Robert and Ellen Lilley were considering purchasing an electric vehicle to reduce their carbon footprint. However when Robert, an electrical engineer, began crunching numbers, the couple realized that an electric car would increase their electricity consumption. Thus Robert and Ellen began considering going solar to power both their 2,500 square foot home and the electric vehicle they planned to buy.
In addition to their power requirements, the Lilleys wanted a system that was inconspicuously “in-set” flush with their red-tile roof (pictured above). Ultimately, the Lilleys chose Sun Pacific Solar Electric, as they were impressed by the company’s knowledge, proven track record and ability to accommodate their custom design requirements. The Lilleys were also impressed with the price that Sun Pacific could offer because of the company’s participation the Community Environmental Council’s Solarize Santa Barbara program.
Robert and Ellen were active participants in selecting and sizing their system. The Lilleys worked with Sun Pacific representatives to model and predict the monthly and yearly electrical output of their system. They eventually decided on and installed a 7.2 kW SunPower system. Once installed, the Lilleys took advantage of the system’s remote monitoring technology; in the first month Robert checked the system’s output, “on almost a minute by minute basis.” He was proud to discover their system’s peak power output occurred near noon on the summer solstice and was within 100 watts of the maximum output he and Sun Pacific predicted.
In just eight months, the Lilleys’ solar array produced over 7,600 kWh of clean electricity and offset 12,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. Over that same period, the Lilleys consumed 9,000 kWh of electricity, meaning the solar array met an impressive 84 percent of their energy demand.
While the Lilleys have always practiced energy conservation, now they pay attention to when they use electricity. After installing their solar array, the Lilleys opted into Southern California Edison’s time of use (TOU) billing. Under TOU billing not all kilowatt hours are created equal; electricity costs more during peak-demand hours and less at night and in the early morning. In response, the Lilleys have shifted their heavy electrical-use activities such as laundry to the nighttime. This allows them to sell excess power to the utility during the day and purchase cheaper power in the evening – maximizing their financial savings.
Reflecting on his family’s experience using CEC’s Solarize Santa Barbara program to install solar electricity, Robert said, “CEC did an outstanding job of selecting the installers to participate in the program. When we boiled it down, we found the two companies that Solarize Santa Barbara chose really looked the best.” He also said that because the companies participating in the CEC program offered such consistent and attractive pricing, “It neatly took money out of the decision making process. We could simply go with the company that offered the highest quality installation.”
Robert offers the following advice to homeowners considering Solarize Santa Barbara, “By all means look into it. It’s a serious program that makes a difference!”