your property, for example, if your home is broken into and items are stolen. Some policies will have other provisions, like paying for a hotel for you to stay in while major repairs are being done on your home.

The cost of homeowners insurance is based on: 1) the age and condition of the home, 2) the location (including proximity to areas prone to natural disasters like fires, floods and hurricanes) and 3) other factors that the insurance company thinks might make you more likely to file a claim, or ask for the insurance company to pay for a loss experienced in connection with the property. These include frequency of past claims, credit history and even the presence of one or more animals.

Steps to Getting Homeowners Insurance
  1. Shop around for reputable homeowners insurance companies in your area.

    The most reputable companies have an A++ or A+ rating.

  2. Calculate what you want to cover.

    This should include the replacement cost for your home, any structures such as a garage, pool, or fence and any personal property including furniture, clothing, and household items. You can calculate the replacement cost of the home by multiplying the square footage by the average building cost per square foot in your area.

  3. If the home is in an area subject to natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods or wildfires, consider getting additional insurance to cover those hazards.

  4. Decide what you want your deductible to be.

    The deductible is the out-of-pocket cost you will be responsible for paying when there is a covered loss. The higher the deductible, the less expensive the policy.

  5. Contact agents from the top three insurance companies that cover homes in your area and get quotes from them.

    Some insurance agents represent multiple providers and can give you comparative quotes, while others can only quote you from one insurance company. You will need to give them information about the home such as the address, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

  6. Choose the insurance company with the best coverage and price.

  7. Schedule for an insurance company representative to do an on-site inspection of the property.

  8. Sign policy documents and pay a premium, either directly or through your mortgage lender.
Top Rated Homeowners Insurance Companies in 2020
CompanySample Monthly CostA.M. Best RatingWebsite
Amica$109.33A+
https://www.amica.com/en/products/home-
insurance.html
USAAN/AA++https://www.usaa.com/inet/wc/insurance_home_
condo?wa_ref=pub_global_ products_ins_homeowner
Eerie Insurance$79.25A+https://www.erieinsurance.com/home-insurance
Allstate$169.00A+https://www.allstate.com/
State Farm$122.50A++https://www.statefarm.com/insurance/home-and- property/homeowners
The Hartford$94.42A+https://www.thehartford.com/aarp/homeowners-insurance
ChubbN/AA++https://www.chubb.com/us-en/individuals-families/products/home.aspx
Nationwide$92.00A+https://www.nationwide.com/personal/insurance/homeowners/

Before taking out a policy, read it carefully to make sure that the coverage limits are adequate (its coverage limits should be around what it would cost to rebuild the home if needed) and that there are no major exclusions. Some policies in areas with frequent natural disasters may exclude those disasters from coverage.

If this is the case, ask if they can provide a rider, which is a supplement to the policy with additional coverage, or try a different insurance company.

Associations

Some homes are in a community with a homeowner’s association or condominium association. These associations provide a range of amenities and services such as:

  • A community clubhouse
  • Community pool(s) and/or hot tub(s)
  • Tennis courts
  • A golf course
  • Security
  • Furnishing and maintenance for common areas
  • Lobbying local government officials on behalf of the community
  • Organizing community activities
  • Concierge services for residents

To pay for these services and amenities, associations require monthly or quarterly dues. The more amenities and services provided, the higher the fees will be. If there is an association, the amount and frequency of the association fees should be included in the MLS listing. According to the Census Bureau, the average annual homeowners association fees are $396, but this can vary widely by location and property value.

Sometimes, in addition to homeowners or condo regular fees, an association will approve a special assessment. A special assessment is money that residents are required to pay toward a major unforeseen expense like replacing old elevators, replacing a common roof, repaving parking lots or making repairs after a natural disaster.

Associations are supposed to have reserve accounts where they keep money for this type of cost, but occasionally the cost is more than anticipated or the association was fiscally irresponsible and did not set aside enough money.

Another function of homeowners and condo associations is to enforce the community’s rules. Rules typically cover parking, resident and guest behavior, the age of the residents (in 55+ communities), pets, homeowner responsibilities and changes made to the exterior of the property. Make sure that you are willing to abide by any community rules before you decide to buy a home there.

Choosing the Right Size and Type of Home

Type of Home

Once you have narrowed your search down to a general area and are looking at several neighborhoods, think about what type of home you need. Depending upon your family size, budget and lifestyle, a condominium apartment, townhouse or house may be your best choice.

Apartments and townhouses typically have less square footage, but may have a community clubhouse, pool or other amenities. According to the Census Bureau, the average American condo unit has 1,107 square feet, compared to 2,443 for single family homes.

Density is higher in apartment and townhouse communities compared to single family neighborhoods, giving you more opportunity to socialize but also causing potential problems like noise, odors and crowded elevators, parking lots and common areas.

Because associations maintain the areas outside resident units, apartments and townhouses are easier and less expensive to maintain, although maintenance savings are offset by association fees. Single family homes have outside areas that owners can enjoy but that also require maintenance.

Size

Home size encompasses both square footage and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. In homes with two or more bedrooms, bedrooms take up on average 28.8% of the home’s total square footage. Kitchens and family rooms are the next largest areas with approximately 11.5% of square footage each.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many people will be living there?
  • Is that number of people likely to increase, decrease or stay the same for the next ten years?
  • Doyouwantadditionalspaceforahomeoffice, guest room or utility room?

The answers will give you the number of bedrooms you need.

Next, decide how many bathrooms you will need. A good rule of thumb is one bathroom for every two residents, but if you plan on entertaining regularly, you might also want a powder room. Powder rooms, also called half-baths, have a sink and toilet but no shower or bathtub.

Other Important Home Characteristics

There are a few more characteristics that you will want to consider before buying a home. They are as follows:

  • Age and condition. You may want a newly constructed home that is modern and ready for move-in. Alternatively, you might prefer an older home for its charm, historical value and architectural details. Unless an older home has been through a recent renovation, it is likely to require more investment in updating systems like plumbing, cooling/heating, roofing and insulation. For older homes in particular, a thorough home inspection is critical. Refer to the Home Inspections section of this guide for more information.
  • “Fixer-upper” status. Homes that need extensive updates and repairs sell for less. If you are able and willing to take on the inconvenience and expense of updating a fixer-upper, you can save money on the purchase price.
  • Floor plan. When you tour a home for sale, imagine yourself living there and decide if the floor plan would work for you and your family. You might want some rooms to be close together for easy access and others to be further so that they are quieter. Rooms that are heavily used should be easy to get to from other rooms. Homes with high ceilings and lots of windows are light and expansive, but also more expensive to heat and cool.
  • Outside area. You should generally like the way the outside of the home looks, but keep in mind that you can always make changes later like painting it a different color or adding landscaping. You may want a large yard for children to play in, shade from trees, a pool, water access for a boat or a view of the surrounding area. Homes with these features will cost more than comparable homes without them, so make sure that the additional cost will fit into your budget. For example:
    • A home with an unobstructed ocean view is worth nearly 60% more than a comparable home with no view.
    • Attractive front yard landscaping including multiple planting areas and a variety of plants increases a home’s value between 5.5% and 11.4% compared to no landscaping.
    • Homes with in-ground pools cost on average 7% more than comparable homes without pools.
    • Waterfront homes are valued more than double (116%) compared to non-waterfront homes.

Negotiating

Much like buying a car, it is in your best interest to negotiate when buying a house. There are several steps in the process:

  1. Offer (buyer to seller)
  2. Counter-offer (seller to buyer)
  3. Negotiation (seller and buyer)
  4. Acceptance of the offer (seller)
  5. Contract (seller and buyer)

Price Negotiation

Once you have found a home that you want to buy, it is to your advantage to get it for the lowest possible price. A starting point of price negotiations is the listing price, but you are not tied to this. Your goal as a buyer is to pay a fair market price or less.

The listing price is the price that the seller would ideally like to get, and as such is usually the most you would have to pay. In very hot markets where there are several buyers bidding against each other for a specific property, the buyer will eventually end up paying more than the list price, but this is rare.

Remember, only your real estate agent represents your interest; the listing agent represents the seller. So when you initially walk through the house, try to keep your excitement about the house under wraps. If the listing agent knows that you love the house, he or she will advise the seller not to be too flexible on the price. Only discuss the positives while alone with your agent and well out of earshot from the seller or listing agent.

When you are serious about making an offer on a home, the first step is to ask your real estate agent to “pull comps.” Comps are listings of similar homes in the neighborhood that have recently sold along with how much the buyer paid. You can compare those selling prices with the listing price of the home you are considering, taking into account any size or location differences, to estimate how much the home is worth in the current market.

If significant repairs or updates are necessary, the seller might be willing to accept a lower purchase price. Some repairs might be readily apparent when you do a walk-through of the property, while others will be uncovered by the home inspection, discussed in the next section.

Seller Disclosure

Most states (not Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming) require sellers to provide buyers with a disclosure report. Disclosure reports are communicated in a state-supplied form in some states, while other states let the sellers provide the information in their own format. Seller disclosures cover features about the home that may be problematic. This may include questions about:

  • The condition of the interior, appliances and structure
  • The condition of the land (drainage, flood zone, presence of a hole under the property)
  • Water supply/sewage/septic system
  • Mechanical system status (HVAC, plumbing, electrical)
  • Environmental issues (contaminated well water, asbestos, radon)
  • Noise in the area
  • Pending building or zoning violations
  • Crime or violence on the property (methamphetamine manufacture, murder or suicide)
  • Fire damage
  • Remodeling done without a permit
  • Past or present infestations of wood-eating pests
  • Titles and encumbrances
  • Homeowners association fees and common areas
  • Utility and gas companies
  • Amount of property tax
  • Pets that have lived in the home

Each state has specific requirements for sellers in regard to what they are required to inform prospective buyers about prior to a sale. Check your state’s requirements here: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/state-state-seller-disclosure-requirements

Seller disclosures cover any defects or problems with the property that are known to the seller. The timing of when the seller needs to give the seller disclosure form to the buyer varies by state, but it is always before the closing so the buyer has the opportunity to cancel the transaction as a result. In addition to state laws governing seller disclosure, federal law requires sellers to disclose if the property has lead paint.

Making an Offer

Since this is a major investment, you should take your time. After going over the comp — which are listings of similar homes in the neighborhood that have recently sold along with how much the buyer paid — and any repairs or upgrades that are needed, come up with the very lowest price that you think there is any possibility that the seller might accept.

Communicate this price to the seller or listing agent. This is called the offer. Sometimes the seller will accept the offer, but usually there is a counter-offer from the seller with a higher price. This process will continue until you and the seller have agreed to a price or conclude that agreement is not possible.

Negotiating in a rush is a sign to the seller that you will be willing to pay more to get the property. Revealing that you have a strong desire to buy the home will also indicate that the seller does not have to be flexible with the price. Be willing to walk away if you do not get a price that you think is fair.

Non-Price Negotiation

In addition to negotiating the selling price, there are a number of other financial and non-financial aspects of the real estate transaction that you can negotiate with the seller.

Closing Costs

In addition to the selling price, the buyer is required to pay closing costs when the property legally changes hands. Closing costs are cash payments from the buyer to the lender to fund the escrow account from which the lender will pay property tax and homeowner’s insurance premiums when they become due.

If you are short on cash after paying the down payment, you can negotiate with the seller to have them pay the closing costs. Sellers will only agree if this amount is added to the purchase price. While the switch is a financial wash for the seller, this negotiation means you will be able to finance the closing cost.

Closing Date

If the seller is eager to get capital out of the sale of the home in order to put it into another property, the buyer can trade a quicker closing date for some other concession or discount. Alternatively, a buyer may prefer a closing date closer to the first of the month because after closing, the next mortgage payment is skipped.

With an early month closing, the buyer has more time in the property without paying the mortgage. The seller could use this to get concessions from the buyer.

Financing Contingency

Many buyers, especially first-time buyers, will have a clause in the contract saying that the contract is contingent, or depends, on whether they get approved for financing. If they do not get approved, the contract is void and the seller needs to put the property on the market to find a new buyer.

If a seller has two prospective buyers and one is offering cash while the other one wants a contingency clause, the seller will prefer the cash buyer and may even lower the price to avoid uncertainty. One way for a buyer to get around the disability of a financing contingency without having enough cash to buy the property outright is to get financing completely pre-approved before the contract phase.

Home Warranty

Particularly if the home is older or has older appliances, air conditioning and heating, electric and plumbing, the buyer may request or the seller may offer to pay for a home warranty. A home warranty is a service plan that covers major appliances, air conditioning and heating, electric and plumbing systems in a home.

Home warranties cost on average between $300 and $600 a year. If anything that is covered under the home warranty breaks, the service company will send someone to fix it for a small fee or replace it if necessary. Providing a home warranty can give the buyer peace of mind so that you go forward with the transaction.

Leaseback

If the seller’s new home is not ready and the buyer is not in a hurry, the buyer can offer to rent the home to the seller for a few months after the closing. This flexibility may convince the seller to accept the buyer’s offer over other offers or to have a quicker closing.

Furniture and Fixtures

If the home contains furniture, light fixtures or other moveable features that the buyer wants, the buyer can ask the seller to include them with the home. This can sweeten the deal for the buyer if the seller is motivated to sell or the seller can increase the purchase price accordingly.

Normally, homes are sold empty except for major appliances (dishwasher, garbage disposal, trash compactor, washer and dryer, stove/cooktop, oven, refrigerator), systems (cooling/heating, plumbing, electric) and installed fixtures (cabinets, alarm and security systems, high hat lights, thermostats, doorbells, intercoms, wall vacuums, sinks and faucets) unless specified otherwise in the contract.

Homeowners/Condo Assessments

If the property’s association has levied a special assessment that has not been paid off at the time of sale, the buyer can ask that the seller either pay the balance of the assessment to the association or credit that amount on the purchase price.

Home Inspections

One of the most important stages of buying a home is the home inspection. A home inspection is when an independent home inspection company is given access to evaluate the home to make sure that it is sound structurally and in good repair before the sale.

Home inspection is so important that most real estate contracts include inspection contingency clauses. This means that if the inspection identifies structural or major repairs that are needed, the buyer can cancel the contract without penalty.

If the property has major problems, it is usually in the seller’s best interest to correct them because it will be difficult to find a buyer to take a property in poor condition unless the price is extremely low.

The inspector will write a detailed report with the findings and will give it to the buyer, who is responsible for paying for the inspection. Home inspections cover:

  • Exterior
    • Walls
    • Foundation
    • Grading
    • Garage/carport
    • Roof
  • Interior
    • Plumbing
    • Electrical
    • Heating/cooling/ventilation
    • Kitchen appliances
    • Dryer vent/laundry room
    • Bathrooms
    • Fire safety
    • Insulation

What Inspections Do Not Include

Home inspectors will only examine and report on issues they can see. If there are any problems inside walls, in pipes, in interior electrical wiring or foundation weakness before a crack is evident, they could be missed during an inspection.

Also, cosmetic improvements will not be included in the inspection report. For example, if the kitchen cabinets need to be updated because they are unattractive, it will not be included as a problem on the report. But if the countertop is warped, that will be noted. Unattractive patterned tile floors will not be noted, but cracked or buckled tile flooring will.

What If Repairs Are Needed?

Inspections of most homes other than new construction will find that at least minor repairs are needed. But if the inspection report shows structural or major repair issues, there are four options:

  1. Seller decides that the home is for sale “as is” and the buyer needs to decide whether to go ahead with the transaction
  2. The seller completes the repairs before the closing
  3. The buyer negotiates a lower sales price to cover the cost of the repairs
  4. The buyer activates the inspection contingency clause in the contract and backs out

Pest Inspection

You may also want to get a pest inspection. A pest inspection looks for evidence of both wood eating insects (termites and carpenter ants) and rodents. Even a small infestation can grow and cause a major structural problem. Some home inspectors can do this as an add-on service. If your inspector does not offer pest inspections, you can contract a pest control company to do it for around $100. Pest inspections are mandatory in some states and optional in others.

The Contract

The last stage of the negotiating process is the signing of the contract, which is a legal document that outlines all of the terms of the transaction. Although the signing of a contract does not mean that you now own the property (this happens at the closing), it is a binding document saying that both parties intend for this transaction to take place.

Standard real estate contracts include:

  • The names of the seller and buyer
  • A description of the property
  • The sales price and other terms 
  • Contingencies that must happen for the deal to go forward
    • Financing contingency
    • Appraisal contingency
    • Inspection contingency
  • The fixtures, appliances and other items included in the sale
  • Closing costs and who will pay them
  • Anticipated closing date

Earnest money

Along with signing the contract, the buyer will deposit earnest money into an escrow account. Earnest money is a good faith deposit that shows that the buyer is committed to buying the property. An escrow account is a special bank account that is administered by a real estate company, attorney or title company. The money can sit in that escrow account until the transaction is finalized, at which point the money would transfer to the seller.

Earnest money is usually between 1% and 2% of the purchase price, but could be more in very hot markets. If the buyer backs out of the contract for any reason other than those specified in the contract’s contingency clauses, the seller would keep the earnest money.

If any of the contingency clauses are activated or if the seller backs out, the earnest money will be returned to the buyer. If the sale goes forward, the earnest money is credited toward the buyer’s down payment at closing.

The Appraisal

If the buyer is financing the home, the lender will require a property appraisal. An appraisal is a professional appraiser’s assessment of the property value. Lenders require it to make sure that if the buyer defaults on the mortgage that they can recover at least the loan amount by selling the property in foreclosure.

The buyer will pay the cost of the appraisal at or before closing. Appraisal costs vary by location, but nationwide they cost $331 on average.

The appraisal takes the following into account:

  • The location
  • The condition of the exterior and interior of the home
  • Total square footage and layout
  • Any upgrades that have been done
    • New roof
    • New flooring
    • Additions
    • Upgraded kitchens or baths
    • Renovated decks, patios, porches and pools
    • Landscaping
    • Appliances, cooling/heating, electrical, plumbing, septic
  • Comparison with sales prices of similar properties in the area (comps)
  • Market conditions
  • Average time on the market compared to similar properties
  • Anything else that impacts the property value
    • Ambient noise
    • Nearby traffic
    • Difficult access or shared private road
    • Crime/security
    • Property and community amenities
    • Quality of school district

If the appraisal comes in at or above the selling price with no issues, the lender will approve the mortgage loan. If the appraisal is less than the selling price, it will decline the loan.

The lender could also refuse to approve the loan if the appraisal report shows that the property was on the market for longer than average but the selling price is at or above the comps, or the property is accessed by a shared private road. In the latter case, the lender would want to see a road maintenance agreement, where all the residents on the road agree to share road maintenance costs.

If the lender declines and the buyer and seller still want to proceed, they can renegotiate the selling price to be in line with the appraisal, get a second opinion from a new appraiser, or provide comps to the lender to justify the agreed-upon sales price. Otherwise, the buyer would need to either look for another lender or cancel the deal by activating the appraisal contingency clause in the contract.

The Closing

The closing is a meeting, usually in-person, at which the sale of the property is finalized and ownership changes hands from seller to buyer. In California, closings can take place completely virtually with the seller and buyer never meeting face to face.

The buyer will sign the mortgage and other documents, transfer the balance of the down payment to the seller and pay closing costs (See Down Payment section). The seller will sign and provide documents, transfer the title to the property and hand over the keys. Once the closing is successfully completed, the transaction is complete.

Last Steps Before the Closing

Since you have no leverage to make changes in the deal after the closing, there are some final things buyers should do a few days before the closing.

1. Hire a title company to do a title search

A title company examines public records to make sure that the seller actually is the legal owner and also that there are no liens against the property. Liens are legal claims against the property owner that must be paid before a title can be transferred. Common types of liens are from homeowners associations for non-payment of dues or assessments, liens from contractors hired to work on the home who have not been paid for their work, IRS liens and legal judgements.

You may also want to get title insurance, which protects buyers and lenders from defects in the title including forgeries, ownership by another person (like in cases of identity theft), flawed records, restrictive covenants (restrictions on the use and enjoyment of the property) and encumbrances or judgments against the property (pending lawsuits and liens).

Title insurance is important because of adverse possession laws, which are in force in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. See a list of these laws by state here: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/state-state-rules-adverse-possession.html.

    • They must occupy the property for a certain amount of years
    • They must be physically present on the land and treat it as an owner would
    • They must openly and continuously occupy the land

2. Negotiate closing costs.

Before the closing, ask your lender for the closing disclosure document. They are required by law to give this to you and it will list all of the costs included in the loan. Although there are some closing costs that are not negotiable because they are hard costs paid to third parties, your lender might include “junk fees” in the closing costs to increase its profit on the deal.

Junk fees include administrative fees, application review fees, appraisal review fees, processing fees and settlement fees. These fees are subject to negotiation, and if you challenge them with your lender you have a chance that some or all of them will be removed.

3. Lock in your interest rate.

Especially if you got pre-approved for financing, the interest rate when you first got your quote may be different than the interest rate when you get ready to close. To avoid being blindsided by a higher interest rate than you anticipated, lock in your interest rate with your lender. Contact your lender and ask for a mortgage rate lock.

This guarantees the interest rate that you will pay on your mortgage and particularly if interest rates are increasing, locking in a lower rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

4. Do a final walk-through of the home.

Sometimes, sellers will intentionally or unintentionally remove something that contractually should be sold with the home or damage a part of the home before closing. If the home inspection uncovered needed repairs, a walk-through will show you whether the repairs have been completed satisfactorily.

A final walk-through will let you inspect the home to make sure all is as agreed upon before you take ownership. If there is a problem, you can insist that it is resolved by the seller prior to the closing.

5. Get and read the closing documents.

By law, you are entitled to request and receive the closing documents three days before closing. This includes the closing disclosure, promissory note, mortgage and deed. Read all of the documents yourself. If you have any questions about them, ask your real estate agent or attorney.

6. Arrange for your payment.

Get a cashier’s check or arrange for a wire transfer for the amount you will need to pay at the closing. This will include the balance of the down payment, minus the earnest money you have already provided and buyer-paid closing costs.

If you receive an email shortly before the closing saying that the wire information has changed or asking you to verify your personal information, it may be a scam. Double check with your lender, real estate agent and attorney to make sure that the information is correct and you are sending the money to the right place.

What Happens at the Closing

Buyers, bring your closing disclosure document, promissory note and mortgage you received ahead of time with you to the closing. You should also have your government-issued ID and a checkbook to pay any additional expenses, if any.

Sellers should bring the keys to the property as well as any garage openers or access cards needed to access the property. They should also bring a cashier’s check for their share of the closing costs and any repair credits, a checkbook and a government-issued ID.

The documents at closing include:

  • Promissory note – This is a legal document in which you agree to repay the mortgage loan. It outlines the amount of the loan, the interest rate, late payment penalties and if you have an adjustable rate mortgage, an explanation of how it can change and the maximum rate allowed.
  • Mortgage – This document reiterates the terms in the promissory note and gives the lender the right to foreclose on the property if you default on the payments. It also explains your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.
  • Initial escrow disclosure – This document breaks down what you will pay into the escrow account each month and what costs the lender will pay out of the escrow account on your behalf. This includes property tax, homeowner’s insurance and private mortgage insurance.
  • Deed – The seller will sign this to transfer ownership of the property to the seller.
  • Closing disclosure – This will detail the closing costs.
  • Association documents – If there is a homeowners or condominium association, you should receive the documents with the association’s rules and fees at closing for your records.

Carefully read all of the documents at the closing to make sure that they are correct and that you understand them. Compare the documents at closing to the ones you received prior to closing to ensure that nothing has changed. If you have questions about anything, ask your real estate agent, attorney or the seller to clarify it for you.

Once the documents are signed by all parties and payments are made, the transaction is complete and you are now a homeowner.

Who Attends the Closing?

A closing is attended by multiple people. They include:

  • The buyer(s) and
    • Buyer’s real estate agent (if applicable)
    • Co-borrower (if applicable)
    • Co-signer (if applicable)
    • Buyer’s real estate attorney (if applicable)
    • Lender’s representative (if the property will be mortgaged)
    • Closing agent (usually a title representative)
  • The seller(s) and
    • Seller’s real estate agent (if not for sale by owner)
    • Seller’s real estate attorney (if applicable)
    • A notary public
Closing Costs

Buyer-paid closing costs average 5%, but range between 3-6%, of the purchase price. They include payments to the lender as well as payments to third parties:

  • Lender payments
  • Loan origination fee
  • Discount fee (points)
  • Processing fee
  • Underwriting fee
  • Third party payments
  • Home inspection fee
  • Mortgage broker fee
  • Pest inspection fee
  • Appraisal fee
  • Recording fee
  • Homeowner’s insurance premium
  • Property taxes
  • Escrow fees
  • Title fees/insurance
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Prepaid interest
  • Mortgage insurance fee

Buyers can negotiate with their lenders to include closing costs in the total amount of the loan so they do not have to pay closing costs out-of-pocket at the closing. While this reduces cash needed at closing, it ends up being more expensive in the long term because the buyer will pay interest on those costs over the life of the loan.

Sellers also need to pay closing costs, which include the listing agent’s real estate commission and any additional closing costs that the seller has agreed to pay as a result of negotiation with the buyer.

Homestead Exemption

A benefit of owning your home is that it may be protected by a homestead exemption. In most states, the primary residence that you own and live in is protected from creditors (other than your mortgage lender) by a homestead exemption. That means that if a creditor, such as a credit card company or medical creditor, sues you for non-payment, all or a portion of your home’s equity is shielded from seizure.

Federal law protects up to $25,150 of your homestead home’s equity if you file for bankruptcy, although individual states may extend even more homestead protection during a bankruptcy.

Claiming your homestead exemption may reduce the basis on which your local property taxes are calculated, so you should do this immediately after you have bought the home.

Some states will automatically file your home as your homestead if you qualify including:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

In all others, you will need to file for homestead exemption with your local county government, usually in the tax assessor’s office. Some counties will allow you to apply online, while others only accept applications by mail or in person. Once you receive a homestead exemption, it will automatically renew unless you inform the state that the home is no longer your primary residence.

The following states provide protection of 100% of your home’s equity:

  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Arkansas
  • District of Columbia
  • American Samoa
  • Puerto Rico

The remainder of the states that have homestead exemption only protect up to a certain amount of your home’s equity (the homestead exemption limit). To find homestead exemption limits for your state, see below.

State/TerritoryHomestead Exemption Limit
Limit for Married Couples/Joint Owners (If Different)
Alabama$15,000$30,000
Alaska$72,900
American SamoaUnlimited for Samoan residents. “Samoan” includes American Samoans of at least 50% Samoan descent and American Samoan residents who were born on other Pacific islands and are of at least 50% Micronesian, Melanesian or Polynesian descent.
Arizona$150,000
California$75,000$100,000
Colorado$75,000$150,000
Connecticut$75,000$150,000
Delaware$125,000
Georgia$12,500$43,000
Guam$40,000
Hawaii$20,000
Idaho$100,000
Illinois$15,000$30,000
Indiana$19,300$38,600
Kentucky$5,000
Louisiana$35,000
Maine$47,500
Maryland$22,975
Massachusetts$500,000
Michigan$30,000
Minnesota$390,000
Mississippi$75,000
Missouri$15,000
Montana$250,000
Nebraska$60,000
Nevada$550,000
New Hampshire$100,000
New Mexico$60,000$120,000
New York$165,550
for counties of Kings, New York, Queens, Bronx, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester & Putnam

$131,325 for counties of Dutchess, Albany, Columbia, Orange, Saratoga & Ulster

$82,775 for remaining counties in the state
$331,100


$262,650
$165,500 respectively
North Carolina$35,000$70,000
North Dakota$100,000
Northern Mariana IslandsBased on amount of land needed to support oneself
Ohio$136,925
Oregon$40,000
Rhode Island$500,000
South Carolina$58,255$116,510
Tennessee$5,000$7,500
Utah$20,000$40,000
*U.S. Tribal NationsN/A – no property taxing authority
Vermont$125,000$250,000
U.S. Virgin Islands$20,000
Virginia$5,000$10,000
Washington$125,000
West Virginia$25,000$50,000
Wisconsin$75,000$150,000
Wyoming$20,000$40,000

*No homestead exemption information was available for Native American tribal areas. Check with your local tribal government for more information.

Home Financing

Unless you have sufficient cash in a bank account to cover the total purchase price of a home plus closing costs and moving costs, you will need to get financing to buy a home. A loan in which the money is used to buy a home is called a mortgage.

In a mortgage, the lender loans the borrower money to buy a home. In order to protect itself in the event that the borrower stops making monthly mortgage payments, the lender holds the property as collateral. Collateral is property that the lender can legally take ownership of if the loan is in default.

Mortgages have two parts: principal and interest. The principal is the amount of the loan that needs to be repaid. The interest is a percent of the outstanding principal that you pay to compensate the lender for lending you the money to buy the home. The higher the interest rate is, the more you pay over the life of the loan.

Steps to Getting a Home Loan

There are many steps to take to successfully get a mortgage or other home loan. Here are the steps:

1. Request a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus with FICO scores.

Your credit report is a record of all of the debt that you have in your name, along with your payment history. A separate record is kept by three different companies or credit bureaus. To find out more about how your credit impacts you in regard to a mortgage, see the “Credit” section of this guide.

2. Look through your credit reports and dispute any errors that negatively impact your credit. You can do this on each credit bureau’s website at no charge.

Sometimes your credit report will contain something that is incorrect, whether it does not belong to you, should no longer be there or is just wrong. By law, you have the right to dispute inaccurate entries on your credit report and the credit bureaus are obligated to investigate and remove the entry if it cannot be verified.

3. If possible, at least several months before you apply for a mortgage, pay down your outstanding credit card and other revolving debt so that each account’s balance is 30% or less of its credit limit.

Revolving debt is unsecured debt (as opposed to debt that is secured with an asset such as a house or car loan), and can be used and paid off repeatedly. The most common type of revolving credit is credit cards.

4. Determine how much money you will be able to pay as a down payment. Be sure to leave enough cash over for closing costs, moving costs, any renovations and interior decor like window treatments.

A down payment is money that you pay towards the home’s purchase price. It is typically at least 10% of the purchase price. The mortgage is for the purchase price less the down payment. Learn more about down payments in the “Down Payments” section of this guide.

5. Decide if you want a fixed or variable rate and a 15-year or 30-year term.

A fixed-rate is an interest rate that stays the same over the term of the loan. A variable-rate may go up or down depending on market rates, which will change the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. See the “Fixed vs. Variable Rate” section of this guide for a comparison of fixed vs. variable rates. The term is how long you have to pay off the loan.

6. Shop around for the best mortgage rate and terms.

Find out more about interest rates in the “Interest Rates” section of this guide.

7. Get pre-approved for a mortgage with the lender that has the best rates for your credit score range.

8. Once you have made an offer on a home and it has been accepted, complete the mortgage application process with the lender. Refer to page 28 of this guide for information on making an offer.

9. Fulfill all lender requirements including appraisals (see page 31 of this guide), inspections (see page 29 of this guide) and arranging for homeowners insurance (see page 21 of this guide) and (if your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price) private mortgage insurance (PMI). See page 49 of this guide to learn more about private mortgage insurance.

10. Sign the lender paperwork including the mortgage and promissory note at the closing. Learn more about the closing on page 33 of this guide.

Determining What You Can Afford

Before you start looking at homes, calculate how much you can afford to spend. This will allow you to narrow your search and avoid disappointment later.

According to lenders and financial expert Ramit Sethi, best-selling author of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” a general approach to affording a home is to spend around 28% of your income on housing expenses, and around 36% of your income on total debt. This is referred to as the 28/36 rule.

o find out the maximum you can afford to pay each month for a mortgage, multiply your monthly income by .28. If you have significant other debt, multiply your income by .36 and subtract your monthly debt payments from that number to calculate the amount remaining for a mortgage payment.

Example:

  • Monthly income = $4,000 with no additional debt
  • Maxmortgagepayment=$4,000x.28=$1,120
  • Monthly income = $4,000 with $500 in additional monthly credit card and loan payments
  • Max monthly debt payments = $4,000 x .36 = $1,440
  • Max mortgage payment = $1,440 – $500 = $940

If you think you would like to buy a home that has a homeowners or condominium association, also subtract the likely monthly association fees from the maximum mortgage payment you have calculated. See Associations on page 24 for average association fees.

Now that you know how much you can afford, you can use the mortgage calculator to determine your price range. Remember, this is the absolute most you can afford to pay, so when you are looking at homes, they should cost this amount or less.

This is an example of a mortgage calculator from NerdWallet.com: https://www.nerdwallet.com/mortgages/mortgage-calculator/calculate- mortgage-payment

Interest Rates

Interest Rates are the percent that the lender charges you on the amount of money you have borrowed (the principal). The lower the interest rate, the lower your monthly payments will be.

The APR, which stands for annual percentage rate, is a broader rate. It includes not just the interest on the loan but also fees and other costs of getting the loan. Some lenders charge significantly more than others in fees. For this reason, when shopping for a mortgage, it is better to compare the APR rather than just the interest rate.

What may seem like small differences in the APR can make a difference of thousands of dollars over the term of your loan because the loan amount is usually large and the term is long, so be sure to compare lenders and get the best rate possible.

Examples of where you can see mortgage rate comparisons online are: https://money.com/, https://www.bankrate.com/ or https://www.nerdwallet.com/. You can also ask the bank where you keep your accounts for a rate quote.

Lenders’ interest rates are influenced by the rate set by the Federal Reserve, and this rate tends to fluctuate with the economy. In a recession, the Federal Reserve will usually cut rates making it cheaper to borrow money, and rates will usually increase when there is a strong economy.

Average Interest Rates by Location

Interest rates vary by location, by lender and, on an individual level, by creditworthiness based on the borrower’s credit score, income and loan amount. Property values also vary by location, so average loan amounts differ by state as well.

Interest rates are lowest in the U.S. territories, and may be lowest of all in U.S. tribal lands because of the many special programs for Native Americans (see the “Federal Homebuying Programs” section of this guide for home buying programs for Native Americans. Of the U.S. states, California has the lowest interest rates in the country and New York has the highest.

RankLocationAvg. mortgage rate Avg. APRAvg. down paymentAvg. offered loan amountMedian spread (4 offers)
1American Samoa3.16%N/AN/AN/AN/A
2Guam3.38%N/AN/AN/AN/A
3Puerto Rico3.84%N/AN/AN/AN/A
4U.S. Virgin Islands4.00%N/AN/AN/AN/A
5California4.74%8.83%$41,502$313,5080.395%
6New Jersey4.75%4.84%$31,212$258,9990.393%
7Washington4.76%4.85%$34,908$277,1050.403%
8Massachusetts4.76%4.86%$34,029$274,9960.402%
9Utah4.77%4.85%$28,273$248,9690.431%
10Colorado4.77%4.86%$32,889$262,9470.408%
11Maryland4.78%4.87%$28,194$255,6520.393%
12Kentucky4.78%4.90%$23,309$192,6510.522%
13Virginia4.79%4.89%$34,013$255,5450.396%
14South Dakota4.79%4.91%$23,418$206,4960.437%
15Minnesota4.80%4.90%$21,326$218,5680.394%
16Oregon4.80%4.89%$29,468$247,3730.387%
17Montana4.81%4.92%$26,926$224,8820.483%
18Arizona4.81%4.91%$24,850$222,7750.408%
19North Carolina4.81%4.92%$27,994$224,9210.406%
20Delaware4.82%4.93%$18,040$224,9210.423%
21Texas4.82%4.92%$30,562$221,2340.412%
22North Dakota4.82%4.93%$22,897$230,3334.422%
23Pennsylvania4.83%4.93%$27,029$214,3940.420%
24Georgia4.83%4.94%$29,140$216,1730.401%
25Rhode Island4.83%4.94%$25,643$242,4920.406%
26Connecticut4.84%4.94%$31,881$237,8250.424%
27New Hampshire4.84%4.94%$28,528$218,6380.401%
28Florida4.84%4.94%$28,528$218,6380.401%
29Wyoming4.84%4.96%$20,458$221,1590.501%
30Hawaii4.85%4.94%$39,317$300,9100.418%
31South Carolina4.85%4.96%$23,576$207,0020.406%
32Wisconsin4.86%4.96%$24,826$202,3330.416%
33Tennessee4.86%4.96%$28,318$210,7730.414%
34Nevada4.86%4.95%$29,109$244,9810.391%
35Alabama4.86%4.97%$28,569$203,9040.434%
36Alaska4.86%4.97%$31,706$248,8470.450%
37New Mexico4.86%4.99%$23,783$200,2740.416%
38Michigan4.86%4.98%$20,440$200,1900.418%
39Illinois4.87%4.97%$29,498$220,1240.427%
40Kansas4.87%4.98%$23,870$210,0600.419%
41Louisiana4.87%4.99%$26,053$203,9380.447%
42Vermont4.87%4.99%$27,765$202,4060.365%
43Indiana4.87%4.99%$24,013$195,0980.434%
44Idaho4.89%4.99%$19,593$211,5200.412%
45Mississippi4.90%5.04%$16,297$190,8950.498%
46Missouri4.90%5.01%$24,734$199,9480.414%
47Nebraska4.90%5.03%$24,609$201,9880.410%
48Ohio4.90%5.03%$22,061$196,0520.397%
49West Virginia4.90%5.03%$15,369$189,2220.415%
50Maine4.91%5.02%$22,462$202,5390.420%
51Oklahoma4.91%5.03%$19,456$186,5020.417%
52Arkansas4.92%5.06%$17,171$198,3000.441%
53Iowa4.93%5.04%$26,746$203,7000.462%
54New York4.96%5.07%$43,404$260,1630.366%
Information was not available for the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

Getting Approved for a Mortgage

Lenders may be willing to make mortgage loans for up to 90% of the purchase price, depending on a variety of factors, including the size of the down payment and the borrower’s credit history and sufficient income to make payments.

