Tracking the Solar Solution in New Hampshire
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When Linda Rhodes moved to Durham, NH in 2013, it was with the intention to build a small, energy efficient home, with geothermal heat and solar power. Instead, she fell in love with a picturesque 17 acre property, located just a stone’s throw from Oyster River, with a drafty, inefficient 30 year old house with a failing gas furnace.
It was clear that her plans would need to be adjusted to fit the new property without sacrificing her desire to move away from dirty fossil fuels into a clean energy powered home. Recognizing that the new house required a complete energy overhaul, over the last three years Linda has been at work improving the insulation, adding spray foam to both the basement and attic, and most recently, installed a closed loop geothermal heating system.
Though she was pleased with the geothermal heating, Linda knew that the heat pumps were powered by electricity that came from burning fossil fuels. She wanted to ensure that the power she used was from source she could support, and so a solar array would be the final piece of the puzzle to offset her energy needs. “I still have a book on my library shelf by Farrington Daniels, published in 1964, titled “Direct Use of the Sun’s Energy” that I bought from the Whole Earth Catalog,” Linda says. “I have been alarmed by the limitations and dangers of burning fossil fuels for many decades. Replacing as much of my use of fossil fuels as possible is my contribution to reducing man-made climate change and global warming. “
Encouraged by learning about the reduction in cost and the increase in efficiency of solar panels, Linda decided it was time to learn more about her options. “Revision Energy had a representative at a local winter Farmer’s Market,” says Linda. “I was impressed with their commitment to our community, and their local reputation for quality.”
Linda decided to move forward with us and this spring, she worked with a solar design specialist to design a tracker system that will offset about 80% of her energy usage.
Of the project, Linda says, “the installation went smoothly and it was amazing to see it all come together. In two and a half days, everything was completed. I was worried that having such a huge tracker in my meadow would ruin the aesthetics of my land or perhaps scare off the wildlife. Now that it’s here, it seems to fit right in.”
The tracker has a GPS monitoring system and follows the sun’s path to take full advantage of available sunlight, allowing her to produce up to 40% more than a fixed panel system. Linda can monitor her solar production using an online web portal, a feature that she appreciates, especially as she begins to work on conservation so that solar will cover an even larger percentage of her energy usage.
Linda says, “No question that a solar tracker is expensive as an upfront investment, and I will have to be patient for it to pay me back financially – probably eight years or so. But there is a payback that is immediate – I am feeling great about my significantly reduced need for power produced from fossil fuels. In fact, with the combination of my solar tracker and my geothermal heat, I feel like have done the best I can for our planet. When my friends sharpen their pencils and calculate the costs of an investment in solar, I encourage them to consider that even if the economics are challenging, it is gratifying to be part of the solution, and that has a value that is greater than money.”