Hoping to reduce their greenhouse emissions, Kelley Hippler and her husband, Tom, installed solar panels on the roof of their Colonial-style home in suburban Sharon in summer 2015. “We had, like a lot of folks, become more aware of global warming and we wanted to look into forms of sustainable energy,” Kelley says.
The couple took advantage of a federal tax credit that lowered the cost of installing their system from $45,000 to $31,500. A state tax credit saved them another $1,000. The solar panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV) systems, have cut the electric bill for their 3,500-square-foot home from an average of $200 a month to basically zero, says Kelley. With the exception of the coldest winter months, they also send enough power back to their electric company most months to earn a small credit on top of the $200 savings. The couple has two meters, one showing how much electricity they draw from their utility company and one showing how much electricity they send back to it. Between September 2015 and April 2016, Kelley says, they earned $100 in credits.
Save Thousands of Dollars
The average solar array costs between $10,000 and $35,000. If that seems too expensive, consider this: a recent study showed that customers save an average of $44 to $187 per month the first year they own their solar panels. That’s anywhere from $528 to a whopping $2,244 in a single year, meaning your system could pay for itself within five years – and continue to save you money on your monthly utility bill for years to come. According to some estimates, the average solar system saves consumers more than $20,000 over 20 years. In some areas, the savings can reach up to $64,000.
Enjoy Energy Security
Generators can break, fossil fuels can run out, and utility companies can dissolve. The sun, on the other hand, is not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the sun provides roughly four million tons of energy every second – and humankind uses only .0001% of that amount in global energy consumption. Solar panels require only a miniscule piece of that solar energy surplus to power your home, which means you never need to worry about it running out.
Do you remember a few short years ago when you weren’t getting four telemarketing calls a day on top of aggressive strangers knocking on your door peddling solar panels?
Solar companies have enjoyed explosive growth in the past decade, and for good reason: Solar works, and it works well. However, as the demand and push for solar raised, so did the scams and shady sales tactics. A quick online search shows the nation’s biggest solar companies all have been hit with citations and lawsuits in the last few years over deceitful practices, predatory leasing programs, shoddy installations, etc.*. In California alone, more than 800 complaints have been filed with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) against solar companies since 2010.
Despite being billed as a way to save the environment and cutting energy costs for the future, it turns out going solar can be a real intimidating experience with a number of hidden costs and negative consequences. Unethical tactics such as mass telemarketing, aggressive door-to-door canvassing, pocketing rebates & tax credits, intentional misrepresentations, installing outdated systems & products, targeting the elderly & disabled, and annual payment escalation – while continuing to improve the company’s bottom line – are leaving the consumers feeling betrayed and creating the gap of mistrust currently existing in the renewable energy sector.
When solar companies engage in these kinds of practices, the whole industry pays a price. They give the entire industry a bad name, and it’s leading consumers to reject clean energy solutions entirely, unfairly impacting honest installers and slow environmental progress. After all, who wants to pay for an expensive solar system when a good portion of it is for funding annoying sales campaigns??
WE ARE MAVERICK, a consulting firm and a Bay Area solar panel installer on a mission to educate and help communities go green with full transparency. We don’t believe in blowing up your phone seven days a week or blanket your entire neighborhood with armies of canvassers, nor do we engage in high-pressure sales tactics or leasing options that cost you more in the long run. Having seen first hand how sales teams bragged about ripping people off at meetings of large operations, and having been in homes of owners who are stuck with inferior systems they could not afford, we are holding ourselves accountable and taking the opposite approach to disrupt the current trend.