When researching for a good solar panel installer, don't forget the Internet. Yes you may start out in the phone book, but the Internet will give you a lot more information as well. You may find testimonials from other clients and ideas for contractors that you may not have realized are out there.
In recent years smaller solar systems have become available that the average person can use at a relatively low cost. They might not be able to power your home, but they can power many of your smaller electronics and help you reduce the amount of energy you consume. Search for some smaller systems to help reduces your carbon footprint.
If you cannot afford a full-scale solar energy system, consider investing in a smaller one. Some vendors offer small systems designed to power a water heater or a generator. This small investment should help you save money within the next few years and you can easily expand your solar energy system by powering more appliances with solar panels.