Taking a break from my normal writing on digital marketing, I wanted to focus an article on solar. I think that the timing is perfect as we see a shift in consumer sensitivity towards our environment and heightened awareness of renewable energy thanks in part to the Tesla’s of this world (an interesting marketing story of its own) but also the presidential race. Hillary Clinton’s vision calls for half billion solar panels, or about 140 gigawatts of solar, to be installed in the U.S. by 2020, and enough clean energy to power all homes by 2027. Now that would be a game-changer and a huge step forward for the US to not only progress with renewable energy but also to catch up with other nations.
I also believe that Solar energy plays into my philosophy of generating results -positive results that the end user benefits from. In this case, we look at consumers who can reap the rewards of going solar and also the companies who provide the solar installations.
On top of this, my family and I had been exploring getting solar panels on our home and from this, we found ourselves in a position to tell a story about the process.
So as you read on, my goal is that you will:
Get a clearer picture of the consumer benefits of solar energy
Understand what a typical family solar buying process looks like (taking a liberty by calling my family typical!)
Decide if solar may be a good option for you
Since I was a kid, renewable energy has been super-interesting for me. Growing up in Ireland, I remember seeing the first wind-turbines appear across the country in rural parts.
Interesting side note: According to this article from TheJournal.ie, in 2015 wind turbines generated 23% of Ireland's average electricity demand, one of the highest electric grid penetration values in the world and Ireland is now set to start seriously investing in solar energy also.
But in 2004 I swapped the ‘four-seasons-in-a-day’ climate of Ireland for the sunshine state of Florida. Somewhat surprisingly however, there really hadn’t seemed to be very much solar energy production in this state.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, ‘Florida, “the sunshine state,” ranks third in the nation for rooftop solar potential, but all the way down at 14th for cumulative solar capacity installed’.
Now, as many readers will understand, there are various reasons for this relative lack of pace with solar in Florida including somewhat unprogressive renewable energy policies to this point.
However, I am excited to say that Floridians took a step forward in August 2016, by voting Yes on Amendment 4 which supported providing tax exemptions for solar power equipment.
How We Got Started With Solar
We purchased our home at the end of 2014 and as new homeowners we were excited to make it our own. My wife and I spoke about looking into solar a few times, but we never really had the time to sit down and explore it seriously.
Then one day as the kids were napping, she saw an ad in her Facebook newsfeed, offering a free solar calculator. She filled it in and got a report on what it would cost, the amount of energy it would provide and our lifetime savings from solar. We were then contacted later that day by a solar company who answered some of our preliminary questions and they set a date later that week to give us a full energy audit, including solar.
As my wife says, “Education on solar power was important for us”. She is definitely more of a researcher and a planner, while I prefer to boil it down and make a decision.
Now we had the ball rolling on evaluating solar for our home. As we did our research and understood the advantages of having solar panels installed on our home, it became clear that we would achieve quite a few benefits.
Why We Chose Solar
My wife is from Washington state and we enjoy periodic visits back to her hometown of Kelso where we stay with her parents (they have a hot tub and cool outdoor shower). As a youngster, she enjoyed listening to Willie Nelson. Since we met, I have teased her for being a hippy 😉
Coming from Ireland and growing up in the country, the environment has always been important to me - so renewable energy and solar definitely resonated with us. We could feel good about helping the environment.
But that alone, wouldn’t have been enough for us to move forward. We’re a young family, still establishing ourselves and my wife left her job to focus on raising our two young boys, so economics plays a part in our decision-making too.
Solar checked that box also. In fact it checks a few financial boxes:
Eliminating or heavily reducing our electricity bill: Our 9.6kw system (32 panels) will reduce our average monthly electricity bill from $160 per month to close to practically $0.
Increasing the value of our home: According to an article by Fannie Mae, homes with solar panels sell for more because they offer a definite financial benefit to the future owner. We estimate that our system will add $20-30k in value to our property.
On a really basic level, instead of paying for an electricity bill every month, we’ll be contributing towards an investment in our home and our environment. One can’t help but feel good about that!
Federal Tax Credit
As if that wasn’t enough, we also have the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which has been extended through 2021. This is a real beauty for a number of reasons. From our family standpoint we get to clip 30% off the total cost of our solar installation!
But from a macro position, the ITC continues to help sustain the growth of solar in the US and according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Solar industry is expected to add over 200,000 new jobs in the US by 2020.
Things You Need to Know When You Go Solar.
The short video below from Mark Jones does a nice job of explaining how a home solar power system works. Take a peek and then we can continue on with our story and get into the nuts and bolts of investing in solar for your home...
When it comes time for you to speak with a solar installer and get a proposal, you may also want to check out The Solar Installation Dictionary for your home.
So now let’s do a deeper dive and take a look at the exact buying process that we went through to get solar installed on our home.
We’ll also take a look at the top 10 questions that we had and you’ll be able to get a free resource to help you consider what’s best for your needs when having solar installed on your home.