music friday, 2007 edition
what i watched last week

solar panel update

We’ve had the panels running for about ten days now, and have eight days of data to work with.

  • From November 7-14 of 2012, we averaged 37.75 kWh a day from PG&E.
  • From October 30-November 6 of 2013, we averaged 24.5 kWh a day. (We had more people staying here last November.)
  • From November 7-14 of 2013, we averaged 10.75 kWh a day.

So we’ve taken roughly 70% off our electrical usage from a year ago, and more than 50% off our usage from the period just before the solar panels kicked in.

The website that monitors our panel usage includes tidbits like this:

  • Since starting solar, we’ve reduced emissions equivalent to not driving a car for 179 miles.
  • We’ve reduced our carbon footprint equivalent to 181 pounds of CO2.
  • We’ve reduced emissions equivalent to planting two seedlings grown for ten years.

Keep in mind, it’s November in Berkeley. The daily power produced varies according to the amount of sun we get (i.e. how much fog there is). We’ll make more power in the summer time.

The PG&E bill will be lower by more than 50%, since they use a tiered system where you pay more for energy you use over a certain baseline. Our solar system is constructed to reduce our usage to approximately the baseline, so the 50% or more that we don’t use will reduce the bill by a lot more than 50%.


Nondisposable Johnny

I'm really interested in doing something like this...Did you have it contracted or do it yourself? I have no clear idea of how to even get started so any tips would be really appreciated.

Steven Rubio

My wife got the idea. She had mentioned it, but I didn't know she was serious until I saw her checking out a website. I said she should check out The Solar Company, only because I see their ads on Giants games six months of the year. She called them, and it took off from there.

They came to our house, checked out the roof, said we needed a new one (which was true ... we bought this house in 1987 and have never done the roof). They suggested a company, and we agreed. After the roof went up, The Solar Company installed the solar panels. There was a lot of waiting involved. The company was very timely with their work, but they had to wait for city permits and PG&E fixes. So the entire process took awhile.

Now that it is finally running, I can tell you that I don't notice it, which is probably a good thing. Our attic seems a bit less hot in the summer, perhaps because of the insulation that was installed with the new roof. It's funny/odd looking at the sun and seeing dollar signs.

The Solar Company gets my endorsement. The main thing about all of this is the cost. Of course, we paid for a new roof, as well, which effectively doubled the cost. So you have to be able to afford it. (Like most people, I imagine, we financed, resulting in a projected energy bill that will be X number of dollars lower, but an added loan payment that will be around the same amount as what we saved. IOW, for 12 years, we'll be spending the same amount of money. That will end after 12 years, which is nice, although as I told the guys, it won't do me any good if I'm dead in 12 years. We're also protected to a large extent against future rate changes from PG&E.

Nondisposable Johnny

Thanks Steven. That's a good rundown. I'm really trying to wieght the costs and benefits and that helps a lot.

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