Income

You should have a steady source of income, with pay stubs and income tax statements to show the lender that you have consistently earned enough money to pay your mortgage going forward. How much income they will require depends both on the amount of the loan and your credit history.

Down Payment

In order to buy a home, you will have to pay a portion of the purchase price from money you have saved. This is called the down payment, and must be at least 10% of the purchase price. The bigger the down payment, the more equity you have in the property to begin with, and the more willing lenders will be to finance the remainder of the purchase price.

The reason for this is that the size of the down payment affects the loan-to-value ratio, one of the major factors that lenders consider when deciding whether to approve a mortgage application.

Making a larger down payment can also benefit buyers in other ways. It reduces the total loan amount, and therefore the amount of interest you will pay over the life of the loan. Also, if you make a down payment of 20% or more of the purchase price, the lender will not require you to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Private Mortgage Insurance

Private mortgage insurance costs, on average, 0.5% to 1% of the purchase price each year, and your lender typically requires you to pay for it until your equity reaches 20% of the property value. This insurance protects the lender in the event that you default, and has no benefits for the homebuyer. So if you can avoid it, you should.

Credit

Other than your income, the most important thing that lenders consider when deciding whether to approve your mortgage application is your credit history and score. Your credit history is tracked and recorded by three independent credit bureaus:

What Is in a Credit Report

Each of the three bureaus keeps a credit report for you that lists your contact information, a list of companies that have extended credit to you and your credit history. It will also list other names you have gone by, former addresses, public records and a list of companies that have inquired about your credit.

Credit History

The credit history is the largest and most important part of the credit report. It lists each creditor, the credit limit, debt outstanding and status of the account. The status will show if the account is in good standing, if the account is in collection or has been written off as a bad debt. If you have made late payments on the account, it will show how many times that has happened in the last several years.

Your credit report will also include a section for public records. This includes bankruptcies and legal judgments against you. Both of these items, if present, will hurt your credit worthiness.

Although the information in each of your credit reports should be mostly the same, sometimes there are differences because some creditors only report to one or two bureaus rather than all three. You are entitled to get a free copy of your credit report from each bureau for free once a year. You can claim them at their websites listed above.

When you first start thinking about buying a home, order your credit report from all three bureaus. This will give you time to look at each of them and determine if there are any errors that need to be corrected.

Credit Score

Your credit score is a single number between 300 and 850 that summarizes your creditworthiness. A higher score means that the bureau considers you to be more likely to repay a debt, and are therefore more likely to give you a loan.

Every person has more than one credit score. There are a few reasons for that.

There are different scores for specific products. For example, there are special auto and insurance credit scores. There are also different credit-scoring models, like FICO and VantageScore, which means you could have scores according to each model.

Lastly, there are multiple credit bureaus that provide credit reports on which scores are based. So depending on what information each bureau gets from individual lenders — and that can differ — the data used to compile your reports and build your scores could vary from bureau to bureau.

When you put it all together, that means that each individual could have multiple scores, and sometimes they don’t match.

Even though there are quite a few different scores out there, there is a general range that is applied throughout all mediums that your score falls into.

FICO and VantageScore Solutions create the most widely used consumer credit scores and update their scoring models from time to time.

See a breakdown below.

  • Poor (300 – 579): You have made numerous mistakes with your credit, such as having outstanding debts that have gone to collections, defaulted loans, or unpaid credit card bills.
  • Fair (580 – 669): After having a bad credit history or no credit history, you are starting to get your rating back on track by paying back a few debts.
  • Good (670 – 739): You may be working your way up from bad credit or no credit history and are starting to demonstrate good credit behavior.
  • Very Good (740 – 799): You continuously demonstrate good credit behavior and are approaching an excellent credit rating.
  • Excellent (800 – 850): Your credit is free of any recent marks or demerits. You have no major cases of debt, foreclosures, bankruptcies, collections or legal actions that could pose an impact to your credit.

Each bureau will give you a separate score based on the credit information it has for you. When you order your free credit reports, they will not include your credit score. If you want to see your credit score, you can get them for free online. An example of a site where you can view your credit score is: https://www.creditkarma.com/

FICO Score

In addition to the credit scores from each of the credit bureaus, you also have something called a FICO score. A FICO score is a score calculated by a company called the Fair Issac Corporation. The FICO score is what lenders use when evaluating mortgage applications.

The FICO scores for each bureau are included in a special report they use for loan applicants called the residential mortgage credit report (RMCR). The RMCR contains information from all three credit bureaus. Lenders typically make a decision based on the middle of the three FICO scores in the RMCR.

Bureau credit scores and FICO scores are each calculated using individual proprietary algorithms.

However, they all take the following factors into account:

  • Payment history (35% weight in FICO) – no late payments is the best
  • Amount owed (30% weight in FICO) – less money owed is better
  • Length of credit history (15% weight in FICO) – longer is better
  • New credit (10% weight in FICO) – few recently opened accounts is better
  • Credit mix (10% weight in FICO) – a mix of revolving (credit cards) and installment accounts like a car payment or mortgage is preferred

Federal Homebuying Programs

To help Americans become homeowners, the federal government’s Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) offer several programs.

HUD Programs

Homeowner Choice Voucher Program

If you live in public housing and have never bought a home before, you may qualify for the HUD Housing Choice Voucher program. Under this program, HUD, through a local public housing agency (PHA) will grant a monthly amount to assist with mortgage and other housing expenses.

Prospective homeowners need to take a pre-assistance homeownership and housing counseling class, meet minimum income requirements and have a full-time job with continuous employment for the previous year, except in the case of the disabled or elderly.

Individual PHAs may also have additional homebuying programs through which public housing residents can purchase public housing units. Find and contact your local PHA here (https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/public_indian_housing/pha/contacts) for more details.

Good Neighbor Next Door Program

This program is only available to law enforcement officers, pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians and only for homes located in designated revitalization areas. Under this program, prospective homeowners receive a 50% discount on the price of the home.

Homebuyers have to commit to living in the home for a minimum of 36 months as their primary residence. As a guarantee that they will stay in the home for at least 36 months, homebuyers are required to sign a second mortgage for the amount of the 50% grant.

If they meet the requirement of living in the home for at least 36 months, there will be no interest or payments on this “silent” second mortgage.

See https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/sfh/reo/goodn/gnndabot to learn more and find an eligible property.

Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program

The Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program is available only to American Indian and Alaska Native families, Alaska villages, tribes, or tribally designated housing entities. Eligible applicants would apply for a Section 184 loan with a traditional lender and work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs if leasing tribal land. The bank looks at the documentation, after which it goes to HUD’s Office of Loan Guarantee.

If approved, the applicant benefits from a low down payment and flexible underwriting. The loan is guaranteed by the federal government, protecting the lender and encouraging loans to Native Americans. The program is only applicable to single family housing (1-4 units), for a 30-year term or less and with a fixed interest rate. The Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program is not available in every state.

Reference HUD at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/public_indian_housing/ih/homeownership/184 to see if it is available in your state, if you are a member of a participating tribe and to find a participating lender.

FHA Loan Program

The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) is a part of HUD and offers FHA-insured loans that have lower down payment requirements (as low as 3.5% of the purchase price), closing costs and credit qualifying requirements. As with the Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program, FHA loans are a partnership between FHA lenders and the federal government.

FHA loans are available to first time home buyers and seniors who need to take equity out of their homes via a reverse mortgage. They are limited to single family homes (1-4 units).

Learn more about FHA loans here (https://www.hud.gov/buying/loans) and search for an FHA lender here (https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/ sfh/lender/lenderlist).

VA Programs

VA programs are only available to military service members, veterans and their eligible surviving spouses.

VA-Backed Home Loan

This is a similar program to HUD’s FHA loans, where the VA will guarantee a portion of a mortgage you get from a lender. Since the lender’s risk is reduced or eliminated, lenders are likely to offer borrowers favorable terms. Almost 90% of VA-backed loans are made with no down payment.

Learn more about VA home loans here: https://www.va.gov/housing-assistance/home-loans/

Native American Direct Loan

Native American veterans, service members and eligible surviving spouses can apply for a Native American Direct Loan. This is a loan that is made by the VA itself, without the involvement of a lender and has favorable terms including no down payment requirement, no need for private mortgage insurance, limited closing costs and a low fixed interest rate.

Direct loan borrowers can take out future direct loans under this program, unlike those who get FHA loans or a Homeowner Choice Voucher.

See the VA’s website at https://www.va.gov/housing-assistance/home-loans/loan-types/native-american-direct-loan/ to see if you are eligible.

Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan

If you already have a VA-backed loan and you want to lower your payments, you can apply for an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL). You will apply through a lender, shopping for one that offers a lower interest rate than the one you are currently paying. Like with the original VA-backed loan, the IRRRL does not require a down payment or private mortgage insurance.

You may, however, need to pay a VA funding fee. The amount of the fee depends on the amount of the loan and other factors.

See this link https://www.va.gov/housing-assistance/home-loans/funding-fee-and-closing-costs/ to calculate your VA funding fee and to see if you are eligible to have it waived.

Cash-Out Refinance Loan

This loan is an option when you either have an existing VA-backed loan and you want to take some cash out of your home equity or you have a non-VA- backed loan and you want to replace it with a VA- backed loan. The application process is the same as the IRRRL including the VA funding fee.

Learn more about the cash-out refinance loan here: https://www.va.gov/housing-assistance/home-loans/loan-types/cash-out-loan/

USDA Programs

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has homebuying programs for Americans living in rural or suburban areas. These are zero down payment loans with low interest rates for primary residences. Metropolitan areas are excluded from USDA homebuying programs.

Direct Loans

Low- and very low-income applicants can apply for a direct loan from the USDA. To be eligible, you would need to be without “decent, safe and sanitary housing,” be unable to get a loan from traditional lenders and meet or fall below income thresholds that are set by the area. With subsidies under this program, your interest rate could be as low as 1%.

Direct loans are only available for homes under 2,000 square feet with a market value that is lower than the area loan limit.

Learn more about USDA Direct Loans here: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/single-family-housing-direct-home-loans

Types of Mortgages

Mortgage loans that are backed by government agencies (HUD, VA, state or local) are called government-backed loans. In addition, there are two organizations that buy and guarantee mortgages called Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

These organizations were both created by Congress and serve to provide a steady supply of funding for mortgages. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae mortgages are also considered to be government-backed. If your mortgage is owned by one of these organizations, you have certain protections in case you later have trouble keeping up with the payments. See the section “Avoiding Foreclosure.”

Check to see if your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae here (https://www.knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup) and Freddie Mac here (https://ww3.freddiemac.com/loanlookup/).

All other loans are considered to be conventional loans.

Term

One factor you should consider when deciding what kind of mortgage to get is the mortgage’s term. The most common mortgage terms are 15 years and 30 years, although some mortgages (less than 10% of the total) are for other terms.

A 30-year mortgage gives the borrower lower monthly payments compared to a 15-year loan, but costs more in the long run because you pay interest on the loan amount for a longer period of time. A 15-year mortgage has the opposite benefits. It costs less in interest but has higher monthly payments.

Fixed vs. Variable Rate

Although the rate you will qualify for depends on your income, loan amount and credit history (see “Getting Approved for a Mortgage”), you can choose whether your mortgage has a fixed or variable rate. A fixed rate is one interest rate that stays the same for the entire term of the loan. Mortgage payments will be the same amount every year, except for relatively small adjustments to the escrow to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums that are higher or lower than anticipated.

A variable rate mortgage, also called an adjustable rate mortgage or ARM, has an initial interest rate for an agreed-upon time period (one, five, seven or ten years). The terms of interest rate adjustment are noted in the description.

For example, a 5/1 ARM will lock in the initial rate for five years, after which it will be adjusted once a year. A 1/5 ARM will have an initial rate locked for one year, and then it will be adjusted every five years.

An ARM’s initial rate is lower than that on a comparable fixed rate mortgage, but it can fluctuate up or down each year depending on the index rate plus a fixed margin. The index is based on one of three rates: the maturity yield on one-year Treasury bills, the 11th District cost of funds index, or the London Interbank Offered Rate, which increase or decrease because of the economy. That means that your mortgage payments can end up being more (if interest rates increase) or less (if rates decrease) than they were before.

Most mortgages (61.5%) are 30-year fixed rate mortgages. They give borrowers low monthly payments that are predictable. A little over 14% of mortgages are 15-year fixed, which is a good choice for borrowers who want to build equity quicker and save money on interest, while keeping payments the same.

About the same percentage of mortgages are ARMs. An ARM is a good choice for borrowers who only plan on staying in the home a short time or those who feel certain that interest rates will decrease over time. The remainder of mortgages are fixed rate for a term other than 15 or 30 years.

Interest-Only Mortgage

In an interest-only mortgage, the borrower will pay only the interest on the loan for a set period of time, typically 7-10 years on a 30-year mortgage. After the initial period, you will pay interest plus a portion of the principal in each monthly payment. In order to qualify for an interest-only mortgage, you will need to show the lender that you have significant savings and assets, a low debt-to-income ratio and good credit.

This type of loan is beneficial to borrowers who have variable income or who are expecting a large income influx like a bonus or proceeds of the sale of an asset with which they can pay down their principal.

Building Equity

Equity is the portion of the value of your home that you have paid for. This includes:

  • The amount of the down payment
  • All of the money you have paid toward your principal
  • Any increase in the property value over and above the purchase price

Home equity is important because it is an important way to build wealth over the long term. Unlike most other assets purchased with loans like cars and boats, real estate tends to appreciate, or increase in value, over the long term. This is not always the case in the short term, since housing markets can get inflated due to a shortage of available housing, a particularly strong economy or rapidly growing cities and neighborhoods with high demand.

This is called a housing bubble, and like all bubbles, is destined to eventually pop, with prices falling back into line with value. Homeowners who buy during the bubble when prices are at their highest may end up eventually becoming upside down in their mortgage, which means that they owe more on the home than it is worth. In this case, the home is negatively impacting the homeowner’s net worth.

Home equity is an asset and as such, enables you to borrow against it if you need cash. Homeowners can take out a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit (HELOC), second mortgage or a reverse mortgage if needed. See the “Other Types of Home Loans” section.

As mentioned in the Home Financing section, a mortgage includes both principal and interest. The interest is calculated by multiplying the interest rate percent by the amount of the principal.

In a 30-year fixed mortgage, your payments will remain the same each month over the life of the loan. However, in the beginning of the loan, more money from each payment goes toward paying interest. As your principal balance decreases, a larger proportion of each payment pays down the principal amount and there is less interest on that principal.

For example, let’s say you have a $200,000 30-year fixed mortgage at an annual percentage rate (APR) of 6%.

  • $200,000 x 6% = $12,000 in interest in the first year
  • Monthly payment on this mortgage = $1199, or a total of $14,388 for the first year

Of the $14,388 you paid in year 1, $12,000 goes to interest on the principal of $200,000 and the remainder, $2,388 goes toward principal. At the end of year 1, the principal balance is less because some of it has been paid.

  • $200,000 – $2,388 = $197,612 principal at the start of year 2
  • $197,612 x 6% = $11,856 in interest year 2
  • Total mortgage payments in year 2 – $14,388 (the same)
  • $14,388 – $11,856 = $2,532 paid toward principal year 2

This process continues, with more principal paid as a portion of payments each year.

Accelerating Payoff

Homeowners can save thousands of dollars in interest if they pay more than their regular mortgage payment each month. Any money that you pay over the mortgage payment that is due is automatically applied to your principal. As demonstrated above, the lower your principal, the less interest you will pay on that principal.

With the mortgage example above, if you paid an additional $100 each month, it would look like this:

  • Monthly payments of $1299, or 1st year total payments totalling $15,588
  • Principal paid in year 1 = $2,388 + $1,200 = $3,588
  • $200,000 – $3,588 = $196,412 principal at the start of year 2
  • $196,412 x 6% = $11,785 in interest year 2

Paying an extra $100 on this mortgage would shorten the term of your mortgage by 5 years and 5 months and save you $49,139 over the life of the loan. You can use the mortgage payoff calculator at https://www.mortgagecalculator.org/calcs/mortgage-payoff.php to see how different extra payment amounts would impact your mortgage.

You can also pay additional money toward your mortgage principal in a lump sum if you get a bonus, inheritance or other additional income at one time.

When the principal is completely repaid, the mortgage is paid off, and you will own 100% of your home.

Other Types of Home Loans

In addition to a traditional mortgage to buy a home, there are other loans that use the home as collateral: refinancing and equity loans.

Refinancing

Refinancing is a process that a homeowner can choose to pursue after a mortgage is already in place. In a refinancing, the owner gets a new mortgage with new terms to replace the existing mortgage. The new mortgage will pay off the original mortgage in full and start from the beginning.

You can refinance with the same lender you used for your original mortgage or a different lender that may offer you a lower rate. Shop around to see which lender will give you the best interest rate and terms using this worksheet: https://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/refinancings/mortgage_shopping.pdf. Just like when you applied for your original mortgage, you will need to qualify in order to refinance.

Lower Interest Rate

Sometimes this is done because the owner is trying to take advantage of an interest rate that is lower than the original rate on the mortgage. The interest rate may be lower either because market rates have decreased or because the owner’s credit score has improved. When you have a lower interest rate, your monthly payments will be less.

If you are a military servicemember, veteran or surviving military spouse, you may be eligible for a VA IRRRL. See the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan section.

Switch From ARM

If your original mortgage was an adjustable rate (ARM) and you want the predictability of a fixed rate, you can refinance to a fixed rate mortgage. Another reason to do this is if you think that interest rates are increasing and you want to lock in a lower rate.

Cash-Out Refinancing

The other major reason that homeowners choose to refinance is that they want to take cash out of the equity they have accumulated in their home. For example, you may need to do some major renovations to your home but not have the cash set aside to pay for them.

If you have built up equity in your home and you can get an interest rate that is the same or lower than you have on your original mortgage, you can refinance and add money for the renovation to the total loan on the property. This is like making a purchase at a store and getting cash back, but on a much bigger scale.

If you are a military servicemember, veteran or surviving military spouse, see the “VA Programs” section to learn if you are eligible for a VA Cash Out Refinance Loan.

Cost of Refinancing

There are several disadvantages to refinancing. The main one is that if you replace your original mortgage with one that is the same term, you will be resetting the clock on your mortgage payoff and will pay more interest in the long run.

In addition, you will need to pay a new round of closing costs. These can amount to 2-5% of the principal balance. Closing costs may include:

  • Prepayment fee (1-6 months’ interest payment)
  • Application fee ($75-$300)
  • Origination fee (0%-1.5% of the loan principal)
  • Discount points (0%-3% of the loan principal)
  • Appraisal fee ($300-$700)
  • Inspection fees ($175-$350)
  • Mortgage insurance (.5%-1.5% of the loan principal)
  • Title search and insurance fees ($700-$900)

Use the worksheet at https://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/refinancings/#breakeven to calculate how many months into your refinanced mortgage it will take you to break even on the closing costs.

Before you make a decision, evaluate if refinancing will end up saving you money or costing you money over the life of the loan. Refinancing is not recommended:

  1. For people who have owned the home for a long time and are at the end of the mortgage term because most of your monthly mortgage payments are going to pay down principal.
  2. If your current mortgage has a prepayment penalty, because it may cost you a significant amount to refinance. If you are planning to refinance with your current lender, ask if they will waive the prepayment penalty.
  3. If you are planning to move in the next few years, because the savings you get from a lower interest rate may be less than what you pay in closing costs.

Home Equity Loans

A home equity loan is an additional loan homeowners can take out while keeping the original mortgage, and as such are sometimes called second mortgages. They are an alternative to cash-out refinancing, and provide homeowners with cash for home improvements or other major expenses without restarting the term of the entire mortgage.

Equity loans are limited to 85% of the equity you have in your home, but the amount you get approved for is subject to qualifying in terms of income, credit worthiness and market value just like any other home loan.

Default on either the original loan or the home equity loan can result in foreclosure. Like the main mortgage, the home equity loan uses the home as collateral, but the home equity lender has a secondary position when collecting if there is a default. In other words, if the homeowner stops paying bills, the main lender has the first right to foreclose on the property before the lender for the home equity loan.

Home equity loans come in two types: lump sum and line of credit. With both kinds of home equity loans, you will have to pay closing costs including an application fee, title search, appraisal, attorneys’ fees, and points, which add to the overall cost of the loan. In addition, some lenders charge continuing costs such as an annual fee or transaction fees.

Lump Sum

In a lump sum equity loan, as soon as the loan is finalized, the lender will transfer the entire amount to the homeowner’s bank account. As soon as that happens, interest on the entire amount starts to accumulate, and a few months later, the homeowner will start making payments on that loan on a monthly basis until it is paid off.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

In a home equity line of credit (HELOC), the loan amount becomes available and the homeowner withdraws against it as needed. In this sense, it acts more like a debit card. The homeowner only pays interest on that part of the loan that is withdrawn. This is a benefit to homeowners who are using the funds for renovations that require periodic expenditures over a period of months.

Most HELOCs have variable or adjustable interest rates and some include other fees like annual fees or transaction fees when you make a withdrawal.

Reverse Mortgages

If you are 62 or older, have equity in your home and need cash, you may want to consider a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage converts your home equity back into debt and gives you cash each month that you can use for living expenses or healthcare costs. Usually, you will not have to repay the debt while you live in your home.

But when you move out, sell your home or die, you (or your surviving spouse or heirs in the event of your death) would need to repay the loan, even if the house must be sold to do so. Most reverse mortgages have a variable rate.

There are three kinds of reverse mortgages:

  • Single purpose reverse mortgages – These are primarily for low to moderate income borrowers and are offered by some state and local government agencies and nonprofits. One use of the funds is specified in the documentation and the borrower must use the money only for that kind of expense.
  • Proprietary reverse mortgages – These are typically for higher value homes and are offered by private lenders.
  • Federally insured reverse mortgages (home equity conversion mortgages or HECM) – These are offered by the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the proceeds can be used for any purpose. With a HECM, you can get the cash as a lump sum, in fixed monthly amounts for a certain time period, in fixed monthly amounts as long as you live in your home or as a line of credit that you can use as needed. Learn more here: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/ housing/sfh/hecm/hecmhome.

The advantage of a reverse mortgage is that there are no mortgage payments; instead you get payments that you can use to support yourself or even invest. This enables you to be independent and age in place at home. These payments are tax free and will not affect your Social Security or Medicare calculations. For the rest of your life while you live in the home, it will not be subject to foreclosure unlike a home equity line of credit.

There are some disadvantages to reverse mortgages, including upfront and ongoing costs, a steadily increasing amount of debt as time goes on and the uncertainty of variable rates. Since you will still be living in your home, you will need to continue to pay all home costs including property tax, repairs and maintenance, association fees (if applicable) and homeowners insurance.

Reverse mortgages reduce or even eliminate equity in your home that otherwise would be passed down to your heirs or beneficiaries. In addition, unlike a traditional mortgage, the interest on the loan is not tax deductible.

Right to Cancel

If you take out a mortgage or home equity loan and realize that you made a mistake, you are protected by a federal law called the Three Day Cancellation Rule. You can cancel a credit application within three business days without penalty. The three-day period begins the day after you sign the credit contract, get a Truth in Lending Disclosure and get a Truth in Lending notice advising you of your right to cancel.

The three days include Saturdays but not Sundays or legal public holidays.

Foreclosure

If a borrower stops paying a mortgage, home equity loan, HELOC, second mortgage or reverse mortgage for several months, the lender can send the borrower a notice outlining all of the money that is due for the missed payments as well as any additional fees including late fees, interest and attorney’s fees and demanding payment within a certain time period.

When payment in full is not made by the deadline, the lender has the right to foreclose on the home.

Foreclosure is a legal process where the lender shows a judge that the terms of the mortgage agreement have not been met by the borrower and asks that the judge authorize the lender to take full ownership of the property.

In a foreclosure, the borrower loses all equity in the property and the right to live in the home. The property will be sold by the lender to try to recoup some or all of the loan amount.

Avoiding Foreclosure

If you are having trouble making your mortgage payments, the first step is to contact your lender and explain the problem. Many times, lenders will work with you to give you some relief without resorting to foreclosure because they would prefer to have the loan and its interest repaid, even late, rather than have to be responsible for owning and eventually selling the property.

Forbearance

If your financial difficulties are temporary in nature, the lender may agree to give you a forbearance, where you will stay in your home and they will temporarily reduce or suspend payments until you can get back on your feet.

Negotiate with your lender whether the amount of the missed payments will be paid back all at one time once the forbearance period is over, gradually over time in a repayment plan or in a payment deferral at the end of the loan.

Modification

If you have a reduced, but steady income or if you are recovering from a period of unemployment, your lender may offer you a loan modification. This is similar to a refinance, but instead of replacing the original loan, one or more of the terms (interest rate, payment amount, term) are modified to be more affordable.

Selling Your Home

If you can no longer afford your mortgage payments, you can put your home on the market and sell it. Once it is sold, your mortgage will be paid off and you might even have some additional money from the sale with which to buy a new, less expensive home.

Short Sale

A short sale is when you agree with your lender to sell the home for less than the balance remaining on your mortgage. You would only choose this option if you were unable to get more for your home. The lender would accept the amount of the sale as all or part of satisfying your debt. Although it would negatively impact your credit history, it would be less damaging than a foreclosure.

Mortgage Release or Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure

In this option, you would negotiate with your lender to voluntarily hand over the deed to the property in exchange for a release from your mortgage loan and payments. You might choose this if you are behind on your payments, have a long-term hardship, owe more than the home is worth and cannot sell the home, or refinance or modify your loan.

You may be able to negotiate getting a relocation payment, staying in your home for up to three months rent-free or leasing your home back for up to a year at market rates. While you would lose the home and any equity, it would be less damaging to your credit than a foreclosure.

State Programs for Making a Home Affordable

If you have contacted your lender and had no success in negotiating, you may need to sell or walk away from your home. Federal programs to help struggling homeowners have expired, but some states have programs under the name Hardest Hit Fund. These programs may include mortgage payment assistance, principal reduction, funding to eliminate second lien holders and assistance in moving to a more affordable home.

States With Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) Programs
LocationWebsite
Alabamahttp://www.hardesthitalabama.com/
Arizonahttp://www.azhousing.gov/
Californiahttp://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/
Floridahttps://www.floridahousing.org/programs/homeowners/florida’s-hardest-hit-fund
Georgiahttps://www.dca.ga.gov/safe-affordable-housing/homeownership/homesafe-georgia
Illinoishttps://www.illinoishardesthit.org/
Indianahttp://www.877gethope.org/
Kentuckyhttp://protectmykyhome.org/Pages/default.aspx
Michiganhttps://www.stepforwardmichigan.org/
Mississippihttps://www.mshomesaver.com/
Nevadahttp://www.nahac.org/
New Jerseyhttps://www.hhf-nj.com/
North Carolinahttp://www.ncforeclosureprevention.gov/
Ohiohttp://www.savethedream.ohio.gov/
Oregonhttp://www.oregonhomeownerhelp.org/
Rhode Islandhttp://www.hhfri.org/
South Carolinahttps://www.schousing.com/Home/SC-Help
Tennesseehttp://www.keepmytnhome.org/
Washington D.C.http://dchfa.org/homeownership/available-programs/homesaver/

You can also find more state information and links here: https://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/financial-stability/TARP-Programs/housing/Pages/Program-Documents.aspx

Home Expenses and Management

Once you have purchased a home and before you move in, you will need to set up your local utilities. Some utilities will require new customers to make a deposit depending on your credit history. Utilities that are cooperatives are not-for-profit and generally provide services at reduced rates but may require membership and application fees. Municipal utilities only serve individual cities.

Electric and Gas Energy

Electric

To power your home, you will need to have a source of electricity. Most homeowners start service with a local electric utility company, although a growing percentage (forecast to reach 12% by 2035) generate 100% of their own energy from renewable sources, and are considered to be “off the grid.” The grid is the network of electric power provided by the utility company.

Utility companies generate electricity in a variety of ways including diesel, coal, hydroelectric power from dams, wind power and solar farms. The trend in many parts of the country is for utility companies to use renewable sources to generate increasing amounts of the electricity they sell to customers.

You can find out if your local utility generates renewable energy by searching here https://www.green-e.org/certified-resources and selecting Residential Renewable Energy and specifying your state.

Although you as a customer have no say in how your utility company’s power is generated, you as a homeowner can generate your own renewable energy to power all or part of your home’s needs. To find out how to do this, see the “Solar and Renewable Energy” section.

Setting Up Your Electric Utility Service

1. Find your company.

First, determine which company provides electric utility service at your address. Check the location-specific list below or consult your local city or county government website. Some cities and towns provide electric utility and other utilities directly to homes, while other areas use a for-profit or cooperative company for power.

2. Cancel your old service.

If you are moving from outside the service area, you will need to cancel service with your old electric company. If you are moving from within the utility’s service area, you will need to switch your account to the new address.

3. Set up new service with the electric company that services your new location.

Most utility companies let you sign up for new service on their websites, but some require you to come to their office in person. You will need identification like a driver’s license or Social Security card, your home’s address and the date you would like to start service. Some utilities might ask for additional information such as a copy of your deed.

4. Make any required initial payments

  • If your utility is a cooperative, you will need to apply for a membership and pay any necessary membership fees.
  • Some utility companies require new customers to give them a deposit to reduce the company’s risk in the event of non-payment. Usually, companies waive deposit requirements for homeowners with good credit scores.

5. On moving day or that day you ask the utility to start service, check to make sure that your electricity is working correctly.

Generators

Generators are another source of electricity for homes. Generators are machines that are installed permanently or temporarily outside your home. They require natural gas or propane to fuel them and are commonly used as a back-up power source in case of a power outage.

Home generators have limited capacity and usually only are able to power some critical electric needs. A 5,000-7,500 watt generator can run an average-sized home’s critical household equipment including a well pump, refrigerator and freezer, and lighting circuits. Generators can be purchased from big box stores like Home Depot as well as specialty retailers and they cost between $650 and $5,000.

Gas

Gas energy uses natural gas to power home mechanical systems like HVAC units for heating and cooling, cooktops, ovens and stoves, fireplaces, water heaters and clothes dryers. Gas is not considered renewable energy because it relies on natural gas, which is a limited petrochemical resource.

However, natural gas is a cleaner energy source and produces fewer emissions than coal or oil, sources that power the majority of electric utility companies. Using gas appliances for heating and cooling is less expensive than using comparable electric appliances and HVAC systems. If all of your applicable appliances use gas, you can save up to 30% each month compared to all-electric.

In order for gas appliances and HVAC systems to work, there needs to be a supply of natural gas, both inside the home and to the home. Inside the home, you will need to have gas lines to each of the devices you want to power with gas. If the home already has gas appliances, there will be existing gas lines.

If the HVAC and other appliances are all electric, you may need to call a master plumber to install gas lines. New gas lines cost between $15-$25 per foot plus an hourly cost for installation (usually $75-$100/hour), permit and inspection costs between $100-$300 and possibly additional costs for tearing up and repairing walls and flooring.

To get gas from the street to your home, you will need to call your local gas company, which you can find below. Cost may range from $0 to $2,500 depending on the company and its existing infrastructure.

Gas HVAC and appliances also cost more than comparable electric units. For example, electric stoves cost between $650 and $2,800, while gas stoves run between $800 and $3,300.

Setting Up Your Gas Utility Service

1. Determine if your new home has existing gas lines.

This should be listed on the MLS listing for the property. If you are not sure, contact your real estate agent or the seller of the property.

2. Find your company.

First, determine which company provides gas service at your address. Check the location-specific list below or consult your local city or county government website. Some cities and towns provide gas and other utilities directly to homes, while other areas use for-profit or cooperative companies.

3. Cancel your old service.

If you are moving from outside the service area and you had gas at the old address, you will need to cancel service with your old gas company. If you are moving from within the utility’s service area and you previously had gas, you will need to switch your account to the new address.

4. Set up new service with the gas company that services your new location.

Most utility companies let you sign up for new service on their websites, but some require you to come to their office in person. You will need identification like a driver’s license or Social Security card, your home’s address and the date you would like to start service.

5. Make any required initial payments

  • If your utility is a cooperative, you will need to apply for a membership and pay any necessary membership fees.
  • Some utility companies require new customers to give them a deposit to reduce the company’s risk in the event of non-payment. Usually, companies waive deposit requirements for homeowners with good credit scores.

6. If the gas company has previously provided service to your address, they should be able to connect your service remotely. Otherwise, set an appointment for a technician to come out to install the service.

7. On moving day or the day you ask the utility to start service, check to make sure that your gas is working correctly. If you smell gas, turn off all gas-powered appliances and call your gas provider immediately. Do not light any flames.

Telephone

Landlines

A landline is phone service installed in a home to which you can plug in a phone unit that will only work in and directly outside the home. In a landline phone, calls are routed using a combination of fiber-optic cables, copper wire and switches.

There are several benefits of landlines. If you use a basic phone unit that is not wireless (only for walking around in and very near the house), no electricity is needed to power the phone. That means that your phone will still work in the event of a power outage. The other advantage is that if there is an emergency and you use a landline to call 911, the dispatcher will automatically know where you are so help is likely to arrive quicker.

On the negative side, landline phones are not portable, so others can only reach you on that phone number when you are at home. Because most people in the U.S. have a mobile phone with them no matter where they are, it is more convenient for others to use that number to reach them. Many people with a landline find that they receive the bulk of their calls on their mobile device, so they have little need for a landline.

Landlines cost $10-$50 per month. Landlines charge additional per minute charges for long distance calls with even higher per-minute rates for international calls (per-minute charge varies by plan). Additional features, such as call waiting, voicemail and three- way calling usually also incur an upcharge. There are additional charges for installation and if you need a technician to come to your home to add a phone jack.

Setting Up Your Landline Telephone Service

1. Find your company.

First, determine which company provides landline telephone service at your address. Check the location- specific list below.

2. Cancel your old service.

If you are moving from outside the service area, you will need to cancel service with your old phone company. If you are moving from within the phone company’s service area, you will need to switch your account to the new address. You may be able to keep your phone number but only if you are moving from within the same area.

3. Set up new service with the phone company that services your new location.

Most phone companies let you sign up for new service on their websites, but some require you to come to their office in person. You will need identification like a driver’s license or Social Security card, your home’s address and the date you would like to start service.

When setting up phone service, ask about programs for low-income and disabled individuals. If you meet requirements for these programs, you may be able to get free or reduced-cost phone service.

4. Make any required initial payments

  • If your utility is a cooperative, you will need to apply for a membership and pay any necessary membership fees.
  • Some phone companies require new customers to give them a deposit to reduce the company’s risk in the event of non-payment. Usually, companies waive deposit requirements for homeowners with good credit scores.

5. On moving day or that day you ask the phone company to start service, plug in a phone and make sure that you have a dial tone and can make and receive calls.

VOIP

Voice over IP (VOIP) is an alternative to landlines. Instead of using copper wire and switches, VOIP phones use the Internet connection in the home. You can use a regular landline phone for VOIP with an adapter or a special VOIP phone. Since you use the Internet to use VOIP, there is no limited service area; providers can be national.

