Hurling myself head first at the American dream without a helmet was a roller coaster from Hell. Recently married to my beautiful wife, relocated with a low paying job, completely draining our scrapped together savings on our wedding and then down payment on a new home left our eyes glued to our checking account like hawks. The strain of keeping track of every single expense that came out, and trying to decipher the names for the transactions (you know what I mean right?), made me understand why about one in five marriages end in their first five years.
That low paying job? Once we got the keys to our house I decided we were better off without it. Burn your boats! Good is the enemy of great! It was the right decision, but my little breather turned into a mad scramble when my wife poured me a glass of beer with “father” etched out on it. What’s college going to cost in eighteen years and how much does it cost to even to pay just for the birth? Way more than we had, and on top of that we were starting to struggle just to afford our living expenses.
I survived through the beans and rice diet, as I think every kid should when they leave home. It builds character, teaches us survival skills, and the true value of things. However, I’m not 22 anymore and I’m not letting my pregnant wife sweat through a scorching summer with the air conditioner turned off. We did what we could. Switched over from craft beer to Budweiser; bought value brands - you get the idea.
What’s the cost of keeping the thermostat hovering at 72 degrees in the Central Valley of California? For us it meant our summer bills started to scrape right at $400 for electricity alone. Not knowing any better you’d think there was something wrong; old air conditioner, leaky windows, no insulation in the attic, etc.
Nope! Our house had just been built the previous year before we bought it. Owners hated the neighbor’s dog or something and sold. Energy compliance laws meant that the home was built with tons (slight exaggeration) of insulation in the attic, dual-pane windows with all the new tech (low-e coatings, blah blah blah).
My local utility had been screwing up left and right and were passing their business expenses on to their rate payers who have no choice but pay them or live in the 1800s. You may have heard of PG&E and their disasters, but Google will help you out if not.
I had never felt as much of a screw up as I did then with my son on the way and not even able to take care of just me and my wife. I thought I was ready for this whole adult life thing, but there were curve balls and sucker punches being thrown at us constantly.
We struggled but got by. The summer heat wave gave way and at least the electric bill got less expensive. I finally found a great new job, and money started coming in again. One day a sales guy knocked on our door talking to us about solar. His company was pitching a lease agreement for the system. I had already been working in the home improvement industry and told him that if I did solar it would be through someone I knew who does it. I’m thankful he knocked on the door because it did get me researching solar.
We ended up purchasing our system and life moved on. Things got easier. Our electric bill went away and even though we weren’t dealing with summer costs anymore it was still nice to save that $100 or whatever a month the rest of the year was. I started buying craft beer and taking my wife on dates again…
Boom! Pow! Kerchaw! Another sucker punch landed. The company I was working for was having payroll issues. They owed me over 20 grand in back pay. I was still building up my emergency fund and paying down debt. My wife and son NEEDED that money to keep food on the table and the roof over our heads.
I switched jobs and tried to get some money coming in as quickly as possible, but what really saved my hide is an amazing thing called the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). You see, back in the day solar was expensive. Too expensive. The only people buying were the early adopters that thought it was cool and it will save the world (it is and it can). Enter Uncle Sam. He’s currently (2020) covering about a quarter of the total cost, currently 26%. This money comes back through your taxes.
The timing of this could not have been any better. That extra $6,000 really padded my wallet at a very crucial time. I kept the lights on. I fed the family. I put myself back together. There was more money at the end of the month instead of more month at the end of the money.
You see, getting solar on our home was not about saving $20 a month off of our living expenses. It’s about building up my family’s emergency savings and not contributing to the survival of a poorly ran monopoly with a bloody history of disasters that do not put their customers first.
So why hasn’t everyone made the same decision?
Well, I was lucky enough to have personal relationships with people in the industry, but the little research I did do was challenging. There is very little unbiased information out there and most websites are just trying to give just enough info to get you to put your name and phone number and then sell your personal information. I decided there had to be a better way for homeowners to find out what they needed to know and make an informed decision that can really help them live a better life; take the strain out of their marriages and put them on the path of energy freedom.
That’s why I’ve decided to release a buyers guide, updated yearly, that homeowners can reference to and get informed without having to get blasted by multiple solar companies with unwelcome phone calls. You’ll be able to get the real scoop on what makes one solar panel different from another, what an inverter does and why it’s so important, and the pros and cons of ways to pay for solar. Everything you need to know about going solar are found in its pages. It will make a decision that will fundamentally change your home and your life easy and simple.
Join me in helping you and every homeowner transition to cleaner energy and gain independence from the electric company.
Visit www.MakeSolarGreat.com and access your copy today.
Make life great — make solar great!