Many people often tap into their home equity with a HELOC, home equity loan, or other kind of 2nd mortgage in order to make improvements on their home. In fact yesterday, as mentioned in a Globe and Mail report, it was found that a total of 33% homeowners use their 2nd mortgage to make improvements to their home. But, what are the best improvements to make? Renovating the kitchen or upgrading the bathroom are two of the projects that homeowners think of first. But, there's another home reno that won't only improve the value of your home, it will actually give you money back! You can have it all, just by harnessing some solar energy.

  Buying and installing solar panels in and around your home will improve the resale value of your home, all while saving you money that you'd otherwise be giving the power company; and you can even get money back from the government too. But aren't solar panels costly? And isn't it too cold and too overcast in Canada to make effective and efficient use of solar panels?

  Well, yes and no. Yes, solar panels can be costly. In Canada, one 85 watt solar panel costs about $600. The average home needs about 720 watts in order to be completely powered. Based on this estimate, an individual would then need at least 9 solar panels in order to get to 765 watts, a cost which would be about $5400. Once you've purchased them you can either install them yourself (something a small minority of Canadians choose to do,) or you can hire a contractor to install them for you. This costs anywhere from $500 - $1000, depending on where the panels are located and how many you have. So you're looking at a total cost of about $6400. Sounds pricey, right?

  Again, yes. There is some cost to installing solar panels. But that's just what your 2nd mortgage is for! With a 2nd mortgage, you can get thousands back and depending on the equity you have in your home, you might still be able to afford some new accessories for the bathroom or a new appliance for the kitchen too.

  But what about the other part of it? Isn't Canada simply too cold, too overcast - in general, too dark for solar panels? Not at all! The daylight that Canadians receive even during the winter months is enough to power solar panels. The panels don't really need full-on, blasting sun rays every single day. They just need enough to be able to absorb it. And if the sun is out, as it is generally even in the winter (and even if it's behind a few clouds,) your solar panels will still find the little sunlight there is and soak it up.

  How it saves you money is obvious - you will no longer need to be paying money to a heartless utility company. But how exactly can you get money back?

  When you go off the grid, even for just a few hours during the day, you are saving the utility company money because they don't need to supply you with power. Even more than that, if you end up saving so much money that you're actually supplying the grid with some power, the utility company will even buy that power back from you! And if you think that's great, you'll love the fact that that's not the only way you'll get money back.

 The Ontario government also has a program in place that allows homeowners to write off the HST paid on their solar power system. In addition to that, the Canadian government will also contribute $500 to the equipment purchased for the solar power system - letting you keep even more of the money you received from your 2nd mortgage!

 When you're first applying for your 2nd mortgage, you may wander from bedroom to bedroom in your home wondering which one to tackle. But a better alternative may be to simply look up, up, up - to your roof! Installing a few solar panels is not only a great way to use your 2nd mortgage - it's also a great way to save money now, and in the future.