Today is the Twelfth day of Christmas, the eve of the Epiphany and the last verse of my rendition of the Twelve Days of a Green Christmas! You’ll need to take a deep breath before you sing all 12 verses!
…On the twelfth day of Christmas my green friend gave to me…twelve solar panels…eleven jute bags…ten kitchen towels…nine milkweed plants…eight chocolate bars…seven bales of straw…six coffee plants…five bamboo toothbrushes…four stainless straws…three pairs of socks…two recycled pallets…and a new electric car!
Over the past seven years my green friend and I have had some pretty lively discussions about solar panels. I always thought solar panels were too expensive and the return on investment would take more years than I probably had left. More recently we discussed how the price of the panels had been coming down, the size of the panels smaller and the efficiency higher. Solar panels were now making more sense financially! The average ROI (return on investment) is now closer to 7 years than the previous 30 year projection. They can also increase the value of your property about 4-8% when you sell, depending on your listing Realtor™ having the education to handle the transaction correctly. I’ll cover that in a future post.
Don’t get me wrong, solar panels are not the solution to high utility bills or the first improvement to your new house. If you have a “leaky” house, one where outside air and dirt can infiltrate the interior or the conditioned air from the interior leaks to the outdoors, solar panels are not the answer to the discomfort of your home or the health issues you may experience. You will probably waste money buying more solar panels than you should need if you have an airtight house. Fixing those air leaks will be much less expensive than too many solar panels and you will still have a drafty house!
I recommend (or include in my real estate transactions) a professional Energy Audit which will provide a “road map” to the sequence of improvements to make your home more comfortable. If you think you already have a pretty airtight home I recommend at least having a Blower Door test or obtaining a HERS rating. A HERS score will benefit you in several ways when you decide to sell your home, but that’s another future post. You can always add solar panels if you find you need more so invest your money where it will do the most good!
Our discussion continued with solar panel manufacturers, solar installers and the value of a battery back-up system. After much research my green friend was convinced solar panels manufactured by SunPower in California were the best choice. They are the most efficient with removable integrated inverters. Not only are the backs of the panels copper lined the grid lines are also on the underside so they won’t lose efficiency as quickly as other panels. My green friend decided on twelve 350 watt panels for a 4200 dc watt system since I had already fixed many of the air leaks.
Next was the question “a battery back-up or a gas powered generator for power outages”? Many homeowners don’t care about the noise pollution a generator makes but I find them offensive so I was insistent upon a quiet, battery back-up. Again, after much research my green friend decided a Tesla Powerwall would be the best option.
Now all that remained in the puzzle was locating a good certified installer for the panels and Powerwall. After talking with several reps from solar companies, some of who never visited the property but emailed a quote for a system, my green friend decided on Solar-Fit with headquarters in Holly Hill and serving the surrounding areas. Solar-Fit was founded in 1975 and is a family owned business. Their reps visited the property several times, provided projections, brochures and drawings for the system and answered our myriad of questions. The installation was smooth, handled professionally and the solar panel system worked perfectly from day one!
So my green friend gifted me an invaluable solar panel system on this twelfth day of a Green Christmas! With Federal tax incentives, rebates, selling energy back to the utility company, a tiny utility bill and increasing the value of my home about 4-8% this gift a real bonanza! In the coming weeks I will write more posts about the value and performance of solar panels and how to make certain you recoup the value of panels as well as other “high performance” upgrades when you sell your property. I describe “high performance” upgrades as those that make a house more comfortable while reducing the resources it uses.
If you are reading this last paragraph of my Twelve Days of a Green Christmas, thank you for hanging in there and making it through all twelve days! As I mentioned on the Eve of the Twelve Days of a Green Christmas the Twelfth Day aka Twelfth Night, January 5th, ushers in the Epiphany, Three Kings Day or Little Christmas as it may be called depending on which culture with which you are celebrating. No matter which culture you celebrate feasts will abound!
I hope you have learned a few new things that will add to a “greener” lifestyle. Every year I learn so much doing research for each day’s gifts! This year not only did I discover some new ideas, I also learned I had made some choices that were not the best green choices.
I hope you will join me throughout the year with my “green” tips and December 24th for the beginning of the my next rendition of the Twelve Days of a Green Christmas!