We've been just doing a ton of things around the house - no real big projects, mostly small maintenance things. But we are trying to focus on making life easier on us down the line when I retire, and so one thing we just finished (today!) was refinancing our house so we will have it paid off in 15 years. Got a fantastic interest rate - we feel good about that.
one other thing we looked at was installing solar panels on the roof. We looked at the leasing program, which is a no-money-down kind of thing. Actually, no money out of pocket, which is nice. But the downside to that is that you sign a 20 year lease with the solar company to pay a fixed rate for power to the solar company instead of the utility company. The 20 year lease doesn't sound good -- so we decided to do the purchase approach with another company.
First we had to take down most of the catio:
We stacked the panels and set them aside until we redo the tunnel off the catio. For now, they have the top section that they like the best anyways.
Then the solar company sent out workers to dig a trench. We have a set of panels on the garage as well as the house, so they needed to run wire connecting the two.
The trench is still uncovered (a week later) becuase Dale wants to run a second line out to the garage while they have it opened. While they were digging the trench, they hit the water line - oops! - but fixed it right away.
Then they came out and put the panels on ---
It took them 2 days to get it all set, and now we just have to wait until SCE (Southern California Edison, our power company) gives us the OK to switch it over.
This is all the power hookups, the stuff we don't really understand! The meter on the far left is the two way meter that goes backwards when we are producing more power than we are using, which will pretty much be every day. At night, the meter will go the other day as we use power from the utility company.
We had an energy audit to see if we could make the panel count match as closely as possible the needs we have. So the number of panels (22) will produce somewhere between 98-103% of the power we currently use.
Because we wanted to know these things, I am going to talk about how much this all cost and what kind of benefits/cost that we incurred. I think it might be helpful to someone who is considering the switch to solar.
We used SunRun, and we found out about them through Costco. We just got a membership earlier this spring, there was a great groupon deal that gave us a lot of rebates to get the upper level membership. We refinanced our house through the Costco program and got a fantastic rate and the cost was minimal, and included a $1250 bonus that they paid towards closing costs. With SunRun, we get a 2% cashback, which comes to $450, a $650 Costco card, and they give a discount on the equipment. Our 22 panels installed came to $22,250.00. We will get a 30% tax credit, which means a dollar for dollar refund of any taxes we owe. That's just over $7,000 - and we won't be able to use all that this year, so it will roll over to next year's taxes. That gives us a net cost of $14, 450 after all those rebates come into effect.
Our average monthly electric bill is $157 mo. That's average, some months (like this month), it might be as low as 68.00, and during the middle of summer with the AC going, or the middle of the winter with the space heaters going, it goes up to $230.00 per month. Our hot tub costs quite a bit. So - once this solar gets going, we anticipate a simple $10 per month bill from the utility company for the non-energy costs of lines, hookup, etc. So we will save an average of 147 a month, and over the course of the next 8 years and 3 months we will be paying this off. In less than 9 years, we will be fully paid off and basically paying ourselves.
Although we haven't got the meter going yet (it takes 2-5 weeks to get the utility to process the switch), we are extremely happy with the company. They were great about informing us all along the way, and answered all our questions and concerns really fast. So far, I would totally recommend them. I understand not all people have cash on hand to pay for something like this, but they offer a 15 year financing plan that never exceeds what you're actually paying for your current utility bills. In other words, if we had financed, our montly payment would have been 150 a month, still allowing us to be paying out less per month than we were paying for our electric bill. Which made it a no-brainer. I mean, you're already paying out the money each month, why not be buying something while you're doing it?
Anyway, I hope to keep more caught up on my blog this year. We want to get pictures of our vardo up and we have plans for the summer, of course!