System Details and Green Efforts:
Other energy efficiency and switch to renewable energy efforts: All CFL
and LED lightbulbs, ceiling fans, energy star appliances, a Nest
thermostat, cordless electric lawn mower (rechargable battery) &
electric corded snowblower, rechargable batteries for assorted toys, a
backyard clothesline for summertime drying and wool dryer balls in dryer
for the winter (yep, they really do reduce drying time by 30-40%), and a
Chevy Volt, which charges overnight (off peak times and pricing).
My husband and I both work in public school system, and we finally took the time to educate ourselves on what exactly clean energy means and why it is important. Wow, how could we not realize that we this is so needed now for ourselves and for the environment? It has been a great project working with our own children as we learned about carbon emissions, carbon footprint, clean energy, and what a difference we can make by starting just with our own home. Our first wave of going green was changing lightbulbs, building a small raised garden, starting a composting bin, and installing rain barrels. Each step we made was pretty interesting, as we realized little things like how much rain water a simple barrel collects or what savings is found in simply switching lightbulbs! Finally, when we read up and watched videos on clean vs non-renewable energy, we thought our choice would simply be choosing a supplier that provided energy from solar or wind. But then we heard from an architect that solar PV installation prices had come down drastically in price, so that our payback would be 5-7 years while the system itself would be generating 25-30 years. So, we looked into it.... and yep, once we realized how quickly we would be actually coming out FAR ahead financially ($$$ to us!) and environmentally, we were on board 100%. Illinois is definitely playing catch up compared to many other states, and we might as well get caught up for the sake of each of our IL hometowns. We need to be living on 100% renewable sources.
First start by reducing your usage by making sure you have LED and CFL lightbulbs and a programmable thermostat. Pay attention to what appliances you use. Talk to people who have gone through the process, read up on all the benefits for yourself and the environment. Get quotes from 2-3 experienced certified PV installers so that you understand what size system they recommend and give a call to your city, town or county so that you understand any permitting fees (they're probably fairly minimal, but it is good to know what to expect), as well as a copy of the local ordinance. Be prepared to offer that information to companies bidding on your project. Ask questions and realize that this is an awesome investment to help your own pocketbook and also to get inline with the direction energy needs to go in our hometowns.
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