What You Should Know Before Buying Solar Panels for Your Home

What You Should Know Before Buying Solar Panels for Your Home

Although solar panels have been used on satellites since the 50’s, it’s only been in the last 5 years we have seen a 300 percent increase in solar panels on homes. However, education has lagged with the consumers. As a REALTOR with a GREEN designation, and a leader in my industry on green living topics, I have seen a variety of issues crop up with how solar panels are affecting the consumers negatively with their homes. Issues ranging from their inability to sell their home with the solar systems; having grossly mis-size the systems that are put on their homes by solar companies; solar companies going out of business and not fulfilling their warranties; and not being able to net meter with the local energy company.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge advocate for solar panels on a home and saving as much as possible in electrical consumption. The idea of living off the grid makes me giddy, however, many city laws prevent the consumer from being “off the grid”. In order to operate a solar system, panels are needed, inverters and racking the system for the ideal location, and being tied to the city electrical grid for energy storage and net metering. So, if the grid goes down, you will not be able to access the solar energy you are producing.

In order to determine the kilowatt-hour (KWh) size you need for your home, you would calculate your year’s consumption of electricity. The rule of thumb is to use a system that generates not more than your average KWh a year. I have seen solar companies put larger systems than needed on homes and it turns out more costly than needed.

You will find that solar companies get creative in making solar systems affordable. There are a variety of ways to finance a solar system, leases and even sell your energy back to the electrical company. In real estate, solar systems only add value to a home if the system is owned, not leased. An owned system is when you buy it with cash or get a loan on it to purchase it. A leased system is when it’s still owned by the solar company and you are leasing/renting the system. These systems are generally 10-20 year leases. If you sell your house in the meantime, the new buyer will be required to assume the lease – which opens a pandora’s box of issues depending on how the lease is written. If buyer doesn’t want to assume the lease than the seller/current homeowner is required to pay a fee to have the system moved to the next home they purchase.

Needless to say, if you are looking into putting a solar system on your home, be sure to do your homework and research to make sure you are getting the most efficient system. Pick a reliable company and that whatever you choose to do, it will suit your long-term needs. You can still harness this beautiful Southern Utah sun to your benefit and avoid common pitfalls.

Mini-Home Living: Creating a Smaller Footprint in our Environment

Mini-Home Living: Creating a Smaller Footprint in our Environment

For 8 months, I lived in a 29 foot RV bumper trailer with just a little less than 200 square feet of living space. I truly loved the simplicity of it and didn’t miss any of my personal items, except for my piano. I learned to downsize my closet to what I only needed and not buy so many grocery items! I had very limited storage and cupboard space in my mini-home. I found myself making use of my living space outside and soaking in the great outdoors. I enjoyed my quality of living while needing and consuming less.

Eight months ago, I sold my small home of 1300 square feet and packed most of my stuff up in a 10×10 storage unit. I thought I had done an amazing job of clearing out the clutter in this home and keeping it minimal. But it wasn’t until I had lived so minimally in an RV that I realized how much stuff of my stuff I didn’t need. As my helpers moved the items from my storage unit to the moving truck, I would stop them and read my labels and wonder how I ended up moving this stuff into the storage unit in the first place. I felt the burden grow larger and larger as each item was moved out of the storage unit. “What in the world had I stored for 8 months and why I am paying movers to move it from place to place?” I wondered. I started having them make a pile to aside for donation. Once everything was loaded up in the moving truck I stopped immediately at Goodwill and donated a 1/3 of my stuff I realized had no need for.

As a REALTOR, I have seen many clients feel the same burden when packing to move and going through their homes. Many times, I’ve seen family members go through the homes of their late relatives and get rid of EVERYTHING. We spend our adult lives accumulating items but for what reason? We have collections of things, items that have been passed down through families, HUGE pantries of food stuff. These items become a burden as we need larger homes to put them in, more garages, a storage shed, a storage unit and etc. There is incredible freedom in not having lots of things. I have found that I am able to keep my cost of living low and have the flexibility and financial freedom to do lots of things. I am able to save more and live simply. And most importantly, I have learned to enjoy the little pleasures in life.

I moved into another small space just recently – a 1200 square foot condo that will require little upkeep and maintenance. It has all the basic elements I need yet it doesn’t require a lot of things to fill it and I am able to live more sustainably, consume less in electricity, gas, water and other non-renewable items. By doing this, I am creating a smaller footprint in our environment and still able to enjoy all the wonderful things our 1st world country provides. I encourage you to do the same; evaluate the items you have collected and the spaces you have to hold these things. When was the last time you used it or even looked at it. In this world of consumerism, ask yourself, do I need this?

Getting an Energy Audit on Your Home

Getting an Energy Audit on Your Home

Did you know that you can request an energy audit from your electricity company? Your utility/electricity company usually has an energy auditor on hand and it’s usually free to their clients. It’s a great way to find out how you can be saving more on electricity. The auditor, also known as an energy rater, will help you improve your energy efficiency of your home and help you with your energy consumption. Energy auditors often begin by inspecting homes to measure heat, cooling, electrical and gas usage. They use thermal infrared cameras to find energy leaks, and blower-door tests to measure the airtightness of a structure.

 

Just a few weeks ago, I noticed a trend of high energy bills with my 100 year old home in Kanab. It became worrisome to me because the energy consumption was high along with the bills. Since the home runs all on electric, I called my electricity company and expressed my concern and they transferred me over to the energy auditor. We talked at length on the phone, he pulled up past electricity consumption with the previous owner and couldn’t get the information he was looking for.

 

He asked about my heating system, the patterns of usage and some other questions. At the end of the phone call, we scheduled an appointment for him to come to my cottage in Kanab to inspect it.

I’m thrilled that I am actually using this service and get to the bottom of things – why is my electricity consumption so high! Stay tuned.