VOIP service is less expensive than a landline ($5- $20 per month). Domestic long distance calls are free and international calls are at much reduced rates compared to landlines. VOIP service usually includes call features like call waiting, three-way calling, voicemail as well as call routing, call filtering and video calls at no additional charge.

VOIP phone numbers have the flexibility to be used at home with a landline phone and also routed to a mobile phone for when you are out. Because of its many features and lower price, VOIP is more commonly used for businesses than for home phones.

Because VOIP relies on your Internet connection, it may be vulnerable to hacking or viruses, although this is rare. Another downside of VOIP is that if your Internet connection is spotty or down altogether due to a fiber issue or power outage, your phone service will be as well.

Top VOIP Providers
CompanyContact infoResidential ratesNotable features
Vonage
https://www.vonageforhome.com/
(732) 944-0000
https://support.vonage.com/ask
https://www.vonageforhome.com/personal/phone-plans/Use number to forward to smartphone, call block, voicemails audio and sent to email, call forwarding
1-VOIP
https://www.1-voip.com/
(888) 369-8647
80 East 5th St, Suite 200. Edmond, OK 73034
https://www.1-voip.com/residential-voip.phpCall forwarding, anonymous call reject, music on hold
AxVoice
https://www.axvoice.com/
sales@AXvoice.comhttps://www.axvoice.com/plans/residential-voip.htmlUse number to forward to smartphone, call block, voicemails audio and sent to email, call forwarding, call logs, do not disturb setting, call redirect when Internet is down
Ooma
https://www.ooma.com/home-phone-service
(877) 621-0515
sales@oomacare.com
https://www.ooma.com/home-phone-service/basic/
Free residential line (no monthly cost, just pay for device)
Free Ooma-to-Ooma calling, online call log, network/ firewall setup, bluetooth integration
Phone Power
https://www.phonepower.com/
(888) 607-6937
9221 Corbin Ave. Suite 155 Northridge, CA 91324
sales@phonepower.com
https://www.phonepower.com/usa_canada_calling_plans.aspxFree international minutes, international call block, call return, call redirect when Internet is down
Voipo
https://www.voipo.com/
(949) 829-4200
19 Spectrum Pointe Drive
Suite 602
Lake Forest, CA 92630
support@voipo.com
https://www.voipo.com/voip.phpUnlimited speed dial, voicemail notifications by text or email, distinctive ringtones
Setting Up Your VOIP Service
  1. Set up a new account on the website of your chosen VOIP provider.
  2. Test your Internet connection to make sure you have at least the minimum speed required by your provider.
  3. Buy a VOIP phone or a VOIP adaptor to use your old landline phone. You will also need an AC adaptor if you don’t have Power over Ethernet.
  4. Connect your phone to your Internet router with an ethernet cable.
  5. Test the phone to see if you can make and receive calls.
  6. Familiarize yourself with all of the features.

Wireless

Wireless, also called cellular or mobile, operates from towers in communities and connects mobile phones to service to call, text and access the Internet. In the U.S., 94% of adults own a mobile phone, with 81% owning a smartphone. A smartphone is a phone that allows users to access the Internet in addition to calling and texting.

Today, more and more people are opting to only have mobile phones and not have a landline. As of 2019, less than 40% of U.S. adults lived in a home with a landline phone, while the remaining 60% used a mobile phone as their main phone number.

There are different types of mobile phones. In the U.S., the most common are iPhones from Apple, with 46% market share and Samsung phones with 32% market share as of the end of March 2020. The remainder are other phone manufacturers including LG with 10%, Lenovo with 4% and miscellaneous others with 8% total.

As with other types of electronics, phone manufacturers periodically release new models with more advanced features as well as new software updates. Mobile phone service providers will sometimes do deals with manufacturers to offer new models exclusively for some time to get more customers.

The big four mobile phone service providers are Sprint, ATT, Verizon and T-Mobile. These mobile phone service providers are national companies, and phone service covers the U.S., although one company may have a stronger signal in a particular area because they have more nearby mobile towers. Geographic features such as mountains can also interfere with mobile signals. All of the major providers have brick and mortar stores where you can explore new phones and plans.

As of 2020, most mobile providers offer 4G, which is 4th generation technology on their network. Verizon, ATT and T-Mobile are just starting to provide 5G in some cities, which makes Internet usage much faster. T-Mobile’s 5G network is significantly slower than that of Verizon or ATT and is projected to take until around 2025 to catch up. 5G requires special phones.

Currently, Samsung has released a 5G phone, the Galaxy S20 Plus and Apple is expected to release its iPhone version in fall of 2020.

Setting Up Your Wireless Service
  1. Call your chosen provider or go on its website to set up an account.
  2. If you already have a mobile phone or other mobile device with data like a tablet or smart watch that you want to keep, switch the phone number to the new provider. Otherwise, ask the provider for a new phone number.
  3. Choose the features that you want on your plan, including data plan, international calling, device insurance and security. Make sure you know how much each feature will cost every month.
  4. If you want a new phone or mobile device to go with your new service, you can purchase it in the service provider’s retail stores, on the phone from the provider or from a third party retailer like Costco, Best Buy or Walmart.

    Ask your wireless provider about any current promotions. Oftentimes, wireless providers have promotions where they give new customers a device for free or at a discount when they commit to a service plan of a certain length. Some promotions also give new customers discounts on monthly service or additional lines.
Comparative Rates for One Line
T-MobileCompanyTotal data includedCost per monthFee per line (monthly)Total monthly costExcess data per GB
Verizon
https://www.verizon.com/
(800) 225-5499
12 GB$80$20$100$8.33
ATT
https://www.att.com/
(866) 654-1051
15 GB$100$15$115$7.67
T-Mobile
https://www.t-mobile.com/
(800) 866-2453
10 GB$80Included$80$8.00
Sprint
https://www.sprint.com/
(866) 275-1411
10 GB$100$15$115$11.50
Prepaid Phones

In addition to its monthly plans, the big wireless companies and a host of smaller companies including Cricket and Boost offer prepaid wireless plans. Money is deposited in an account with the company toward usage, and service is cut off when the money runs out and is not replenished.

Although these plans may be less expensive with low usage, higher usage incurs hefty per-minute charges that can be unexpected. Prepaid phones may be purchased from a major wireless provider or at retailers such as Walmart, Target, Amazon or Best Buy.

Solar and Renewable Energy

When deciding to generate renewable energy for your home, there are several factors to consider. Renewable energy is non-polluting, does not cause climate change and requires no fuel purchase, except possibly for biomass. Renewable energy that you generate is free, and may offset or even eliminate your electric utility cost.

However homeowners generally need to make a heavy upfront investment in the equipment needed to generate renewable energy, usually between $10,000 and $35,000. As a result, it may take years for them to recoup their investment in energy savings.

In many cases, renewable produced electricity can be more expensive than getting it directly from your electric company because of the initial costs of buying and installing the system.

Steps for Implementing Renewable Energy for Your Home

1.Research renewable contractors in your area.

To find solar contractors, go here and select your state: https://www.solarreviews.com/. Local wind and geothermal heat pump contractors can be found by doing an Internet search with your location.

2. Decide which contractor’s products, features, prices and reputation meet your needs.

3. Schedule an appointment for your top three contractors to come to your home.

The contractor will determine how suitable your home’s location is for renewable energy generation.

4. Get and compare quotes.

Be sure to ask about incentives and rebates from federal, state and local governments as well as your local utility company. Not all systems will qualify for rebates. Ask the contractor if the system you are considering does.

5. Decide if you want to pay for the system in full, get a loan or enter into a leasing program.

6. Have the system installed.

7. Contact your local utility company to connect your system to the grid with net metering, where available.

Integrating With the Grid

Homeowners who use renewable and gas energy usually connect to an electric company to supplement their energy needs and provide energy when renewable energy production lags (like during the night for solar energy or periods of lower water flow for hydropower). Where net metering and other types of compensation for excess energy are available, connecting to the grid lets you send power back to the utility company to lower your bill.

In order to connect your renewable power system to the grid, contact your utility company. You will need to buy additional equipment, meet certain output and safety requirements and sign a contract that includes metering and rates.

Incentives and Tax Credits

Because governments and utility companies want to encourage homeowners to generate renewable energy, they may offer incentives and tax credits to reduce the initial investment.

The federal government has a Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit that gives homeowners a federal tax credit for 26% of the cost of installing their renewable system (solar, wind and microhydropower) after the first year for projects installed in 2020 and 22% for projects installed in 2021. After 2021, there will be no more credits unless the law is extended by Congress.

Some states, as detailed below, offer additional incentives to homeowners to install renewable capability such as credits on state income tax or property tax. Some utility companies also offer rebates and other incentives for homeowners to reduce the cost of installing renewable energy generators. Rebates and tax credits can offset some but not all of these costs. Homeowners may choose to finance the costs of installing a PV system through a mortgage or home equity loan since it is a long- term investment.

Energy Storage and Excess Production

Net Metering

Homeowners might even generate excess power over and above their needs. Some electric utility companies have net metering programs. This is a special two-way meter so if your system generates excess power, the extra power goes into the electrical grid and you are credited for those kilowatt hours at the same rate as you normally pay for them.

In states where net metering is not required, utility companies may give you partial credit for excess energy that your system produces, compensate you in other ways or have no program to accept this energy. The details will be explained in a net metering agreement with the utility company.

Thirty-four states and four territories require utilities to provide net metering:

  • Alaska
  • American Samoa
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Guam
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Five states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and New York) had net metering in place but are transitioning to different types of compensation for homeowner-generated power.

  • Illinois – Utility companies are required to provide net metering until a load of their net-metering customers equals 5% of the total peak demand supplied by the utility company during the previous year.
  • Indiana – Net excess generated energy (NEG) during a billing period is credited to the customer’s next monthly bill in the form of a kilowatt-hour (kWh) credit at the retail rate. NEG credits roll over indefinitely. However, the retail rate for NEG is being phased out by July 1, 2022, or when individual utilities reach 1.5% peak summer load caps, whichever happens first. Customers who sign up for net metering by July 1, 2022, or whenever their utility reaches a 1.5% peak summer load cap, can continue net metering until July 1, 2032.
  • Kentucky – Starting January 2020, Kentucky has instituted limits on net metering. If the cumulative generation of net-metered systems reaches 1.0% of a utility’s single-hour peak load during the previous year, the state can limit the utility’s obligation to offer net metering. In addition, if utilities charge different prices for kilowatt-hours at varying times of day or year, that is the dollar rate applied to NEG generated at that time.
  • Michigan – Utilities can choose the rate that they compensate homeowners for renewable energy sent back to the grid.
  • New York – Net metering is available on a first-come, first-served basis until total NEG reaches 6% of total peak demand. Depending on the source of energy, compensation may be at retail rates or the utility’s avoided-cost rate.

Five states (Arizona, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi and Utah) offer compensation for excess energy generated but not through net metering.

  • Arizona – The state uses net billing, where customers are given credits on their bills for energy sent to the grid.
  • Hawaii – Two options are offered, net billing and Smart Export. In Smart Export, which is for solar energy systems with batteries, homeowners are required to use excess energy generated to charge their batteries and then use that energy in the evenings. Any energy left over during the night can be sent to the grid and compensated via net billing.
  • Louisiana – Utilities companies must accept net metering until a cap of 0.5% of its retail peak load is met. Homeowners receive compensation via net billing.
  • Mississippi – Excess energy sent to the grid is compensated at below retail rate.
  • Utah-Compensation programs for excess energy generation are available on a first-come,first-served basis up to a cumulative cap of 170 MW. Rates on compensated excess energy are fixed.

Idaho, Georgia and Texas have no net metering requirements, but utilities companies may elect to offer it to their customers.

Energy Storage

If your system is likely to produce excess energy above your needs, even if just in certain seasons or parts of the day, you may want to include batteries in your renewable energy system. Batteries are able to store excess energy for use later when your system produces less energy. If your utility does not offer net metering, battery storage can help you utilize that extra energy for your home.

Solar Energy

Homeowners opt for solar energy mostly to be eco- conscious, reduce use of fossil fuels and to reduce pollution. Solar power is renewable, silent and clean. It requires little expense once the system is installed and never runs out of fuel. If you plan on living in your home for a long time, having a solar system can save you money on energy.

Solar electrical systems are also called photovoltaic or PV systems. They are a reliable, renewable and a pollution-free source of energy. The efficiency of a solar energy system depends on how much direct sunlight is available, the amount of shade on or near the home and the orientation of the home.

Homeowners who want to use solar power need to have a PV system installed on their properties, usually on the home’s roof, but sometimes on a freestanding structure. A south-facing roof is optimal, but east- or west-facing roofs can work too. Once your PV system is installed and operational, energy generated by the sun can be used to provide all or some of the electric power you need for your home.

A PV system consists of multiple solar cells that are connected and sold as a PV module. A home will need at least one PV module, an inverter that converts the system’s DC electricity into AC electricity that your home can use and sometimes batteries can store energy in case of a power interruption.

PV systems produce energy intermittently, because they only work when the sun is shining. Since your home would remain connected to your electric company, you would receive energy from it when your solar energy system is not producing energy. Net metering and batteries can preserve excess energy produced during the day for use when it is dark or cloudy. Whether you have net metering or not, you will need to sign an interconnection agreement with your utility company which will outline all of the terms and rates.

Buying vs. Leasing

In some states, homeowners have another option if they want solar power: solar leasing and power purchase agreements (PPA). Check under your state below to see if these options are available.

With solar leasing and PPA, there are no upfront costs for installing the system, but you do not own the system. Since you do not own the system, you would not get the Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credit. You would pay a flat monthly fee which is less than your previous electric bill to use the system and you would get to use the energy generated. With PPA, it is more like dealing with an electric utility because you pay for each kilowatt that your system produces.

Both solar leases and PPA involve long-term contracts: for PPA, 20-25 years, and leasing, 10-25 years. If you sell your home before the contract is over and the new owner does not want to continue the service, you may have to pay a penalty to break the contract. Both leases and PPAs have price escalators, so your price will increase each year, between 3%-5%.

However, solar leasing enables net metering for those utility companies that support it, so they may end up being less expensive if your solar system produces a lot of excess power.

Solar leasing and PPA companies
CompanyContact InfoStates & Territories Served
Sunnova Energy
https://www.sunnova.com/
866-786-6682
20 Greenway Plaza #540, Houston, TX 77046
customerservice@sunnova.com
FL, SC, DE, MD, RI, CT, MA, NH, PA, NY, IL, TX, NM, CO, AZ, NV, CA, HI, Guam, Puerto Rico
SunPower Corporation
https://us.sunpower.com/
800-786-7693
https://us.sunpower.com/support/contact-page
AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, KS, MD, MA, MI, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OR, PA, SC, TX, UT
SunRun
https://www.sunrun.com/
855-478-6786
info@sunrun.com
AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, HI, IL, MA, MD, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT, WI, Puerto Rico
Vivint Solar
https://www.vivintsolar.com/
877-404-4129
help@vivintsolar.com
AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT, VI

If your home does not already have a solar system installed, you will need to find a solar contractor who will sell and install them. Different contractors use PV modules from various manufacturers. Some PV modules produce more electricity than others.

When comparing bids, make sure that each bid states the maximum generating capacity of the system in AC watts and an estimate of the annual amount of energy the system will produce in kilowatt-hours. Make sure that the bid you accept includes a warranty of at least two years, which is required by some solar rebate programs.

Your solar contractor should also have the experience to know how to pull the applicable permits to install a PV system in your area, which usually include a building permit, an electrical permit or both. Homeowners associations may also require prior approval. Reference your location below to find a list of solar contractors.

Wind Power

Live in a windy area? It is possible to use the power of the wind to create electricity for your home with residential wind turbines. The average height of a residential wind turbine is 80 feet and it needs to be at least 30 feet above trees and nearby structures, so they are most commonly found in rural areas. Many counties, cities and towns limit or prohibit wind turbines in zoning laws and other regulations, so check with your local government before taking further steps.

Wind turbines perform best where average wind speeds are at least 12 mph and there is an unobstructed access to the wind. Wind systems cost between $10,000 and $70,000 depending on height, size and installation costs, but average $30,000 to provide the energy needs for the average home. As with solar, small residential wind systems are eligible for the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit of 26% of installation costs for 2020 and 22% for 2021. Some states also give homeowners additional incentives to install wind systems.

Geothermal Power

Geothermal power taps into the constant temperature under the earth’s surface. Despite the name, geothermal heat pumps are used for both heating and cooling. Hot or cold air is channeled underground through water which is cooled (in summer) or heated (in winter) by the temperature underground.

This process is done with a device called a geothermal heat pump (GHP). Unlike solar and wind power, which have the ability to provide electricity to the whole home, GHPs replace conventional HVAC (air conditioning and heating) units. Some GHPs also have a desuperheater device, which can heat the home’s water. Units with a desuperheater provide free hot water during summer months and reduce the cost of heating water in the winter by half.

GHPs cost more than conventional HVAC systems, but are more efficient, using 25% to 50% electricity. On average, with incentives, homeowners recoup their investment within 2-10 years. GHPs are eligible for the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit of 26% for 2020 and 22% for 2021 as well as state and local incentives.

Shallow ground temperatures are relatively constant throughout the United States, so GHPs can be used in most states. The GHP contractor will evaluate the geological, hydrological, and spatial characteristics of your land to determine the best type of ground loop for your site. GHPs have few moving parts and are very reliable, lasting on average 20 years.

Microhydropower

If you have water flowing through your property, you may be able to install a small hydropower system to power your home. Typical microhydropower systems for individual homes generate up to 100 kilowatts which is more than enough electricity. A large home only requires 10 kilowatts.

Microhydropower systems include:

  • A waterwheel, turbine or pump to harness the water’s power
  • Water conveyance (pipeline or channel) to transport the water
  • Alternator or generator to transform the rotation into electricity
  • Regulator to control the generator
  • Wiring to transport the electricity
  • Inverter to transform the DC electricity into AC electricity that your home can use
  • Batteries to store excess power (optional)

Microhydropower systems can be stand-alone or connected to the grid. Contact your electric utility company to see if you can connect to the grid and if they offer net metering.

Falling water is optimal for these types of systems, so hilly or mountainous areas are better. You will need to know your local permit requirements and water rights. If you are not planning to sell electricity back to the grid and your system has minimal environmental impact, the permitting process will be easier.

Contact your county engineer to start this process. You will also need to get in touch with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Microhydropower systems cost between $1,000 and $20,000, depending on electricity requirements and location.

Biomass

Biomass energy is generated by burning organic material, mostly wood. In the US, 10% of households burn wood in fireplaces and wood burning stoves for heat. Less than 3% of households use wood as their primary heating fuel. Since burning only produces heat, biomass cannot be used for other home energy needs.

Utilities by State and Territory

Alabama

Electric companies

Alabama has a variety of choices for electric power including Alabama Power Co., the only provider that is regulated by the Alabama Public Service Commission, municipal power companies and cooperatives.

CompanyAreas serviced
Alabama Power Co.
https://www.alabamapower.com/
1-800-245-2244
PO Box 242
Birmingham, AL 35292
Southern 2/3 of the state. Input your address here: https://customerservice2.southerncompany.com/CustService/
StartService/FindAddress
Baldwin County Electric Membership Corporation
https://www.baldwinemc.com/
(800) 837-3374
19600 State Highway 59, Summerdale
AL 36580
Co-op – Membership required
Parts of Baldwin County and southern Monroe County, see map at https://www.baldwinemc.com/wp-content/uploads/UtilityServiceAreas.pdf
Cullman Electric Cooperative (also provides Internet and opportunity to sell power back to the grid through the Tennessee Valley Authority)
https://www.cullmanec.com/
800-242-1806
Cullman Electric Cooperative
P.O. Box 1168
Cullman, AL 35056-1168
Co-op – Membership required
Hanceville, Garden City, Holly Pond, Fairview, Colony, Vinemont, Good Hope, Addison, Arley, Baileyton, West Point, Dodge City
Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative
http://www.smec.coop/
(877) 843-2512
402 Main Street West
P.O. Box 277
Rainsville, AL 35986
Co-op – Membership required
Portions of DeKalb, Jackson, Marshall and Cherokee counties
Rainsville, Grove Oak, Fyffe
Valley Head, Mentone,Henagar, Collinsville, Dutton, Bryant
Southern Pine Electric Cooperative
https://billing.southernpine.org/oscp/ OnlineServices/tabid/108/Default.aspx 251-867-5415
2134 South Boulevard
Brewton, AL 36426
Co-op – Membership required
Portions of five southwest Alabama counties, including: Baldwin, Conecuh, Covington, Escambia and Monroe
Gas companies
CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
Trussville Gas and Water
https://www.trussville.com/
(800) 755-3211
127 Main Street
PO Box 819 Trussville,
AL 35173
Central Alabama including parts of Argo, Birmingham, Center Point, Clay, Irondale, Margaret, Pinson and Trussville
Spire, Inc.
https://www.spireenergy.com/ (also services Missouri and Mississippi)
800-292-4008
700 Market St.
St. Louis, MO 63101
Autauga, Baldwin County, Bibb, Calhoun, Chambers, Chilton, Choctaw, Cleburne, Dallas, Elmore, Etowah, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Mobile, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Russell, Shelby, St Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, and Winston
Southeast Gas
https://southeastgas.com/
800-660-8683
PO Box 1338 Andalusia, AL
Chambers, Montgomery, Bullock, Lee, Butler,
Crenshaw, Pike, Barbour, Covington, Coffee,
Dale, Henry, Houston
https://southeastgas.com/your-account/natural-gas-availability/
Water utility companies
CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
Sheffield Utilities (also electric and gas)
https://www.sheffieldutilities.org/
(256) 389-2000
300 N. Nashville Ave.
P. O. Box 580 Sheffield
AL 35660
City of Sheffield and surrounding Colbert County
Trussville Gas and Water
https://www.trussville.com/
(800) 755-3211
127 Main Street
PO Box 819 Trussville
AL 35173
Central Alabama including parts of Argo, Birmingham, Center Point, Clay, Irondale, Margaret, Pinson and Trussville.
Call 205-655-3211 to see if your address is within service area.
Landline phone companies (also provide TV, Internet and wireless service)
CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/
(844) 723-0252Entire state
Spectrum
https://www.spectrum.com/
855-707-7328https://www.spectrum.com/services/alabama
Solar and renewable energy

Although Alabama gets plenty of sun, just 0.26% of its energy comes from solar and the state is ranked 49th nationwide in solar energy production. The main reason for this is economics, since a poll showed that 75% of Alabamians support the expansion of solar and clean energy and Alabama gets plenty of direct sunlight.

The state government does not give homeowners a financial incentive to install solar panels and along with only two other states (Tennessee and South Dakota), Alabama does not require electric utilities to offer net metering. This lack of government programs in Alabama applies to all forms of renewable energy.

To find out how much energy you would generate and how much you might save on your electric bill, use the Tennessee Valley Authority’s solar calculator at https://edt.tva.gov/.

Connecting to the grid

Rather than passing solar energy savings on to consumers, Alabama Power, the largest electric company in the state, charges a capacity reservation charge, usually $5 per kilowatt each month, which offsets some or all customer savings. In addition, Alabama Power does not offer net metering. It does pay for excess energy sent back to the grid, but at below retail rates.

Participating Tennessee Valley Authority companies (including all of the co-ops listed above except for Southern Pine, which is not a TVA company) do offer net metering. To participate in the program and sell power to TVA, call (423) 751-8640 or email dpp@tva.gov to request a standard contract. The solar contractor must be a NABCEP qualified installer to qualify under this program.

See https://www.tva.com/energy/valley-renewable-energy/dispersed-power-production-program for more information on connecting solar panels to the grid through TVA.

In Alabama, a typical 12-kilowatt system costs, on average, $39,930. You can get a more accurate estimate for your property using the solar calculator at https://www.solar-estimate.org/solar-panel-cost/alabama or by contacting your local contractors.

Alaska

Electric, gas and water providers

Nearly all of Alaska’s electric utility providers are municipalities. If you live in a rural area outside of these cities, your best bet for electric power is TDX, which serves remote communities with mostly renewable power. In addition to electric power, the municipalities also provide gas, water, sewer and trash pickup and charge residents for all utilities in a single monthly bill.

CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
TDX Power
http://www.tdxpower.com/
(907) 762-8450
3601 C Street, Suite 1000-50
Anchorage, Alaska 99503
info@tdxpower.com
Sand Point, North Slope, Adak, Manley
Municipal Light & Power
http://www.mlandp.com/
(907) 263-5340
1120 East 1st Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
Anchorage
Wrangell Municipal Light & Power
https://www.wrangell.com/electrical
wmlp@gci.net
(907) 874-3602
1064 Case Ave Wrangell, AK
City of Wrangell (municipal)
Atmautluak Tribal Utilities(907) 553-5429
P.O. Box 6564
Atmautluak, AK 99559
Atmautluak
Landline phone companies
CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
TelAlaska (also provides Internet, cable TV and wireless)
https://www.telalaska.com/
(888) 570-1792
https://www.telalaska.com/contact-telalaska/
Cold Bay, Fort Yukon, Iliamna, King Cove, Port Lions, and Sand Point, Seward, Moose Pass, and Cooper Landing, Unalaska/Dutch Harbor and Galena, Nome, Brevig Mission, Koyuk, Shaktoolik, Shishmaref, St. Michael, Stebbins, Teller, Elim, Golovin, Little Diomede, Wales, and White Mountain
Alaska Power & Telephone (also electric and Internet)
https://www. aptalaska.com/ telephone/
(800) 235-5414Bettles, Craig, Eagle, Gustavus, Haines, Juneau, Ketchikan, Klawock, Metlakatla, Petersburg, Skagway, Tok, Wrangell
https://www.aptalaska.com/service-area-map/
Copper Valley Telecom (also wireless and Internet)
https://www.cvtc.org/
Co-op – membership required
(800) 235-5414Valdez, Cordova and Copper River Basin areas
Cordova Telecom Cooperative (also wireless, TV and Internet)
https://www.ctcak.net/
Co-op – membership required
(907) 424-2345
611 Second Street P.O. Box 459 Cordova, AK 99574
administrator@ctcak.net
Cordova and surrounding areas including Yakutat
Solar and renewable energy

Alaska’s high latitude means that solar energy output is low for three to four months in winter. However, output during spring and fall can produce excess energy because of clear skies and reflection from snow.

Alaska requires utilities to have net metering and there are several statewide initiatives to support solar and other renewables through Renewable Energy Alaska Project (REAP), Solarize Anchorage and Solarize Fairbanks, resulting in increased PV systems in Alaska. The Solarize initiatives group interested homeowners together to get a discounted rate on solar systems to make them more affordable.

Renewable energy is particularly useful in remote areas that do not connect easily to a grid, and is embraced by self-reliant Alaskans. The Native Village of Hughes recently installed a large solar system to meet its community’s goals of 50% renewable energy by 2025. The remote village of Igiugig installed two hydrokinetic systems in the Kvichak River which supply 90% of the community’s energy needs.

Alaska has plentiful wind, especially in the western and coastal areas. In southwest Alaska, winds may even be too strong in places, so placement is essential to protect the equipment from damage. Many community utilities use wind power, including Golden Valley Electric, Anchorage and Kodiak Electric.

Connecting to the grid

Alaska requires utilities to have net metering in place. Contact your local municipality to find out how to connect your system.

American Samoa

Electric companies
CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
American Samoa Power
https://www.aspower. com/
(684) 699-1234
P.O Box PPB
1st Road Airport Pago Pago, AS 96799
Entire territory
Gas companies

Information not available.

Water utility companies
CompanyContact InfoAreas serviced
American Samoa Power
https://www.aspower.com/
(684) 699-1234
P.O Box PPB
1st Road Airport Pago Pago, AS 96799
Entire territory
Landline phone companies
CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
American Samoa Telecommunications
Authority
https://www.astca.net/
(684)-699-3000Entire territory
Solar and renewable energy

In the past, diesel fuel had to be shipped to the remote islands of American Samoa to run their generators, but now the territory is on track to source 100% of its energy from renewable sources, mostly solar. Therefore, there are no incentives for homeowners to install PV systems.

Connecting to the grid

American Samoa has net metering with credits rolling forward into the next bill but unused credits revert to the utility company at the end of the year.

Arizona

Electric companies

Arizona’s main electric company is Arizona Public Service Company (APS), but there are also a number of other options, mostly co-ops. APS is focused on providing energy from renewable sources, with the goal of being 100% renewable by 2050.

CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
Arizona Public Service Company
https://www.aps.com/en/residential/home
(800) 253-9405
MS 3200
PO Box 53933
Phoenix, AZ 85072-3933
Central Arizona including all of Yavapai County, most of Maricopa County, south Coconino County and parts of Navajo, Pinal, La Paz and Yuma Counties
Tuscon Electric Power
https://www.tep.com/
(520) 623-7711
PO Box 711
Tucson AZ 85702-0711
Tucson and surrounding areas
Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Co-op (also Internet and phone)
https://www.ssvec.org/
Co-op – membership required
(520) 384-2221
350 North Haskell Ave Willcox, Arizona 85643
Parts of Cochise, Graham, Pima and Santa Cruz Counties and includes the communities of Sierra Vista, Huachuca City, Patagonia, Elfrida, Benson, St. David, Bowie, San Simon, Willcox, Sonoita and Pearce-Sunsites
Navopache Electric Co-op
https://www.navopache.org/
Co-op – membership required
(928) 368-5118Lakeside,Pinetop McNary, Hawley Lake, Sunrise, Whiteriver, Ft. Apache, Carrizo, Cedar Creek, Cibecue, Forestdale, St Johns, Concho, Vernon, Hunt, Greer, Nutrioso, Alpine, Springerville, Eagar, Blue, Summer Pines, Fairway Park, Linden, Pinedale, Clay Springs & Certificated Areas of Show Low, Overgaard, Heber, Reserve, Luna, Apache Creek, Aragon, Horse Springs, Glenwood
Garkane Energy Cooperative
https://www.garkaneenergy.com/
Co-op – membership required
(800) 747-5403Big Water, Centennial Park, Cane Beds but also into Utah
Salt River Project (also water)
https://www.srpnet.com/
(602) 236-8888
P.O. Box 52025
Phoenix, AZ 85072-2025
Central Arizona, in and around Phoenix
Gas companies

Natural gas is plentiful in Arizona because it is extracted nearby from the San Juan Basin in New Mexico and the Permian Basin in Texas and transported via interstate pipeline to Arizona.

CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
Alliant Gas
http://www.alliantgas.com/
2000 E Frontage Road
Page, AZ 86040
(928) 645-2391
page@alliantgas.com
Payson, Pine, Star Valley, Strawberry, Christopher Creek, Jake’s Corner, Oxbow Estates, Poderosa Glen, Freedom Acres, Page, Amangiri, Greenehaven, Page, Also Texas
Graham County Electric Cooperative (also water and electric)
https://gce.coop/
Co-op – membership required
(928) 485-2451
9 W Center St. Pima, AZ 85543
Most of Graham County
UniSource Energy (also gas)
https://www.uesaz.com/
(877) 837-4968
P.O. Box 80079
Prescott, AZ 86304-8079

Mohave and Santa Cruz Counties
Water utility companies

The majority of water utilities are provided by municipalities. If your city or town is not listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
Salt River Project (also electric)
https://www.srpnet.com/
(602) 236-8888
P.O. Box 52025
Phoenix, AZ 85072-2025
Central Arizona, in and around Phoenix
Arizona Water Company
https://www.azwater.com/
(602) 240-6860
3805 N. Black Canyon Hwy
Phoenix, AZ 85015-5351
Central and southern Arizona including Sedona area, White Tank, Ajo, Sierra Vista, Coolidge, Oracle, Stanfield, San Miguel, Lakeside and Overgaard
Tuscon Water Department
https://www.tucsonaz.gov/water
(800) 598-9449Tuscon
Native American Carefree Water(480) 595-5506
11 E Sundial Cir, Carefree, AZ 85377
Carefree
Epcor Water
https://www.epcor.com/pages/contact-
us-arizona.aspx
(800) 383-0834
15626 N Del Webb Blvd. Sun City, AZ 85351-1602
Agua Fria District, Anthem District, Chaparral District, Havasu District, North Mohave District, Mohave District, Paradise Valley District, Rio Verde District, Sun City District, Sun City West District, Tubac District, Willow Valley
Landline phone companies.
CompanyAreas serviced
CenturyLink
https://www.centurylink.com/local/az/phoenix/home-phone-service.html
(800) 244-1111
Mostly Phoenix and Tuscon
ATT
https://www.att.com/
(800) 288-2020
List of areas serviced not available, need to search by zip
code
Cox
https://www.cox.com/
1 (800) 234-3993
Most of the state
Solar and renewable energy

Arizona is one of the sunniest states, so it is ideal for solar. For example, Phoenix has 299 sunny days per year on average. However, the state is eliminating homeowner incentives like a credit up to $1,000 on state income taxes by the end of 2020 and has already eliminated a sales tax exemption up to $5,000.

Arizona requires utilities to generate at least 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. Arizona does have the Energy Equipment Property Tax Exemption, which says that the value of solar equipment will not add to the assessed value of the property for tax purposes.

The following utilities companies have solar rebate programs:

  • APS – Renewable Energy Incentive Program
  • SRP – EarthWise Solar Energy Incentive Program
  • Sulphur Springs Valley EC – SunWatts Rebate Program
  • TEP – Renewable Energy Credit Purchase Program
  • TRICO Electric Cooperative – SunWatts Incentive Program
  • UES – Renewable Energy Credit Purchase Program

While Arizona has plenty of sun, it is lacking in wind, which makes it unsuitable for wind power generation in most parts of the state. Even in the windier areas, it is only fair for energy production. Since Arizona is mostly desert, most homeowners do not have access to flowing waterways for microhydropower generation.

Connecting to the grid

While it does require net metering, the state has imposed a cap on net metering that makes it less compelling to switch from conventional, fossil fuel generated energy. Homeowners can utilize up to 125% of energy generated from their renewable sources, but no more. In addition, the excess energy must be used within a year or it disappears.

Excess energy is sold back to the grid at a lower cost (10.45 cents per kilowatt hour) than energy bought from the grid (12.12 cents per kilowatt hour). As a result, it is recommended to use batteries with your solar system in Arizona.

Local municipalities, Arizona Public Service (APS), Salt River Project (SRP), and other governing associations have permitted, inspected, approved, and endorsed geothermal systems, making it easy for homeowners to install and use them.

Arkansas

Electric companies

Arkansas has the 7th lowest electricity prices in the nation.

CompanyArease serviced
Entergy Arkansas
https://www.entergy-arkansas.com/
(800) 368-3749
Arkansas, Ashley, Baxter, Boone, Bradley, Calhoun, Carroll, Chicot, Clark, Clay, Cleburne, Cleveland, Columbia Conway, Craighead
Crittenden, Cross, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Faulkner, Fulton, Garland, Grant, Greene, Hot Spring, Independence, Izard Jackson, Jefferson
Lafayette, Lawrence,Lee, Lincoln, Logan, Lonoke, Marion, Miller, Mississippi, Monroe, Montgomery, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Phillips, Pike, Poinsett, Pope, Prairie, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline,
Scott, Searcy, Sharp, St. Francis, Stone, Union, Van Buren, White, Woodruff, Yell
Gas companies
CompanyContact info
Areas serviced

Residential rates
Centerpoint Energy
https://www. centerpointenergy.com/en-us/residential/ services/natural- gas/?wt.ac=explore_services&sa=ar
800-992-7552
P.O. Box 4583 Houston, Texas 77210- 4583Entire state$10.75 base/month First 15 Ccf at $0.45335 per Ccf
Over 15 Ccf at $0.36576 per Ccf
https://www. centerpointenergy.com/en-us/Documents/ RatesandTariffs/Arkansas/ Rate-Schedule-No-1- Residential-Firm-Sales-
Service%20RS-1.pdf
Water utility companies
CompanyContact infoArea serviced
Central Arkansas Water
http://www.carkw.com/
(501) 372-5161
221 East Capitol Ave.
P.O. Box 1789
Little Rock, AR 72203
Central Arkansas including Pulaski County, north and south of Arkansas River
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Arkansas Telephone Company
https://www.artelco.com/
P.O. Box 69
128 Church Street Clinton, Arkansas 72031
(501) 745-2114
Clinton, Fairfield Bay, Shirley, Scotland and surrounding communities
ATT
https://www.att.com/
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
South Arkansas Telephone
https://www.sat-co.net/
(866) 798-2201
403 West Main Street Hampton, AR 71744
Banks, Louann, Hampton, Hermitage
Solar and renewable energy

Arkansas, like many southern states, gets plenty of sun, so it has the potential to produce lots of solar energy. Unfortunately, though, it ranks 31st in the nation in solar production. In June 2020, the Arkansas legislature ruled to keep net metering in place until at least 2023 with no additional fees for systems of 1 MW or less, which includes all single family installations. Municipal utilities are allowed to limit the generating capacity of a net-metering facility to less than 25 kilowatts for residential customers.

