We love sharing the unique and varied stories of our Solar Champions' journeys to solar energy. This post was written by Solar Champion Barry Craig (pictured above, middle) to relay his own journey to solar, from Antarctica to Italy to Topsham, Maine. Have a Solar Story you want to share? Send us an email.
Getting ready for a sled dog run, Antarctica, 1986 In 1986 I was a member of the 31st Winter-Over Crew in Antarctica as a Builder in the U.S. Navy. I listened to a diesel generator running 24/7 creating power for us to utilize as we supported scientific research in one of the most pristine remote places in the world, McMurdo Station. Completing my tour there I was then assigned to another Naval base in Sicily, Italy. Mother Earth News was a popular magazine at that time and I read it faithfully, entertaining thoughts of wind or solar power for my future home.
I left the Navy with an honorable and built a home in Topsham, Maine in 1992. "Alternative" energy to me then was a wood stove, a little feel-good recycling, and trying to drive a well-tuned 240DL Volvo. A few years later I attended some schooling and became a Certified Building Operator. Where does the "energy" enter a building and how is it used? That energy is electrical, mechanical, lighting to include HVAC and water, and all other forms of energy that we use every day for a business or home. This gave me a better understanding of what powered a building and the real costs of being efficient.
Building standards, codes, and how this package was put together best in the early 90s quickly evolved into real changes and serious science. Proper insulation, windows, heating sources and air conditioning were beginning to be seriously considered. We were becoming aware of how limited our Earth’s resources were; stretching our living costs became almost a religion. The facts were becoming no-brainers. It turned into a fierce race to outdo my buds in the field of energy conservation.
Barry's home before the solar installation I wanted to establish my own bragging rights for my home. I was doing it at work already ($250,000 project partnered with Siemens in 2014 to include HVAC, lighting and water savings project at Maine Maritime Museum). Their CMP bill dropped (electric alone was a $37,000 annual savings). I was a legend in my own mind and felt on fire because I was becoming part of the solution (finally). LEDs were just a smidge out of reach in cost but coming on strong. Giddy Up!
Solar array on top of Barry's home in Topsham Solar was coming along but some of us were "reluctant.” It appeared expensive, not very well understood, and seemed out of reach for laymen like me. "That's a lot of money!"
Fast forward to 2019, with the solar tax rebate threatening to disappear. I started to feel desperate, I didn’t want to miss out. There must be a way. My instinct said, "Self, there's no greater moment than the one you're living right now!"
Outdoor component of Barry's air source heat pump I did some Googling. ReVision Energy popped up a bunch of times on my radar. I filed them away and kept researching solar "stuff" (panels, inverters, costs, companies, and best practices) knowing I had to pull the trigger soon! Finally I broke down and called ReVision and began the process; it turned out to be a lot easier than I’d thought. ReVision came by and slam-dunked me with pertinent information, options, and all the criteria anyone could ever need to make a sound decision based on facts, best scientific info for solar, and some encouragement. "It's not the decisions in life that are difficult, it's the indecision."
They came, saw, and did. I felt like I was a Seabee in the U.S. Navy all over again. Of course we had some hiccups! Life is all about that, isn't it? But nothing major and definitely no deal breakers. Be flexible or you'll break, right?
I got top of the line Mitsubishi heat pumps as well. No more window shakers and nice even heat too. I started with a $14.00/month electric bill and now it's up to a "backbreaking" $21.00/month. I have an app that monitors everything. I had a small glitch after about 4 years, which ReVision addressed quickly and almost invisibly. I didn't have to crawl up on a steep Cape roof to find it because the monitoring app showed it immediately.
You make most of your home energy in a few hours. I make sooo much in the long daylight months and that carries me through the shorter daylight months. This includes heat, air conditioning, and regular light stuff. I don't make so much solar it's wasted either. The balance throughout the year is just about ideal because my bill never changes and my usage is "spread" across the year.
ReVision Energy has it pretty well dialed in. My panels are not unsightly on my roof and the conduit layout "screams success." ReVision cares about how this looks and that’s written all over their work and my investments. They follow codes, listen to you, and deliver.
Listen, I'm not blowing their horn. I don't need to. "Just the facts Ma’am." They delivered, and the best compliment you can give to a business is a good reference, right? Seriously, most of the time I'm so smug about my solar I can't whistle.
With ReVision’s help, I started doing my part to help a little piece of heaven (the Earth) instead of just wishful thinking about it. I'm dancing as fast as I can doing my little piece and if you can help me out, our Earth will rest a bit easier knowing that you care enough. Yep, you will hear folks complaining and quoting misinformation, maybe out of jealousy and lack of courage, I'm not sure.
Know this though for sure – solar and heat pumps are worth every penny. The extra returns will be your bragging rights, and you can stand fast knowing that you truly made a difference, and you might even thumb your nose at your power company. My family and I are so proud of this that we simply grin when folks ask about it. We're just doers and not talkers. Like the Babe, I guess we do brag. But we produce too!!! Go solar as soon as you can.