paul ledman solar house portland maine
Paul Ledman’s home in downtown Portland is more than 90% powered by his solar panels.

Two years ago we profiled Paul Ledman’s near net-zero apartment building on Portland’s East End. Ledman used a combination of 1) well-insulated building, 2) efficient mini-split heat pump heating, 3) solar hot water, and 4) solar electricity in his building design. The goal was a building that would tread lightly on the earth (and save money in the process).

So, how well did we do? We asked Paul – who is carefully tracking all his data – to share some numbers:

  • From February to February (2012-2013) Paul’s array produced 9,716 kWh and he used 817 kWh from the grid. In other words, over 92% of his home’s electric consumption was provided by solar.
  • That electric consumption includes backup hot water (when solar hot water alone is not enough), electric oven, space heating and regular household ‘plug’ loads for Paul, his wife Colleen, and daughters Leo (20) and Clara (17).
  • As of March 10 Paul was able to shut down his heating system for the winter, and start banking solar credits again!

We asked him what he thinks about life with solar: “Solar has been an absolute no-brainer. Sure, with a bit more sun or fewer teenage showers we might get us to full net zero, but the takeaway is that we’re enjoying a negligible heating bills. Getting a $9.41 electric bill [the minimum CMP administrative charge] in the middle of a gray and snowy January is pretty satisfying! We’re very pleased with how everything’s worked out so far.”

Solar in Exeter, New Hampshire

Paul’s home is an exemplary example of efficiency, but his $9.41 electric bill is not unique! Many of our solar electric customers have this experience on a monthly basis (in cases where the solar electric array is sufficient to meet the total electric needs for the house).

In New Hampshire, we heard from Eliot and Mary DeSilva who report “Our solar PV system has been up and operating for about a year now, and we have been extremely happy with the process and the product. We were a little worried about heavy snows, but the panels made it through this past winter with absolutely no problem. The best part: we’ve had two zero electricity bills so far, and big discounts on all of the others. It feels great to have a good portion of our electric needs generated by the sun!”