When retirement knocked on the door of Arroyo Grande residents Angela and Mark Goble, solar answered.
Angela, a longtime Basset Hound breeder, had been interested in solar ever since her brother installed panels on his home in the 1990s. “He thought it was the most wonderful thing, so naturally, we were intrigued,” she says. They were tempted by solar again in the early 2000s when energy rates tripled and they had to abandon one of their favorite pastimes, hot – tubbing. At that time however, they still didn’t think solar would pencil out in their favor.
By 2013, with Mark nearing retirement, they began to rethink their financial picture, and whether solar energy could be a part of the plan.
They heard about a CEC Solarize workshop taking place in San Luis Obispo County and decided to investigate. Walking in, they knew next to nothing about the process or costs involved in going solar. Walking out, their decision was made.
The Solarize presentation gave them “facts without fluff” and insight into why solar investment is low-risk; with no moving parts to break, panels have a lifespan of 25 years or more. Moreover, the investment includes a 10-year, 100 percent guarantee on all the equipment, along with an additional 15-year performance guarantee on the panels themselves.
But the clincher for Angela and Mark came after the group presentation: personalized support. CEC’s Energy Program Manager, Jefferson Litten, gave them initial estimates about where the panels would go, what size and how many would fit on their roof, and helped connect them with one of the program’s partner installers, Solarponics. Most importantly, a solar consultant from Solarponics met with Angela and Mark, ran the numbers for the couple’s particular needs, and designed a custom solution based on their energy use. They liked what they saw. And while they considered financing the panels, it turned out they didn’t need to. In 2013, Angela’s Basset Hounds had three “really good litters,” which helped cover their initial cost of $28,000 before the 30% federal tax credit.
When it came to installation, they were surprised by the ease and speed of the work. Compared to their normal DIY home repair process, going solar was “blazingly fast” – the panels were installed, switched on, and producing energy in two weeks flat.
After flipping the switch, the couple’s average energy bill plummeted, from $175 a month to just $4, PG&E’s minimum monthly electric charge. With solar taking the financial burden out of the energy equation, they’re looking forward to getting a new hot tub soon. And because they are producing more electricity than they can use each month, they’re indulging in another home renovation that used to be out of the question: radiant floor heating throughout the main arteries of the house.
What would these savvy retirees recommend to others approaching their golden years?
“Get to solar. If you’re going into retirement, bringing monthly costs down is important. What better gift could you give yourself than a lower energy bill?” With solar, they get a return on a monthly basis, not to mention the $9,000 federal tax credit they will capture in their taxes on the year they installed the panels.
“People tie up thousands in the bank to get a couple hundred back each year,” Angela says, “but solar is better than any savings, cd, or mutual fund.”