Solar Champion Stories

Solarize Lowell Enables Potwins to go 100% Renewable

In 2009, Ruth and Gary Potwin moved into their home in Lowell, Massachusetts with the help of the federal first-time home buyer program. In 2013, they took the "Lowell Solar Challenge," adding 12 solar panels to their home - and as of late 2018, their solar array has offset over 27,000 pounds of carbon pollution. Ruth and Gary were eager to add, "Our current system will be paid off in 4 more years. Electricity after payoff will be FREE!"

The Potwins plan to make their home 100% renewable starting in the year ahead. Through Solarize Lowell they will be expanding their solar array with ReVision Energy in order to convert their heating & cooling, and transportation, to renewable electricity. "Our ultimate plan is to eventually eliminate our use of fossil fuels. To do this, we plan to switch from natural gas heat to a heat pump system, which would take care of both heating and cooling. And, when we finally retire our fuel-efficient car, we would like to get a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. All of this can be powered by our upgraded solar system."

Solar + Accelerated Payback

With greater solar electricity production they will offset the heat pump ReVision is installing, giving them the locked-in lower heating rate that solar electricity paired with heat pumps provides - roughly equivalent to paying $1.50 per gallon of heating oil. What's more, the Mass Save HEAT Loan program offers a 7-year 0% interest loan for the equipment. On top of providing low-cost heat all winter, their heat pump will provide powerful air-conditioning in the summer at twice the efficiency of a window unit.

When the time comes to retire their fuel-efficient car, they look forward to driving a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, which can also be powered by solar electricity. The "solar gallon" is roughly equivalent to paying $0.70 per gallon of gas. Many plug-in hybrid drivers report driving almost everywhere on battery power, while enjoying the peace-of-mind that long-range backup gives.

Just like the price of solar electricity, these fueling equivalents will be locked-in for the life of the Potwin's solar array: a guaranteed 25 years, with an expected lifespan closer to 40 years. The best part is that by heating & cooling with solar, and driving on sunshine, they will accelerate the rate of return on their solar array dramatically.

Solarize Lowell Surging Ahead

The Potwins could not pass up this opportunity with Solarize Lowell and Revision Energy to make their all-electric household a reality. Ruth and Gary are thrilled that they can save money while doing their part for the environment and the Massachusetts green energy economy.

"Since our retirement 3 years ago, we have started to get more involved in our new community. We love the cultural diversity of the city, the rich history, the artist communities, and the festivals. We've become involved with local issues and politics, attending City Council meetings and community organizing groups. We hope to let our Lowell neighbors know about the many benefits of the Solarize Lowell Plus program!"