Even with generous tax credits, solar panels are hardly a standard feature in today's energy efficient homes. They're expensive (5-kilowatt systems are at least $20,000
). That will change as manufacturing costs drop and their efficiency increases, but it won't ever make sense in areas that receive little sunlight.
If you can afford them, there's no greater green status than sporting renewable energy on your roof. There's no doubt solar panels lower monthly bills (or depending on your budget and the weather, eliminate them entirely), but payback can take a decade or more.
Jon Chase for The Boston Globe