Financial Friday: The Power of the Sun

We love to live in Colorado.  The mountains.  The outdoors.  Being close to our family.  And the sunshine.  300 plus days of sunshine!

Okay, maybe not 300 days but in actuality in Denver about 70% of the days have sun putting it in the top ten cities in the United States for sunshine.

So as a frugal family and a family that worries about the environment, we wondered how we could get the sun to do more work for us.  For years, we had heard about putting solar panels on our roof to provide electricity to our house.  I remember watching news stories about how the cost of the solar panels was in the tens of thousands and that you had to have large batteries to store all of the extra electricity.  This didn’t include all of the water needed to make sure the system remained cool.

Yes, this was the way of the past when many people wanting to install solar did it themselves.  But could the PFG family really get solar without breaking the bank.  We knew we didn’t want to purchase the panels ourselves because the cost and maintenance would be out the roof.  We also didn’t want to have to put up a lot of money to install them on our roof.

Then I read a post on a friend’s wall about a company where you paid for the power of the solar not the panels.  We reached out to her and were connected to SolarCity and to a representative who met with Mrs. PFG and I to talk about the benefits and costs of working with them on installing solar on our house.

The entire initial meeting put many things at ease for us.  We would never have to do any maintenance on the panels, the installation would be done over a couple of days, SolarCity would contact our current electric company to transfer over the service, they would be in charge of all of the city and energy inspections, and the cost of the service would be locked in every year with a minimal increase every year (compared to an ever changing increase from our current energy company).

The best part of it was that there were no up front costs and right off the bat we would have the potential to save money every month over what we were currently paying.  From our initial meeting to the time that the solar panels got installed was a good three month process but a lot of this had to do with the winter, inspections, and design of our system.

Additionally, we had an issue when the system was first installed and within two business days, they had someone out to fix the problem.

The Numbers
Now for the numbers.  starting today, we are going to share with you every month how much energy our system is providing.  For us, our system is providing a lot of energy that goes back to our energy company (not SolarCity) and gets banked as credit for us against what we use.  For any energy we produce that isn’t used, that amount rolls over to the next month.  So for example during the summer when there is more sunlight than energy we use, we will be banking that energy for when in the winter there is less sunlight.

Below is the yearly graph so far of what we have produced since our system was turned on in April.  Moving forward we will share this at the end of each month.

Solar City - May 9

In a little over a month, our system has provided 1,062 kilowatt hours of energy.  Last month alone we banked over 270 kilowatt hours for our reserves.  Knowing that we are helping the environment and saving some extra money has made this whole experience even better!

If you are interested in learning more about how you can install solar panels, help the environment, and save some money, please let us know and we will tell you more!

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