After determining that you want to go solar and deciding how you want to finance your project, you move on to making final decisions about your system and energy needs.
At this point, the solar company sends out an engineering team to verify that the initial architectural plan is doable and feasible. The team gets up on the roof, crawls through the attic, checks the current electrical system, and takes lots of lots of measurements and pictures.
This all leads to the final architectural plan. In our case, it did vary slightly from the original plan. The actual capacity of our roof to house the panels was a bit off, and our system is going to be just slightly less powerful than the original plan.
After the final solar architecture is done, the next step in Solar City’s process is to conduct a Home Energy Evaluation, a comprehensive audit of how your homes uses – and loses – energy.
During the evaluation, a team of people arrive your house, crawl through your attic, check your heating and air conditioning systems, and use crazy contraptions like these…
…to analyze the “leakage” of your heating and cooling systems.
They also check every appliance, every light bulb, and every window and crevice of your home.
They crunch all that information and provide you with a report card of the energy usage of your home.
The good news for us is that overall, our home is pretty efficient. It is well insulated, with little “leakage” of air from the outside in, and vice versa. Our dual-speed pool pump is a huge savings, as well as our LED and CFL light bulbs.
A few things they did recommend: eliminate one or more refrigerators (we have a kitchen fridge, garage fridge, wine refrigerator, and kegorator – yes, I know, it’s total over consumption – perhaps the next episode of ecofessions?); upgrade to more efficient air conditioning units; add an extra layer of insulation in the attic; and continue replacing any remaining incandescent lights with LED or CFL bulbs.
The good news is that although our system is slightly smaller than originally planned, by incorporating some of these energy-saving measures, we can keep our solar energy to on-the-grid energy ratio in tact from the original plan.
So now we are one step closer in the process. One step closer to our goal of living off-the-grid as much as possible. Getting closer…
Next up…part four, applying for government rebates and getting association approval (the most entertaining part so far, I promise).
Journey to Solar – Part One, Making the Decision