A few weeks ago my not-really-into-being-green husband announced that he’d met a guy who worked for Solar City and that he’d asked him to get in touch with me to see if we were ready to go solar.  Huh?  Well, I took the opportunity and ran with it!  🙂

The Solar Consultation

After scouring our calendar for a block of free time, our meeting with a Solar City field consultant – Kay – was scheduled. Our only prep for the meeting was to have a copy of our most recent Pepco bill handy – which I of course completely forgot about until the last minute (story of my life!!).

After ensuring that our kids were occupied (by duct taping their mouths and tying them to chairs – just kidding!!) so we could focus, we had a great chat about the pros of solar, the process and the pricing.  Before our meeting, Kay had downloaded a satellite photo of our house (luckily there weren’t toys strewn all over the yard!) to see if we were good candidates to go solar.  Throughout the meeting my (skeptical) husband only mentioned a few times how ugly he thought solar panels were.  To that Kay responded by saying that we could design our system with panels on the back roof only.   Score one for Kay!  🙂

Why Solar?

I was already sold on the idea to go solar but my (not-really-into-being-green) husband was going to be hard to convince. I was encouraged to see him listening (with one ear at least) to the pitch to go solar.

We talked about 3 really good reasons to go solar.  One, of course, is that it helps the environment (my favorite!) by not burning dirty fossil fuels.  Solar also allows you to control your energy costs since your rate for solar is fixed (and rises at a fixed rate) vs. not knowing what the unpredictable and continually rising rate of electricity costs may be year to year.

Finally, through net metering, you can lower your electricity costs.  I have to admit it took me a while to wrap my head around this concept but after reading the slide in the Solar City presentation 15 times here’s how it made sense to me.  🙂

You have solar panels on your home and when the sun hits your panels they start producing energy.  Your home uses that solar power first and then gets any additional power it needs from the grid which is provided by your electricity provider (Pepco).  Throughout the day the sun shines on your panels and they continue to produce power however your home may not use all that your panels produce because you are out of the house all day.  The power that your home doesn’t use but that is produced by YOUR panels is pushed into the electricity (Pepco) grid for use by others around you.  In turn, you get a credit for the power you have produced but don’t need to use toward your future needs from the electricity grid (Pepco).  For example, you can use the credit to offset the higher energy costs you would incur from using power from the grid at night when you can’t produce any solar power on your own to use.

Get all that?  🙂

Our System

Next we discussed the specifics for our home and the possibilities to go solar.  Using satellite images, we were presented with a concept for the system of panels that would work most efficiently on our roof.  We also discussed the amount of power our panels would produce, what percentage of our total usage solar would provide and what cost savings over current (and projected) Pepco rates we could expect.

Our preliminary design is for a 7.8 KW (kilowatt) system that would produce 7,300 KWH (kilowatts/hour) per year.  In other words, we could get 31% of the energy we need/use from solar power.  Is that enough of an offset to go solar? Is it better to use 31% less electricity from our provider that is mostly derived from burning fossil fuels vs. none at all?

Next Steps

After looking at it that way and feeling a little more at ease we decided to move to the next step.  That entailed doing a quick, online credit check, signing an agreement (that we can get out of should we chicken out again!) and scheduling a site survey.  The site survey will include another Solar City representative coming out to asses our home and roof to provide clearer more substantiated numbers for our potential to produce solar electricity.

Stay tuned for updates on our journey to go solar!!

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