Alternative energy is the wave of the future, and SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR), SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY), and a host of other companies are joining the massive push toward making residential solar systems a reality for millions of homeowners. But does a residential solar system make sense for you and your home?

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, goes through some of the factors to consider in choosing whether to get a residential solar system installed. Dan first notes that it's important to see if your property is well-suited for solar, with south-facing unshaded rooftops being the best but not only option for solar power. Dan also suggests looking at local incentives, including tax credits and installation discounts, that can reduce the cost even further than federal tax credits that apply nationwide. Lastly, Dan goes through the affordability issue, noting that lease options can reduce or eliminate upfront costs, but they involve trade-offs you might not want to make. Dan concludes that as costs fall, more people will find residential solar systems to be a cost-effective way to save on energy costs.

Looking beyond solar
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Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of SolarCity. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.