Arkansas has no solar rebates from utility companies, solar tax credits from the state government or property tax or sales tax credits from local governments. This means that if you decide to install a solar system on your house, the only thing you have to offset the cost is the federal Renewable Tax Credit. For those who want solar but do not want to pay upfront, solar leasing is available in the state.

Arkansas has no Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to generate a percentage of their power from renewable sources including buying it from customers. However, as of April 2020, Entergy was approved to go forward with a 100 MW solar generation and storage project.

Arkansas has mild wind in most parts of the state, but there is more wind in the northwest corner near Fayetteville and the northeast near Blytheville, so those areas are best for wind generated power. Currently, almost no power in Arkansas is wind generated. Microhydropower is also exceedingly uncommon in Arkansas, although utility companies generate 6.4% of their energy from large scale hydropower installations.

Connecting to the grid

Arkansas requires net metering through 2023. To sign up for net metering, go here: https://www.entergy-arkansas.com/net_metering/.

California

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (municipal)
https://www.ladwp.com/
1 (800) 342-5397
PO Box 51111
Los Angeles, CA 90051-0100
Los Angeles
PG&E
https://www.pge.com/
877-660-6789
P.O. Box 997300 Sacramento, CA 95899-7300
Northern and Central California
Southern California Edison
https://www.sce.com/
(800) 655-4555
P.O. Box 800 Rosemead, CA 91770
Southern and Central California
Gas companies
CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
PG&E
https://www.pge.com/
(877) 660-6789
P.O. Box 997300
Sacramento, CA 95899-7300
Most of Central and Northern California
SoCal Gas
https://www.socalgas.com/
(877) 238-0092
P.O. Box 1626
Monterey Park, CA 91754-8626
Southern California
Water utility companies

The majority of water utilities are provided by municipalities. If your city or town is not listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyArea serviced
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (municipal)
https://www.ladwp.com/
1 (800) 342-5397
PO Box 51111
Los Angeles, CA 90051-0100
Los Angeles
California Water Service
https://www.calwater.com/
(408) 367-8200
1720 North First Street San Jose, CA 95112
Antelope Valley, East Los Angeles, Rancho Dominguez, Westlake, (Los Angeles County); Bakersfield, Kern River Valley (Kern County); Bayshore, Bear Gulch (San Mateo County); Chico, Oroville (Butte County); Dixon (Solano County); King City, Salinas (Monterey County); Livermore (Alameda County); Los Altos (Santa Clara County); Marysville (Yuba County); Redwood Valley (Sonoma and Lake Counties); Selma (Fresno County); Visalia (Tulare County); Stockton (San Joaquin); Willows (Glenn County)
Golden State Water Company
https://www.gswater.com/
800-999-4033
630 E. Foothill Blvd. San Dimas, CA 91773
Apple Valley, Arden Cordova, Arden Manor, Arcadia, Artesia, Athens, Barstow, Bay Point, Bell, Bell Gardens, Buena Park, Calipatria, Carson, Central Basin East, Central Basin West, Cerritos, Charter Oak, Claremont, Clearlake, Compton, Covina, Cowan Heights, Cudahy, Culver City, Cypress, Cypress Ridge, Del Aire, Downey, Edna Road, El Camino Village, El Monte, El Segundo, Garden Grove, Gardena, Gardena Heights, Glendora, Gold River, Hawaiian Gardens, Hawthorne, Hollydale, Huntington Park, Inglewood, Irwindale, La Mirada, La Palma, La Verne, Lake Marie, Lakewood, Lawndale, Lemon Heights, Lennox, Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Los Osos, Lucerne Valley, Monrovia, Monteclair, Monterey Park, Morongo Valley, Niland, Nopomo, Norwalk, Orange, Orcutt, Paramount, Placenta, Pomona, Rancho Cordova, Redondo Beach, Rosemead, Rossmoor, Sacramento, San Dimas, San Gabriel, Santa Ana, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Maria, Seal Beach, Simi Valley, Sisquoc, Stanton, South Gate, Southwest, Tanglewood, Temple City, Torrance, Upland, Walnut, Whittier, Willowbrook, Wrightwood, Yorba Linda
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/
800.288.2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

California is the best state for solar energy. It is sunny, has a temperate climate in its most populated areas and plentiful financing options. Electricity rates from utilities are high in California, so solar-generated energy produces significant savings. For every dollar invested in solar in California, the average homeowner gets $4.67 in return as energy savings as well as the federal tax credit.

Unfortunately, the state and the major utility companies no longer offer solar rebates except to low-income homeowners under the SASH program (click here: https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/General.aspx?id=3043). California has no state solar tax credits or sales tax exemption, but it does offer property tax exemption until the end of 2024 for the entire value of the solar system.

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power offers a Solar Rooftops program where it will install, connect and maintain a solar panel system, and either issue the customer an annual check of up to $600, or a monthly bill credit with a 20 year agreement. To apply, visit http://www.ladwp.com/solar.

California has been increasing its proportion of wind-generated energy rapidly since 2000 and it accounts for 7.35% of all energy produced in the state. Southern California, particularly in the east, has good wind speed. Most wind turbines are in Altamont, East San Diego County, Pacheco, Solano, San Gorgonio, and Tehachapi.

Connecting to the grid

California has net metering, although it has limited it in recent years with Net Metering 2.0. Net metering 2.0 adds a fee to hook up to the grid of $75-$145 and all customers are required to use Time-of-Use billing. This means that the credit amount you get for each kwh of solar generated energy fluctuates based on the time of day and season.

Higher rates per kwh are charged for use above an established baseline amount, but since solar reduces energy consumption, homeowners with solar could end up paying the lower price for the most part.

Colorado

Electric and gas companies

In addition to the two investor-owned electric utilities below, Colorado has 29 municipal utilities and 22 rural cooperative utilities.

CompanyAreas serviced
Xcel Energy (also gas)
https://www.xcelenergy.com/
(970) 878-4031
44284 CO-13
Meeker, CO 81641
Most of the state except for southeast and southwest corners
https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe-responsive/ Energy%20Portfolio/Colorado-Communities-Served- Information-Sheet.pdf
Black Hills Energy (also gas)
https://www.blackhillsenergy.com/
(888) 890-5554
P.O. Box 6006
Rapid City, SD 57709
Southeast of Central Colorado
Water utility companies

The majority of water utilities are provided by municipalities. If your city or town is not listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Denver Water Department
https://www.denverwater.org/
303-893-2444
1600 W. 12th Ave. Denver,
CO 80204-3412
Denver and surrounding suburbs
Colorado Springs Utilities
https://www.csu.org/Pages/default.aspx
Colorado Springs and surrounding areas
Golden Water Department
(303) 384-8153
1445 10th Street Golden,
CO 80401
City of Golden
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Xfinity
(888) 474-1137
Central Colorado
Solar and renewable energy

Colorado has mandated that 100% of energy in the state come from renewable sources by 2050 and has required full retail net metering. In fact, if you produce more energy than you consume on a yearly basis, the utility company can send you a check for the excess amount.

Xcel Energy offers a Solar Rewards Program as an alternative to net metering which incentivizes homeowners to use solar. See here for more information: https://www.xcelenergy.com/programs_and_rebates/residential_programs_and_rebates/renewable_energy_options_residential/solar/available_solar_options/on_your_home_or_in_your_yard/solar_rewards_for_residences

Local incentives

Colorado has no state solar tax credits, but because the state requires utility companies to switch to renewable energy sources, some utilities offer solar rebates. Solar system installations are exempt from property tax, so they will not increase your home’s assessed value for tax purposes.

Utility companyRebate amountNotes
Colorado Springs Utility$0.25/wattSubject to equipment warranty requirements.
City of Boulder$500Must be installed by a NABCEP-certified installer
Roaring Fork Valley$0.75/wattUp to $2,250
San Miguel Power$0.50/wattMaximum incentive of $1,500

The typical residential 5 kwh PV system in Colorado costs $17,500. Because Colorado has the country’s 25th highest electric prices, solar and other renewable energy sources can save you considerable money over time.The average sized PV system will pay for itself in 9 years.

From the center of Colorado eastward, the weather is great for wind energy generation. Wind currently is responsible for generating 19.44% of Colorado’s energy.

Connecting to the grid

Colorado has some of the best net metering laws in the nation, requiring net metering without fees or caps.

Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands

Electric and water companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Commonwealth Utilities Corporation
http://www.cucgov.org/
(670) 664-4282
P. O. Box 501220 Saipan, MP 96950
Entire territory Saipan, Tinian, and Rota
Gas companies

Information not available.

Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
IT&E
https://store.ite.net/
(670) 682-4483
Entire territory
Solar and renewable energy

There are no solar incentives in the Mariana Islands. There is no enforced renewable energy portfolio standard.

Connecting to the grid

Although technically, net metering was repealed, another law came in afterwards that mandated that net metering had to be available to homeowners.

Connecticut

Electric companies

Connecticut has deregulated utilities, so consumers can choose from different providers in their area. Some municipalities also have utilities, see https://portal.ct.gov/PURA/Consumer-Services/Electric-Distribution-Companies. Below are the two major electric utilities.

CompanyAreas serviced
Eversource Energy
https://www.eversource.com/content/ct-c
800-286-2000 107 Selden Street Berlin, CT 06037
Entire state
United Illuminating
https://www.uinet.com
(800) 722-5584
100 Marsh Hill Rd, Orange, CT 06477
Greater New Haven and Bridgeport areas
Gas companies
CompanyArea serviced
Connecticut Natural Gas
https://www.cngcorp.com/
(866) 924.5325
P.O. Box 847820
Boston, MA 02284-7820
North Central Connecticut and Greenwich
Southern Connecticut Gas Company
https://www.soconngas.com/
(800) 513.8898
P.O. Box 847819
Boston, MA 02284-7819
Central Southern Border
Eversource
(800) 989-0900
(800) 286-2000
107 Selden Street
Berlin CT 06037
N/A
Water utility companies

The majority of water utilities are provided by municipalities. If your city or town is not listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Aquarion Water Company
https://www.aquarionwater.com/
800-732-9678
200 Monroe Turnpike
Monroe, CT 06468
Beacon Falls, Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cornwall, Danbury, Darien, East Derby, East Granby, East Hampton, Easton, Fairfield, Goshen, Granby, Greenwich, Groton, Kent, Lebanon, Litchfield, Mansfield, Marlborough, Middlebury, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Norfolk, North Canaan, Norwalk, Norwich, Oxford, Redding, Ridgefield, Salisbury, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Simsbury, Southbury, Stamford, Stonington, Stratford, Suffield, Torrington, Trumbull, Washington, Weston, Westport, Wilton, Wolcott, Woodbury
Connecticut Water
https://www.ctwater.com/
1 (800) 286-5700
Central and Eastern Connecticut
https://www.ctwater.com/media/1181/service-towns-2013pdf.pdf
Avon Water Company
https://www.avonwater.com/
(860) 678-0001
14 W Main St, Avon, CT 06001
East Windsor, Farmington, Middleton, Naugatuck, Plainfield
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Cox
https://coxcablespecial.com/
855-992-1069
Central and Central Northern Connecticut
FrontierEntire state
Solar and renewable energy

Connecticut has mandated that utilities companies produce at least 40% of their energy from renewable sources by 2030. Electric rates in Connecticut are high, so solar and other renewable energy can save homeowners a significant amount over time. The average sized PV system purchased outright will pay for itself in 8 years.

The state offers a generous rebate on PV systems of $460 back per kW which comes out to about $104 per panel, or $2,083 for a typical 5 kwh, 20 panel system.The state also offers incentives to homeowners who lease a solar system with PPA, of $0.30/kilowatt hour for systems up to 20 kwh. In order to get your rebate, make sure you have your solar installation certified.

There are no state solar credits in Connecticut, but there is a sales tax and property tax exemption. In addition, the state has a low-income solar program where it cooperates with a third party solar installer to install PPA systems.

Connecticut also offers rebates of $500-$1500 for geothermal heat pumps. Register here: https://www.energizect.com/your-home/solutions-list/geothermal-heat-pump-rebates.

Connecticut is not a particularly windy state, but the highest winds are along the southern central border from New Haven to New London. Wind currently is responsible for generating 0.03% of Connecticut’s energy.

Connecting to the grid

Connecticut recently extended its net metering through 2021. Homeowners who install a PV system in 2020 or 2021 will be grandfathered in for 20 years.

Delaware

CompanyAreas serviced
Delmarva Power
https://www.delmarva.com/Pages/default.aspx
(800) 375-7117
P.O. Box 17006
Wilmington, DE 19850-7006
All of New Castle County (except City of Newark, City of New Castle, and Town of Middletown)
KENT COUNTY
Camden, Frederica, Kenton, Cheswold, Harrington, Magnolia, Farmington, Hartly, Viola, Felton, Houston, Woodside, Wyoming
SUSSEX COUNTY
Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island, Milton, Bethel, Frankford, Nassau, Bridgeville, Georgetown, Ocean View, Cannon, Greenwood, Rehoboth Beach, Clarksville, Harbeson, Selbyville, Dagsboro, Laurel, Delmar, Millsboro
Chesapeake Utilities
https://chpk.com/
(302) 734-6799
909 Silver Lake Boulevard Dover, Delaware 19904
Entire state
Delaware Electric Cooperative (DEC)
https://www.delaware.coop/
(855) 332-9090
14198 Sussex Highway Greenwood, DE 19950
Most of Central and Southern Delaware
https://www.delaware.coop/sites/default/files/2019-06/DEC%20Map.pdf
Gas companies
CompanyContact infoAreas serviced
Delmarva Power
https://www.delmarva.com/Pages/default.aspx
(800) 375-7117
P.O. Box 17006
Wilmington, DE 19850-7006
North Delaware
Chesapeake Utilities
https://chpkgas.com/
1 (800) 427-2883
500 Energy Lane, Dover, DE 19901
Parts of New Castle, Kent and Sussex Counties https://chpkgas.com/about-us/find-your-
service/
Water utility companies

The majority of water utilities are provided by municipalities. If your city or town is not listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Artesian Water Company
http://www.artesianwater.com/
800-332-5114
664 Churchmans Road Newark, Delaware 19702
Entire state
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Fios by Verizon
https://www.verizon.com
(888) 492-9413
Wilmington
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/delaware
(844) 723-0252
Input address here: https://www.att.com/buy/bundles?product_suite=NIPTV
Solar and renewable energy

Delaware is friendly to renewable energy. The state is mandating that at least 25% of its energy come from renewable sources by May 2026. Of this, 3.5% of power must come from solar. Utilities also compensate homeowners $32 for each SRECs (1 mw of solar electricity generated), which totals, on average, $500 over the 25-year life of the solar panels. In addition, the state offers low interest loans up to $30,000 to buy solar systems. Apply here https://greengrantdelaware.com/energize-delaware/.

The average Delaware home needs 11,000 kWh per year and electric prices are the 16th highest in the nation. To produce that much electricity, you would need thirty 325-watt solar panels, with a total system size of 9.8 kW at a cost of about $27,000. This kind of system, if purchased, will pay for itself in 11 years. PPA is available in Delaware and will save, on average, $20 per month on electricity.

Delaware has full net metering without fees and paying retail rates. If you have an energy surplus at the end of the year, you can request that the utility company send you a check. Otherwise, it will roll into your next bill. Delaware does not offer solar tax credits or property tax exemptions. Since Delaware does not have a sales tax, there is no sales tax on PV systems.

Local incentives

Delaware Electric Cooperative (DEC) offers solar grants up to $2,500. Apply here https://www.delaware.coop/sites/ default/files/2018%20Photovoltaic%20Application%20Class%20A.pdf in January. Delmarva also has a Green Energy grant up to $3,000. Apply here https://greengrantdelaware.com/green-energy-delmarva/.

Delaware is not a windy state, but the highest winds are along a narrow strip through the center of the state, especially east of Dover. Wind currently is responsible for generating 0.11% of Delaware’s energy.

Connecting to the grid

Net metering is required throughout Delaware.

District of Columbia

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Pepco
https://www.pepco.com/
(202) 833-7500
PO Box 97274
Washington, DC 20090-7274
Most of DC including Washington, most of Montgomery County and most of Prince George’s County.
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Washington Gas
https://www.washingtongas.com/
(844) 927-4427
6801 Industrial Road Springfield, VA 22151
All of DC
Water utility companies
CompanyAreas serviced
DC Water
https://www.dcwater.com/
202-787-2000
1385 Canal Street, SE Washington, DC 20003
All of DC
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/washington-dc
(844) 723-0252 Washington, DC 20003
All of DC

Florida

Electric companies

Tampa is the only Florida city to have municipal electric utility service, but there are numerous rural electric cooperatives throughout central and north Florida.

CompanyAreas serviced
Florida Power & Light
http://www.fpl.com
(850) 521-3900
134 West Jefferson Street Tallahassee FL 32301-1713 USA
All of South Florida and the East Coast including the Northeast corner of the state
Duke Energy
https://www.duke-energy.com/home
(855) 637-6513
Central Florida, eastern half of the Panhandle
Gulf Power
https://www.gulfpower.com/
(800) 225-5797
1 Energy Pl, Pensacola, FL 32520
West Panhandle
Gas companies
CompaniyAreas serviced
Florida City Gas
https://www.floridacitygas.com/
(800) 993-7546
4045 NW 97th Ave, Doral, FL 33178
Dade County, central and western Palm Beach County, north Hendry County, south Glades County, St. Lucie County, Indian River County and Brevard County
People’s Gas System
https://www.peoplesgas.com/
(877) 832-6747
5101 NW 21st Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
Central West coast: Lee to Pasco Counties
Central Eastern:
Orange, Volusia, Marion Counties
Northeast:
Clay, Duval, Nassau Counties
Panhandle: Wakulla, Liberty and Bay Counties
Water utility companies

The majority of water utilities are provided by counties in Florida. If your county is not listed below, contact your local county government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Florida Power & Light
http://www.fpl.com
(850) 521-3900
134 West Jefferson Street Tallahassee FL 32301-1713 USA
All of South Florida and the East Coast including the northeast corner of the state
Duke Energy
https://www.duke-energy.com/home
(855) 637-6513
Central Florida, Eastern half of the Panhandle
Palm Beach County Water Utilities
http://discover.pbcgov.org/waterutilities/pages/default.aspx
(561) 740-4600
301 N. Olive Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Palm Beach County
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Fios by Verizon
https://www.verizon.com
(888) 492-9413
Input address here https://www.verizon.com/inhome/buildproducts
ATT Input address here
https://www.att.com/local/florida
(844) 723-0252
Input address here: https://www.att.com/buy/bundles?product_suite=NIPTV
Solar and renewable energy

Florida is called the sunshine state, so it has the potential to produce solar energy. However, it does have intermittent cloud cover which means that if you do have a solar system, you should use batteries to store excess energy. Although electric rates are low compared to other states, consumption is high, mostly because air conditioning is used nearly year round.

The average 10.1-kW system costs about $28,785 to install in Florida. There are no state solar rebates in Florida. Florida’s utility companies have fought against state mandates on solar and renewable energy generation.

Florida has no state income tax, so no solar tax credits, but it does offer a property tax exemption as well as a sales tax exemption.

The only parts of Florida that are windy are along the central and southern east coast (which is not suitable for wind power because it is not rural) and the area just south of Lake Okeechobee. Currently wind power accounts for zero percent of Florida’s energy output.

Local incentives

The only local solar incentive is the city of Longwood, which offers up to 10% of installation costs as a rebate, but with a cap of $500. You can only get this if the PV system meets city criteria. See here for details https://

The only local solar incentive is the city of Longwood, which offers up to 10% of installation costs as a rebate, but with a cap of $500. You can only get this if the PV system meets city criteria. See here for details https://www.longwoodfl.org/172/Raising-Energy-Efficiency-Program-REEP#:~:text=The%20Raising%20Energy%20Efficiency%20 Program,at%20their%20home%20or%20business.

Florida utility companies no longer offer solar incentives.

Connecting to the grid

Net metering is required throughout Florida.

Georgia

Electric companies

Numerous Georgia cities including Savannah have municipal electric utility service, and there are many electric cooperatives throughout the entire state of Georgia.

CompanyAreas serviced
Georgia Power Company
https://www.georgiapower.com/
(888) 660-5890
96 Annex
Atlanta, Georgia 30396
155 of Georgia’s 159 counties
Gas companies

Numerous Georgia cities including Savannah have municipal electric utility service, and there are many electric cooperatives throughout the entire state of Georgia.

CompanyAreas serviced
Georgia Power Company
https://www.georgiapower.com/
(888) 660-5890
96 Annex
Atlanta, Georgia 30396
155 of Georgia’s 159 counties
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Fuel Georgia
https://www.fuelgeorgia.com/
(833) 903-FUEL
923 S. Mulberry Street
Jackson, GA 30233
https://www.fuelgeorgia.com/check-service
Georgia Natural Gas
https://gng.com/
(770) 850-6200
1 (877) 850.6200
Acworth, Avondale Estates, Alpharetta, Athens, Atlanta, Ball Ground, Barnesville, Bogart, Bowdon, Bremen, Braselton, Buford, Brookhaven, Calhoun, Canton, Carrollton, Chatsworth, Clarkston, Conyers, Conley, Cornelia, Covington, Cumming, Dahlonega, Dallas, Dawsonville, Decatur, Douglasville, Duluth, Ellenwood, Ellijay, Fairburn, Fayetteville, Flowery Branch, Forest Park, Forsyth, Grayson, Gainesville, Griffin, Hampton, Hiram, Hoschton, Jasper, Jefferson, Jackson, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Kennesaw, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Lithonia, Locust Grove, Loganville, Mableton, Ringgold, Marietta, Morrow, Newnan, Oakwood, Mcdonough, Norcross, Palmetto, Peachtree City, Peachtree Corners
Water utility companies

The majority of water utilities are provided by municipalities and counties in Georgia. If your town or county is not listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
City of Atlanta Water Department
https://www.atlantawatershed.org/
(404) 546-0311
72 Marietta Street NE Atlanta, GA
Atlanta and surrounding areas
Columbus Water Works
http://www.cwwga.org/plaintext/home/home.aspx
(706) 649-3400
P.O. Box 1600
Columbus, Georgia 31902-1600
City of Columbus and surrounding areas
Augusta Utilities
https://www.augustaga.gov/2771/Utilities
(706) 312-4154
452 Walker Street Augusta, GA 30901
Augusta and surrounding areas
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreeas serviced
Windstream Communications
https://www.windstream.com/
(800) 347-1991
South central Georgia, southwest corner and northeast
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/georgia
(844) 723-0252
Input address here
https://www.att.com/buy/bundles?product_suite=NIPTV
Solar and renewable energy

Georgia passed a rule allowing the next 5,000 Georgia Power customers with solar systems to get net metering, after which GP can revert to instantaneous net metering. This means that if your PV system generates excess energy in the day, you cannot use that to offset your nighttime energy needs. So, if you have a solar system in Georgia, batteries are recommended.

Georgia has a steady supply of sun throughout the year, so a solar system there can produce a significant amount of energy. This is a good thing, since a lot of energy is required in Georgia for air conditioning. The average Georgia home needs 14,000 kwh per year. But because of the poor net metering rules, for the average homeowner it makes financial sense to limit your system to an 11.1-kW system, with thirty-four 325-watt panels, costing about $33,300.

Georgia’s electricity prices are around the national average. Solar loans are not recommended in Georgia, since you will end up paying more on your loan than your energy savings. Georgia does not have PPA or solar leases available.

Georgia has no renewable portfolio standard, where they mandate utilities to generate a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources, so utilities have no incentive to pass along to customers. There is no solar tax credit, property tax exemption or sales tax exemption in Georgia.

Georgia does not have any areas with high enough winds to make wind energy generation possible. Currently wind power accounts for zero percent of Georgia’s energy output.

Local incentives

Georgia does not have a state solar rebate program, but some local utilities do.

Utility NameRebate AmountRebate Cap
Central Georgia EMC
https://www.cgemc.com/residential-rebates
$450/kW$4,500
GreyStone Power
https://www.greystonepower.com/
$450/kW$4,500
Jackson EMC
https://www.jacksonemc.com/solar-power-home
$450/kW$4,500
Connecting to the grid

Net metering is required throughout Georgia, but there are no laws that prevent utilities from adding fees or caps. They can also get away with paying less than retail rates for excess energy.

Guam

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Guam Power Authority
https://www.guampowerauthority.com/
(671) 648-3000
Gloria B. Nelson Public Service Building 688 Route 15
Fadian, Mangilao, Guam
Entire territory
Gas companies

No information available.

Water utility companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Guam Power Authority
https://www.guampowerauthority.com/
(671) 648-3000
Gloria B. Nelson Public Service Building 688 Route 15
Fadian, Mangilao, Guam
Entire territory
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
IT&E
https://store.ite.net/
(671) 922-4483
Entire territory
Solar and renewable energy

Guam offers a 30% tax credit for solar installations. To apply, get a form from Guam’s Division of Revenue & Taxation.

Connecting to the grid

Guam has net metering. The utility company will send their engineer to approve the interconnection to the grid.

Hawaii

Electric companies

Because Hawaii is a series of islands spaced apart, there are two electric utilities companies.

CompanyAreas serviced
Hawaii Electric
https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/
Oahu (808) 548-7311
Maui (808) 871-9777
Molokai and Lanai (877) 871-8461
Hilo (808) 969-6999
Kona (808) 329-3584
Waimea (808) 885-4605
Islands of Hawaii, Maui and Oahu
Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative
https://website.kiuc.coop/
(800) 246-4300
4463 Pahee St #1, Lihue, HI 96766
Island of Kaua’i
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Hawaii Gas
https://www.hawaiigas.com/
O‘AH (808) 526-0066
HILO (808) 935-0021
LANA‘I (808) 877-6557
KAUA‘I (808) 245-3301
MAUI (808) 877-6557
MOLOKA‘I (808) 877-6557
KONA (808) 329-2984
Entire state
Water utility companies

The majority of water utilities are provided by municipalities and counties in Hawaii. If your town or county is not listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
County of Hawai’i Department of Water Supply
https://www.hawaiidws.org/
(808) 961-8050
345 Kekūanaō’a Street, Suite 20
Hilo, HI
Island of Hawaii
Hawaii Water Service
https://www.hawaiiwaterservice.com/
Ka’anapali, Kailua-Kona, Keauhou, Kukio, Lahaina, Makawao, Maui, Pukalani, Waikoloa
Board of Water Supply
https://www.boardofwatersupply.com/
(808) 748-5030
630 South Beretania Street
Honolulu, HI 96843
Central Oahu, East Honolulu,Ewa, Koolau Loa, Koolau Poko, North Shore, Waianae, Honolulu
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Hawaiian Telecom
http://www.hawaiiantel.com/Residential/Homephone/Overview/tabid/160/Default.aspx
(877) 482-2211 1177 Bishop Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

Electricity prices in Hawaii are the second highest in the U.S., making renewable energy a good bet. Average energy use is only 6,000 kwh per year, so you would need a system that generates 5.4 kwh or more, which start around $16,000. Hawaii has a goal to be 100% renewable by 2040, which gives utilities a great incentive to help you out with costs.

The state has the best solar tax credit in the country, letting you deduct 35% of the cost of your system come tax time, on top of the federal tax credit. While Hawaii does not have a statewide property tax exemption or sales tax exemption for solar, the city and county of Honolulu give residents a 100% property tax exemption.

Hawaii does have some high winds that can generate wind energy, particularly on the island of Molokai and the northern part of the island of Hawaii.

Connecting to the grid

Hawaii has no net metering, but homeowners can choose between Customer Self Supply, where you use all of your own solar generated energy and Customer Grid supply, where excess energy is paid for at less than retail rates. Under the program, your home still gets to use the solar energy your system generates, up to as much as it needs while the sun is shining.

But the excess electricity made by your panels goes back to the grid. You would still be compensated for that energy, but at a significantly reduced rate, so batteries are recommended to take full advantage of the energy your system generates for either program. Interconnection with the grid is easy in Hawaii.

Idaho

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Idaho Power
https://www.idahopower.com/
In the Treasure Valley (208) 388-2323
Outside the Treasure Valley (800)488-6151
1221 West Idaho St.
Boise, ID 83702
South and southwest part of Idaho including Boise
Rocky Mountain Power
https://www.rockymountainpower.net/
(888) 221-7070
Northeast corner: Arco, Rigby, Rexburg, Shelley
Southeast corner: Lava Hot Springs, Montpellier, Malad City
Avista Utilities
https://www.myavista.com/
(800) 227-9187
1411 E. Mission Ave.
Spokane, WA 99252-0001
North Idaho
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Avista Utilities
https://www.myavista.com/
(800) 227-9187
1411 E. Mission Ave.
Spokane, WA 99252-0001
South and southwest part of Idaho including Boise
Intermountain Gas Company
https://www.intgas.com/
(800) 548-3679
555 S. Cole Road
Boise, ID 83709
South Idaho
Water utility companies

The majority of water utilities are provided by municipalities and counties in Idaho. If your town or county is not listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Suez Water
https://www.mysuezwater.com/idaho/standard-home
(208) 362-7304
8248 West Victory Road
Boise, Idaho 83709
Boise, Kuna, Meridian, Eagle, Garden City
Nampa Water
https://cityofnampa.us/140/Utility-Billing
(208) 468-5711 401 3rd St
South Nampa, ID 83651
City of Nampa
Idaho Falls Water Department
https://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/
(208) 612-8471
308 Constitution Way Idaho Falls, ID 83402
Idaho Falls
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/idaho
800.288.2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

Idaho electricity prices are among the country’s lowest, so renewable energy will not produce the same amount of savings as in high cost states. A typical 5 kwh solar system in Idaho will run you about $21,250.

The state has no renewable portfolio standard mandating a percentage of energy to come from renewable sources. There are no state solar rebates, but residents can benefit from a solar tax credit of $370/year for 4 years. There is no property or sales tax exemption.

Southern Idaho is the best place in the state for wind generation. Idaho gets 16.1% of its energy from the wind.

Connecting to the grid

Although Idaho does not require net metering, all of the state’s major investor-owned utilities offer it and pay full retail price for excess energy. Under Avista’s program, credits expire after one year, but the other providers let them roll over.

Illinois

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Ameren Illinois
https://www.ameren.com/illinois/
(800) 755-5000
300 Liberty Peoria, IL 61602
Most of the state, except the North
Commonwealth Edison
https://www.comed.com/Pages/default.aspx
(800) 334-7661
P.O. Box 805379
Chicago, IL 60680-5379
North Illinois
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Ameren Illinois
https://www.ameren.com/illinois/
(800) 755-5000
300 Liberty Peoria, IL 61602
Most of the state, except the North
Nicor Gas
https://www.nicorgas.com/
(888) 642-6748
North, central east and southwest parts of the state
Water utility companies

The majority of water utilities are provided by municipalities and counties in Illinois. If your town or county is not listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
City of Chicago Water Department
https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/water.html
(312) 744-4420
1000 East Ohio Street
Chicago, IL 60611
City of Chicago and surrounding areas
Aurora Water Department
https://www.aurora-il.org/
(630) 256-3600
44 E Downer Place Aurora, IL 60505
City of Aurora
Naperville Water Department
https://www.naperville.il.us/government/city-finances/utility-services-and-billing/
(630) 420-6059
400 S. Eagle St.
Naperville, IL 60540
City of Naperville
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/illinois
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

The average Illinois family needs a little over 10,000 kWh to power its home, which would require 23 325-watt solar panels, which should cost around $15,000 after the Illinois Adjustable Block Program and before federal tax credit. The Illinois Adjustable Block Program also called Illinois Shines, provides homeowners with payments in exchange for 15 years of Renewable Energy Credits (“RECs”) generated by new PV systems.

You can participate in this program whether you own or lease your PV system. You must use an approved vendor and submit an application. See https://illinoisshines.com/about/. This program has been instituted to get the state to its goal of having 25% of its energy come from renewable sources by 2025.

While the state no longer offers a solar rebate, Chicago (https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/progs/env/solar_in_chicago.html) and Springfield (https://www.cwlp.com/ConservationHome/ConservationInformation/MySolar.aspx) do. Illinois does not have a solar tax credit or sales tax exemption, but it does offer a partial property tax credit where it will be assessed at the same value as a conventional energy system.

Illinois is home to very strong winds, especially in the central eastern part of the state. About 7.6% of Illinois’ energy is from wind.

Connecting to the grid

Illinois has net metering, but any excess credits expire at the end of the year. Residential PV systems from certified companies qualify for simplified grid connection procedures. You will not be required to buy liability insurance.

Indiana

CompanyAreas serviced
Duke Energy
https://www.duke-energy.com/home
(866) 236-3749
1000 E Main Street Mail Drop WP 890
Plainfield, IN 46168
South and Central Indiana
Indiana-Michigan Power
https://www.indianamichiganpower.com/default.aspx
(800) 311-4634
Northeast Indiana
Northern Indiana Public Service (NIPSCO)
https://www.nipsco.com/
(800) 464-7726
North Central and northwest Indiana
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Northern Indiana Public Service (NIPSCO)
https://www.nipsco.com/
(800) 464-7726
North Indiana
Vectren
https://www.vectren.com/
(800) 227-1376
Central and southwest Indiana
Water utility companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Indiana American Water
https://amwater.com/inaw/
(800) 492-8373
153 N. Emerson Avenue
Greenwood, IN 46143
Entire state
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/indiana
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Renewable energy

Indiana has plenty of wind, with the strongest winds occurring in the central west part of the state south of Lafayette. So wind energy is an option in the state.

Iowa

Electric and gas companies

In addition to the two major investor-owned companies below, Iowa has numerous rural cooperative utilities and several municipal utilities.

CompanyAreas serviced
MidAmerican Energy Company
https://www.midamericanenergy.com/home
(888) 427-5632
P.O. Box 657
Des Moines, IA 50306-0657
Dallas, Polk, Madison, Warren, Marion, Mahaska counties
Franklin, Butler, Floyd, Blackhawk counties
Johnson, Linn, Muscatine, Scott counties
https://www.midamericanenergy.com/media/pdf/mec-detailedservicearea-towns.pdf
Alliant Energy
https://www.alliantenergy.com/
(800) 255-4268
P.O. Box 3060
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-3060
Eastern and central Iowa, not including Des Moines
Water utility companies
Iowa American Water
https://amwater.com/iaaw/
(866) 641.2108
(563) 242-0923
2020 Manufacturing Dr.
Clinton, IA 52732
Entire state
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Centurylink
https://www.centurylink.com/
(866) 642-0444
Entire state
Iowa Telecom
https://www.windstream.com/home-phone#/
(866) 926-0315
Not posted, need to call or use customer service chat to determine if your area is serviced.
Solar and renewable energy

The average residential PV system in Iowa is 5 kwh and costs around $21,250. Iowa offers an 18% tax credit in addition to the federal tax credit, so the average homeowner can pay for their PV system in 13 years. There is no PPA for solar in Iowa. Iowa’s electricity prices are very low, so renewable energy will not produce as much savings as in other states.

Connecting to the grid

Iowa has net metering rules, but they only apply to the investor-owned utilities, not municipal or cooperatives. Companies can send homeowners a check at the end of the year for excess energy, or can opt to roll the credit over into subsequent bills.

Wind produces almost 42% of Iowa’s energy. Most of the state, particularly the west and central regions have high winds.

Kansas

Electric companies

In addition to the major investor-owned company below, western Kansas is powered by numerous rural cooperative utilities and several municipal utilities.

