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Journey to Solar – Part One, Making the Decision

We are in the process of going solar at our house. I want to document our journey to demonstrate how simple, easy and cost-effective it can be. And hopefully inspire some of you to consider solar panels for your own home.

We are a few steps down the road at this point, but I’ll start back at the beginning with Step One – making the decision to go solar.

The reasons to choose solar energy are numerous and well documented. Let’s just say for me, it breaks down to either powering our home using solar (a clean, non-polluting, completely renewable energy source) or continuing to run off fossil fuels (a finite source that pollutes our water and air, and is a primary contributor to climate change). It’s kind of a no-brainer.

With that said, I will focus primarily on the financial aspects of going solar. Quite simply, it can save you A LOT of money.

In general, when looking at solar purely from a financial perspective, it makes sense for those who own their homes, are planning to stay there in the near future, and generally have an electric bill that is over $150 per month.

For us, our journey to solar started shortly after we moved last year and received our first electric bill – over $400! I couldn’t believe it. I had never seen an electric bill over $200 in my life.

Since then, we have implemented some energy-saving, cost-cutting measures, like switching all our bulbs to CFL or LED, turning off appliances not in use, and installing a new dual-speed pool pump (that alone has saved us about $75 a month). With these measures, we have reduced our bill to about $300.

Still, way too high, and using far too much energy from the grid.

So, I started interviewing solar companies.

It turns out, we can go solar for no money down, lease the panels for around $200 per month, and reduce our electric bill to about $40. That means, we can start saving money every month, right away, with NO MONEY OUT OF POCKET. Not only that, but as the years go by and Edison’s rates continue to increase (vs. our fixed-lease rate for our panels), we save even more money. I’ll give you more details and the full breakdown in my next post.

The next step is to select a solar contractor to perform the installation.

After looking at many companies, and meeting extensively with three, I settled on Solar City.

So far, I am very happy with my decision. Solar City’s service is excellent, their technicians are timely, and they take care of the entire process for you – including engineering, financing, permits, installation and ongoing monitoring of your system performance.

Now, we are on our way. Actually, the van showed up today to get us moving forward. I was so excited. I felt like a kid on Christmas.

In my next post, I’ll break down the three main ways you can pay for solar, how the math works in our case, and how it may work for you too.

For a good overall summary of the process, check out this short, informative video, “Affordable Solar Power and Better Energy”.

(Point of clarification: Solar City in no way compensated me or provided me with any type of discounts for this recommendation. I selected them solely because I felt they were the best provider in California.)

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4 responses »

  1. Pingback: Journey to Solar – Part Three, Auditing & Evaluation « OC Green Mama

  2. Pingback: Journey to Solar – Part Four, Rebates and Approvals « OC Green Mama

  3. Pingback: Journey to Solar – Part Five, Installation, Inspection and Flipping the Switch | OC Green Mama

  4. Pingback: Journey to Solar – Part Six, A Month to Month Comparison | OC Green Mama

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