As stated in the first part of “Going Green” we are still in the process of debt elimination. That’s a slow work in progress. What I’m going to write about in Part 2, you may balk at the investment I’m going to talk about, but believe me, it’s worth it in the end. And it’s doable NOW, if you have fairly good credit. And that is…
GOING SOLAR! This was a major dream that we have been working toward for a few years now. We worked for over a year, got our credit where it needed to be, and last summer we thought we were there, and applied for financing for a solar system. We were denied. Still not good enough. *sigh* So we worked tirelessly for yet another year, and this summer, we tried again… and were approved! No stipulations, no “cautions,” and we didn’t even have to use both of our credit scores this time, just my husband’s. We were able to get an entire solar system to operate our whole household, on the basis of my husband’s income and credit alone.
Most people who read this, think it’s impossible for their situation, and when they see the large dollar figure on the entire system, they run, screaming! But let’s look at the basics of our personal experience and maybe this will help you understand that you, too, can afford it – and easily! Here’s how we broke it down:
During these hot West Texas summers, when temps can reach triple digits every day for weeks and months on end, our central AC runs 24/7, and even then doesn’t keep the indoors at the temperature set. It always struggles to keep up. Our last electric bill before switching to the solar system, was over $500!!! Ridiculous! It is consistantly over $300, $400, $500, etc every month because of our 30 year old AC unit which is an energy hog. We know we need a new HVAC system for this old house, but honestly, it would cost us more up front for the HVAC system, than it did for solar! So we decided to do the solar first, and with the savings on our electric bill, we’d stash that away toward a new HVAC system in the future. It just made sense.
At present, the Federal government is giving killer tax incentives for anyone going solar. They give 30% tax breaks, divided over two years, for the cost of the entire solar system. For us, that means that we will get $11,000.00 back from the US government when we file our taxes: $6K the first year, $5K the second, as long as we still own the system. Cool, huh?!
For the first 12 months, we are paying only $124 per month for our entire system. (And that’s with $0 down!) Plus, we switched to an electric company who gives us credits for any extra electricity we don’t use, which goes back to the grid. So during the winter months, when our AC never runs, we’ll get nothing but huge credits that will build up and never expire, so when the heavy-use summer months come along, we won’t even have an electric bill! [Note: in some areas of the country, your electric company will give you the option of actual money and will cut you a check every month. If you have that option, go for it, and put it all back into the solar system payoff. We don’t have that option. The only electric company we have will only give credits on the bill, but it still helps.]
At the end of 12 months, the balance still owed on the solar system is refinanced, and any extra we put towards it during those first 12 months (i.e., throwing the tax refund right back into the system) will go against principle and we may only end up paying $50-100/month for our solar system, which is fixed for 20 years. (The system itself carries a 25 year warranty, which is transferrable to any new owners of the home!)
For us, it was a no-brainer to only pay a flat $124 for electricity instead of multiple hundreds! I mean, if you can do it…why not?! A solar system also completely negates rising costs of electricity! You’ll never have an increased charge in electricity usage. Several years down the line, when everyone around you is paying twice as much as they used to… you won’t be!
We also did some research on how this would effect our home equity. At present, the equity in our home went up $6000 for every kilowatt we had installed. We have an 8.12 KW system (rounded down to 8KW), which means we immediately added $48,000 to the value of our home! That’s WAY more than we paid for the system, so if we ever needed or wanted to sell the home, we’d be able to completely pay off the entire system and have money to spare. (Leaving the new home owners sitting pretty! LOL) A solar system is also easy to disassemble and take with you to your new home, if you so choose.
The company we used, was GREEN SOLAR TECHNOLOGIES. They took care of absolutely everything: logistics, city permits, installation, shipping, etc. We didn’t lift a finger! They were terrific communicators, and constantly let us know what steps were being taken in the process. Any delays, we were communicated with. The only delay we encountered was not from Green Solar Technologies, but from FedEx (they failed to deliver a vital component of the system on time, and we had to wait nearly 2 weeks before the installers could come back to complete the install). Green Solar Technologies communicated, answered every single question we had plainly, with honesty, and explained everything to the point that we were completely savvy regarding our solar system by the time it was all said and done. They were terrific!
Another benefit of using Green Solar Technologies, is that they only use parts and panels MADE IN THE USA! No Chinese knock-offs. They support the American economy, and the American worker! They have several videos that explain their panel quality, and why they are so good. (They even drove a large pickup truck and parked it over the solar panels, with no damage!) Their panels are guaranteed against hail damage, too. (That was a concern for us, because whenever we do get rain, we get doozy hail storms!)
We have been operating the solar system in our home for a month now. It’s still a hot season, we’re still running the AC full time, but on our first bill we still got a credit for unused electricity. It wasn’t much this month, but as the season cools, and we use our AC less and less, those credits will increase, and will really pay off!
One thing I want to mention in closing, is that we opted NOT to get a battery backup system. We are still partially connected to the grid. When there is a thick cloud cover, or after the sun goes down in the evening, we are seamlessly back on the grid (we don’t notice a difference when it switches). The reason for this (and Green Solar Technologies actually explained this to us at the beginning), is that the technology is not up-to-par with most budgets. To have a battery system large enough for the entire household, the cost was almost as much as the solar system itself. We did, however, opt for an inverter that is completely battery-ready when the time comes, which Green Solar Technologies threw into our package free of charge! If the battery technology ever decreases in price and becomes more affordable, we will definitely install them as well.
Here are some photos and videos we took of the installation process of our own solar panels:
You, too, can GO GREEN! Easily! Affordably! One step at a time… GO FOR IT!