Solar Hot Water and Solar Power - Unity, Maine

The Mayberry family stands outside their home which sports solar hot water and solar photovoltaic panels. Their interest in solar started with a father and son school project.

Last year Rusty Mayberry, who describes himself as a “technology guy,” helped his son Ian with a high school science project that launched their family’s adventure into clean energy. “We built our own solar panel from raw materials online and tabbed the whole thing all together and made a really nice panel that will charge batteries.  It’s got a little device that we can draw the power back off the batteries when the sun quits producing power. So, it was a pretty neat science experiment.” They used it to power a DC light bulb on their porch.

Rusty had been interested in renewable energy for some time, but the project got him thinking “Geez, it’d be pretty good if we had a whole house full of these.” So he contacted ReVision Energy and started down the path to a solar future.

Going Solar Big Time

This past January ReVision Energy installed a 60-tube Apricus solar hot water collector array and a 3.29 kilowatt (14 panel) grid-tied PV array on the Mayberry’s home in Unity. The two systems combined will offset over 10,500 lbs. of CO2 annually.

Rusty reports how he loves to watch the readout on their solar electric inverter to find out how many pounds of CO2 they’ve offset by using their solar electric array instead of burning fossil fuels. “It gives us a great feeling to look at it and think this is all clean energy.”

Rusty’s wife, Marty, an RN at Maine General, likes their solar energy systems because they will reduce their future bills. “I wanted to look at ways we can reduce expenses during retirement. If you have an unknown electric bill or oil bill you can’t budget for that.” She estimates that at today’s energy costs they are currently saving $300 each month. “Who knows what that will be worth in 15 years.”

An Oil-free House

The Mayberrys are a family of five, including a son in high school, a daughter in college, and another daughter just out of college. Needless to say, their energy usage was high, especially in the hot water department.

They had already stopped using oil to heat their home. Instead they rely on two wood pellet stoves as their primary heat source. Also, plenty of extra heat comes in via their sun porch which Rusty rigged with temperature controlled fan to move the warm air into the home. However, showers, dishes, and laundry were still gobbling up oil, particularly in the summer.

Once the solar hot water system went live in January, they stopped using oil to heat anything and Rusty turned their boiler completely off.  Wood, passive solar, and their new solar hot water collectors now provide all the heat and domestic hot water they need. He beams as he talks about how last weekend their solar hot water storage tank was full of 120 gallons of water heated to 175 degrees by only 1:30 in the afternoon.

For the Mayberrys, the environmental benefits are obvious, but it makes economic sense too. Rusty emphasized over and over again how solar is a great investment. “By putting solar on the house we’ve paid forward, because it’s just a matter of time when the two systems will actually pay for themselves… then you just put money in your own pocket.”

Helping the Mayberrys make the economics work are a suite of state and federal rebates – there is an uncapped 30% federal tax credit for all solar energy systems, and up to $2,000 for homeowners ($4,000 for businesses) who invest in solar thermal or solar electricity.  Contact us to learn how you can kick an oil habit and save money at the same time.