By Eileen Gallagher
Looking to lower your electric bills? Longing to go green? Interested in protecting the environment? Curious about the Solarize signage that was appearing throughout town? Going solar might be the perfect fit for you!
Why did we see all those”Solarize” signs around town?
New Castle Sustainability Advisory Board chairperson Steve Wolk and Alicia Molloy (the initiative manager) described how Solarize came about in town:
New Castle and other towns were looking into Solarize Westchester, a program started by NY Sun (a NYS government program). Per their website, http://ny-sun.ny.gov/About/NY-Sun-FAQ, this program “is part of the Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s commitment to “protect the environment and lower energy costs for all New Yorkers by improving the efficiency and reliability of the electric grid.”
Wolk described how the program can help towns to adopt a high amount of solar on residential homes and small commercial buildings by using the program to reduce risk and reduce the cost of solar.
New Castle was able to link with Somers because, as Wolk explained, the towns needed to be contiguous, and their colleagues were “great partners and people they could collaborate with and potentially share marketing materials and ideas.” The feeling was that there would be a higher probability of getting to be one of the “chosen towns” by working with Somers.
New Castle and Somers filled out an application in which they described what they would do as part of this initiative, and were selected for the program.
Why go solar now?
Molloy explained that there has really never been a better time to convert to solar in terms of pricing and incentives. “Energy costs are always going to keep going up.” Costs aside, she stressed the need for a greener future, leading the way to “get off of fossil fuels and think in renewable energy.”
Can solar panels really power a home?
If your house has a proper amount of sunlight, as a solar installer will assess, you could potentially power your entire home using solar energy.
Any power generated and unused by your home goes back into the grid, and you are credited for that portion.
Is your home a good fit for solar?
The ideal candidates for solar installation would be homes facing south, south-east or south-west, with little to no shade, and a clear roof of less than 15 years with no obstructions. If the roof is shaded, trees might need to be trimmed. Ground-mounting is possible, but cost would be higher due to the need for a structure to place the panels on. Westchester and particularly New Castle is challenged by the large amount of trees.
Which provider to use?
Residents are always free to choose their own solar provider. For example, Sunrise Solar Solutions of Briarcliff Manor is a company whose CEO is a resident of Chappaqua. Rand Manasse, along with Sunrise Solar’s president, Doug Hertz, described their attractive solar installations as setting them apart from other installers. As a seven year subsidiary of Sunrise Building and Remodeling, they recognize the importance and value placed on the quality as well as appearance of the equipment on one’s home.
How long will it take to recover expenses?
According to Manasse, the average return on investment is five to six years for purchased systems and Day One for financed systems. And this is for a system that has a warrantied life of 25 years and will most likely produce energy for well over 30.
The savings on a solar system for the typical home in Westchester is $60,000 over the life of the system.
Selling your home in the near future?
Purchasing equipment rather than leasing might be a better fit for you. Per Hertz, “In a recent study by the Department of Energy it was shown that for every dollar invested in a solar system you add 3 dollars to the value of your home at resale. Reporting from the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have shown issues with selling homes with leased systems. Not only does ownership create more value, but it removes the legal impediments to a sale that a lease entails.”
Tips from Sunrise Solar Solutions
- Shop local. Not every Solarize partner is equally invested in the community. Once the campaign is over, a national firm with spread out interests may be far less responsive than a reputable local installer with longstanding ties to the community.
- Look for long-term value, not bargains. The saying goes, it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish. When making a significant investment in your home, pricing is important, but it’s just one of many factors to consider. Invest in a system that can offer you significant savings for many years to come, not just today. It’s very important to note that a higher quality installation can actually save you more money in the long-term.
For more information, solarizewestchester.com/solarize-somers-new-castle/ and sunrisesolarllc.com