Edgecomb, Maine - Solar ElectricWhen Bill Babb and his wife Barbara retired from their jobs as school teachers, controlling monthly costs was an important way to maintain the good life. Investing in financial markets looked shaky, and they wanted to see something positive result from their efforts. After seeing a presentation by a former student, Hans Albee, they started looking seriously at a solar energy investment – and they liked what they saw.

“For years, the upfront cost was an issue with solar,” Bill says, “But when we looked at it recently we were pleasantly surprised – the cost of solar panels had dropped considerably, and with state and federal incentives, we found we could purchase a system that would be a better investment for us than the stock market. Barbara and I both agreed that the cost of energy will only rise, and rise faster than it has in the past.”

As a pragmatic environmentalist (and climate change skeptic), Bill was attracted to solar’s minimal impact on the natural landscape. He likes that his clean power doesn’t add turbines to untouched landscape, block up or contaminate waterways, or contribute to air pollution. He also likes the impact solar has had on his monthly bill.

“We were expecting the system to produce around $50 a month of power, but so far it’s produced closer to $60-70,” Bill says. “We’re happy to be banking some power for the winter months, and seeing our electric bill dramatically reduced. The system has done everything I wanted it to do from day one.”

Solar Hot Takes it Farther

Bill and Barbara’s positive experience with solar electricity lead them to adding a solar hot water system, which further reduces their home’s fossil fuel needs by allowing their boiler to go dormant for 5-6 months of the year. We caught up with Bill just a few weeks after the system was installed, and he reports that so far, it had stayed well above the 110 degree mark that would trigger his boiler to turn on.

“The furnace has been turned off for weeks and we have had plenty of hot water, even without changing our lifestyle” Bill says, “On days that are a cloudy mix with little direct sun, we’re surprised at how much heat the system produces. We like it!”