CompanyAreas serviced
Evergy/Westar
https://www.evergy.com/
(800) 383-1183
P.O. Box 419353
Kansas City, MO 64141-6353
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Kansas Gas Service
https://www.kansasgasservice.com/
(800) 794-4780
7421 W. 129th Street Overland Park, KS 66213
Eastern Kansas
Water utility companies

Most water comes from municipalities in Kansas except for a cluster of towns serviced by WaterOne. If your city or town is not listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
WaterOne
https://www.waterone.org/
(913) 895-1800 10747 Renner Blvd.
Lenexa, KS 66219
De Soto (partial), Fairway, Lake Quivira
Leawood, Lenexa, Merriam, Mission, Mission Hills, Mission Woods, Olathe (partial), Overland Park, Prairie Village, Roeland Park, Shawnee, Spring Hill (partial), Westwood, Westwood Hills
Wichita Water Department
https://www.wichita.gov/PWU/Pages/CustomerService.aspx
(316) 265-1300
455 N. Main St., 8th Floor
Wichita, KS 67202
Wichita and surrounding areas
Kansas City Water Department
https://www.kcwater.us/
(816) 513.1313
4800 E 63rd Street
Kansas City, MO 64130
Kansas City and surrounding areas
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/kansas
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
SKT
https://www.sktc.net/phone/ (888) 758.8976
112 S. Lee
PO Box 800
Clearwater, KS 67026
Clearwater, Rosalia, Beaumont, Burden, Grenola, Longton, Maple City, Dexter, Moline, Howard, Severy, Belle Plaine, Mulvane, Leon
Solar and renewable energy

The typical residential solar system in Kansas will cost around $21,250 and will pay for itself in 15 years. Kansas repealed its renewable portfolio standard, so utilities have no incentive to encourage homeowners to generate renewable energy.

Electricity prices in Kansas are at the national average. Kansas has no solar rebates or tax credit or sales tax exemption, but it does have a property tax exemption.

All of Kansas is windy, and around 42% of its energy is generated by the wind.

Connecting to the grid

Although Kansas technically has net metering, utilities companies can get away with paying a much lower than retail rate to homeowners for excess energy. Westar Evergy also charges homeowners a demand charge of $3 per kW of demand during the winter and $9 in the summer for an average additional cost of around $300 per year to the average solar homeowner. Municipals and coops are not required to provide net metering.

Kentucky

Electric companies

Kentucky is a patchwork of electric utility providers including four investor-owned utilities, 16 members of East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc., three members of Big Rivers Electric Corporation, five TVA regulated utilities and a number of municipal utilities. Of them, the investor-owned company with the biggest service area is Kentucky Power Company. Refer to this map to find your electric utility company: https://psc.ky.gov/agencies/psc/images/Electric_Service_Areas_Wall_Map.pdf.

CompanyAreas serviced
Kentucky Power Company
https://www.kentuckypower.com/
(800) 572-1113
PO Box 371496
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7496
Eastern Kentucky
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Louisville Gas & Electric/Kentucky Utilities
https://lge-ku.com/
(800) 981-0600
(800) 331-7370
Eastern Kentucky
Duke Energy Kentucky
https://www.duke-energy.com/home/natural-gas
(800) 634.4300
1262 Cox Ave
Erlanger, KY 41018
Northernmost tip of the state (Boone, Kenton, Campbell)
Water utility companies

Most water comes from municipalities in Kentucky except for a cluster of towns serviced by Kentucky American Water. If your city or town is not listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Kentucky American Water
https://amwater.com/kyaw/
(800) 678-6301
9246 Main Street
Livingston, KY 40445
Eastern Rockcastle, Ford Hampton, Lexington, Millersburg, Owenton
Louisville Water
https://louisvillewater.com/
(888) 535-6262
550 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Louisville and surrounding areas
Lexington-Fayette Water Department
https://www.lexingtonky.gov/lexserv
(888) 987-8111
218 E. Main St.
Lexington, KY
Lexington, Fayette and surrounding areas
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/kentucky
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

Kentucky has no renewable portfolio standard and has recently gutted net metering rules, so it is not very welcoming to solar. Electricity prices are low at an average of eleven cents per kwh, mostly from burning coal (72.7% of total energy generated) which impacts potential savings. Kentucky has no solar tax credit, rebate, sales tax exemption or property tax exemption.

Kentucky has some moderate wind in the southwest, west of Paducan and to the west of both Owensboro and Bowling Green.

Louisiana

Electric companies

Louisiana is serviced by three major investor-owned electric companies as well as numerous cooperatives. Entergy has two divisions in Louisiana, ELL and EGSL.

CompanyAreas serviced
Entergy Louisiana (ELL)/Entergy Gulf States Louisiana (EGSL)
https://www.entergy-louisiana.com/
(800) 368-3749
PO Box 8108
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
70891-8108
ELL – Southeast Louisiana and northeast corner EGSL – Southwest corner and central east
Clenco
https://www.cleco.com/
(318) 484-7400
2030 Donahue Ferry Road
P.O. Box 5000
Pineville, LA 71361-5000
Central Louisiana
Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO)
https://www.swepco.com/default.aspx
(888) 216-3523
PO Box 371496
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7496
Northwest Louisiana
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Atmos Energy
https://www.atmosenergy.com/ pipeline-projects/louisiana/ louisiana#:~:text=Atmos%20Energy%20delivers%20natural%20gas,north%20shore%20 of%20Lake%20Pontchartrain
(888) 286-6700
PO Box 740353
Cincinnati, OH 45274-0353
Most of the state including the cities of Lafayette, Monroe and communities outside New Orleans, including Metairie and the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain
Water utility companies

In the southern part of the state, Louisiana Water offers services. Other than that, most water in Louisiana is by parish. Contact your local parish to inquire about water service.

CompanyAreas serviced
Louisiana Water
https://www.louisianawater.com/
(800) 375-3792
Crowley, DeQuincy, Eunice, Lecompte, Mansura, New Iberia & Loreauville areas
Baton Rouge Water Company
https://www.brwater.com/
(225) 925-2011
Post Office Box 96016
Baton Rouge, LA 70896-9016
Baton Rouge metro area
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/louisiana
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

A typical residential PV system will cost around $20,000 in Louisiana, paying for itself in 20 years. There are no PPAs or leases on solar in the state. Louisiana has the cheapest electricity in the country at 9 cents per kwh. There is no renewable portfolio standard, solar rebate, tax credit or sales tax exemption but there is a property tax exemption.

Most of Louisiana has mild wind except for along the coastline, which is not suitable for residential wind generation.

Connecting to the grid

There is no net metering in Louisiana. This, combined with the lack of rules and support from the state government, combine to make solar in Louisiana an investment that will not pay off for homeowners.

Maine

Electric companies

Maine is serviced by two major investor-owned electric companies as well as numerous cooperatives, particularly in the northwest part of the state. Of the electric companies in Maine, CMP is by far the biggest in number of customers.

CompanyAreas serviced
Central Maine Power
https://www.cmpco.com/
(800) 750-4000
83 Edison Drive
Augusta, ME 04336
South and southwest parts of Maine
Versant Power (formerly Emera Maine)
https://www.emeramaine.com/
855-363-7211
PO Box 11008
Lewiston ME 04243-9459
Central Maine and north coastal areas plus northeast part of the state
Gas companies

There are three major natural gas suppliers in Maine.

CompanyAreas serviced
Northern Utilities/Unitil
https://unitil.com/
(888) 301-7700
376 Riverside Industrial Parkway
Portland, ME 04103
South-central Maine area, primarily in greater Portland/ South Portland/Westbrook, greater Lewiston/Auburn, Biddeford/Saco and Kittery
Maine Natural Gas
https://www.mainenaturalgas.com/
(877) 867-1642
P.O. Box 99
Brunswick, ME 04011
Windham, Gorham, Brunswick, Freeport, Bath and Topsham areas
Bangor Natural Gas
http://www.bangorgas.com/
(207) 941-9595
498 Maine Avenue Bangor, Maine 04401
Greater Bangor area, including Orono, Old Town, Brewer and Bucksport
Water utility companies

Maine’s water is delivered by municipality. If your city or town is not listed below, find your water utility here: https://www.maine.gov/mpuc/water/water_links.shtml.

CompanyArea serviced
Portland Water District
https://www.pwd.org/
(207) 761-8310
225 Douglass Street
PO Box 3553
Portland, ME 04104-3553
City of Portland and surrounding area
Lewiston Water & Sewer
http://www.lewistonmaine.gov/195/Water- Sewer-Division
(207) 513-3003
103 Adams Ave.
Lewiston, ME 04240
City of Lewiston and surrounding area
Bangor Water District
https://www.bangorwater.org/
(207) 947-4516
PO Box 1129
Bangor, ME 04402-1129
City of Bangor and surrounding area
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Fairpoint/Consolidated Communications
https://www.consolidated.com/
(844) 968-7224
City of Bangor and surrounding area
Pioneer Telephone
https://www.pioneertelephone.com/
(800) 808-9000
500 Washington Ave #300
Portland, ME 04103
Northeast part of the state
Solar and renewable energy

A typical Maine solar system is 5 kw, costs approximately $18,750 and pays for itself in 13 years. Maine has committed to going completely renewable by 2050 and electricity prices are higher than the national average. The state has no solar rebates, tax credits, sales tax exemption or property tax exemption.

Maine has high winds offshore, but on land, it is not very windy except there are some moderate winds along the coast.

Connecting to the grid

Maine has reinstated net metering at full retail price for excess energy. However, credits expire at the end of the year. Interconnecting is easy, and has a cost of $50.

Maryland

Electric companies

Maryland has three major investor-owned electric companies as well as municipal systems and a large cooperative, South Maryland Electric Cooperative.

CompanyAreas serviced
Potomac Edison
https://www.firstenergycorp.com/potomac_edison.html
(800) 686-0011
Western Maryland
Delmarva Power & Light
https://www.delmarva.com/Pages/default.aspx
(800) 735-2258
P.O. Box 17006
Wilmington, DE 19850-7006
Eastern Maryland
Baltimore Gas & Electric
https://www.bge.com/Pages/default.aspx
(800) 685-0123
P.O. Box 1475
Baltimore, MD 21203
North central Maryland
Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative
https://www.smeco.coop/
(888) 440-3311
P.O. Box 1937
Hughesville, MD 20637-1937
Southcentral Maryland
Gas companies

There are three major natural gas suppliers in Maryland.

CompanyAreas serviced
Baltimore Gas & Electric
https://www.bge.com/Pages/default.aspx
(800) 685-0123
P.O. Box 1475
Baltimore, MD 21203
Central Maryland, including Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel Counties, most of Howard, Carroll and Harford Counties, and parts of Prince George’s, Montgomery and Calvert Counties
WGL
http://www.washingtongas.com
(844) 927-4427
6801 Industrial Road
Springfield, VA 22151
Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, as well
as Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties
Columbia Gas
https://www.columbiagaspa.com/
(888) 460-4332
P.O. Box 2318
Columbus, OH 43216-2318
Western Maryland counties of Washington, Allegany and Garrett Counties
Water utility companies

Maryland’s water is delivered by municipality and private companies. If your city or town is not listed below, find your water utility here: http://www.opc.maryland.gov/Consumer-Corner/Water-Sewer/Water-Companies.

CompanyAreas serviced
Artesian Water
http://www.artesianwater.com/
(443) 245-7777
Cecil and Worcester Counties
Baltimore City Bureau of Water and Wastewater
https://publicworks.baltimorecity.gov/
(410) 396-3500
200 Holliday Street, Suite 600
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
City of Baltimore and surrounding areas
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission
https://www.wsscwater.com/home.html
(301) 206-4001
14501 Sweitzer Ln
Laurel, MD 20707
Montgomery County and Prince George’s County surrounding DC
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Verizon
https://www.verizon.com/home/phone/
(800) 922-0204
Entire state except for northeast
Armstrong
https://armstrongonewire.com/Telephone/Index
(844) 423-5049
Northeastern Maryland
Solar and renewable energy

A typical Maryland 9.8 kwh PV system costs around $27,910 and will pay for itself in just 10 years. Maryland has a renewable portfolio standard of 50% renewable energy by 2030 with 14.5% from solar by 2025 so utilities companies have a strong incentive to help homeowners go solar.

Electricity in Maryland is just above the country’s average price per kwh. Maryland offers a solar rebate of $1,000 on systems up to 20 kw and a solar tax credit of $0.0085/kwh, but only for very large systems (28 kw plus). The state also has a sales tax and property tax exemption for solar systems.

Maryland has some moderate wind, but mostly along the coast and southwest corner. Only 1.45% of the state’s energy comes from wind.

Connecting to the grid

Maryland has net metering, requiring utilities companies to pay full retail price for excess energy. At the end of year, you will get a check for any excess energy your system has generated above your own needs.

Massachusetts

Electric companies

After consolidation, Massachusetts now has two major investor-owned electric companies as well as municipal systems. See coverage map https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2017/01/qh/electricity2015.pdf.

CompanyAreas serviced
Eversource/Nstar/WMECo
https://www.eversource.com/content/ema-c
(800) 592-2000
P.O. Box 56007
Boston, MA 02205-6007
Southeast coastal regions, central near coast and most of western Massachusetts
National Grid/Massachusetts Electric
https://www.nationalgridus.com/MA-Home/Default?regionkey=masselec&customer-type=home
(800) 322-3223
P.O. Box 960
Northborough, MA 01532-0960
Central Massachusetts, northern corner
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Eversource/Nstar/WMECo
https://www.eversource.com/content/ema-c
(800) 592-2000
P.O. Box 56007
Boston, MA 02205-6007
Central part of the state and in the following eastern counties: Plymouth, Carver, Rochester, Maron, Matapoisett, Fairhaven, Acushnet, New Bedford, Freetown, Dartmouth and Kingston
National Grid/Massachusetts Electric
https://www.nationalgridus.com/MA-Home/Default?regionkey=masselec&customertype=home
(800) 322-3223
P.O. Box 960
Northborough, MA 01532-0960
Northeast and south central counties of West Brookfield, Warren, Brookfield, North Brookfield, East Brookfield, Spencer, Southbridge, Dudley, Oxford and Webster
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Columbia Gas
https://www.columbiagasma.com/
(800) 688-6160
P.O. Box 2025 Springfield, MA 01102
Southcentral counties of Northampton, Easthampton, Southwick, Agawam, West Springfield, Chicopee, Springfield, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Granby, Ludlow, Wilbraham, Hampden, Monsoon, Palmer
Northern counties of Methuen, Lawrence Berkshire Gas
https://www.berkshiregas.com/
(800) 292.5012
Berkshire Gas Company
P.O. Box 1388
Pittsfield, MA 01202
Northcentral counties of Greenfield, Montague, Deerfield, Whately, Sunderland, Hatfield, Hadley, Amherst

Western counties of Florida, Clarksburg, North Adams, Williamstown, Adams, Cheshire, Dalton, Lanesborough, Pittsfield, Lenox, Lee, Stockbridge, Great Barrington
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/massachusetts
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Verizon
https://www.verizon.com/home/phone/
(800) 922.0204
Boston, Manchester, New Bedford
Solar and renewable energy

Massachusetts is one of the top states in the country for solar energy. A typical Massachusetts 6.2 kw system costs around $21,080 and will pay for itself in 6 years. The state has a SMART Solar program which pays homeowners for each kwh generated, whether it is used or sold back to the grid. A 602 kw system will generate about $800 a year for 10 years.

Massachusetts has committed to getting 50% of its energy from renewables by 2050. With very high electricity prices and the SMART program, homeowners can get a huge benefit from solar in Massachusetts.

While the state no longer has a solar rebate program, some small municipal utilities offer one.

Utility NameAmountNotes
Chicopee Electric Light$.50/watt, up to $2,500Must meet additional requirements
Concord Municipal Light Plant
http://www.concordma.gov/863/Renewable-Energy-Efficiency%20
$.625/watt, up to $3,125Must meet warranty requirements
Hudson Light & Power
http://www.hudsonlight.com/ Customer_Service/conservation.html
$1 or $1.25/watt, up to $6,000Rebate amount subject to panel orientation. Orientation between 220° and 300° (west, basically) qualify for $1.25/W. Must meet UL standards and warranty requirements
Ipswich Municipal Light Department
https://munihelps.org/
$.80/watt, up to $4,250Additional incentive for USA-built components, subject to other requirements.
Reading Municipal Light Department
https://www.rmld.com/
$1.00/watt, up to $2,000Additional incentive available for locally- manufactured equipment
Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant
http://www.tmlp.com/page.php?content=clean_energy_home
$1.50/watt, up to $4,500Subject to residency requirements and other factors.

Massachusetts has a solar tax credit of 15% up to $1,000, a property tax exemption and a sales tax exemption.

Northwestern Massachusetts has high wind speeds which would be suitable for wind turbines.

Connecting to the grid

Massachusetts has net metering in place, and credits will roll indefinitely.

Michigan

Electric companies

Most of lower Michigan is serviced by Consumers Energy while residents of the upper peninsula use Upper Peninsula Power Company or Upper Michigan Energy Resources Group. Cooperatives are also an option throughout Michigan. See coverage map https://www.michigan.gov/mpsc/0,9535,7-395-93308_93325_93423_93500_94218- 504617–,00.html.

CompanyAreas serviced
Consumers Energy
https://www.consumersenergy.com/
(800) 477-5050
P.O. Box 740309
Cincinnati, OH 45274-0309
Majority of lower Michigan
DTE
https://newlook.dteenergy.com/wps/wcm/connect/dte-web/home
(800) 477-4747
P.O. Box 740786
Cincinnati, OH 45274-0786
Southeast Michigan
Upper Peninsula Power Company
https://www.uppco.com/
(800) 562-7680
PO Box 60055
Prescott AZ 86304-6055
Central and northwest part of Upper Peninsula
Upper Michigan Energy Resources
http://www.uppermichiganenergy.com/
(800) 242-9137
Southcentral and western part of Upper Peninsula
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Consumers Energy
https://www.consumersenergy.com/
800-477-5050
P.O. Box 740309
Cincinnati, OH 45274-0309
Central lower Michigan
DTE
https://newlook.dteenergy.com/wps/wcm/connect/dte-web/home
(800) 477-4747
P.O. Box 740786
Cincinnati, OH 45274-0786
Northern lower Michigan and central and eastern parts of
Upper Peninsula
Water utility companies

Water utilities in Michigan are delivered through municipalities. If you do not see your city or town below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Detroit Water & Sewage Department
https://detroitmi.gov/departments/water-and- sewerage-department
(313) 267-8000
Water Board Building
735 Randolph Street
Detroit, MI 48226
City of Detroit
Grand Rapids Water System
https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Government/Departments/Water-System
(616) 456-3000
300 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI
City of Grand Rapids
Warren Water and Sewer System
https://www.cityofwarren.org/departments/ water-and-sewer-system/
(586) 759-9200
One City Square
Warren, MI
City of Warren
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/michigan/michigan-center
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Centurylink
https://www.centurylink.com/home/phone/
(800) 201-4099
Most of the state
Solar and renewable energy

A typical Michigan PV system of 5 kw costs about $20,000 and pays for itself in 15 years because of high electricity prices. Michigan has a modest 15% renewable goal by 2021. There are no state solar rebates, tax credit or sales tax exceptions, but there is a property tax exemption.

Connecting to the grid

Michigan has no net metering, but instead utilities companies can charge the much lower than retail “avoided cost” rate for excess energy. Connecting to the grid does not require liability insurance and fees are capped at $75.

Minnesota

Electric companies

Minnesota has five investor-owned utilities companies, of which two are major, as well as 47 cooperatives and 125 municipal utilities. The two major investor-owned utilities are shown below. Xcel Energy has more than 8 times the number of residential customers as Minnesota Power.

CompanyAreas serviced
Xcel Energy
https://www.xcelenergy.com/
(800) 895-4999
P.O. Box 9477
Minneapolis, MN 55484-9477
South Minnesota, northwest Minnesota
https://www.xcelenergy.com/energy_portfolio/communities_served
Minnesota Power
https://www.mnpower.com/
(800) 228-4966
30 W Superior Street
Duluth, MN 55802-2093
Northeast Minnesota
https://www.mnpower.com/Company/CoverageMap
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Xcel Energy
https://www.xcelenergy.com/
(800) 895-4999
P.O. Box 9477
Minneapolis, MN 55484-9477
Most of the state
https://www.xcelenergy.com/energy_portfolio/communities_served
Centerpoint Energy
https://www.centerpointenergy.com/en-us/residential?sa=mn
(800) 245-2377
505 Nicollet Mall
P.O. Box 59038
Minneapolis, MN 55459-0038
South central Minnesota, in and around Minneapolis
https://www.centerpointenergy.com/en-us/corporate/ about-us/company-overview/where-we-serve/minnesota
Water utility companies

Water utility service is fractured in Minnesota, with over 1,000 public water utilities including cooperatives and municipalities. If you do not see your city or town below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Minneapolis Water Department
http://www2.minneapolismn.gov/publicworks/water/index.htm
(612) 673-1114
350 S. 5th St. Room 203
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Minneapolis and surrounding areas
St. Paul Regional Water Services
https://www.stpaul.gov/departments/water-services
(651) 266-6350
1900 Rice St.
Saint Paul, MN 55113
City of St. Paul and surrounding area
Rochester Public Utilities
https://www.rpu.org/
(800) 778.3421
4000 E River Rd NE
Rochester, MN 55906
City of Rochester and surrounding area
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Xfinity
https://www.xfinity.com/locations/minnesota/Minneapolis/home-phone-service
2050 Ford Parkway
St. Paul, MN 55116
Mostly the Minneapolis-St. Paul area
Centurylink
https://www.centurylink.com/home/phone/
(800) 201-4099
Most of the state
Solar and renewable energy

In Minnesota, the typical home needs a 7.5 kw PV system, at a cost of around $22,875. PPA is also a great option in Minnesota. The state requires Xcel Energy, the largest electric company in the state, to produce at least 31.5% of its energy from renewable sources by the end of 2020, while other providers need to use renewables for 26.5% of the total by 2020.

All utilities have to produce at least 1.5% of their power from solar by 2020. Electricity prices in Minnesota are right around the national average.

Connecting to the grid

Minnesota has net metering for systems up to 40 kw, which includes all residential systems. Homeowners are compensated for excess energy generated at an average retail residential rate. Minnesotans with a solar system are required to purchase additional insurance and have an external disconnect switch on their system, adding to their overall costs.

Mississippi

Electric companies

Mississippi has two major investor-owned utilities. Northeastern Mississippi is not in either of their service areas, but gets its power from municipalities and cooperatives.

CompanyAreas serviced
Entergy
https://www.entergy-mississippi.com/
800-368-3749
PO Box 8105
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70891-8105
All of western Mississippi
Mississippi Power Company
https://www.mississippipower.com/residential.html
(800) 532-1502
P.O. Box 4079
Gulfport, Mississippi 39502
Southeastern Mississippi
Gas companies

Residents of northeast Mississippi get their gas from municipalities and cooperatives. Contact your local government for information.

CompanyAreas serviced
Atmos Energy
https://www.atmosenergy.com/
(888) 286-6700
P.O. Box 650205
Dallas, Texas 75265-0205
Entire center of the state from east to west
Centerpoint Energy
https://www.centerpointenergy.com/
(800) 371-5417
P.O. Box 4981
Houston, TX 77210-4981
Central and south Mississippi and northwest Mississippi including Sumner and Oxford
Spire/Willmut Gas & Oil Company
https://www.spireenergy.com/welcome-willmut-gas-customers
(877) 945-5427
PO Box 932299
Atlanta, GA 31193-2299
Covington, Forrest, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Rankin, and Simpson
Water utility companies

Water in Mississippi is delivered by mostly municipalities. If you do not see your city or town below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Jackson Water Department
(601) 960-2000
2320 Riverside Dr
Jackson, MS 39202
https://www.jacksonms.gov/
City of Jackson
Gulfport Water Department
https://www.jacksonms.gov/
(228) 868-5720
1422 23rd Ave
Gulfport, MS 39501
City of Gulfport
Southaven Water Department
https://www.southaven.org/198/Utilities- Water-Sewer
(662) 393-7353
8710 Northwest Drive
Southaven, MS 38671
City of Southaven
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/mississippi
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

A PV system for a typical Mississippi home is 5 kw, costs $20,000 and pays for itself in 16 years, thanks mostly to the abundant sunshine. Mississippi has no commitment to renewable energy and electricity prices are low, making solar less compelling. Mississippi gives homeowners no incentive to install solar, with zero solar rebates, tax credits, property tax exemptions or sales tax exemptions.

Mississippi gets some moderate wind in the northwest, but otherwise has mild wind.

Connecting to the grid

Mississippi has no net metering requirement. Excess energy is compensated at about 50% of retail from Mississippi Power. However, if you are a customer of the Tennessee Valley Authority utilities, TVA does provide net metering. There are also no laws regarding connecting to the grid, so homeowners are at the mercy of whatever their utility company requires.

Missouri

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Evergy
https://www.evergy.com/
(888) 471-5275
P.O. Box 219703
Kansas City, MO 64121-9703
West Missouri
Ameren Missouri
https://www.ameren.com/missouri/
(800) 552.7583
PO Box 790098
St. Louis, MO 63179-0098
East Missouri
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Ameren Missouri
https://www.ameren.com/missouri/
800.552.7583
PO Box 790098
St. Louis, MO 63179-0098
North central and northeast Missouri
Spire
https://www.spireenergy.com/welcome-mge-customers
Eastern Missouri – (800) 887-4173
Western Missouri – (800) 582-1234
Drawer 2
St. Louis, MO 63171
Eastern Missouri – City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Butler, Iron, Jefferson, Madison, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve Counties
Western Missouri – Andrew, Barry, Barton, Buchanan, Carroll, Cass. Cedar, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Cooper, Dade, DeKalb, Greene, Henry, Howard, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Lafayette, Lawrence, McDonald, Moniteau, Newton, Pettis, Platte Ray, Saline, Stone, and Vernon Counties
Water utility companies

There is one major private water company in Missouri. The remainder of the water is through counties and municipalities. If you do not see your city or town below, contact your local government.

Missouri American Water
https://amwater.com/moaw/
(866) 430-0820
727 Craig Road
St. Louis, MO 63141
St. Louis, Joplin, Jefferson City and St. Joseph
KC Water
https://www.kcwater.us/
816.513.1313
4800 E 63rd Street, Kansas City, MO 64130
Kansas City
City Utilities of Springfield
https://www.cityutilities.net/customer/water/
(417) 863-9000
PO Box 551 Springfield, MO 65801
Springfield
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/missouri
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

A typical Missouri home requires a 10 kw PV system, at a price around $27,000 after Missouri solar rebates, which are either $250/kwh or $500/kwh, depending on your utility company (see below for details). This means that the system should pay for itself in 12 years. Missouri’s renewable goal is 15% by 2021 with .3% of that coming from solar energy, which is fairly modest.

Missouri has low electricity prices at around 11 cents per kwh, so savings will not be very impressive. However, although the state government does not offer solar rebates, many utilities do, as shown below.

UtilityAmountNotes
Ameren$250/kWMust be installed before 2023
Columbia Water & Light$500/kW, up to $5,000Must meet warranty and certification requirements.
Empire District Electric$250/kWMust meet warranty and siting requirements and be installed by 2023
Kansas City Power & Light$500/kWMust meet warranty and certification requirements; funds nearly exhausted

The state has no solar tax credit or sales tax credit, but it does have a property tax exemption.

Missouri has good wind speeds for turbines in the northern half and northwestern parts of the state.

Connecting to the grid

Missouri has net metering, but utilities are only required to pay the avoided cost rate, which may be as low as 3 cents per kwh (almost a quarter of the retail price). This means that there is not much incentive to have a system that produces substantially more than your home will use, although you can choose to store energy in batteries for later use.

Utilities are not allowed to require you to get liability insurance, but they can require you to get a redundant external disconnect switch, which adds to your overall cost.

Montana

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Northwestern Energy
http://www.northwesternenergy.com/
(888) 467-2669
11 E. Park St.
Butte, MT 59701-1711
Central and western Montana
Montana-Dakota Utilities
https://www.montana-dakota.com/
(800) 638-3278
Eastern Montana
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Black Hills Energy
https://www.blackhillsenergy.com/
(888) 890-5554
Central and western Montana
Montana-Dakota Utilities
https://www.montana-dakota.com/
(800) 638-3278
Eastern Montana
Water utility companies

Water utility service is handled primarily by municipalities in Montana. If you do not see your city or town below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
City of Billings Public Works
https://www.billingsmtpublicworks.gov/248/ Payments-Utility-Account-Services 406-657-8315
2251 Belknap Avenue
Billings, MT 59101
City of Billings
Missoula Water
https://www.ci.missoula.mt.us/water
(406) 552-6700
1345 W. Broadway Missoula, MT 59802
City of Missoula
Great Falls Water
https://greatfallsmt.net/publicworks/water-billing
(406) 727-1325
1301 Lower River Road South
Great Falls, MT 59405
City of Great Falls
Landline phone companies
Blackfoot
https://www.blackfoot.com/residential/
(866) 541-5000
1221 North Russell St.
Missoula, MT 59808
City of Billings
Centurylink
https://www.centurylink.com/local/mt/billings/home-phone-service.html
(800) 244-1111
Most of the state
Solar and renewable energy

Residents of Montana typically need a 8.1 kw solar system to provide for their home’s energy needs, at a cost of about $24,705, paying for itself in 6 years. Montana has kept a modest 15% goal for renewable energy which provides little incentive for utilities to work with homeowners to generate renewable power.

Because over half of the state’s power comes from coal, electricity in Montana is inexpensive, so savings from renewable energy will not be large.

Montana has no solar rebates but it does have a solar tax credit of $500 per taxpayer and up to $1,000 per household. It also has both a sales tax and property tax exemption for solar systems.

Connecting to the grid

Montana requires all investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to provide net metering despite a request from NorthWestern Energy to do away with it. Net metering will stay in place until solar accounts for 5% of the state’s energy production, which is a while since it is at 1% as of 2020.

Although Montana’s law does not require cooperatives to abide by net metering, the Montana Electric Cooperatives Association has voluntarily instituted net metering equal to, and in some cases, better than that required of IOUs. While it is relatively easy to connect to the grid, the law requires an external disconnect switch which adds cost to the system.

Nebraska

Electric companies

Nebraska is unusual, in that it has no investor-owned utilities operating in the state. Instead, it has a patchwork of public power districts (PPDs) which are alliances of local governments and rural cooperatives. This means that the cost of electricity in Nebraska is among the country’s lowest.

CompanyArea serviced
Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD)
https://www.nppd.com/
1 (877) 275-6773
1414 15th Street
PO Box 499
Columbus, NE 68602-0499
All or parts of 86 of Nebraska’s 93 counties throughout central Nebraska
Omaha Public Power District (OPPD)
https://www.oppd.com/
Omaha Metro Area – (402) 536-4131
Outside Omaha – 1 (877) 536-4131
444 S. 16th Street Mall
Omaha, NE
Southeast corner of the state
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Black Hills Energy
https://www.blackhillsenergy.com/
(888) 890-5554
Eastern and southern Nebraska
Water utility companies

Water is delivered mostly by municipalities, except for MUD which is customer-owned. If you do not see your city or town below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Metropolitan Utilities District
https://www.mudomaha.com/
(800) 732.5864
7350 World Communications Dr. Omaha, NE 68122-4041
Omaha, Bellevue, Bennington, Carter Lake, La Vista, Ralston, Waterloo and the Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District (which supplies water to Fort Calhoun)
Lincoln Water Department
https://www.lincoln.ne.gov/aspx/city/water/ default.aspx
(402) 441-7551
555 S 10th St, Ste 203
Lincoln, NE, 68508
City of Lincoln
Landline phone companies
Company
Areas serviced
Great Plains Communications
https://www.gpcom.com/residential/phone/
(855) 853-1483
1635 Front St
Blair, NE 68008
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

A typical Nebraska home needs an 8.8 kw PV system to provide for its power needs at a cost of around $26,840 and should pay for itself in 17 years since electricity rates in Nebraska are low. PPAs are not available in Nebraska. Nebraska has no renewable portfolio standard and coal fuels its low electricity prices.

Connecting to the grid

Although Nebraska calls what it has “net metering,” the law says that utilities can compensate homeowners at whatever rate they feel is fair. This means that compensation fluctuates and may not be enough to flow into the winter months when more energy is required for heating.

Batteries are recommended. To connect to the grid, liability insurance is not required but homeowners may be required to pay for interconnection equipment.

Nevada

Electric companies

Nevada has one investor-owned utility company, after NV Energy acquired Sierra Pacific Power. Eastern and northwest Nevada are served by rural providers including Mt. Wheeler Power, Wells Rural Electric Company, Harney Electric Cooperative and Lincoln County Power District.

CompanyAreas serviced
NV Energy
https://www.nvenergy.com/
Southern Nevada (702) 402-5555
Northern Nevada (775) 834-4444
P.O. Box 10100
Reno, NV 89520
Southwest corner of state including Las Vegas, central and west Nevada including Carson City, Winnemucca, Reno and Elko
Gas companies
NV Energy
https://www.nvenergy.com/
Southern Nevada (702) 402-5555
Northern Nevada (775) 834-4444
P.O. Box 10100
Reno, NV 89520
Reno and surrounding area
Southwest Gas
https://www.swgas.com/
(877) 860-6020
P.O. Box 24531
Oakland, CA 94623-1531
Central west including near Lake Tahoe, Carson, Gardnerville Ranchos, Elko
South including Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Bullhead City
Water utility companies

Water utility service is handled by municipalities. If you do not see your city or town below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Las Vegas Valley Water District
https://www.lvvwd.com/
(800) 252-2011
1001 S. Valley View Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89153
Las Vegas, including Big Bend, Blue Diamond, Coyote Springs, Jean, Kyle and Searchlight water districts
Henderson Utility Service
https://www.cityofhenderson.com/utility-services/home
(702) 267-5900
240 S. Water St.
Henderson, NV 89015
City of Henderson
Truckee Meadows Water Authority
https://tmwa.com/
(775) 834.8080
1355 Capital Blvd
Reno, Nevada 89502
Reno and surrounding area
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/nevada
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

The average home in Nevada looking to go solar will need a 7.2 kw PV system, for around $23,040. It should pay for itself in 10 years. Nevada is going big with solar, and has committed to 50% renewable energy by 2050, with 1.5% of total energy specifically coming from solar.

This sounds like a big incentive for utilities to help homeowners with solar systems, but much of it is being done by large solar installations in the desert.

Although it gets plenty of sun, Nevada is not windy enough to justify a wind turbine.

Nevada no longer has a solar rebate program, but NV Energy is offering a rebate on solar batteries at a rate of $.11 or $.22 per watt-hour of storage capacity which ends up being 10% or 20% of average battery cost. There is no state income tax in Nevada, so they cannot offer a tax credit, but they also do not have either a sales tax or property tax exemption.

Connecting to the grid

Nevada has net metering, but solar credits are compensated at less than the retail rate, currently 75% of retail. This percentage will go down as more people install PV systems and the utilities get closer to their solar goals. Interconnection with the grid is relatively easy, with no liability insurance, fees or redundant switches to pay for.

New Hampshire

Electric companies

New Hampshire has one investor-owned electric utility and one large cooperative servicing the state.

CompanyAreas serviced
Eversource
https://www.eversource.com/content/nh
(800) 662-7764
PO Box 330
Manchester, NH 03105-0330
North, northeast and southern parts of the state
New Hampshire Electric Cooperative
https://www.nhec.com/
(800) 698-2007
579 Tenney Mountain Highway
Plymouth, NH 03264
Central west New Hampshire
Gas companies

There are two major natural gas suppliers in New Hampshire.

Company
Liberty Utilities
https://new-hampshire.libertyutilities.com/
(800) 833-4200
15 Buttrick Road
Londonderry, NH 03053
Alllenstown, Amherst, Auburn, Bedford, Belmont, Berlin, Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Derry, Franklin, Gilford, Goffstown, Hollis, Hooksett, Hudson, Laconia, Litchfield, Londonderry, Loudon, Manchester, Merrimack, Milford, Nashua, Northfield, Pembroke, Penacook, Sanbornton, Tilton, and Winnisquam
Unitil
https://unitil.com/
(888) 301-7700
6 Liberty Lane West Hampton, NH 03842
Southeastern and seacoast areas
Water utility companies

Unlike most states, the majority of New Hampshire residents get their running water from a private company. Some municipalities also provide water.

Company
Areas serviced
Aquarion
https://www.aquarionwater.com/
(800) 732-9678
200 Monroe Turnpike
Monroe, CT 06468
Most of the state, especially south, east and north
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/new-hampshire
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/new-hampshire
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

New Hampshire is one of the best states for solar energy. A typical system of 6.2 kw costs around $18,220 and pays for itself in just 6 years. Because electricity prices are very high (20 cents per kwh) in New Hampshire, a PPA is a good option too. New Hampshire has a goal of 24.8% renewable energy generation by 2025.

