If you are (or you know someone) that is considering going solar you likely have a list of solar energy questions you’d like to get answered. But at the same time, you’re probably a bit conflicted about it (in a sort of Approach Avoidance kind of way).
Meaning, it’s not atypical to feel you shouldn’t ask an installer any questions because if you do the solar company might badger you to death. But conversely, if you don’t, it’s pretty hard to get your questions answered. What’s a consumer to do?
Well, if you’ve read our blog or our newsletter you know we try to provide lots of information. And if you’ve read our reviews, you’ll have also heard that our solar consultants are in fact consultants first and sales people second. So if you’re going to call anyone I’d suggest it should be us.
But just in case you’re still in Avoidance mode we thought we’d answer the most common solar energy questions right here in our newsletter. If that helps, maybe you’ll give us a call and ask about next steps.
Can Solar Really Lower My Electric Bill?
The short answer is yes and we’ve got 1500 plus customers that would attest to it. Some couldn’t build a big enough system to cover all their energy needs, but every single one of them save money. Some in the thousands of dollars a year. But the long answer (which any good consultant will offer) is of course “it depends”. Basically, it depends on whether you – as we like to say – “live in a forest”.
Trees are great and they have their own role in controlling carbon, but sometimes the terrain and trees around your home combine to make solar a less than stellar financial investment. You might want to go solar for other reasons, but your system may not be able to generate enough power to reasonably pay you back.
Beyond that point however, solar can, most definitely, pay you back. How fast depends on where you live, what utility you have, and a number of other parameters. Parameters we can review and outline for you.
Will Solar Lower My Carbon Footprint?
In this case we can pretty much unequivocally say YES! Because even if you don’t get that much sun your panels will produce at least some carbon free energy.
But of course there are other ways to reduce your carbon footprint. For example, find ways to reduce your electricity usage. If you have a pool do you run its pump 24×7 or is it on a timer? Have you switched all of your lights over to LEDs? Or consider adjusting your diet. For example, choosing chicken over beef lowers your diet’s carbon footprint by almost 50%. Read about your diet’s carbon impact here.
Can I Get An Assessment for Free?
Yes, of course. Our solar consultants will assess your home for solar at no cost.
The only time we ever charge is if you’d like some significant assistance in your planning process for a new home or building. In short, there are a lot of ways to build in a solar friendly way and we are happy to take the time to review plans and goals with you, almost like a “solar architect”. If that applies to you, we typically charge a fee for a consultation and we will then apply a portion of that fee to your solar project if you ask us to do the install.
I’m Collecting Quotes On-line – Can You Give Me A Comparison Without Visiting?
The short answer is typically no. The reason is that solar is a particular kind of purchase. For one, it is based on a custom design and put together specifically for you. Sort of like the difference between buying a new kitchen and a new car.
I mean yes, a good number of years ago I did ask a car dealer to bring a van to my house to see if it would fit in the garage. It did fit, but I also know that the dealer wouldn’t have made the van a bit skinnier if it didn’t. I would have had to choose a different vehicle. But with solar, that is typically not the case. Each project is custom designed and assembled.
And I understand the first reaction to such an assertion is a bit of disbelief. After all, houses aren’t all that different and it’s a big roof. But your roof is likely not like most others, even if it does have a few doppelgangers out there. Further, your electricity usage and panel preferences may be different than your neighbor. Put it all together and while we could give you a decent estimate, is it really the system that will definitely fit on your roof and meet your solar generation needs? Probably not. That’s why most “satellite quotes” come with a very strong caveat subjecting it to change after a follow up onsite inspection. Instead we come out and do the inspection upfront. Thus we do all we can to make sure our first proposal is the right one for you from the start.
In short, we ask people to think of it this way: Solar is a major investment and a major change to your home or building that’ll be there for 25 to 40 years. You really want to get it right.
Or put yet one additional way, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten.” (Benjamin Franklin).
More solar energy questions coming soon.