What made you go solar?
As parents and grandparents who accept and take the science of climate change seriously, we felt a responsibility to change
those parts of our lifestyle that contribute to this most serious of all global crises. Upon review of our lifestyle, we could see
our energy consumption practices, both the source and the amount we use, were where we could make the greatest impact.
While becoming more efficient is important, easy, and saves money, it wasn’t enough. The change to a clean energy source
was the other side of the coin. Being located in a suburb of Chicago as well as the design and orientation of the back of our
house (facing directly south) made solar the most logical and effective choice for us.
Besides the obvious environmental benefits of transitioning our individual use of energy from dirty to clean, the other
motivating factors were that this transition is good for the local economy in that we used a local small business to sell
and install the system as well as the national economy in that we specified that the equipment must be manufactured
in the USA. This contributed to job growth and keeping all our energy dollars in the US. This is important for national
security and reducing our dependence of foreign sources some of whom frankly hate us. Last but not least, while we
entered the project expecting it to ultimately cost us more than just leaving our situation as is, it made us wealthier
the day we flipped the switch due to the incentives that were offered, the added value we placed on our home, the
monthly savings we enjoy, and the sale of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), all of which add up to more than the out
of pocket price we paid for the system.
How has your life been different since you went solar?
Besides the wealth creation mentioned above and peace of mind that the change brings (see next section) which is
extremely important, actually our home life has changed very little. I believe that is a major fear many people have
about “going green”. They fear that life will change dramatically and be harder, more expensive, and less convenient.
What they fail to realize is that this is 21st century technology not 18th century technology like coal. Some of the people
who stand to benefit the most are miners and well workers who risk their health and lives to deliver fuel when their
skills can be transitioned to safe, comfortable, and plentiful clean energy careers.
Personally because I am so happy with the results and benefits that I now speak to local groups and write about our
experience. There are so many myths and misconceptions about solar technology and the industry doesn’t have the
financial resources to communicate the real story unlike their competition who have resorted to making up stories and
claiming benefits that are rightfully owned by solar (e.g. “clean” coal). This has proven to be immensely enjoyable and
introduced me to so many interesting and interested people.
What tips do you have for others that want to go solar?
Start looking into it. If not you, then who? If not now, then when? Climate change is a global imperative with each
day that we emit more CO2 than the planet can handle the situation gets worse. We are handing our children for
generations to come problems that we caused but they will have to pay for in more ways than just financially. If
someone can’t go all in, start small and expand later…but start.
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