Solar panels have come a long way since the 70's! Modern solar panels are more efficient than their predecessors, and some companies are making panels that are downright beautiful.
You can install solar panels on your own or hire a contractor to do it. Some states have solar leasing programs, where you sign up with a company that puts the panels on your roof and maintains them [source: Shahan]. They basically are your new power company. The panels on your roof and roofs in your area produce power, and you and others in the program buy that power from the leasing company.
Worried that solar panels will be an eyesore? Sure, you can still get old school panels that mount onto your roof or a stand in the back yard, but new solar shingles can blend right in to your existing roof [source: Pandolfi]. You're basically replacing a portion of your roof's tiles with solar roofing tiles that tie into your home electricity system to generate some or all of your home's power.