Solar Champion Stories

The Searings Say

An aficionado of growing his own food, Golden State native Chip Searing has been dabbling in aquaponics and organic gardening since he moved east in 1978. The symbiotic relationships created through aquaponics - which allow Chip to raise 40 pounds of Tilapia in combination with a 16 square foot vegetable bed from his Strafford, NH home - have been complementary to his lifelong interest in harnessing the power of the sun. Now, solar is another resource that allows Chip to live in a mutually beneficial manner with his environment.

Cultivating a New Plan

Until recently, the Searing's had powered their household and gardening projects through traditional methods: electricity from the grid, propane for heat and oil for hot water. However, knowing that they'd like to make a change to more sustainable methods, Chip and his wife Tracy began to develop a comprehensive plan to eliminate their use of fossil fuels entirely.

"I built a solar greenhouse 2 years ago and that might have been the kicker in getting me to pursue a solar photovoltaic array," Chip tells us. "I really enjoyed it and realized that solar could have a great impact on my lifestyle. The greenhouse has allowed me to spend many enjoyable hours doing what I like to do which is to grow the organic food that we eat."

Members of the Searing's extended family in California and Australia had made solar investments and had provided glowing feedback about their systems, so the Searings felt it was time to get started with a project of their own.

Simply the Best

Though they looked at several companies and designs, "We chose ReVision as the best fit for us," Chip says. We worked with the Searings to design a 6.05 kW solar PV array, with space heating through air source heat pumps, and a heat pump water heater for hot water that was installed this past spring.

Happy with the result, Chip says, "The installation went smoothly, completed on time and under budget. The system is elegant and simple. The folks at Revision are absolutely a pleasure to work with. Everyone involved from office staff to electricians were great. Every job was explained in detail before it was done. Communication was terrific, scheduling, follow-up and completing the rebate documents - I simply had to read and sign them."

Two Greenthumbs Up for Green Power

The Searing's new solar array is expected to produce 6,316 kilowatt-hours of clean energy per year, equivalent to about 70% of the Searing's current electricity usage, and will offset roughly 5,880 lbs of carbon pollution. Chip says that in the four months since installation, the systems have saved them approximately $350 per month in energy costs, and they can now say 'So long!' to paying bills for propane, oil and electric.

"We absolutely love them both," Chip says of the heat pump water heater and air source heat pumps. "We really don't see much difference in the operation of the water heater compared to oil, but really do love the cost savings. Upgrading from propane and A/C window units to air source heat pumps on the other hand is very, very noticeable."

Since the installation Chip has been enthusiastic about his new technologies and has even hosted a ReVision open house. In talking with others, Chip says "I was surprised to hear that so many others like us were on the edge of making a clean energy investment. As far as I am concerned, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. My only question at the end was, "Why did I wait so long?"

What's next for the Searings? Fully committed to a clean energy transition, Chip says they'd like to add additional panels and battery storage, and someday soon, make the transition to an electric powered vehicle. He plans to use the 26% tax credit he received for his solar array to reinvest in a future project and continue on the road towards energy independence!