My friend Todd Kreisman and his wife recently added solar panels to their Southern California home, and he was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the process.
1. What made you decide to go solar?
We were approached by Zero Energy, who had representatives going door-to-door in our neighborhood and who told us we were qualified for subsidies through Energy Upgrade California.** In the last few months, we’ve had insulation put in our attic and walls, gotten weather stripping, more energy efficient shower head and other devices replaced, etc.
2. Do you own your panels or did you lease them? What are the terms?
The deal was $0 down and then we make a monthly payment so that eventually we’ll own them. The tricky thing is that it’s built into the cost of everything else they did, so I’m trying to figure out how much it was for just the panels… I think it was in the $5k range all together.
3. What were your average monthly summer and winter electrical bills when you were using conventional energy sources? How much of that cost do you anticipate being able to cover with the new panels?
DWP bills were getting pretty insane – in the $300-500 range per two month billing period. Hoping/expecting we can get that down to around $100-150.
4. Are you able to sell your extra energy back to your local provider?
Never heard anything about that mentioned, so assuming no.
5. Were there any surprises about the process that you didn’t anticipate?
Yes. We have a metal roof, and they couldn’t install the panels on top of them. Fortunately for us, the guy who came out originally goofed and said they could do it, so when it came time to install them, I ended up being put in contact with the (I think) CEO of Zero Energy who said it was their bad, and they were going to pay to have another company come out and re-tile that portion of the roof so that the panels could be installed. There were also some major delays in getting the work done (we initially signed up for these in September and they were finally installed this month.)
**Note that it appears that subsidies for solar panels appear to be exhausted. Will look into this further, but I know the state periodically funds these upgrades, companies like Zero Energy aggressively market to homeowners until the subsidies are gone, and then you typically have to wait for the next round. I tried the subsidy finder for my zip code and came up with nothing. However, there is still a relevant tax credit available.
Thanks, Todd! Would love to get an update in six months or so to see how your new bills compare.