When I told Nate we were meeting with a home solar company, he was instantly skeptical and mumbly. “I'm not getting into some scam deal leasing out our roof out and letting God-knows-who enter our property whenever they want.”
He had done a tinsy bit of home solar research years ago. He was disappointed with most of the programs out there during what was known as the “California energy crisis” in which we experienced rolling blackouts and an astonishing 800% wholesale rate increase in less than a year. The state has fortunately had some time to get their act together since then, but we're still facing a 17% rate increase next month. I wanted to take a closer look at energy rebates and incentives that could save us money now, before the price of solar increases to keep up with market demand.
Spotlight: Household Energy in California
Living in a big air-conditioned home in one of the hotter areas of California, we pay a lot for energy. Add on our pool and hot tub, and it gets pretty out-of-hand. The energy company in San Diego runs on a tiered system, where the first set of kilowatt hours is billed at a lower rate than the second set and so on, meaning that by the time we get around to operating the pool or AC on top of our stove, TV, etc…we're paying twice what most people pay to turn on a light bulb. This is the cost of having a big house and a big family in an economy where power is money. On top of that tiered structure, our rates have historically been doubling every 10 years.
Home solar systems help families reduce reliance on the energy company by capturing energy from the sun via panels on the roof and disbursing it as the home uses energy throughout the day. Excess power is bought back by the power company, who then sells it to other customers.
Complete Solar Solution
We met with a well-known home solar company in our area called Complete Solar Solution. There are a lot of solar companies out there, but Complete Solar Solution does things a little bit differently. Many offer a single panel manufacturer, whereas Complete Solar Solution contracts with numerous solar panel providers and uses a proprietary software system to help customers find the best solar panel fit for their home and their energy situation. They also offer three different solar energy contracting/purchasing options: pay up-front, pay for solar as a service by borrowing panels from the solar company, or take out a loan to finance solar panels.
What was really crucial in our decision-making was that Complete Solar Solution manages the ENTIRE process. They work directly with the necessary contractors, bank lenders and government entities to ensure that all the paperwork is smoothed out and there is no headache on our end. They even guarantee government rebates, so we don't have to worry about coming up short. From initial meeting to complete installation, the entire process takes less than a month – compared to most solar companies that take up to six months waiting on government approvals and incentives to go through.
Our Home Solar Situation
In the end, we decided to get a loan and finance our solar panels. Our current energy usage comes to about $200 monthly, headed on up to $234 monthly with the 17% rate increase next month. With Complete Solar Solution's 2.9% APR option to buy our own solar system, we're looking at a total of $190 per month fixed for 12 years, after which point we will own the panels outright and have nearly unlimited power on our property for free. That's also keeping in mind that we're overbuilding the system to account for increased usage of our pool pump and hot tub, as well as a potential guest house (all of which would have put us with an average energy bill of over $300 without solar).
Goodbye pricey energy bill, hellllooooo long nights in the hot tub.
Have you considered home solar for your family?