Do you know how you can be saving on your electricity bills with solar panels? If you know other homeowners, friends, or family who has gone solar, then you might constantly be hearing about how they are living clean and green and doing their part to protect the world’s resources.

Being eco-friendly and environmentally conscious is truly a noble intention, but you might also be practical enough to be mindful of your money. Being able to save money on your utilities is a second big reason so many go solar. However, it’s not enough to just put panels up, as you have to make sure you can save money in the long run from them.

For starters, you must make sure that solar panels are going to give your home or property juice that it can use. Just because the sun comes up every day where you live doesn’t mean you can tap into its energy in any meaningful way. Not enough hours of sunlight, the direction your property faces, weather, and latitude on the map all play roles in determining this.

Some homes can replace their roof with solar panelling and live off sunlight alone. Others might have to settle for just getting solar-heated water or smaller panels in windows that recharge their phones. So, first figure out what you’re looking at.

The second thing you need to do is consider the cost of the hardware, plus installation and maintenance. It’s very easy to get excited if you realize you live in a place where you can get enough sunlight to power your home. Some smart solar panels are now advanced enough to capture some solar energy even under cloud cover, and battery storage means you can use your solar energy when its dark at night. However, if the energy bill savings aren’t more than the cost of putting it all together, you could risk losing money overall.

However, there is a third factor that you should consider before just balancing an equation of cost versus power generated. That would be your tax situation. Depending on where you live, you might qualify for low-interest loans, tax credits, rebates, or other government incentives that either reduce or even subsidize the cost of solar panels, making them more affordable. This can happen at the federal, state, and municipal level, so be thorough in doing your due diligence.

Two final smaller factors also might come into play as you crunch the numbers. First, go over your HOA bylaws and make sure you’re allowed to go solar if you so choose, otherwise you might be looking at fines and fees that eat into your savings. Second, check with your local power utility to see if they buy power from homes that generate it. Some do this because your home might be humming right along in solar power production on hot sunny afternoons when they’re trying to keep the air conditioners in the region running hard.