The state has a solar rebate program of $200 per kilowatt (kW), up to $1,000 or 50% of project costs, whichever is less. In addition, if you are a New Hampshire Electric Co-Op customer, you can get an additional rebate of $250/ kW, up to a maximum of $1,375. You will need to apply for (and be approved for) these rebates before you begin installation of your system.

There is no state income tax in New Hampshire, so there is no tax credit for solar. While there is no statewide property tax exemption for solar, over 80 cities and towns offer one. See here for a list: https://www.nh.gov/osi/energy/saving-energy/documents/dra-solar-exemption-report.pdf. New Hampshire also exempts solar systems from sales tax.

Connecting to the grid

New Hampshire has strong net metering requirements, with credits rolling over indefinitely and cash payments required if surplus energy exceeds 600 kwh. This may change, though, as the Public Service Commission is looking for alternative net metering tariffs.

Connecting to the grid in New Hampshire may be confusing and require a lot of paperwork. The good news is that there are no insurance, testing or connection related costs required.

New Jersey

Electric companies

New Jersey has three major electric companies, although a fourth, Rockland Electric Company, services a narrow strip along the northeastern border.

CompanyAreas serviced
Jersey Central Power & Light
https://www.firstenergycorp.com/jersey_central_power_light.html
(800) 662-3115
P.O. Box 3687
Akron, Ohio 44309-3687
Northwest and central east New Jersey
PSE&G
https://nj.pseg.com/
(800) 436-7734
P.O. Box 709
Newark, NJ 07101-0709
Diagonal strip from north Gloucester County to Bergen
County in the north
Atlantic City Electric
https://www.atlanticcityelectric.com/Pages/default.aspx
(800) 642-3780
P.O. Box 17006
Wilmington, DE 19850-7006
South New Jersey
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
PSE&G
https://nj.pseg.com/
(800) 436-7734
P.O. Box 709
Newark, NJ 07101-0709
Diagonal strip from north Gloucester County to Bergen County in the north including Camden, Jersey City, Trenton, Somerville and Newark
South Jersey Gas
https://southjerseygas.com/
(888) 766-9900
PO Box 6091
Bellmawr, NJ 08099-6091
South New Jersey
New Jersey Natural Gas
https://www.njng.com/
(800) 221-0051
PO Box 11743
Newark, NJ 07101-4743
East central New Jersey and central north
Elizabethtown Gas
https://www.elizabethtowngas.com/
(800) 242.5830
520 Green Lane
Union, NJ 07083
Northwest New Jersey and south of Newark
Water utility companies

New Jersey has numerous regulated water companies. See more here: https://www.bpu.state.nj.us/bpu/pdf/water/regulatedwater.pdf

CompanyAreas serviced
Aqua America
https://www.aquaamerica.com/our-states/new-jersey.aspx
(877) 987-2782
29 municipalities in New Jersey
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/new-jersey
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

To power an average New Jersey home, you would need a 7.2 kw PV system, which costs around $23,040 and pays for itself in 7 years. New Jersey has a renewable portfolio standard of 50% renewable by 2050 with 5.1% from solar by 2021.

If utilities in the state do not meet that goal, they have to pay a hefty fine, so there is plenty of incentive for them to help homeowners produce solar energy. Electricity rates in New Jersey are high, which turns renewable energy into big savings.

In addition, although New Jersey got rid of their previous solar rebate, it now has something called the Transition Renewable Energy Certificate (TREC). The program allows the average homeowner to earn around $800 per year in addition to their savings on electricity, and this is ongoing for 15 years. There is no solar tax credit, but you can get a property tax and a sales tax exemption.

New Jersey is not sufficiently windy to justify a wind turbine.

Connecting to the grid

New Jersey has net metering at the full retail rate. If you run a surplus for the whole year, the utility can send you a check, but it will be at the avoided cost rate. Connecting to the grid is standardized and will involve no additional fees.

New Mexico

Electric companies

There are three investor-owned electric companies in New Mexico, and of these, PNM is the biggest in the state with about 515,000 customers.

CompanyAreas serviced
Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM)
https://www.pnm.com/
(888) 342-5766
414 Silver Ave. SW Albuquerque, NM 87102
Central New Mexico including Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Rio Rancho and Belen
Southwest New Mexico including Silver City, Bayard, Lordsburg, Cliff and Deming
South central New Mexico including Alamogordo, Tularosa and Ruidoso
El Paso Electric
https://www.epelectric.com/
(575) 526-5555
P.O. Box 982
El Paso, Texas 79960
Southern New Mexico including Las Cruces, and Hatch
Xcel Energy
https://www.xcelenergy.com/
(800) 895-4999
414 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55401
Artesia, Carlsbad, Clover, Dexter, Eunice, Hagerman, Hobbs, Jal, Lake Arthur, Loving Malaga, Otis, Portales, Roswell, Texico, Tucumcari
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Zia Natural Gas Company
http://www.zngc.com/
1 (800) 520-4277
PO Drawer 888
100 Short Drive
Ruidoso Downs, NM 88346
Colfax, Dona Ana, Lea and Lincoln Counties
New Mexico Gas Company
https://www.nmgco.com/
(888) 664-2726
P.O. Box 97500
Albuquerque, NM 87199-7500
Southwest, northwest, northeast, southeast corner and central east 26 of New Mexico’s 33 counties including 17 independent and separate sovereign nations including 15 pueblos, the Jicarilla Apache Nation and the Navajo Nation
Water utility companies

Water is mostly provided by municipalities in New Mexico. If you do not see your city or town below, contact your local government.

New Mexico Water
https://www.newmexicowater.com/
(505) 864-2218
1720 North First Street San Jose, CA 95112
Elephant Butte, Juan Tomas, Rio Communities, Rio del Oro, Sandia Knolls
Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Water Authority
http://www.abcwua.org/
(505) 842-WATR
P.O. Box 568
Albuquerque, NM 87103-0568
Albuquerque and Bernalillo County
City of Las Cruces Utilities
https://www.las-cruces.org/180/Utilities
(575) 541-2111
700 N Main
Las Cruces, NM 88001
Las Cruces
Landline phone companies
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/new-mexico
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Xfinity
https://www.xfinity.com/locations/new-mexico/albuquerque/home-phone-service
(800) 934-6489
4800 Cutler Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

New Mexican residents on average need a 5.2 kw solar system to power their homes at a cost of $16,380. The system should pay for itself in 10 years. Electricity costs are just below the national average, but because sun is plentiful in New Mexico and they have good net metering laws, it can generate nice savings.

New Mexico has a renewable portfolio standard of 100% renewable energy by 2045 and a solar carve out of 4% by 2020. New Mexico has no solar rebates or tax credits but it does have a sales tax and property tax exemption.

Connecting to the grid

New Mexico has net metering allowing homeowners to retain control of any renewable energy credits they earn from their systems, and to be credited for their excess generation indefinitely. It is easy for individuals to connect to the grid and there are no additional expenses or requirements.

New York

Electric companies

New York’s two major investor-owned utilities are shown below. There are also smaller investor owned companies, including Central Hudson Gas & Electric serving Albany and parts of southern New York and Rochester Gas & Electric in the Rochester area.

CompanyAreas serviced
National Grid
https://www.nationalgridus.com/NY-Home/Default.aspx?regionkey=nymetro&customer-type=home
(718) 643-4050
P.O. Box 11741
Newark, NJ 07101-4741
Most of northern New York and southwestern corner of New York
New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG)
https://www.nyseg.com/
(800) 572-1111
P.O. Box 5240
Binghamton, NY 13902-5240
Central southern New York, parts of southwestern New York including Buffalo, along the coast and northeast corner
Consolidated Edison
https://www.coned.com/
(800) 752-6633
New York City and Westchester County
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Natural Fuel Gas
https://www.natfuel.com/utility/forHome/ny/nyres.aspx
(716) 686-6123
409 Main St.
Buffalo, NY 14203
Southwestern New York including Buffalo
National Grid
https://www.nationalgridus.com/NY-Home/Default.aspx?regionkey=nymetro&customer- type=home
(718) 643-4050
P.O. Box 11741
Newark, NJ 07101-4741
Most of northern New York and southwestern corner of New York, including Albany and Syracuse, NYC including Long Island and Brooklyn
Consolidated Edison
https://www.coned.com/en
(800) 752-6633
NYC including Manhattan and the Bronx and Westchester County
Water utility companies

Most New Yorkers get their water from municipalities. If you do not see your city or town below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
NYC Water
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dep/water/drinking-water.page
(866) 622-8292
P.O. Box 11863
Newark, NJ 07101-8163
Entire state
Buffalo Water
https://buffalowater.org/
281 Exchange St
Buffalo, NY 14204
Buffalo and surrounding areas
City of Rochester
(585) 428-6855
30 Church Street Room 300B
Rochester, NY 14614
Rochester and surrounding areas
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/new-york
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Verizon
https://www.verizon.com/home/phone/
800.922.0204
Albany, Buffalo, Long Island, New York, Syracuse
Solar and renewable energy

New York is currently the best state for residential generated solar energy. A typical 6.2 kw system costs around $21,700 and pays for itself in 5 years thanks to generous support from the state. New York has a renewable portfolio standard of 100% renewable energy by 2050 with a 6Gw of that coming from solar by 2025. Because New York’s electricity prices are quite a bit higher than the national average, your savings can be significant on your electric bills.

New York pays solar rebates of $300-350 per kwh, for a total of $1,500-$1,750 on a 5-kW system. Rebate amounts are going down, however, as the state gets closer to its solar goals. New York has a solar tax credit of 25% of total installation cost up to $5,000 and both a sales tax and property tax exemption.

New York also has solar rebates for low to moderate income residents up to $800 per kw off the cost of your solar system as well as low interest solar loans.

New York has moderate winds in the western part of the state near Buffalo and Rochester which are suitable for wind turbines.

Connecting to the grid

New York has net metering and pays retail for net excess energy but if you end up with a surplus of energy at the end of the year, it will only be compensated at the avoided cost rate, which is much lower than retail. The good news is if you go solar in 2020, you can avoid this and keep the retail rate for all extra energy that your system generates.

Connecting to the grid in New York is relatively simple, although you may have some equipment costs depending on your utility company.

North Carolina

Electric companies

Much of North Carolina gets its electricity from cooperatives, while the larger population centers are serviced by investor-owned utilities (below), or in the cases of High Point, Concord, Rocky Mount and Fayetteville among others, by municipal utilities.

CompanyAreas serviced
Dominion North Carolina
https://www.dominionenergy.com/
(866) 366-4357
P.O. Box 26543
Richmond, VA 23290-0001
Northeast
Duke Energy Carolinas
https://www.duke-energy.com/Info/Duke-Energy
(800) 777-9898
P.O. Box 1090
Charlotte, NC 28201-1090
West including Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and south of Asheville to the South Carolina line plus Durham
Duke Energy Progress
https://www.duke-energy.com/Info/Duke-Energy
(844) 388-7425
P.O. Box 1771
Raleigh, NC 27602
East central part of North Carolina, including Raleigh plus Asheville
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Dominion North Carolina (PSNC)
https://www.dominionenergy.com/
(877) 776-2427
P.O. Box 100256
Columbia, SC 29202
Southwest and north central parts of North Carolina including counties of Person, Caswell,Granville, Franklin, Durham, Wake, Lee, Chatham, Orange
Piedmont Natural Gas
https://www.piedmontng.com/home
(800) 752.7504
P.O. Box 1246
Charlotte, NC 28201-1246
Eastern North Carolina, parts of central North Carolina and western counties of Avery, Mitchell, Yancy, Caldwell, Burke, Catawba and Lincoln
Water utility companies

Some North Carolinians get water from a private company, others from a municipality and others from private or shared wells.

CompanyAreas serviced
Aqua America North Carolina
https://www.aquaamerica.com/our-states/north-carolina.aspx
877.987.2782
P.O. Box 70279
Philadelphia, PA 19176-0279
Counties of Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Carteret, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cumberland, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Granville, Guilford, Henderson, Hoke, Iredell, Johnston, Lincoln, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pender, Person, Polk, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Warren, Watauga, Yadkin and Yancey.
Carolina Water Service North Carolina
https://www.myutility.us/CarolinaWaterServiceNC
(800) 525-7990
4944 Parkway Plaza Blvd, Ste 375
Charlotte, NC 28217
38 counties in North Carolina, from Corolla in Currituck County to Bear Paw in Cherokee County
Charlotte Water Services
https://charlottenc.gov/water/Pages/Home.aspx
(704) 336-7600
City of Charlotte
P.O. Box 1316 Charlotte, NC 28201
City of Charlotte
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/north-carolina
(800) 288-2020
City of Charlotte
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

North Carolina is one of the top solar markets and the state’s solar goals have already been met. Even so, the state does have a law to reduce emissions by 40% which renewable energy can play a big role in achieving. In North Carolina, a typical home can use a 5 kw system to supply its energy at a cost of $16,250.

The system should take 13 years to pay for itself. North Carolina has pretty cheap electric prices, so the savings are less from renewable energy than in some other states.

Duke Energy and DEP have solar rebates of $600 per kwh through the end of 2021 on a first come, first served basis. North Carolina has no solar tax credits or sales tax exemption, but it does offer a property tax exemption up to 80% of the value of your solar system.

There is not sufficiently strong wind in North Carolina for a wind turbine.

Connecting to the grid

North Carolina has net metering at full retail price. However, at the beginning of the summer season, any unused credits just disappear with no compensation. It is fairly quick to connect to the grid but utilities can opt to charge you for equipment and fees at their discretion.

North Dakota

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Montana-Dakota Utilities
https://www.montana-dakota.com/
(800) 638-3278
Western and south-central parts of North Dakota
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Montana-Dakota Utilities
https://www.montana-dakota.com/
(800) 638-3278
Western and south-central parts of North Dakota
Great Plains Natural Gas
https://www.gpng.com/
(877) 267-4764
PO Box 5600
Bismarck, ND 58506-5600
Wahpeton
Water utility companies

Water is provided by municipalities in North Dakota. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Bismarck Utility
https://www.bismarcknd.gov/197/Utility-Billing
(701) 355-1700, option 1
601 South 26th Street
Bismarck, ND 58504
City of Bismarck
Fargo Utilities
https://fargond.gov/city-government/departments/auditors/utility-billing-department
(701) 241-1324
225 4th Street North
Fargo, ND 58102
Fargo
Grand Forks Public Works
https://www.grandforksgov.com/government/city-departments/public-works/public-works-water701-746-2595
503 South 4th Street
Grand Forks, ND 58201
Grand Forks
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Consolidated
https://www.consolidated.com/residential/phone/fargo-nd
(701) 404-1722
Fargo and surrounding areas
Solar and renewable energy

A typical 5 kw PV system in North Dakota will run you about $20,000 and should pay for itself in 16 years. North Dakota does not have much support for solar with only a 10% voluntary renewable goal and the electricity there is very inexpensive because 62% of their energy comes from cheap coal. There are no solar rebates, sales tax exemption or tax credits. However there is a 100% property tax exemption for 5 years.

North Dakota has plenty of high winds, especially in the north central region and along the eastern border, so it is great for wind energy generation.

Connecting to the grid

North Dakota has net metering, but just for investor-owned utilities, and it only requires them to pay the avoided cost rate, which is much lower than retail. There are no laws in place to regulate utilities’ requirements to connect your system to the grid so they are free to charge extra fees, require insurance and make you get redundant switches.

Ohio

Electric companies

Ohio electric utilities are provided by large investor-owned utilities.

CompanyAreas serviced
Dominion
https://www.dominionenergy.com/
(800) 362-7557
P.O. Box 26785
Richmond, VA 23261-6785
Most of state
Duke Energy
https://www.duke-energy.com/home
(866) 216-2136
P.O. Box 1326
Charlotte, NC 28201-1326
City of Cincinnati as well as Hamilton, Butler, Clermont, Warren, and Brown counties
Ambit Energy
https://www.ambitenergy.com/
(877) 282-6248
P.O. Box 864589
Plano, TX 75086
Most of state except for southeast
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Ambit Energy
https://www.ambitenergy.com/
(877) 282-6248
P.O. Box 864589
Plano, TX 75086
Most of state except for southeast
Columbia Gas of Ohio
https://www.columbiagasohio.com/
(800) 344-4077
P.O. Box 4629
Carol Stream, IL 60197-4629
Central, eastern and southeastern Ohio
Dominion
https://www.dominionenergy.com/
(800) 362-7557
P.O. Box 26785
Richmond, VA 23261-6785
Most of state
Duke Energy
https://www.duke-energy.com/home
(866) 216-2136
P.O. Box 1326
Charlotte, NC 28201-1326
City of Cincinnati as well as Hamilton, Butler, Clermont, Warren, and Brown counties
Water utility companies

Other than the service area for Aqua America Ohio, residents of Ohio get their water from municipalities. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Aqua America Ohio
https://www.aquaamerica.com/our-states/ohio.aspx
(877) 987-2782
Franklin, Lawrence, Preble, Ashtabula, Lake, Geauga, Summit, Williams, Marion, Richland, Morrow, Portage, Pike, Seneca, Stark, Carroll, Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana Counties
City of Columbus
https://www.columbus.gov/utilities/
(614) 645-8276
111 N. Front Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Columbus
Cleveland Water
http://www.clevelandwater.com/
(216) 664-3130
1201 Lakeside Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
Cleveland
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/ohio
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

The typical Ohio home can meet its energy needs with a 5 kw PV system costing $18,750 and paying for itself in 15 years. Ohio only mandates that 8.5% of its energy come from renewable sources by 2026 with .5% from solar. Electricity prices are just under the national average.

The state does not provide solar rebates or tax credits, but there is a sales tax exemption. There are only property tax exemptions in Cincinnati and Cleveland but not in the rest of the state.

There are moderate winds in the central western part of the state that could support a wind turbine.

Connecting to the grid

Currently Ohio has net metering at slightly under retail rates, with carryover into subsequent bills and a check at the end of the year for any surplus energy. However, the Public Utilities Commission may be changing this policy, so check with your local solar installer for details. Connecting to the grid is streamlined. Liability insurance is not required, but a disconnect switch is, resulting in higher cost.

Oklahoma

Electric companies

Oklahoma electric service is provided by two large investor-owned utilities.

CompanyAreas serviced
Public Service Oklahoma
https://www.psoklahoma.com/
(888) 216-3523
PO Box 371496
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7496
Southwest and eastern parts of the state including Lawton, Tulsa and McAlester
OGE Energy Corp
https://www.oge.com/
(800) 272-9741
PO Box 321
Oklahoma City, OK 73101-0321
Central Oklahoma
Gas companies

There is only one main gas company in Oklahoma.

CompanyAreas serviced
Oklahoma Natural Gas
https://www.oklahomanaturalgas.com/
(800) 664-5463
P.O. Box 219296
Kansas City, MO 64121-9296
Most of the state
Water utility companies

Water is delivered by municipalities in Oklahoma, but Oklahoma City serves much of central Oklahoma. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Oklahoma City Utilities
https://www.okc.gov/departments/utilities
(405) 297-2833
420 W Main St., 5th Floor Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Oklahoma City and central Oklahoma
Tulsa Utilities
https://www.cityoftulsa.org/utilities
(918) 596-7777
175 East 2nd Street, Suite 1405
Tulsa, OK 74103
City of Tulsa
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/oklahoma
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Pioneer
https://gopioneer.com/residential/home- phone/
(888) 782-2667
Central Oklahoma
Solar and renewable energy

Oklahoma is the worst state in the U.S. for solar energy. Solar systems cost $20,000 for a typical 5 kw residential system and pay for themselves in around 15 years. There are no PPAs available. Oklahoma has a weak 15% renewable portfolio standard that is voluntary. Electric is cheap because more than half of the state’s energy comes from natural gas.

The state has no solar rebates, tax credits, property tax exemptions or sales tax exemptions.

Oklahoma has plenty of wind, with moderate wind in the center of the state and high winds in the west, especially the southwest part of the state, so it is great for wind energy generation.

Connecting to the grid

Although Oklahoma has net metering in name, the utility companies are not required to buy homeowners’ excess energy at all. It is totally up to the utility company if they want to do that, and if so, at what rate. There are no regulations regarding interconnection standards, so utilities are free to make whatever requirements they want of homeowners in order to connect them to the grid.

Oregon

Electric companies

Oregon has three investor-owned utilities, but geographically, most of the state is served by cooperatives, particularly in the central and southeast parts of the state. There are some municipal utilities and public utility districts (PUDs) that serve tribal areas, mostly in the western part of the state. These include Tillamook PUD, Central Lincoln PUD, Emerald PUD, Northern Wasco County PUD, Columbia River PUD and Clatskanie PUD.

CompanyAreas serviced
PacifiCorp
https://www.pacificorp.com/
(888) 221-7070
PO Box 26000
Portland, OR 97256-0001
Northeast corner, including Portland, southeast including Ashland and east-central
Idaho Power Company
https://www.idahopower.com/
(800) 488-6151
P.O. Box 70
Boise, ID 83707
Central Eastern Oregon
Portland General Electric
https://www.portlandgeneral.com/
(800) 542-8818
P.O. Box 4438
Portland, OR 97208
Northeast corner, including Portland, southeast including Ashland and east-central
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
NW Natural Gas
https://www.nwnatural.com/
(800) 422-4012
250 SW Taylor Street
Portland, Oregon 97204
Western half of Oregon
Cascade Natural Gas
https://www.cngc.com/
(888) 522-1130
PO Box 5600
Bismarck, ND 58506-5600
Center of Oregon including Bend
Water utility companies

Other than areas in the mountainous center part of the state, water is provided by municipalities in Oregon. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
SouthWest Water Company/Oregon Water Utilities
http://www.swwc.com/oregon/
(877) 405-1760
PO Box 6150
Covina, CA 91722-5105
Central Oregon
Portland Utilities
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/water/29330
(503) 823-7770
664 N. Tillamook St. Portland, OR 97227
City of Portland
City of Salem Water & Sewer
https://egov.cityofsalem.net/
(503) 588-6099
PO Box 2795
Portland OR 97208-2795
City of Salem
Eugene Water and Electric Board
http://www.eweb.org/
(800) 841-5871
500 East Fourth Avenue
Eugene, OR
City of Eugene
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/oregon
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Ortelco
http://www.ortelco.net/telephone.html
(541) 932-4411
One Telephone Drive
Mount Vernon, OR
Mount Vernon, Prairie City, Dayville, Bridgeport Bates, Hereford, Unity, Ironside, Cow Valley, Harper, Juntura, Dufur
Solar and renewable energy

A typical Oregon home needs a 5 kw PV system to provide its power at a cost of around $18,750. It should pay for itself in 11 years. Oregon has a goal of 50% renewable energy by 2040. Electricity prices are lower than average, which means that electricity savings each year will be modest.

A number of utilities offer solar rebates, shown below. In addition, Oregon has a new solar rebate of $.20 per watt DC, up to 40% of the total costs or $5,000, whichever is less as well as a solar rebate for low- and moderate- income residential homeowners of $1.80 per watt DC, up to 60% of cost or $5,000, whichever is less.

UtilityRebate AmountNotes
Ashland Electric Utility
http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=14015
$500/kW, up to $7,500Subject to additional terms
Central Lincoln PUD
http://clpud.org/renewable-energy/
$500/kW, up to $2,000Subject to additional terms
Eugene Water & Electric Board
http://www.eweb.org/
$400/kW, up to $2,500Subject to additional terms
Lane Electric Coop
https://laneelectric.com/programs-services/current-programs/
$500/kW, up to $1,000
PGE
https://www.energytrust.org/ incentives/solar-for-your-home/#tab-two
$300/kw, up to $2,400Energy Trust keeps a portion of the Renewable Energy Certificates produced by projects that receive an incentive.
Pacific Power
https://www.energytrust.org/ incentives/solar-for-your-home/#tab-two
$350/kw, up to $2,800Energy Trust keeps a portion of the Renewable Energy Certificates produced by projects that receive an incentive.
Salem Electric
https://www.salemelectric.com/ members/photovoltaic-program
$500 for first 3 kW, $300/kW thereafter, up to $8,400Rebates cannot exceed 50% of the total project and depend on availability of funds.

In addition Oregon has a property tax exemption and a sales tax exemption for solar.

Oregon has moderate wind speeds in the southeastern part of the state that would be suitable for wind energy generation.

Connecting to the grid

Oregon has net metering which carries over to your next month’s bill. However, it does not continue to roll forward into subsequent bills, so batteries are recommended. Interconnection rules are straightforward, but are only for investor-owned utilities. No insurance is required, but you must buy an external disconnect switch at additional cost.

Pennsylvania

Electric companies

Pennsylvania has seven investor-owned utilities, of which four are large. However, three of the four big ones and one smaller one (Meted) are now owned by First Energy. The smaller ones include PEPCO, which serves the southeast corner and DQE, which serves a small territory just south of Penn Power along the western state line.

CompanyAreas serviced
Pennelec
https://www.firstenergycorp.com/penelec.html
(800) 545-7741

Northern Pennsylvania and the west-central part of the state
Penn Power
https://www.firstenergycorp.com/penn_power.html
(800) 720-3600
Central western Pennsylvania
Meted
https://www.firstenergycorp.com/met_edison.html
(800) 545-7741

Southeast Pennsylvania
PPL
https://www.pplelectric.com/
(800) 342-5775
P.O. Box 25239
Lehigh Valley, PA 18002-5239
Central eastern Pennsylvania
West Penn Power
https://www.firstenergycorp.com/west_penn_power.html
(800) 686-0021
Southwest corner, south-central and north-central
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
PPL
https://www.pplelectric.com/
(800) 342-5775
P.O. Box 25239
Lehigh Valley, PA 18002-5239
Central eastern Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh
Pennelec
https://www.firstenergycorp.com/penelec.html
(800) 545-7741
Northern Pennsylvania and west-central part of the state
West Penn Power
https://www.firstenergycorp.com/west_penn_ power.html
(800) 686-0021
Southwest corner, south central and north central
Water utility companies

Aqua America Pennsylvania and Community Utilities of Pennsylvania provide residents of Pennsylvania with water. Large cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have municipal water.

CompanyAreas serviced
Aqua America Pennsylvania
https://www.aquaamerica.com/our-states/pennsylvania.aspx
(877) 987-2782
Southeast: Parts of Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.
Roaring Creek/Susquehanna: Parts of Adams, Bradford, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Snyder counties.
Honesdale/White Haven: Parts of Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties.
Shenango: Parts of Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Forest, Lawrence, Mckean, Mercer, Venango, and Warren counties
Community Utilities of Pennsylvania
https://www.uiwater.com/pennsylvania
(800) 638-0262
Stroud and Pocono Townships, Monroe County and parts of West Bradford Township, Chester County
City of Philadelphia
https://www.phila.gov/water/pages/default.aspx
(215) 685-6300
Philadelphia and surrounding areas
City of Pittsburgh
https://www.pgh2o.com/
(412) 255-2423
1200 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/pennsylvania
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Verizon
https://www.verizon.com/home/phone/
(800) 922-0204
Pittsburgh, Philadelphia
Solar and renewable energy

A typical Pennsylvania home needs a 5 kw solar system, which costs around $16,875 after Pennsylvania’s High Performance Buildings Program grant and pays for itself in 12 years. Pennsylvania has a goal of 8% of its energy to come from renewable sources inside the state. Pennsylvanians pay just over the national average for electricity.

Philadelphia has a solar rebate of $200 per kwh, but has limited funds each year so apply early. There is no solar tax credit, property tax exemption or sales tax exemption for solar.

Pennsylvania’s mild winds make it unsuitable for residential wind power generation.

Connecting to the grid

Pennsylvania has net metering at full retail price, but for any surplus at the end of the year is compensated by check at a slightly less than retail rate. Connecting to the grid costs $100 and requires a redundant external disconnect switch, increasing the price.

Puerto Rico

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority
https://aeepr.com/en-us
Metro (787) 521-3434
Non-Metro 1 (800) 981-2434
PO Box 364267
San Juan, PR 00936-4267
All of Puerto Rico
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Empire Gas
http://empiregaspr.com/
(787) 751 5725
PO Box 363651
San Juan, PR 00936-3651
Throughout Puerto Rico
Water utility companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewers Authority
https://acueductospr.com/
(787) 620-2482
604 Avenida Barbosa
Edif. Sergio Cuevas Bustamante Hato Rey, San Juan
All of Puerto Rico
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Claro Puerto Rico
https://www.claropr.com/personas/servicios/servicios-hogar/telefonia-fija/
(787) 792-0890
San Patricio Plaza Shopping Center
San Juan, PR
All of Puerto Rico
Solar and renewable energy

While Puerto Rico has plenty of sunshine, it has lagged behind in generating power from the sun. But this is changing with very friendly policies from the government. The average Puerto Rican household needs a relatively small PV system, 4.5 kw, to power its home, which should cost around $15,000. Electricity is more expensive than the national average so residents can potentially save a lot with a solar system.

Under Puerto Rico’s Green Energy Fund, homeowners who install a PV system can get a rebate of $3.75/watt, up to 40% of the installation cost. Funds are limited and there is a $250 application fee for this program. There are also property tax and sale tax exemptions for solar systems.

Connecting to the grid

Puerto Rico has net metering at 100% of retail. Excess energy credits carry forward to the next bill up to 300 kwh.

Rhode Island

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Ambit Energy
https://www.ambitenergy.com/
(877) 282-6248
Almost the entire state except for northwest corner
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
National Grid
https://www.nationalgridus.com/ri-home/
(800) 870-1664
C-3 300 Erie Boulevard
West Syracuse, NY 13202-4201
Almost the entire state
Water utility companies

Other than the area serviced by Suez, Rhode Island residents use municipal water.

CompanyAreas serviced
Suez
https://www.mysuezwater.com/rhode-island/support-center/contact-customer-service
(401) 789-0271
10 High St, Suite K
Wakefield, RI 02879
Center of Washington County, central and Northern Narragansett
Providence Water
https://www.provwater.com/
(401) 521-6300
125 Dupont Drive
Providence, RI 02907
Providence
Kent County Water Authority
https://kentcountywater.org/
(401) 821-9300
PO Box 9901
Providence, RI 02940-4001
Kent County
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/rhode-island
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

Residents of Rhode Island require a 5 kw PV system to power their homes, at a cost of around $16,650. Because of generous rebates, the system should pay for itself in 5 years. Rhode Island has solar rebates under its R-E Growth Program that pays double the retail rate for every kwh generated in your first year, averaging a little over $2,200.

The state has a goal of 38.5% of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2035, which gives utilities an incentive to help homeowners willing to install renewable systems. Rhode Island’s electricity is some of the most expensive in the nation, producing significant savings for those generating their own energy.

Rhode Island is not particularly windy, so it is not a great place for a wind turbine.

Connecting to the grid

Rhode Island has net metering, with credit for surplus energy limited to 125% of your monthly consumption. Excess energy is compensated at the lower avoided cost rate and may be either carried forward into your next bill or paid for via check, at the utility company’s discretion.

South Carolina

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Dominion South Carolina
https://www.dominionenergy.com/
(800) 251-7234
P.O. Box 100255 Columbia, SC 29202
Central and south parts of South Carolina including Columbia and Charleston
Duke Energy
https://www.duke-energy.com/Info/Duke-Energy
(800) 777-9898
P.O. Box 1090
Charlotte, NC 28201-1090
Northwest including Greenville
Duke Energy Progress
https://www.duke-energy.com/
(844) 388-7425
P.O. Box 1771 Raleigh, NC 27602
Northeast including Myrtle Beach
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Dominion South Carolina
https://www.dominionenergy.com/
(800) 251-7234
P.O. Box 100255 Columbia, SC 29202
Most of the state except for northwest
Duke Energy Progress
https://www.duke-energy.com/
(844) 388-7425
P.O. Box 1771
Raleigh, NC 27602
Central eastern part of the state
Duke Energy
https://www.duke-energy.com/Info/Duke-Energy
(800) 777-9898
P.O. Box 1090
Charlotte, NC 28201-1090
Northwest including Greenville
Water utility companies
CompanyAreas serviced
SouthWest Water Company
https://www.swwc.com/sc/
(843) 768-0641
Charleston, Kiawah Island
Columbia Water Department
https://www.columbiasc.net/payment-center/online
(803) 545-3300
1339 Main St
Columbia, SC 29201
Columbia
Blue Granite Water
https://www.myutility.us/bluegranitewaterco
(800) 367-4314
West of Columbia including Lexington
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/south-carolina
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

A typical South Carolina home needs a 5 kw solar system at a cost of $16,650. If you have Duke Energy Progress, you could get a nice rebate of $100 per kw, reducing your cost by $5,000. South Carolina Electric & Gas does not have a rebate but they do pay on performance which could save you $1,500 over ten years.

Then there is the 25% tax credit on solar that can be taken for ten years, to a maximum of $3,500 or 50% of your tax burden in a year. With all these benefits, your system should pay for itself in 7 years. South Carolina’s electricity prices are around the national average, but they use a lot more energy than average so you can see some major savings in your electric bill.

South Carolina does not have sufficiently high wind speeds to justify investing in a wind turbine.

Connecting to the grid

South Carolina has net metering with no cap currently, but this may change. Utilities must roll your excess energy into your next bill or pay you for the difference. Duke Energy is putting together a fast track program to get small residential PV systems connected to the grid for a $500 fee. They also require homeowners to buy an external disconnect switch.

South Dakota

Electric companies

In addition to the investor-owned utilities, South Dakotans can choose to buy electricity from coops in their area. There is a cooperative in every part of the state.

CompanyAreas serviced
Montana-Dakota Utilities
https://www.montana-dakota.com/
(800) 638-3278
Northcentral part of South Dakota
Northwestern Energy
https://www.northwesternenergy.com/
(800) 245-6977
11 E. Park St.
Butte, MT 59701-1711
Eastern part of South Dakota
Xcel Energy
https://www.xcelenergy.com/
(800) 895-4999
414 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Alexandria, Artesian, Baltic, Benton Township Brandon, Bridgewater, Canistota, Canova, Canton, Carthage, Centerville, Chancellor, Crooks, Delapre Township, Dell Rapids, Dolton, Ellis, Emery, Fedora, Forestburg, Fulton, Garretson, Germantown Township, Grant Township, Hanson County, Harrisburg, Howard Township, La Valley Township, Lake County, Lennox, Lincoln County, Logan Township, Lyons Township, Mapleton Township, Marion, McCook County, Miner County, Minnehaha County, Monroe, Moody County, Palisade Township, Perry Township, Ramona, Renner, Roswell, Salem, Sanborn County, Sherman, Sioux Falls, Split Rock Township, Spring Valley Township, Springdale Township, Sverdrup Township, Tea Turner County, Union Township, Valley Springs Township, Vilas, Wall Lake Township, Wayne Township, Wellington Township, Winfred, Worthing
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Montana-Dakota Utilities
https://www.montana-dakota.com/
(800) 638-3278
West-central part of South Dakota
Northwestern Energy
https://www.northwesternenergy.com/
(800) 245-6977
11 E. Park St.
Butte, MT 59701-1711
Eastern part of South Dakota
MidAmerican Energy
https://www.midamericanenergy.com/home
(888) 427-5632
East and southeast South Dakota including all or part of Minnehaha, Lincoln, Union, Clay McCook and Yankton Counties
Water utility companies

South Dakotans get their water from municipalities. If your city or town is not listed, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Sioux Falls Water
https://www.siouxfalls.org/public-works/utility-billing
(605) 367-8131
224 West Ninth Street
Sioux Falls, SD
Sioux Falls
Rapid City Water
https://www.rcgov.org/how-to/how-to-pay/water-or-trash-bill-246.html
(605) 394-4162
300 Sixth Street
Rapid City, SD 57701
Rapid City
Aberdeen Utilities
https://www.aberdeen.sd.us/113/Utility-Bills
605-626-7026
123 S. Lincoln St.
Aberdeen, SD 57401
Aberdeen
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Centurylink
https://www.centurylink.com/local/sd/sioux-falls/home-phone-service.html
(800) 244-1111
West South Dakota and central east
Solar and renewable energy

South Dakota does not have solar-friendly policies, which explains why there are so few solar installations in the state. A typical household will need a 5 kw system at a cost of about $20,000. It will take 15 years for the system to pay for itself. PPAs are not available in South Dakota.

The state essentially has no renewable portfolio standard since it is low and voluntary. Electricity prices are lower than the national average. Almost half of the energy in the state is from hydroelectric power.

The state has no solar rebates, no sales tax exemption and no solar tax credit because it does not have a state income tax. It does have a limited property tax exemption of $50,000 or 70% (greater amount) of total property value for 4 years.

