Let me begin by acknowledging that I am cheap! I began my solar journey back in 1980, by constructing a thermal solar collector with used steel cans soldered as fins to copper tubes. Then a 2-by-6 wood frame box with insulation and plastic glazing to allow sun to heat the system. But, the first time in the sun, the steel fins became unsoldered and my project was a loss. I then broke down and purchased “real” thermal collectors, and connected these to my domestic water system. Wow, free hot water! I was so intrigued with this concept, and Jimmy Carter installed a similar system on the White House, that I began a business installing these systems for others.
Traveling forward 40 years and many solar thermal systems later, I embarked on a photovoltaic system for my new home (photo = sun, voltaic = electric). I had a 5-kw system installed in my new home that provided all the power for this home. But wait, there’s more! Versant allows overproduction of this system to be credited to my existing home. Thus, two homes without power bills!
Maine provides an energy tax credit for the installation costs of these systems. When I calculated my dollar savings based on the current cost of electricity (energy plus transmission), I found that I am receiving a 14 percent return on my net solar investment. But I purchased this system with 4 percent bank money! Therefore, I am receiving 10 percent investment return on the bank’s money. Oh, did I tell you that I was cheap?
With the current understanding of our global climate situation, I push very hard to provide everyone with my experience in protecting our environment. And it doesn’t have to cost more to protect the world our grandchildren will inherit. Please do your own research to evaluate costs vs. return on various energy issues, and coordinate with local photovoltaic system suppliers to get their input.
Think globally, act locally! Small steps can result in big leaps for our environment.