Customer Q&A: Chance Meeting Leads to Sound Solar Investment
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We’re grateful to work with some really wonderful customers! The following write-up is reprinted as it was sent to us by customers Peter and Jackie Hopkinson in Stratham, New Hampshire. We’re grateful for their business and for their willingness to share their story.
In 1997, my wife Jackie and I bought our home in Stratham, New Hampshire. It was new construction, so it was well-insulated and pretty tight. We chose to retire here after my decades-long career as a U.S. Coast Guard officer.
Over the years, we have watched the solar power industry make many advances to the point where we became interested ourselves. We also remember the year when electric rates went way up in the winter, and heating oil prices skyrocketed.
One day, when we took our grandkids to Me and Ollie’s, a bakery in Greenland, I noticed one of the ReVision electric cars parked outside. At one of the tables was Dan Clapp, doing some work on his laptop. I introduced myself and asked him to take a quick look at Google Earth to see if our home was situated correctly to be a candidate for solar power—and it was. I got Dan’s card and got back to him a few days later, and we got to work designing an array that would serve our needs.
RUN THE NUMBERS
At the time, we were in the process of installing two Mitsubishi mini-split heat pump systems for air conditioning. We also have a hot tub, which uses a fair amount of electricity and a pellet stove for supplementary heat to our oil-fired furnace. Our mission was not just to reduce electric costs but overall energy costs. We figured the solar electric system would allow us to run the heat pumps and save oil as well as wood pellets. I crunched a lot of numbers since I have an accounting/math background and wanted to get the payback on the system to less than 10 years. So, my figures included electricity, heating oil, and pellets.
ReVision engineered a design that would produce approximately 8,400 kilowatt hours annually. Things made sense from a number-crunching standpoint, and I figured we would have a 6-year payback by saving electric, fuel oil, and pellet costs, so we went for it. We accepted the bid from ReVision and didn’t talk to any other solar company. After talking to everyone at ReVision and realizing that all the installation would be done by ReVision employees, I was convinced that we were getting the best deal. I didn’t want a bunch of sub-contractors doing the work. Also, the vibe from ReVision was great, helpful but certainly not pushy. I felt they had my best interests at heart.
MIND THE PLANET
Not to sound like it was all about the money. Having spent 24 years in the Coast Guard, I was involved in many environmental issues. My “second career” has been in higher education, where I teach environmental science classes and am attuned to the fact that we need to do something to stop greenhouse gasses and conserve what we have on this planet. So, while we felt we were doing the right thing from a financial standpoint, we felt we were doing the right thing overall. We have five grandchildren, and we really do think about their future, and we think about setting a good example for them.
I guess this is where I mention that I am a “car guy”. We have a 1966 Pontiac GTO that gets low gas mileage. Having solar panels and a gas-hog hot rod is kind of like having a diet Pepsi with a candy bar and hoping one thing offsets the other. The GTO doesn’t get driven often, so it isn’t much of an issue, but I felt I needed to offer full disclosure as this does present somewhat of a conflicting statement!
The install couldn’t have gone any smoother. Everyone who worked on the project was professional, polite, safe and knowledgeable. We had a good few days together while the install progressed—it felt like family. We had a lot of sun this past year and generated about 10,000 kilowatt hours of electricity.
We even put in an electric hot water heater and shut the furnace down, except for the dead of winter. We don’t use wood pellets, and we use much less oil. We ran the hot tub all winter. I have not paid for electricity in a year, just the required monthly hook up charge of $10.37. We have kilowatt hours in the bank and are thinking ahead and may even try a plug-in car in the next few years, since our excess capacity could certainly handle it.
I teach math classes and have also used the decision process I described with my students so they can see how business and ethical decisions are made in the real world. Bottom line—this has been a sound environmental and financial decision on our part, and I would recommend ReVision to anyone who is thinking about going solar. It has been a great partnership.
Peter & Jackie Hopkinson