If you cannot afford to buy solar panels or do not want to make a long-term investment, you should consider leasing a solar energy system. Leasing a system saves you money, and you can usually recoup the installation costs within a matter of weeks.
Going with a solar panel system does not mean that you will be ripping off your roof. You can always start small by purchasing outdoor lighting that is run off of solar energy. They'll charge up during the day to light all night, with exception of pre-dawn hours during long winter nights.
Once your solar panels are installed, you need to keep track of how much power you are producing and using on a daily basis. Invest in a quality monitoring system and look at the data as often as possible. If you notice your panels are not producing as much energy as usual, it might be time to clean them.