Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day - Do you have solar?

Happy Earth Day everyone! To celebrate Earth Day, many choose to do something that makes a visual impact: cleaning up a park or collecting used clothing for donation to a shelter. Others plant a tree or do a day without throw away items.

Have you considered solar? We recently took the plunge. We had previously considered it but believed it was cost prohibitive. Really though, it is not. Besides the fact that, in a sunny area, you can basically "produce your own electricity" and cut back on the use of unclean sources of energy, it saves money as well.

This link assists you in finding potential sources of rebates toward you catching your own electricity. It is also helpful to know that this year the Federal Government is also encouraging solar through tax incentives. From their website: "Consumers who install solar energy systems (including solar water heating and solar electric systems), small wind systems, geothermal heat pumps, and residential fuel cell and microturbine systems can receive a 30% tax credit for systems placed in service before December 31, 2016; the previous tax credit cap no longer applies."

To start looking into solar:
- contact your electric company and ask what rebates they have and the procedure. Many companies offer a per KWH rebate, and for some it is a decreasing rate, so it is important to apply early.
- Research solar companies in your area
- Check if your place of business offers any incentives or if they have any preferred vendors that will give you a rebate
- Interview at least two companies
- Know the panels and the inverter options and check which has better efficiency
- Get the quotes from at least two companies, and let the other know which one is giving you a better price and which one has a better solar panel and/or inverter. Don't be afraid to bargain.
- Ask how quickly they can install after any approvals needed
- If you live in an HOA, find out what procedure you need to follow.

For us, we decided to go with a mid-sized, extremely efficient system. We use very little energy, in spite of the nearly 3000 sq ft in our home. We used the company SolarTopps. After our approval for the rebate from APS, we were installed three days later. The other company, which had the lower price (that SolarTopps matched), couldn't install for three months. That would have given us two hot AZ months with the use of dirty energy, and high electric bills.

The upfront cost for solar can be prohibitive, but some companies, allow you to assign your rebate to them, bringing down your out of pocket costs. If you can't carry the federal tax rebate amount for the year until you can claim it on your taxes, some companies will finance for you as well. Other companies have solar leases available. Be sure to check your options.

If you don't want to use solar for the Earth, at least consider it for your pocket book! We'll be getting our energy basically free (they still charge some fees) within three years of having solar!

If you do contact SolarTopps for a quote, feel free to let them know Amanda and Ravi referred you.

Our numbers- Cost
$36,443 - 6.5 KW system
-$9,000 - discount
-$10,304 - utility rebate
-$1,000 - State tax rebate
-$8,833 - Federal tax rebate
$7306 end cost for solar system
Savings of approximately a $1300/year bill, at current rates.

As the cost of electricity increases, the coverage is even more since you'll have "free" energy when the cost of "dirty" energy increases. Most solar systems last 25-30 years and are under some sort of warranty before then.

Earth savings

484,304 car miles driven
1 Ton Acid Rain Emissions
.5 Ton Smog Emissions
194 tons of Greenhouse gas
927 mature trees
554 barrels of oil offset

*Based on 272770 "lifetime" KWH produced, EPA estimates

Disclosure: SolarTopps has indicated that if we refer anyone, they will provide us with an incentive.

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