South Dakota has strong winds throughout the state and is a great place for wind energy generation.

Connecting to the grid

South Dakota is one of a handful of states that does not have net metering. There are interconnection standards, but they do not prohibit utilities from requiring external disconnect switches.

Tennessee

Electric companies

Residents of Tennessee get their electricity either from one of the numerous cooperatives which cover the entire state or from their municipalities. Electric coops serve 71% of Tennessee’s population. Find your coop here https://www.tnelectric.org/members/.

CompanyAreas serviced
Middle Tennessee EMC
(615) 890-9762
555 New Salem Road
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
Rutherford, Cannon, Wilson and Williamson counties
Duck River EMC
(931) 684-4621
1411 Madison Street
Shelbyville, TN 37160
Coffee, Franklin, Bedford, Moore, Rutherford, Lincoln,
Marshall, Giles, and Maury counties
Gibson EMC
(901) 855-4740
Drawer 47; 1207 South College Street
Trenton, TN 38382-0047
Gibson, Crockett, Obion, Lake, Dyer, Madison and Haywood counties
Nashville Electric Service
https://www.nespower.com/
615-736-6900
1214 Church St
Nashville, TN 37246
Nashville
Memphis Light Gas & Water
http://www.mlgw.com/
(901) 544-6549
245 South Main Street
Memphis, TN
Memphis
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District
https://www.mtng.com/
(800) 880-6373
1030 West Broad Street
Smithville, TN 37166
East-central Tennessee including Cumberland, White, Van Buren, Jackson, Smith, DeKalb, Cannon, Warren, Grundy, Rhea, Meigs Counties and parts of Hamilton, Bledsoe,Coffee, Wilson, Rutherford, Putnam and Overton Counties
Citizens Gas District
http://citizensgas.org/main/
Scott County: (423) 569-4457 Morgan County: (423) 346-7256 P.O. Box 320
Helenwood, TN 37755
Scott and Morgan Counties
Piedmont Natural Gas
https://www.piedmontng.com/
(800) 752-7504
P.O. Box 1246
Charlotte, NC 28201-1246
Central northern Tennessee
Water utility companies

Water is mostly from municipalities with a few private companies. If your town or city is not listed, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Tennessee Water Service
https://www.myutility.us/tennesseewaterservice
(800) 531-2321
PO Box 11025
Lewiston, ME 04243-9476
Chalet Village
Tennessee American Water
https://amwater.com/tnaw/
(866) 736-6420
109 Wiehl St
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Chattanooga and Hamilton County, St. Elmo, Lookout
Mountain, Elder Mountain, and Cumberland Road
Nashville Water
https://www.nashville.gov/Water-Services.aspx
615-862-4600
1700 2nd Ave N
Nashville, TN
Nashville
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/tennessee
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

In Tennessee, you will need a 6.2 kw PV system to power your home at a cost of around $19,530. This system should pay for itself in 13 years. There are no PPAs or solar leases in Tennessee. Tennessee has no renewable portfolio standard and has among the cheapest electricity prices in the nation.

The state has no solar rebates, and no solar tax credit because there is no state income tax. It does have a partial property tax exemption of two-thirds of your assessed value. The one benefit in terms of solar incentives is that there is a sales tax exemption.

Tennessee has some moderate wind along its western state line that might be suitable for wind turbines.

Connecting to the grid

Tennessee does not have net metering. TVA used to have a program like net metering called the Dispersed Power Program, but it has been phased out. The state also has no interconnection standards, so utilities can charge or require whatever they like to connect your system to the grid.

Texas

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
AEP Texas
https://www.aeptexas.com/
(877) 373-4858
South, central west and north-central parts of Texas including Corpus Christi, Abilene, McAllen, Harlingen, San Angelo, Vernon, Victoria and Laredo.
Centerpoint
https://www.centerpointenergy.com/
(800) 752-8036
P.O. Box 4981
Houston, TX 77210-4981
Houston and surrounding areas including Harris, Fort Bend, Brazoria and Galveston Counties
Xcel Energy
https://www.xcelenergy.com/
(800) 895-4999
414 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Abernathy, Adrian, Amarillo, Amherst, Anton, Booker, Borger, Bovina, Cactus, Canadian, Canyon, Channing, Claude, Crosbyton, Dalhart, Darrouzett, Denver City, Dimmitt, Dumas, Earth, Farwell, Floydada, Follett, Friona, Fritch, Groom, Gruver, Hale Center, Happy, Hart, Hereford, Higgins, Idalou, Kress, Lake Tanglewood, LeFors, Levelland, Littlefield, Lockney, Lorenzo, McLean, Meadow, Miami, Mobeetie, Morton, Muleshoe, New Deal, Olton, Palisades, Pampa, Panhandle, Perryton, Petersburg, Plainview,
Post, Ralls, Ropesville, Sanford, Seagraves, Seminole, Shallowater, Silverton, Skellytown, Slaton, Spearman, Springlake, Stinnett, Stratford, Sudan, Sunray, Tahoka, Timbercreek, Vega, Wellman, Wheeler, White Deer, Whiteface, Wilson, Wolfforth
Oncor
https://www.oncor.com/SitePages/Home.aspx
(888) 313.6862
Northeast Texas including Dallas, Ft Worth, Waco, Round Rock and Tyler
Western Texas including Odessa and Midland
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Centerpoint
https://www.centerpointenergy.com/en-us/residential?sa=tx
(800) 752-8036
P.O. Box 4981
Houston, TX 77210-4981
Houston and surrounding areas including Harris, Fort Bend, Brazoria and Galveston Counties
Atmos Energy
https://www.atmosenergy.com/
(888) 86-6700
P.O. Box 650205
Dallas, Texas 75265-0205
Most of northern and central Texas
Texas Gas Utilities
https://www.texasgasservice.com/
(800) 700-2443
P.O. Box 219913
Kansas City, MO 64121-9913
Central west including El Paso, Austin and surrounding areas, southern tip
Water utility companies

For the most part, cities in Texas provide water to their residents, although there are some private companies as well. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Aqua America Texas
https://www.aquaamerica.com/our-states/texas.aspx
(877) 987-2782
North Texas: Anderson, Bosque, Camp, Cherokee, Cooke, Denton, Erath, Grayson, Gregg, Henderson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Marion, McLennan, Parker, Rockwall, Smith, Somervell, Tarrant, Taylor and Wise counties.
Central Texas: Bandera, Bexar, Burnet, Comal, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Hays, Kendall, Kerr, Live Oak, Medina, Nueces, Travis, Williamson, Wilson and Victoria counties. Southeast Texas: Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Grimes, Harris, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Orange, Polk, San Jacinto and Wharton counties.
SouthWest Water
http://www.swwc.com/texas/
(866) 654-7992
P.O. Box 4657
Houston, TX 77210-4657
Southeast Texas including Sugar Land, eastern Travis County, west of Austin, near Rhome, Decatur, and New Fairview, near San Antonio, Travis and Williamson counties
Houston Water
https://www.houstonwaterbills.houstontx.gov/ ProdDP/Default/Default
(713) 371-1400
Houston and surrounding areas
San Antonio Water System
https://www.saws.org/
(210) 704-7297
2800 US Hwy 281 N
San Antonio, TX 78212
San Antonio and surrounding areas
Dallas Water Utilities
https://dallascityhall.com/departments/waterutilities/Pages/default.aspx
(214) 651-1441
1500 Marilla Street, Room 4A
North Dallas, TX 75201
Dallas and surrounding areas
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/phone/texas
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

A typical Texas home uses a lot of energy, and needs a 9.8 kw system at a cost of around $31,360. Although there are not great statewide incentives, certain areas like Dallas, San Antonio and Austin have generous incentives. Oncor, the utility in Dallas, has a solar rebate of $6,950. Austin Energy has a $2,500 solar rebate as does CPS Energy in San Antonio. AEP also has solar rebates of $500 per kw, up to $5,000.

There is no state income tax, so no solar tax credits. There is no sales tax exemption but Texas does have a 100% property tax exemption.

Almost 18% of Texas’ energy is generated from the wind. Wind is strong in the north around Lubbock, Amarillo and Big Spring, making wind turbines a good choice.

Connecting to the grid

While there is no net metering law in Texas, many utilities provide it or something close to it including those in Dallas, Houston, Austin, El Paso and San Antonio. Because these programs are voluntary on the part of the utilities, they are subject to change.

U.S. Tribal Nations

U.S. tribal nations are scattered throughout the county, but primarily in the west. Tribal nations may be served by the local utility companies in the region, but each nation also has the ability to create and run its own tribal utility. Below are some of the larger tribal utilities. If you are outside the nations listed, contact your local tribal government for more information.

CompanyServices providedAreas serviced
Navajo Tribal Utility Authority
https://www.ntua.com/
(800) 528-5011
Electric, gas, telecommunications, water, wastewater and solarNavajo nation
Tohono O’odham Utility Authority
https://toua.net/
(520) 383-2236
P.O. Box 816
Sells, AZ 85634
Telephone, electric, water, cell phone, propane, InternetTohono O’odham nation
Aha Macav Power Service
http://www.ahamacav.com/
(928) 768-2200
8780 AZ-95
Mohave Valley, AZ 86440
Electric and gasFt. Mojave Indian tribe
Umpqua Indian Utility Cooperative
https://www.umpquaindianutility.com/
(541) 839-3150
220 Lagoon Road
Canyonville, OR 97417
Electric, water and sewerCow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
Mission Valley Power
https://missionvalleypower.org/
(406) 883-7900
36079 Pablo West Road
Pablo, MT 59855
ElectricConfederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation
Colorado River BIA/CRA Electric System
https://www.bia.gov/programs-services/utilities/colorado-river-agency-electrical
(928) 669-7119
12000 1st Ave Parker, AZ 85344
Electric Colorado River Indian Tribes
Solar and renewable energy

There are special programs to help tribes as a whole and Native Americans get solar energy. Some reservations are in remote areas, without easy access to traditional grids and in sunny parts of the western part of the country so solar is a good alternative energy source there.

GRID Alternatives is a non-profit that uses solar and renewable energy to provide power and jobs to underserved communities, including tribal communities in Alaska, California, South Dakota, New Mexico, Washington, Montana and North Dakota. Learn more here:

https://gridalternatives.org/what-we-do/tribal-program

GRID Alternatives’ Tribal Accelerator Fund gives grants to tribe members who are interested in installing solar systems in tribal communities. To apply for a grant, go to https://tribalsolaraccelerator.org/. The organization also provides job training and scholarships for students interested in renewable energy.

Utah

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
PacifiCorp
https://www.pacificorp.com/
(888) 221-7070
PO Box 26000
Portland, OR 97256-0001
Most of the state
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Dominion Utah
https://www.dominionenergy.com/
(800) 323-5517
P.O. Box 27031
Richmond, VA 23261-7031
Center of the state from Cache County in the north to Washington County in the south
Water utility companies

Cities in Utah provide water to their residents. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Salt Lake City Public Utilities
https://www.slc.gov/utilities/pay-my-bill/
(801) 483-6900
1530 South West Temple
Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake City
West Valley City Utility
http://www.wvc-ut.gov/1327/Utility-Billing
(801) 963-3334
3580 South 2700 West
West Valley City, UT
West Valley City
Provo Utilities
https://www.provo.org/city-services/city-utilities
(801) 852-6000
351 W Center St
Provo, UT 84601
Provo and surrounding areas
Landline phone companies
Company
Areas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/utah
(800) 288.2020
Centurylink
https://www.centurylink.com/home/phone/
(800) 201-4099
North, except for Rich and Daggett Counties Southwest
Wayne and Savior Counties in the center
Solar and renewable energy

Utah residents typically need a 5 kw system at a cost of around $20,000 to power their homes. There is little government support of solar and renewable energy. The state has low electricity prices and a voluntary renewable portfolio standard.

There are no solar rebates or property tax exemptions. But there is a solar tax credit of 25% of the installation costs up to $2,000. There is no sales tax exemption for residential systems.

Utah has moderate winds in the central western part of the state that are suitable for wind energy systems.

Connecting to the grid

Rocky Mountain Power no longer has net metering. Some municipal utilities in St. George and Murray have voluntarily enacted net metering policies. Interconnection policies are strong, making it easy and inexpensive to connect to the grid. There are no requirements for insurance or external disconnect switches.

Vermont

Electric companies
Company
Green Mountain Power
https://greenmountainpower.com/
(844) 551-4550
P.O. Box 1611
Brattleboro, VT 05302-1611
Most of the state except for north central region
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Vermont Gas
https://www.vermontgas.com/
(802) 863-4511
85 Swift Street
South Burlington, VT 05403
Northwest Vermont including Chittenden and Franklin Counties, with expansion into Addison County
Water utility companies

Cities in Vermont provide water to their residents since the state concluded that small water companies were unable to meet water safety standards. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Water Resources Burlington
https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/DPW/Water
(802) 863-4501
PO Box 878
Burlington, VT 05402
Burlington
Essex Water & Sewer
https://www.essexvt.org/190/Water-Sewer- Bills
802-878-1359
81 Main Street
Essex Junction, VT 05452-3209
Essex
South Burlington Water Department
http://www.southburlingtonvt.gov/departments/water_quality/index.php
(802) 846-4107
575 Dorset Street
South Burlington, VT 05403
South Burlington
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/vermont
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Vermontel
https://www.vermontel.com/
(802) 885-9000
354 River Street, Springfield, VT 05156
Killington, Bridgewater, Hartland, Cuttingsville, Middletown Springs, Wallingford, Mount Holly, Pawlet, Danby, Springfield, Chester, Grafton, Saxtons River
Solar and renewable energy

A typical home in Vermont needs a 5 kw PV system at a cost of around $18,750. This system should pay for itself in 9 years, mostly because electricity prices in Vermont are much higher than the national average. Vermont has an ambitious renewable portfolio standard of 75% renewable energy by 2032.

Vermont has no statewide solar rebates or tax credits. However it does have a 100% property tax and sales tax exemption. If you are a Green Mountain customer, the utility offers performance payments of another $.03/kWh payment for the first 10 years of operation.

Vermont has a north to south strip in the central western part of the state that is windy. It starts around Richmond in the north to Bennington in the south. If you live in that area, consider wind energy generation.

Connecting to the grid

Vermont has net metering, and compensation for excess energy generated is at a blended retail price and varies by utility company. However, each kWh sent to the grid from a home solar system earns an additional $.01/kWh on top of the retail rate credit. Credits roll forward to the next bill but expire at the end of the year if they are not used by then.

A program that is unique to Vermont is group net metering. Neighbors can band together to install a larger PV system on the property of one person who might have more land and can assign a percentage of the excess energy credits to the other residents in the group. This is not just for residential, but can combine businesses and residential customers, like, for example a business owner having panels on his business property sharing credits with his home.

To connect to the grid, you are required to have $100,000 in liability insurance and to install an external disconnect switch. Utilities are prohibited from charging any other fees or imposing other requirements to connect.

U.S. Virgin Islands

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Virgin Island Water & Power Authority
http://www.viwapa.vi/
(340) 774-3552
P.O. Box 5997
Christiansted, St. Croix
U.S. Virgin Islands 00823
St. Thomas-St. John, Water Island District: P.O. Box 1450
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
U.S. Virgin Islands 00804-1450
St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix via a separate grid
Gas companies

No information available.

Water utility companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Virgin Island Water & Power Authority
http://www.viwapa.vi/
(340) 774-3552
P.O. Box 5997
Christiansted, St. Croix
U.S. Virgin Islands 00823
St. Thomas-St. John, Water Island District: P.O. Box 1450
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
U.S. Virgin Islands 00804-1450
St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix via a separate grid
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/us-virgin-islands
(800) 288-2020
All of territory
Solar and renewable energy

Electricity in the U.S. Virgin Islands is more expensive than the national average, making renewable energy a good investment. There is a feed-in tariff of $0.26 per kWh for residential solar systems, which can significantly reduce the cost of electricity while paying you back your investment over time.

Connecting to the grid

The U.S. Virgin Islands has net metering for systems 10 kw and smaller. The aggregate capacity limit of all net- metered systems is five megawatts (MW) on St. Croix, and 10 MW on St. Thomas, St. John, Water Island and other territorial islands up to 10% of the peak load of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s (VIWAPA) electric system.

VIWAPA charges a $25 application fee. Excess energy is credited at retail rate and rolls into the next month’s bill. Any surplus energy at the end of the year goes back to the utility company without compensation.

Virginia

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Dominion Virginia Power
https://www.dominionenergy.com/
866-366-4357
P.O. Box 26543
Richmond, VA 23290-0001
Most of the state including Richmond, Fairfax,Williamsburg, Norfolk and Charlottesville
Kentucky Power
https://www.kentuckypower.com/
(800) 572-1113
Southwestern tip of the state
AEP (Appalachian Power)
https://www.appalachianpower.com/
(800) 956-4237
PO Box 371496
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7496
West of a line that runs approximately from Lynchburg to Martinsville
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Columbia Gas of Virginia
https://www.columbiagasva.com/
(800) 543-8911
P.O. Box 70319
Philadelphia, PA 19176-0319
Central Virginia
Virginia Natural Gas
https://www.virginianaturalgas.com/
(866) 229-3578
P.O. Box 5409
Carol Stream, IL 60197-5409
Southeast Virginia
Atmos Energy
https://www.atmosenergy.com/
(888) 286-6700
P.O. Box 650205
Dallas, Texas 75265-0205
Southwestern Virginia
Water utility companies

Other than the service area for Aqua America Virginia, residents of Virginia get their water from municipalities. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Aqua America Virginia
https://www.aquaamerica.com/our-states/virginia.aspx
(877) 987-2782
Albemarle, Botetourt, Brunswick, Caroline, Carroll, Charles City, Chesapeake, Culpeper, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Essex, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Franklin, Frederick, Goochland, Greensville, Hanover, King William, Lancaster, Madison, Mathews, Mecklenburg, Middlesex, New
Kent, Northumberland, Orange, Powhatan, Richmond, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Sussex, King George, Montgomery, Westmoreland and York counties
Virginia Beach Utilities
https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/public-utilities/Pages/default.aspx
(757) 385-4171
2473 North Landing Road, 23456
Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach
Chesapeake Public Utilities
https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/city-departments/departments/Public-Utilities-Department.htm
(757) 382-6352
City Hall, 2nd floor, 306 Cedar Road
Chesapeake, VA 23322
Chesapeake
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/virginia
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Centurylink
https://www.centurylink.com/home/phone/
(800) 201-4099
South and central Virginia
Solar and renewable energy

The average Virginia home needs a 5 kw PV system at a cost of around $18,750. This system will pay for itself in about 13 years. Solar PPAs are not available in Virginia. The state has a voluntary renewable portfolio standard of only 12% by 2022, which does not offer much incentive for utilities to work with homeowners. Electricity is just below the national average here, so it will take a little while to generate significant savings on your bill.

Virginia has no solar rebates or tax credits. Municipalities can choose to exempt solar systems from property tax, but are not required to do so and there is no sales tax exemption.

Virginia’s winds are mild, so wind energy generation is not ideal.

Connecting to the grid

Virginia has net metering, but excess energy is compensated at the lower avoided cost rate rather than retail prices. The good news is that credits can roll over indefinitely or you can opt to get a check from the utility for unused energy sent back to the grid. Interconnection with the grid is easy and does not require any additional costs or equipment.

Washington

Electric companies

Geographically, the majority of Washington gets its electricity from public utility districts. Tahoma has municipal utilities. However, there are two investor-owned utilities and one that serves tribal areas.

CompanyAreas serviced
Puget Sound Energy
https://www.pse.com/
888-225-5773
BOT-01H
P.O. Box 91269
Bellevue, WA 98009-9269
Western Washington, mostly in and around Puget Sound including Island, King, Kitsap, Kittitas, Pierce, Skagit, Thurston and Whatcom Counties
Avista Energy
https://www.myavista.com/
(800) 227-9187
1411 E. Mission Ave. Spokane, WA 99252-0001
Eastern Washington including Spokane
Yakama Power
https://www.yakamapower.com/
(509) 865-7697
P.O. Box 1279
Toppenish WA. 98948
Tribal areas
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Puget Sound Energy
https://www.pse.com/
(888) 225-5773
BOT-01H
P.O. Box 91269
Bellevue, WA 98009-9269
Western Washington, mostly in and around Puget Sound including King, Lewis, Kittitas, Pierce, Thurston and Snohomish Counties
Cascade Natural Gas
https://www.cngc.com/
(888) 522-1130
PO Box 5600
Bismarck, ND 58506-5600
South central part of Washington including Kennewick, Sunnyside, Yakima, Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Walla Walla
Southwest including Longview
Northwest including Aberdeen, Bremerton, Mount Vernon and Bellingham
Water utility companies

Residents are most likely to get their water from PUDs or municipalities. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Washington Water Service
https://www.wawater.com/
(877) 408-4060
14519 Peacock Hill Avenue Gig Harbor, WA 98332
Mason, Kitsap, King, Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Jefferson, Clallam and San Juan Counties
Spokane Water Utilities
https://my.spokanecity.org/publicworks/utility-billing/
(509) 755-2489
808 W Spokane Falls Blvd
Spokane, WA 99201
Spokane
Seattle Water
https://www.seattle.gov/utilities/your-services/water
(206) 684-3000
700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900
Seattle, WA, 98104
Seattle
Tacoma Public Utilities
https://www.mytpu.org/about-tpu/services/water/
(253) 502-8600
3628 South 35th Street Tacoma, WA 98409
Tacoma
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Centurylink
https://www.centurylink.com/home/phone/
(800) 201-4099
West including Seattle, Olympia and Victoria
Central including Yakima
East including Walla Walla, Kennewick, Spokane and surrounding areas
Solar and renewable energy

Residents need a 5kw PV system to power the typical home at a cost of about $18,750. This system should pay for itself in 14 years. PPAs and solar leases are not available in Washington state. Washington has a 15% renewable portfolio standard by 2020 that needs to be updated. Washington has the lowest electricity prices in the country, so savings are less than in some other states.

While Washington does not have statewide rebates, residents served by Snohomish County PUD (in Washington’s third largest county) can get a rebate on the price of solar installation of $300 per kilowatt installed, up to a maximum of $2,000. Washington has no state income tax, hence no solar tax credits and it does not have a property tax exemption either. The state does have a sales tax exemption.

The good news is that Washington has a performance payment that can significantly reduce the cost of solar, with a bonus if the equipment is made in Washington. The maximum is $5,000 per year up to 8 years or until payments add up to 50% of the system’s installation cost.

Fiscal Year Ends
Base Rate: Residential or Community Solar (per KWH)

Bonus for Modules (solar panels) Made in WA
6-30-2020$.12$.03
6-30-2021$.10$.02

Washington has some moderate winds along the southern state line in the middle of the state as well as east of Yakima and south of Wenatchee that would be suitable for a wind turbine.

Connecting to the grid

Washington has net metering, with credits rolling forward into your next bill. However, any excess energy your system produces but has not used by March 31st each year is forfeited without compensation.

Connecting to the grid is difficult, requiring external disconnect switches and other equipment as well as compliance with a number of standards including the National Electric Code, National Electric Safety Code, and standards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the privately owned Underwriters Laboratories.

West Virginia

Electric companies

Most West Virginians get their power from the investor-owned utilities below.

Company
Areas serviced
Appalachian Power
https://www.appalachianpower.com/
(800) 956-4237
PO Box 371496
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7496
Southwest part of the state including Bluefield, Beckley, Logan, Charleston, Teays Valley, Huntington, Ripley and Pt
Pleasant
Mon Power/First Energy
https://www.firstenergycorp.com/fehome.html.html
(800) 686-0022
5001 Nasa Blvd
Fairmont, WV 26554
Central part of the state including Pocahantas, Webster, Braxton, Calhoun, Roane,Wirt, Wood, Pleasants, Ritchie, Gilmer, Lewis, Upshur, Randolph, Barbour, Tucker, Taylor, Harrison, Coddridge, Marion, Wetzel, Monogalia, Preston, Hancock, Brooke Counties and parts of Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers, Nicolas, Clay and Jackson Counties
Potomac Edison/First Energy
https://www.firstenergycorp.com/fehome.html.html
(800) 686-0011
10802 Bower Ave
Williamsport, MD 21795
Eastern part of the state including Garret, Grant, Minera, Hampshire, Allegany, Morgan, Berkeley, Washington, Jefferson, Frederick Counties, parts of Montgomery and Carrol Counties
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Hope Gas/Dominion Energy
https://www.dominionenergy.com/
(800) 688-4673
P.O. Box 26783
Richmond, VA 23261-6783
Morgantown, Fairmont, Clarksburg, Weston, Summersville, Richwood, Parkersburg, St. Marys, Sistersville, and Paden City
Mountaineer Gas
http://mountaineergasonline.com/
(800) 834-2070
PO Box 5201
Charleston, WV 25361-0201
49 of 55 counties in West Virginia
Water utility companies

West Virginia’s water is primarily delivered by West Virginia American Water, with the remainder served by public service districts and municipalities. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
West Virginia American Water
https://www.amwater.com/wvaw/
(800) 685-8660
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Charleston, WV 25302
Western and central parts of the state including Charleston and Huntington
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/west-virginia
(800) 288-2020
Entire state
Solar and renewable energy

A typical solar system in West Virginia is 5 kw and costs $20,000, which you can recoup in 17 years. Leases and PPAs are not available. West Virginia has no renewable portfolio standard and has low electricity due to its 91% use of coal for energy generation.

The state offers zero incentives to residents to go solar, with no solar rebate, tax credit, sales tax exemption or property tax exemption.

The only windy areas for wind turbines in the state are in the northern mountains.

Connecting to the grid

West Virginia has strong net metering rules, with excess energy credited back to your next bill indefinitely. Connecting to the grid requires a nominal fee of $30 and liability insurance.

Wisconsin

Electric companies

Wisconsin’s electricity needs are serviced by a patchwork of medium- and small-sized investor-owned utilities companies and cooperatives. Below are the larger electric providers.

CompanyAreas serviced
Wisconsin Power & Light/Alliant Energy
https://www.alliantenergy.com/
(800) 255-4268
P.O. Box 3062
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-3062
South central and central including Iowa, Green, Columbia, Sauk, Fond du Lac, Greenlake, Wood, Shawano and Menomnee Counties
Wisconsin Electric Power Company/We Energies
https://www.we-energies.com/
(800) 242-9137
P.O. Box 2046
Milwaukee, WI 53201-2046
Southeast region including Kenosha, Racine, Walworth, Jefferson, Washington, Ozaukee and Sheboygan Counties
Xcel Energy/Northern States Power Company
https://www.xcelenergy.com/
(800) 895-4999
P.O. Box 8
Eau Claire, WI 54702-0008
Western part of the state
Wisconsin Public Service Corp
https://accel.wisconsinpublicservice.com/
(800) 450-7260
P.O. Box 19003
Green Bay, WI 54307-9003
East-central part of Wisconsin including Marathon, Lincoln, Langlade, Oconto, Marinette, Forest, Oneida, Vilas, Brown, Kewaunee, Door, Manitowoc, Calumet and Winnebago Counties
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Wisconsin Electric Power Company/We Energies
https://www.we-energies.com/
(800) 242-9137
P.O. Box 2046
Milwaukee, WI 53201-2046
Southeast region including Kenosha, Racine, Walworth, Jefferson, Washington, Ozaukee and Sheboygan Counties
Alliant Energy
https://www.alliantenergy.com/
(800) 255-4268
P.O. Box 3062
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-3062
Southcentral and central including Iowa, Green, Columbia, Sauk, Fond du Lac, Greenlake, Wood, Shawano and Menomnee Counties
Madison Gas & Electric
https://www.mge.com/
(608) 252-7222
PO Box 1231
Madison, WI 53701-1231
South including Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Iowa, Juneau, Monroe and Vernon Counties
Water utility companies

Wisconsin residents get their water mostly from municipalities. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Milwaukee Water Works
https://city.milwaukee.gov/water
(414) 286-2830
Zeidler Municipal Building 841 N. Broadway, Room 406
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Milwaukee, Ozaukee and Waukesha Counties
Madison Water Utility
https://www.cityofmadison.com/water
(608) 266-4651
119 East Olin Avenue Madison, WI 53713
Madison, Shorewood Hills, Blooming Grove, Maple Bluff, parts of Fitchburg, the Town of Madison, and the Town of Burke
Green Bay Water Utility
https://www.gbwater.org/
(920) 448-3480
631 S Adams St.
Green Bay, WI 54301
Green Bay
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/wisconsin
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Centurylink
https://www.centurylink.com/home/phone/
(800) 201-4099
West and east but not the center of the state
Solar and renewable energy

In Wisconsin, the typical home needs a 5 kw system which costs about $17,600 and pays for itself in 13 years. Leases and PPAs are not available. There is no renewable portfolio standard, and electricity prices, while more than

227

the national average, are still affordable. Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program offers solar rebates of 12% of your installation costs up to $2,000, and double that if you live in a rural area. The state has no solar tax credits, but it does have a 100% property tax exemption and a sales tax exemption.

Wisconsin has large areas of moderate wind speed in the south and southeast areas as well as the central west region where wind energy generation is possible.

Connecting to the grid

All investor-owned and municipal utilities are required to have net metering at the full retail price. If your credit is more than $25 in any month, the utility is required to cut you a check. Connecting to the grid means that you will need liability insurance and an external disconnect switch, increasing your costs.

Wyoming

Electric companies
CompanyAreas serviced
High Plains Power (cooperative)
https://www.highplainspower.org/
(800) 445-0613
P.O. Box 713
Riverton, WY 82501
Center of the state including parts of Fremont, Hot Springs, Washakie, Natrona, Carbon, Big Horn, Johnson and Park counties
Rocky Mountain Power
https://www.rockymountainpower.net/
(888) 221-7070
PO Box 26000
Portland, OR 97256-0001
Southwest including Rock Springs, Green River, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Pinedale
Central part of the state including Riverton and Lander North central including Thermopolis, Worland, Cody and Lovell
East central including Casper and Douglas
Powder River Energy (cooperative)
https://www.precorp.coop/
(800) 442-3630
200 Garner Lake Rd Gillette, WY 82716
Northeast including Johnson, Campbell, Crook and Weston Counties and part of Sheridan County
Gas companies
CompanyAreas serviced
Dominion Wyoming
https://www.dominionenergy.com/
(800) 323-5517
P.O. Box 27031
Richmond, VA 23261-7031
Southwest including Sublette, Lincoln, Uinta, Sweetwater and Carbon Counties
Black Hills Energy
https://www.blackhillsenergy.com/ourcompany
(888) 890-5554
P.O. Box 6006
Rapid City, SD 57709
Most of eastern and central Wyoming
Water utility companies

Wyoming residents get their water mostly from municipalities. If you do not see your town or city listed below, contact your local government.

CompanyAreas serviced
Casper Utilities
https://casperwy.gov/residents/utilities
(307) 235-8400
200 N David St. Casper WY 82601
City of Casper
Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities
https://www.cheyennebopu.org/Home
(307) 637-6460
2416 Snyder Ave. Cheyenne, WY 82001
City of Casper
Laramie Water Department
https://www.cityoflaramie.org/283/Water-Wastewater
(307) 721-5200
406 Ivinson Avenue
Laramie, WY 82070
City of Laramie
Landline phone companies
CompanyAreas serviced
ATT
https://www.att.com/local/wyoming
(800) 288.2020
Entire state
Centurylink
https://www.centurylink.com/home/phone/
(800) 201-4099
Jackson, Riverton, Cody, Casper, Laramie, Cheyenne,
Gillette
Solar and renewable energy

Installing a typical 5 kw residential PV system in Wyoming will run you about $20,000 and will pay for itself in 15 years. Leases and PPAs are not available. Wyoming has no renewable portfolio standard and its electricity prices are lower than average, so your savings will be less than in some other states.

Wyoming has no solar rebates and no tax credits because there is no state income tax, nor can residents benefit from a sales tax or property tax exemption.

Connecting to the grid

Investor-owned utilities and cooperatives are required to provide net metering, but the rate at which they compensate excess energy varies by utility. Monthly surplus energy is credited to your next bill and if you have a surplus at the end of the year, the utility writes you a check at the avoided cost (wholesale) rate. There are no statewide interconnection policies, so each utility can set its own rules and requirements.

Moving

Whether moving across the country or just across town, from the moment you decide to relocate, you have a lot of decisions to make. Here are the questions you will need to consider:

Should you use a moving company?

Deciding to hire a moving company depends on your personal circumstances. If the company you work for is paying for your move, or money is otherwise not an issue, hiring professional movers could be the quickest and easiest way to move. However, if your budget is tight, but you have people available to assist you, a DIY move could be a viable option.

Cost

For most people, cost is the primary consideration when deciding how to relocate from one home to another. Moving companies can be expensive when you start comparing quotes. However, once you list all the costs involved in a DIY move, moving companies’ rates may begin to sound more reasonable.

Another consideration to take into account is the benefit of moving company’s insurance, which will cover the cost of any damaged or lost belongings. If you injure yourself trying to move a heavy sofa, your medical bills could end up negating any savings gained from a DIY move.

Moving company fees are based on the amount of furniture and boxes you have and how far your belongings must be moved.

Based on estimates taken from multiple companies by MyMove.com, review the price ranges of moving services based on distance. These base fees include loading the truck, driving and unpacking.

  • 100-mile move: $1,800 – $3,800
  • 500-mile move: $3,000 – $4,900
  • 1,000-mile move: $4,500 – $6,400

Packing services will add another $1,500 to $2,500, depending on the size of your home. Insurance coverage may be included in your estimate or purchased for an additional fee. This will protect your belongings in the event they are damaged or lost.

When working on your budget, also include the cost of packing materials. Boxes, packing paper and packing tape can be purchased from the truck rental company or online.

Other expenses are for the moving truck’s gas and for renting moving equipment, such as a dolly and furniture pads. Note that moving trucks average 10 to 12 miles per gallon, regardless of size.

Moving trucks range in length from 10 to 26 feet. A 10 to 12-foot truck is usually sufficient for a one- bedroom apartment, while a three-bedroom house will require a 24 to 26-foot truck.

Moving truck rental fees vary by size and the length of time for which you are renting the truck. Some companies charge a per-day fee, while others calculate fees based on a 50-mile trip. Expect to pay around $150 per day for a 12 to 16-foot truck and around $200 per day for a 26-foot truck.

Cost Saving Tips When Hiring a Moving Company
  • Declutter thoroughly before you start packing, to avoid paying to move items you no longer need or want.
  • Get cost estimates (quotes) from various companies. Then compare and negotiate the quotes you receive. Moving companies and rental truck companies are often willing to match a competitor’s price.
  • If your moving dates are flexible, move mid- week for the lowest rates. Most people will want to move on weekends, which can drive up the price.
  • Find out if your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance covers your possessions during a move. If so, you could save hundreds by not purchasing the moving company’s insurance coverage to replace lost or damaged items. Carefully check your policy to find out exactly what is covered, and under what circumstances.

Pros and Cons of Moving Companies & DIY Moves

Creating your own list of pros and cons can help you finalize your moving method decision. Follow this guideline for deciding which option best suits you and your family.

Pros for Hiring a Moving Company
  • Professional movers are trained professionals that can work with efficiency.
  • Packers have the materials and skills to properly pack fragile items.
  • You can avoid the physical strain of moving heavy boxes and furniture.
Cons of Hiring a Moving Company
  • It is the more expensive moving option.
  • You could lose money if you must make unexpected changes to your moving plan.
  • Contracts can make it difficult to determine if you are only paying for what you need.
Pros for a DIY Move
  • It is affordable for even the tightest moving budgets.
  • You have more flexibility for last-minute changes.
  • Unloading the truck yourself means that boxes go right where you want them.
Cons of a DIY Move
  • A DIY move can be more time-consuming and physically difficult than you anticipate.
  • Your belongings can be damaged if you pack them improperly.

Hybrid Moving Options

Moving does not always require you to choose between hiring professional movers or doing it yourself. There are various hybrid options that combine professional services with your own efforts and minimize your moving costs.

If you prefer to pack your own possessions but cannot manage heavy lifting or driving a large truck, hire furniture movers. After you pack up your house, the movers will load the truck and transport your belongings to your new home.

If you want to self-pack and you have the stamina and help to load your items yourself, but you prefer not to drive a moving van, rent a moving container. The company will bring you a container and pick it up again after you fill it. Then they will transport it to your new residence for you to unload it, or they will place it in a storage unit.

