Q: [Whole Family] We just moved to a new neighborhood and our son came home from a preschool ‘eco-assembly’ saying we should ‘switch to solar’. Mouths of babes. We care about the environment and we have been curious, but we have no idea how one would go about that? Or if it is expensive? Or if it is even possible to do on an existing wired-house? If we ever have rain like last month, would we not have enough power?
A: Congratulations on your new home. You have asked 4 important questions:
Will solar work for my home? The clear majority of home owners in California can benefit from a Solar system because of our weather patterns, the current cost of energy and Federally funded tax credits. A general rule of thumb is if your electricity bill exceeds $125 per month, you will reduce electricity costs. An Energy consultant can review your homes roof lines and determine the most effective system to install. This can be determined in a brief phone conversation.
How does a solar system have a positive impact on the environment? Studies have shown various ways of reducing global impact but simply put, solar panels produce zero emissions and have a useful life span of over 40 years. They reduce the need for coal burning electricity plants. In addition, companies such as SunPower, have won awards for their “Green” driven production process which reduces global impact.
How does solar work when we have cloudy days? When the sun is shining, your system will over-produce power and send the additional power to the electrical grid. You will then use that power in the evenings or rainy days. You work with the utility company and the systems automatically share power back and forth which will be reconciled yearly. Most situations show that the cost will be plus or minus $100 for the entire year.
What type of programs are in place to pay for a Solar system? Like other home improvement investments, there are multiple programs to purchase or lease systems that reduce the cost. What makes solar unique is the automatic savings that occurs immediately, it would be like buying gasoline at $1.50 a gallon for the next 20 years.
To move forward, I recommend that home owners ask: 1. Number of years in the community installing solar. 2. The workmanship and production warranty of the panels and components. (25 years on panels and inverters) 3. Provide 3-5 local clients they installed in the last 90 days. This will give you qualified products, dealers and satisfied customers.
Bill Blatnik is an Energy Consultant with SunPower by Active Solar. He provides solar solutions for residential and commercial accounts within Southern California. If you have any questions regarding solar for your own needs, he can be reached at 949.396.2298. www.Sunpowerbyactivesolar.com