Some examples of nationally available moving container options are:

Each offers local and long distance rates and an online quote system that allows you to compare costs.

If you would prefer not to pack up your household but want to transport your belongings yourself, hire professional packers. Professional packers know which materials to use to best protect your valuable belongings and will carefully number and inventory each box. They are more efficient than untrained packers, which is helpful if you are on a tight timeline.

You will still be responsible for loading the moving truck, driving your possessions from point A to point B, and unloading them. But your belongings will be packed professionally with care.

Finding a Mover

Start your search for the best moving company online. It is easy to compare the services each company offers, and whether they cover local or interstate moves (moves across state lines). Most national moving companies and moving truck rental companies provide an online estimate calculator.

Some examples of moving truck rental companies that are available nationwide are:

After researching moving companies that serve your area, check their ratings on the Better Business Bureau’s website at http://www.bbb.org. Not only can you verify that you are dealing with a legitimate company, you will see any complaints or legal actions filed against them.

For interstate moves, use the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Mover Registration Search feature at https://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/hhg/search.asp to discover if the company is properly registered with the DOT. If you find that the company you are considering is not registered, use an alternative option.

Before signing a contract for moving services, carefully review each section and research any unfamiliar terms. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has created a helpful glossary of commonly used moving terms. Find it at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/protect-your-move/glossary.

Packing

When preparing to pack up your house, first determine what items you no longer need. Giving these away will not only save you money on labor and packing materials, it will also help you save time during the move. Sell what you can and donate the rest.

If you have hired professional packers, all you need to do is prepare a bag with the everyday essentials you will need during the move and you can leave the rest to the professionals.

However, if you are packing up your household yourself, follow these helpful guidelines:

  • Keep clothing on hangers and in drawers whenever possible. This eliminates extra steps when unpacking at your new home.
  • Use clothing, towels and linens to cushion glasses, dinnerware, lamps, vases and other fragile items. Wrap dishtowels around sharp knives and kitchen tools. This will help to limit extra packing tools while keeping your belongings safe.
  • Fill pots and pans with small kitchen utensils, spice bottles and flatware.
  • Use plastic wrap to seal open bottles of shampoo, body wash and other products that might spill.
  • Use colored stickers to color-code each room’s boxes (i.e., pink stickers for the bathroom, yellow for the kitchen, etc.). Pack each room completely before moving on to the next room.
  • Take a picture of each box’s contents. This is quicker than writing down a list of what’s in every box.
  • Use your suitcases as packing containers. Their wheels make them easy to move, which makes them ideal for books or other heavy items.
  • Finish packing the night before the moving truck arrives. Trying to pack and load simultaneously can extend the time it takes to complete the move.
  • Limit grocery shopping a week or two prior to your move, buying only minimal amounts of perishable foods. If possible, use up whatever opened foods you have on hand. The same is true for cleaning chemicals and other hazardous items that movers cannot pack.

Items Movers Will Not Move

There are certain items that a moving company will not pack or move for you. The moving company should provide you with their specific list of prohibited items. If you do not receive a list, request one before signing your moving contract to ensure you understand and agree with the items you will not be assisted with.

Items that most movers will not handle are:

  • Aerosol cans
  • Potentially harmful cleaning chemicals or solvents
  • Firearms and ammunition • Fire extinguishers
  • Fireworks
  • Matches
  • Pool chemicals
  • Propane tanks
  • Oxygen tanks/scuba tanks
  • Pesticides, fertilizer and weed killing products • Live plants
  • 235
  • Items showing proof of mold or pest infestation
  • Perishable foods or open containers of food

Last Steps Before Leaving Your Current Home

Whether you own your home or live in a rental unit, there are certain tasks you must perform when you move out. You will need to forward your mail to your new address and notify your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance company of your move. Also, if you are closing on a house you owned, you should ask your real estate agent for advice on preparing your home for its new owner.

How to Wrap Up With Your Landlord

If you are renting your home or apartment, review your lease for specific instructions on how to end the rental agreement. Most leases require tenants to submit a written move-out notice at least 30 days in advance. The document should also detail what steps you must follow to get your deposit back.

Make plans to perform repairs or any other maintenance tasks you are responsible for. Clean each room thoroughly, including vacuuming and mopping floors. It will be easier to clean well after all of your belongings have been moved out.

Contact your landlord a week or so before your move- out date, and set up an appointment for a walk-through inspection. Have all cleaning and repairs finished by the inspection date to prevent the landlord from taking any deductions from your security deposit. Set a goal of leaving the home in as good a condition as when you moved in. Finally, return your keys to the landlord on the inspection day.

How to Wrap Up With Your Utilities Companies

Call your utility companies as soon as you know your moving date. They will talk you through the service cancellation process and tell you how to get back any deposits you made. If applicable, give each utility company your new address so they can forward your final bill and refund your deposit.

If you are moving locally, simply provide your new address and service start date. For interstate moves, look up your new utility companies and arrange for service to begin a day or two before you arrive. To avoid the inconvenience of not having a vital service turned on promptly, make a checklist of all new providers. Include electric, gas, water, phone lines and more.

For more information on how to set up utility services in your area, refer to the Home Expenses and Management section of this guide.

Home Services

Once you have purchased your home and set up your utilities, you will need to keep your home maintained, in good repair, safe and comfortable. To help you with this, you may engage some of the following types of home services providers.

Alarm Systems

Alarm systems alert you, sound an alarm and notify police when an unauthorized person comes into your home when the system is armed. The alarm will typically activate when a door or window is opened or a motion sensor is activated. You will get a code to disarm the system while you are at home, and you can give this code to trusted friends and family who need to access your house when you are away.

Most well-known home security companies operate nationwide. All of the top companies offer systems that are compatible with smart home devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa and all of them except for Simplisafe have outdoor cameras included.

The cost for your home’s security system will depend on how many doors and windows you have and how many motion sensors you need. Some companies will require you to sign a contract committing to use their service for a certain period of time.

National Home Security Companies

Company
Initial cost

Monthly cost

Commitment
Simplisafe
https://simplisafe.com/
$229 and up$14.99 and upNone
Frontpoint
https://www.frontpointsecurity.com/
$319.95 and up45.01 and upNone
Vivint Smart Home
https://www.vivint.com/
$599$39.99 and upNone
Ring Alarm
https://shop.ring.com/pages/security-system
$199 and up$0 and upNone
Abode
https://goabode.com/
$229 and up$0 and upNone
ADT Security
https://security.adt.com/
Cost bundled with contract $28.99 and up36-month contract
Xfinity Home
https://www.xfinity.com/learn/home-security
$360 and up$39.95 and upNone
Protect America
https://www.protectamerica.com/
N/A$19.99 and up36-month contract
Brinks Home Security
https://brinkshome.com/
$199 and up$29 and up36-month contract
Nest Secure
https://store.google.com/us/product/nest_
secure_alarm_system
$399 and up$0 and upNone

Cable TV & Streaming Services

Cable television is a service where you pay for access to live television shows as well as on-demand shows, which may cost extra. On demand means that they are available to watch at any time. Cable television services also give customers the option of recording live TV shows so they can watch them later, but if you did not choose to record the show, you will miss it. With on demand, it is there to watch without having to record it first.

Cable TV is delivered to your home through coaxial or fiber optic cables. Satellite TV is similar, but is delivered through a satellite dish on your roof.

There are different levels of cable TV service. Basic cable includes a variety of channels and may include local TV stations as well. You also have the option of adding premium channels like HBO, Showtime and Cinemax at an additional cost.

There are a number of large companies that provide cable television service in multiple states in the U.S. They are:

TV & Internet Providers by Location

LocationCompany
Alabama
ATT
Earthlink (Internet only)
Spectrum
AlaskaDirecTV (https://www.directv.com)
Dish (https://www.dish.com)
American SamoaBluesky (http://www.bluesky.as/blueskyweb/)

Arizona
Centurylink
Cox Communications
Xfinity

Arkansas
ATT
Earthlink
Cox Communications
CaliforniaATT
Earthlink
Spectrum

Colorado
Centurylink
Xfinity
Rise Broadband (https://www.risebroadband.com/)
ConnecticutFrontier (https://frontier.com/)
Xfinity
Cox Communications

Delaware
Xfinity
Verizon (https://www.verizon.com)
Earthlink
District of ColumbiaXfinity
Verizon
Earthlink
FloridaXfinity
ATT
Earthlink
GeorgiaATT
Earthlink
Xfinity
GuamDocomo (https://www.docomopacific.com/)
GTA (https://www.gta.net/)
HawaiiSpectrum
Hawaiian Telcom (http://www.hawaiiantel.com/)
IdahoCenturylink
Rise
Sparklight (https://www.sparklight.com/)
IllinoisATT
Xfinity
Earthlink
IndianaATT
Xfinity
Earthlink
IowaMediacom (https://www.mediacomcable.com)
Centurylink
Rise Communications
KansasATT
Earthlink
Cox Communications
KentuckySpectrum
ATT
Earthlink
LouisianaATT
Earthlink
Cox Communications
MaineSpectrum
Dish
DirecTV
MarylandXfinity
Verizon
Earthlink
MassachusettsXfinity
Verizon
Earthlink
MichiganATT
Earthlink
Xfinity
MinnesotaCenturylink
Xfinity
Spectrum
MississippiATT
Earthlink
Xfinity
MissouriATT
Earthlink
Spectrum
MontanaSpectrum
DirecTV
Dish
NebraskaRise
Centurylink
Cox Communications
NevadaCenturylink
Cox Communications
Rise Broadband
New HampshireXfinity
Spectrum
Windstream (https://www.windstream.com/)
New JerseyVerizon
Earthlink
New MexicoCenturylink
Xfinity
Windstream
New YorkVerizon
Earthlink
North CarolinaSpectrum
ATT
Earthlink
North DakotaDirecTV
Centurylink
Dish
Northern Mariana IslandsIT&E (https://store.ite.net/)
OhioSpectrum
ATT
Earthlink
OklahomaATT
Earthlink
Cox Communications
OregonCenturylink
Xfinity
Spectrum
PennsylvaniaXfinity
Verizon
Earthlink
Puerto RicoLiberty PR (https://www.libertypr.com/)
ATT
DirecTV
Rhode IslandCox Communications
Verizon
South CarolinaSpectrum
ATT
Earthlink
South DakotaMidco (https://www.midco.com/)
Spectrum
TennesseeATT
Earthlink
Xfinity
TexasATT
Earthlink
Spectrum
Tribal NationsDirecTV
Dish
U.S. Virgin IslandsATT
DirecTV
UtahCenturylink
Xfinity
Rise Broadband
VermontSpectrum
Duncan Cable (https://www.duncancable.com/)
VirginiaVerizon
Earthlink
Xfinity
WashingtonXfinity
Centurylink
Ziply Fiber (https://get.ziplyfiber.com/)
West VirginiaFrontier
Xfinity
Spectrum
WisconsinSpectrum
ATT
Earthlink
WyomingCentrurylink
Spectrum
Rise Broadband

Streaming Services

In addition to cable TV, there are TV streaming services which deliver entertainment to you via an Internet connection. Some people have opted to “cut the cord,” which means to cancel cable TV and only get their television content via streaming services. Each service has its own content, and many customers choose to subscribe to more than one.

Streaming services require a device such as Apple TV, Roku or Amazon Fire TV or alternatively can be used with a smart TV or gaming console (such as PlayStation 4 or Xbox One) that incorporates one of these technologies.

CompanyMonthly Cost
Netflix (https://www.netflix.com/)$12.99
Hulu (https://www.hulu.com/welcome)$5.99 basic, $11.99 premium
Disney + (https://www.disneyplus.com/)$6.99
Peacock (https://www.peacocktv.com/)Free
Sling (https://www.sling.com/)$30.00
Amazon Prime (https://www.amazon.com/Prime-TV-Shows/b?ie=UTF8&node=7613705011)Free with Prime membership

Saving Money on TV Entertainment

Depending on your viewing habits, you have several options for savings. If you like the variety and type of programming on cable TV, look for money-saving bundles.

The major cable TV providers also sell Internet connectivity and often landline and wireless phone service, and you can buy one or more services together to save money, which is called bundling.

DirecTV, one of the two major satellite TV companies, is owned by ATT so you can still get bundles with other services. Bundling can save you a significant amount of money. Many companies will also offer you promotional savings if you are switching from a competing provider.

If you do not watch a lot of TV or do not need as much variety in programming, consider choosing one or several streaming services instead of paying for cable TV.

Pest Control

Nobody wants to share their home with pests like cockroaches, termites, rodents, ants and fleas. To eliminate existing infestations and prevent future ones, you can hire a pest control company or you can do it yourself. Pest control companies will spray insecticide and may leave baited traps to get rid of crawling insects including cockroaches, ants, spiders, centipedes, and silverfish.

Most pest control companies are small and locally owned, but there are some national companies. Do an Internet search to find some in your area and compare their service, price and customer reviews. Ask if the company uses products that are safe for pets and small children if that is a concern. You can sign up for a one-time service or a monthly recurring service which may include the outside area around your house.

Removing Beehives

Specialized pest removal companies can exterminate bees and remove beehives in and around your home. Alternatively, you may be able to remove the hive and bees for free by contacting a local beekeeper. Since bee populations are on the decline, it is better to relocate bees rather than killing them, if possible. Sometimes, bees are Affricanized, which means that they are very aggressive and will resist relocation. Removing a beehive costs between $100 and $1,000 depending on the size of the hive.

Mosquito Control

Mosquitos cause itchy bites and carry diseases such as Zika virus and malaria. Some big pest control companies provide mosquito control where they treat your outside area with a chemical fogger or spray. There are also companies that specialize just in mosquito control. Mosquito control costs on average between $350 and $500 per season for up to a half-acre property.

National Mosquito Control Companies
CompanyContact Info
Mosquito Joe(855) 275-2563
https://mosquitojoe.com/
Mosquito Squad(877) 332-2239
https://www.mosquitosquad.com/
Terminex(877) 837-6464
https://www.terminix.com/pest-control/mosquitoes/
TruGreen(800) 474-3218
https://www.trugreen.com/products-and-services/
mosquito-control
Orkin(877) 592-6874
https://www.orkin.com/other-services/mosquito-control

Animal Control and Removal

ome pest control companies can exterminate rats and mice and trap pests like squirrels and racoons that have made a home in your attic or crawl space. If you have rats or mice, call a professional right away. They reproduce quickly, producing 5 to 6 litters of 10 offspring every year so the problem will only get worse if left alone.

Rodents can create damage to your home’s structure, eat and ruin your food and carry disease. Rodent removal costs on average between $200 to $1,200, depending on the size of the infestation. Once you have exterminated the rats or mice from your home, check your home’s exterior and plug anywhere that others can enter. A professional rodent exterminator can help identify these areas and even fix them.

Racoons can also cause damage to your home and should be dealt with swiftly. Trapping and removing them costs $350-$500, but repairing the damage they cause to drywall, electrical wires, plumbing and roofing could cost an additional $1,000-$2,500. If damage is extensive, your homeowner’s insurance may cover it.

Wood-Eating Insects

There are two types of wood-eating insects: termites and carpenter ants. These insects can cause significant and dangerous damage to your home’s structure, so it is important to eliminate them as soon as you find out that they are present. A professional company that specializes in these insects is recommended, rather than trying to deal with it yourself.

You can tell if you have an infestation of these insects when you see tiny holes and piles of sawdust on the floor or insects that look like large ants with wings. If you see an insect in your house that looks like this, put it in a plastic bag and show it to a pest control specialist for identification.

Carpenter ants and termites are attracted to wet and moldy wood, so you can often find them around air conditioning units, sinks, washers and bathtubs. Fixing leaks quickly will reduce your chance of an infestation.

If you have termites, the most common treatment is to tent the house. This means that you and your family and animals will need to leave for a few days and the pest control company will put a plastic covering over your entire home while they pump in powerful pesticide.

An alternative termite treatment is called heat extermination. It works like the regular chemical process with a tent, but no chemicals are used. Instead, hot air is forced into the home until the temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which kills the termites. All companies offering termite services must be licensed in your state, so ask to see the company’s license before you hire them.

Tenting a house costs between $1,200 and $2,500 for an average size house. Companies may charge a flat rate or charge by size, ranging from $5 to $20 per linear foot.

National Pest Control Companies

CompanyContact infoPricing (Without Termites or Animals)Termite Treatment?
Terminix(844) 251-2164
https://www.terminix.com/
$169 initial, $129 every 3 monthsYes
Ehrlich(866) 844-9033
https://www.jcehrlich.com/
Requires inspection & custom quoteYes
Western Exterminator(866) 853-0766
https://www.westernexterminator.com/
Requires inspection & custom quoteYes
Bulwark Exterminating(888) 590-3502
https://www.bulwarkpestcontrol.com/
$250 every 3 monthsNo
Orkin(855) 590-9854
https://www.orkin.com/
$145 every 3 monthsYes

Saving Money on Pest Control

You can save money by buying pesticide products in a grocery, home store or discount store and spraying them in and around your house. You can also use non-toxic methods such as combining sugar with boric acid to kill roaches and ants or citronella to repel mosquitos.

One of the best ways to save money on pest control is by reducing the number of pests that are attracted to your home. Here are some tips:

  • Trim trees and bushes around your home – Insects and rodents use branches as bridges to get from the outside onto your roof where they find or make an opening. When branches are well away from the house, it is harder for them to do so.
  • Seal up cracks and holes on the outside of your home – This keeps pests out, including rodents, which can get through surprisingly small openings.
  • Replace wet and rotting wood – Termites, carpenter ants and rodents use the softwood to tunnel inside.
  • Cut off their water supply – Insects like flies and mosquitoes are attracted to and even breed in still water that is not chlorinated. Empty and refresh birdbaths, and keep pools and ponds clean. If you have water bowls outside for animals, empty and replace the water daily.
  • Keep food secure – All food in your home should be in airtight containers or in the refrigerator or freezer. Wipe the counter of crumbs and spills as needed. Take the garbage out regularly and use a closed composter.

Landscaping

Landscaping consists of the plants and structures on your property outside of your home, including your lawn, trees and other plants and fixed structures in your yard. Attractive and well maintained landscaping can greatly improve your quality of life as well as the value of your home.

A good rule of thumb is to spend up to 10% of your home’s value on landscaping. Landscaping companies usually provide two types of services: landscaping installations and maintenance.

Landscaping Installations

Landscaping installations include planting new trees, shrubs and groundcover, creating plant beds and adding mulch and decorative rocks around plants. Some landscapers can also install pavers and garden structures like ponds, arbors, trellises, pergolas and walls as well as outside lighting and sprinkler systems.

Landscapers are usually experts in the plants that thrive in your local area and their ideal amount of sunlight, fertilizer and growing seasons so they can advise you about what to plant and how to arrange the plantings.

Landscaping Costs

Landscaping installation prices range from $4 to $12 per square foot plus the cost of the plants and materials. The average homeowner spends $3,000 to $15,950 for new landscaping installations. This may be a one-time project or broken up into smaller projects over time.

Average Costs for Landscaping
Type of LandscapingAverage Cost
Lawn Seeding$300 – $700
Sod Installation$1,100 for the sod or $3,000 installed
Mulching$200 – $500
Fill Dirt & Topsoil Costs$150 – $600
Artificial Turf Installation$3,000 – $10,000
Sprinkler System Installation$2,150 – $4,000
Gravel Installation$180 – $1,800
Landscape Curbing$800 – $1,500
Misting System Install$1,000 – $2,500
Pond Installation$2,155 and $3,218
Water Fountain Installation$2,000
Tree Trimming$250 – $800
Tree Removal$12 – $13 /foot ($200 – $600 for a small- to medium-sized tree)
Lawn Grading$125 per cubic yard of dirt
Landscape Design$50–100 per hour
Landscaping PermitsUp to $1,000

Landscape and Lawn Maintenance

Since plants grow, you will need to maintain your landscaping. This entails mowing the lawn, trimming the edges with a weed wacker, raking up fallen leaves, fertilizing, weeding, mulching, trimming trees and shrubs, and sometimes removing dead or invasive trees and plants.

Your landscape company can also perform seasonal tasks such as preparing the lawn for winter, trimming trees before a storm season and planting annuals. Annuals are plants that only look nice in certain seasons and then die or become less attractive.

The cost of landscape maintenance varies with the size of your property, the number of plants and the frequency.

Average Cost to Maintain Landscaping
Frequency
1/8 Acre

1/4 Acre

1/3 Acre

1/2 Acre

1 Acre
Weekly$23.66$29.79$42.94$52.14$84.56
Biweekly$24.97$35.05$42.94$63.53$88.06
Monthly$28.92$38.99$46.00$63.97$93.32

In addition to hiring a landscaping company to mow the lawn and trim the bushes, some homeowners also get a lawn service to fertilize, apply weed control, aerate and eliminate pests from their lawn. Contact a local landscaping company in your area for more information.

Saving Money on Landscaping

There are many ways you can save money on landscaping installation and maintenance:

  • Do it yourself – You can do most kinds of gardening yourself, buying and planting plants and other materials and buying a lawnmower, weed wacker, a chain saw and other tools.
    • Home stores often let you rent power tools, which is a good option if you only have an occasional need for them.
    • If you want to fertilize and control weeds on your lawn, you can order products to DIY it online or at home stores.
  • Use native plants – They will be more likely to thrive and may need less water and maintenance.
  • Use mulch – Mulch is wood chips, straw or sawdust that you spread in garden beds. It holds in the moisture and blocks weeds so you need less water, weeding and herbicides.
  • Make your own compost – Combine kitchen scraps with dead leaves to create a rich, natural fertilizer for your plants.
  • Shop at the end of the season – Many garden centers will have sales in fall and spring, both of which are good seasons to plant.
  • Buy smaller plants – Smaller plants are less expensive and will eventually grow to full size.
  • Start your lawn from seed – Although it takes longer to look nice, starting a lawn from seed is much cheaper than laying sod.
  • Don’t overplant – Keep in mind the full size that plants will grow to (this is listed on each plant’s tag) and leave room. Otherwise, you will need to remove plants later.
  • Collaborate with neighbors – Talk to your neighbors and go in on purchases like bulk mulch, which can be much less expensive than buying it by the bag. You can also get together and hire the same maintenance company, using the size of your group and the proximity of your properties to negotiate lower monthly costs for everyone.

Pool Maintenance

There are about 10.4 million residential swimming pools in the U.S., with the majority in California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Illinois. In addition to the traditional in-ground pool, there are also above ground pools, which are separate structures and hot tubs, both in-ground and freestanding. Some pools are freshwater and others are salt water.

Saltwater pools are not the same level of saltiness as the ocean. They use a device called a saltwater generator which naturally chlorinates the pool to keep algae and other pests at bay.

Elements of Your Pool

There are different parts of your pool, all of which need some kind of periodic maintenance.

  • Water – This could be fresh or saltwater.
  • Pool pump – Like a heart, this draws water from the pool through a series of pipes into the filter, where impurities are filtered out and then pumps the clean water back into the pool.
  • Filter – This can be a cartridge filter, sand filter or diatomaceous earth filter.
  • Saltwater generator – This is for saltwater pools only.
  • Skimmer, drain and returns – The skimmer sucks leaves and other small debris off the water’s surface and catches it in a basket so it does not clog the pipes. Water from the skimmer and the main drain at the bottom of the deep end connect to the pipes. Once water is filtered, it goes back into the pool via the returns or jets. Above ground pools do not have drains.
  • Pipes – Connected to the skimmer and drain, they bring water through the pipes into the pump.
  • Timer – This is connected to the pool pump, letting you set the number of hours that the pump runs each day. By only running the pool pump part of the day, you will save money on electricity and wear and tear on your pump. It is recommended to run the pump 10-12 hours per day.

Algae, parasites and other creatures like frogs will invade your pool or hot tub if you do not keep it properly chlorinated. Neglect can also cause mineral buildup and corrosion that result in costly repairs. You can handle this yourself or hire a professional pool maintenance company to keep it in good condition.

Cleaning Frequency

The frequency that you need to clean your pool will vary depending on if your pool has a screen enclosure, if there are overhanging trees, how often you swim and the climate. However, here are some guidelines.

  • Skim, brush and vacuum weekly.
  • Clean the filter anywhere from weekly to every other month, and immediately when the pool looks green.
  • Shock your pool as needed (shock is a highly concentrated powder chlorine), such as when it is turning green, after a heavy rainstorm and after a lot of people have used the pool. Tip: Put shock in at dusk and run the pump all night so the sun does not burn it off before it has had a chance to work.
  • Add chlorine weekly and other chemicals as needed (if you are doing it yourself, you will know this when you get your water tested at a pool store).

A pool company will add the right amount of chlorine and other chemicals like acid to the pool so that the water stays clean while still being safe to use. The pool technician will also scoop out any leaves or other debris that has fallen in the pool, brush the walls and bottoms to remove algae and clean and replace your pool filter. He or she will also make sure that your pool pump and attached equipment are in working order, and can often make repairs as needed for an additional cost.

Saving Money on Pool Maintenance

If you want to handle it yourself, you can take a water sample from the pool into your nearest pool store and the experts there will tell you which chemicals you need to buy and in what amount to get your pool blue and clear.

You will also need a pool net and brush with long handles. If you have a lot of leaves and other debris in the pool, you may want to buy a pool vacuum. Often, pool stores employ technicians who can come out and do any needed repairs on your pool pump or equipment.

Home Repairs and Improvements

Sometimes things will break down in your home and you will need to repair them. In order to protect themselves from costly repairs, some homeowners take out a service contract, or home warranty service. You would pay a monthly fee and then when repairs or replacement are needed, they would be done by the service company at low or no cost.

Service contracts typically cover home appliances like dishwashers, washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves and ovens and may also cover plumbing, electrical and HVAC. If you have a home with older appliances and systems, it is a good idea to get a home warranty service.

National Home Warranty Companies

CompanyContact infoBase monthly premiums
Select Home Warranty(888) 808-1528
https://selecthomewarranty.com/
$42
Choice Home Warranty(800) 814-5235
https://chwprice.com/
$50
Amazon Home Warranty(844) 425-6102
https://ahwp.com/
$52
Landmark Home Warranty(866) 306-2999
https://www.landmarkhw.com/
$61.25
America’s First Choice Home Club(855) 972-7736
https://afchomeclub.com/
$75 – $125
First American Home Warranty(888) 875-0533
https://homewarranty.firstam.com
$75 – $100

Below are the most common parts of the home that need repair and how to get it done.

The roof is one of the, if not the, most important part of your home. It is what gives you shelter and protects you from the elements. As soon as you notice a problem with your roof, contact a roofing company. If ignored, roof problems will get worse and may even become dangerous because water will get inside and start rotting the wood, weakening the structure and creating a good environment for growing mold and attracting rodents, termites and other pests.

Even if you do not see any roof problems but you know that your roof is old, you may want to get it inspected by a roofer. Not all roof issues are visible from the outside.

Repairs or Replacement

While it seems like an elemental part of the house like the walls and foundation, the roof actually needs to be replaced around every 15-30 years or when it is badly damaged by weather or falling trees. If your roof is over 20 years old and you notice a leak or if you notice multiple leaks, it may be time to replace your roof.

On the other hand, if your roof is relatively new and in good condition, and you notice a leak or missing shingles, a repair is usually sufficient.

Cost

The average cost to replace a roof is $8,013, but a new roof can range between $1,000xa and $45,000, depending on the type of shingle, the pitch, the location, features like chimneys and skylights, code requirements and the size of the home. A new roof is quoted in squares, which means 100 square feet. The average size roof is 17 squares, which is the size of a 2,200 square foot, 2-story house.

Roof Types

When replacing a roof, the type of roofing material makes a huge difference in the cost. Here are the most common types of roofing material and their cost.

Type of materialAverage price for 17 squares
3-tab asphalt shingles$2,500
Galvanized steel$3,000
Stainless steel$14,000
High-end stone/slate$20,000
Copper$25,000 +

If you plan on changing the type of material from the existing one, be prepared to pay an additional $7,000 to $12,000. This is especially true when changing from a light material like asphalt to a heavy one like stone because the structure needs to be fortified to support the heavier material.

To fix a roof leak, the average cost is $885, with a range of $353 to $1,433. A small leak can be fixed for around $150 to $400. Labor costs between $45 and $75 per hour.

In most cases, DIY roof repair is not recommended. However, most roof repair and some roof replacement (when caused by weather or impact) should be covered under your homeowner’s policy, so look into making a claim.

Water Heater

The water heater is the device in your home that heats the water for bathing, washing clothes and dishes. Water heaters last 8-12 years. In order to extend the life of your water heater, you need to do regular maintenance, which entails flushing it twice a year to eliminate build-up of sediment and testing the pressure relief valve to make sure it is working. Some water heaters, like other appliances, are Energy Star rated.

This means that they are more energy-efficient. Some states and utilities offer rebates when you replace an old, inefficient appliance with one with an Energy Star rating.

Types of Water Heaters

When buying a new water heater, there is a variety of kinds to choose from:

  • Conventional – This is the least expensive and most common, with a tank between 30 and 80 gallons. The more people living in the house, the bigger the water heater you should buy.
  • Tankless – These are about double the price of conventional, but last 20 years or more. They heat water quickly, but can only serve one use at a time, so if someone is running the dishwasher, someone else taking a shower will not have sufficient hot water.
  • Electric heat pump – Similar to geothermal heat pumps, electric heat pumps draw their heat from the air, and thus work best in hot climates.
  • Solar – This water heater pairs with a small roof-mounted solar collector. They last for 15-20 years but require more maintenance because they have multiple parts including pipes, ducts, the collector and the mounting hardware.

To fix a water heater, call a licensed plumber. The average repair cost is $501, with a range of $203 to $800.

HVAC (Air Conditioning and Heating)

The HVAC system is what cools and heats the interior of your home. They also control the humidity inside. The unit is controlled with thermostats that you set at a comfortable temperature. Some thermostats are part of a smart home system, and can be changed with your phone or computer. Since the HVAC system requires a significant amount of your home’s electricity, it pays to look for one that is Energy Star rated. They also may qualify for rebates in your area.

Zoned Systems

If you have a bigger home, you may want to consider a zoned system. This is where you install separate smaller units in different parts of your home. For example, you might have one unit for the bedroom area and another one for the kitchen, living room and dining room area. This allows you to save electricity and money by increasing or lowering the temperature in the zone that is not being used during the day and then doing the opposite in the evening, rather than heating or cooling the entire house all the time.

Cooling

If you live in the south, you probably have a central, or whole house system. Those in cooler climates are more likely to have portable window units. Air conditioning (AC) units are rated for efficiency under Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). SEER 13 is the minimum efficiency you should consider, but higher efficiencies are likely to save you money in the long run.

Another efficiency measure is Energy Efficiency Rating (EER), which shows how well the system will operate during peak conditions. Replacing a unit with an EER rating of 5 with one with an EER of 10 can cut your energy costs in half.

There are three parts to an AC unit: compressor, condenser and evaporator. The compressor and condenser are usually in a unit outside the house, while the evaporator is inside, usually in a closet or in the garage. Any one of these parts can break down, and the evaporator can leak, causing water damage and even a small flood in the home.

AC units require regular maintenance, including changing filters at least every 3 months, flushing drain lines quarterly and cleaning the unit’s coils every 3-5 years. They last on average between 15 and 20 years.

Heating

There are multiple types of heating systems, including furnaces which push heated air through ductwork, boilers that heat water for radiators, electric heat and heat pumps. Some systems use a boiler or heat pump with radiant floors where heated water is piped under flooring. Furnaces usually use natural gas or propane and boilers use gas or oil.

Electric furnaces last 20 or more years typically, and gas furnaces and boilers last 15-30 years. Heat pumps only last around 15 years before they need to be replaced. Heating systems are generally less expensive to repair than cooling systems.

Cost

HVAC systems are repaired and serviced by specialized HVAC companies, although you can do most of the regular maintenance yourself. HVAC repairs cost between $150 and $450 on average. The average AC repair costs $319 and the average furnace repair costs $268. HVAC contractors charge $100-$150 per hour, with a minimum service call fee of $75-$200, which is applied toward the repair. Replacing an AC unit costs between $3,350 and $5,912 on average. New furnaces run between $2,150 and $5,900 to replace.

Plumbing

Plumbing is the network of pipes that provide you with running water in sinks, showers, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines and remove waste water. It also incorporates the connected faucets, shower nozzles and toilets. Professional plumbers fix plumbing problems in your home, although if you have a minor problem like a clogged sink or tub drain, you can usually fix it yourself with drain cleaner or a plumbing tool called a snake.

Sometimes these pipes get clogged with debris or spring leaks. Other plumbing repairs include fixing water heaters, sewage lines and septic systems. You would engage a plumber when you want to update a bathroom with a new sink, faucet, tub or shower or when you are replacing a kitchen sink or faucet. They can also install water filtration systems in your home.

Septic Systems

There are two ways of dealing with wastewater from toilets and washing: sewer and septic systems. If your home has sewer service, it is connected to a local government run system that disposes of your wastewater and the cost of that is included in your water bill. Sewers are more common in urban areas.

About one in five homes in the U.S. have a septic system instead. With a septic, wastewater goes into a septic tank that is buried in the ground, where natural bacteria break it down. Then water flows out underground into an area filled with sand and rock called a drain field where it is further filtered before going back into the water table.

If you have a septic system, the tank needs to be pumped out every 3-5 years to get rid of leftover solid material. If you neglect to do this, you may experience slow water drainage, slow flushes in toilets and even backed up sewage water in your house. Call a dedicated septic company to pump the tank; this costs between $280 and $525, but runs on average $385.

Cost

The average plumbing repair bill is between $175 and $450, with hourly rates ranging $45 to $200. The most costly plumbing repairs are replacing burst pipes, which can run between $1,000 and $4,000, plus an additional $250 to $750 for drywall repair.

Electrical System

The electrical system in your home runs all or most of your home’s power including lights, appliances, computers and HVAC systems. The electricity in your home comes into a breaker panel which has switches for different areas of your house and for large appliances like your oven and HVAC system. You can open the cover of the breaker panel and turn off the electricity to an area or appliance by flipping the switch.

You can do some minor electrical repairs such as fixing a short circuit by resetting the breaker and replacing broken outlet plugs and light switches. Always turn off the electricity to that part of the house at the breaker box before making any electrical repairs.

Other electrical problems are more serious. Signs of this include flickering or dimming lights, frequently burned out lightbulbs, dead outlets, warm outlets or switches, frequently tripping breakers or smelling a burn or seeing scorch marks near an appliance. Electricians also install new electrical items like ceiling fans, lighting, wires and outlets. Unless you are extremely knowledgeable, it is best to hire a professional electrician to do repairs since a mistake is potentially deadly.

Cost

The average electrician cost is $280, but most repairs range from $140 to $420. Larger electrical jobs like replacing an electrical panel or rewiring cost between $2,000 and $6,000. Electricians charge $40-$100 per hour.

Appliances

Appliances include your dishwasher, stove/cooktop, oven, refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer as well as smaller appliances like a garbage disposal, microwave and toaster oven. As with any machine, appliances sometimes break down and require repair or replacement. Hire an appliance repair company in your area to fix them.

Cost

Appliance repair costs $175 on average, with a range of $50-$500. Repairs include labor, parts and sometimes a service charge. The hourly cost is $50-$150, and most repairs can be done in less than an hour.

Additions/Renovations

If you discover that your home is too small for your needs but you do not want to move, you can build an addition. Or if you want to update the look of your home, you can do a home renovation, which keeps the existing exterior structure and most of the interior walls. Because home additions and major renovations are expensive, some homeowners finance them with a home equity line of credit (see the Home Equity Loans section of this guide for more information on HELOCs).

Additions

You need to have enough land to accommodate the addition, have an architectural blueprint, get permits from your local government and secure approval from your homeowners association if you have one.

Building an addition is a major project since you will need to knock down existing walls, extend your roof and foundation and add electrical wiring, ductwork and sometimes plumbing. Because of the complexity and laws, you will need to hire a professional general contractor to build an addition.

Renovations

While all home renovations should improve the quality of your life while you live in the home, some renovation projects contribute more to the value of your home.

Best Renovations for Resale Value
  • Increase light and space – Add windows and skylights, raise ceilings and knock down walls to create a feeling of lighter, brighter space.
  • Update kitchen – Replace outdated or damaged countertops and cabinets, and install new appliances.
  • Update bath – Add new features and modern touches like glass shower enclosures and large bathtubs.
  • Add a deck – A deck will increase your enjoyment of your backyard and is valued by potential buyers in the future.

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