When we say “electrify everything,” we envision a house that transitions to using electricity as their primary source for most appliances, with the goal of reducing dependence on fossil fuels. We don’t set a timeline for this; some people will transition over time, adding solar first and then slowly transitioning their heating system. Others, like Francis and Karen opt to do it all at once - solar, heat pumps, heat pump water heater, and a Tesla Powerwall to back it all up.
In the summer of 2020 the Maineris began looking into transitioning their home to solar energy. At the time they were relying heavily on propane; they had a gas dryer, propane heater, gas stove, and a propane generator for when the power went out, which it does a few times every winter.
“Mostly we wanted to get away for dependence on fossil fuels,” says Karen Maineri, “We wanted energy that was a lot cleaner.”
They interviewed three different solar companies that summer, looking for a company that would do the installation “soup to nuts.” ReVision’s Solar Design Specialist Greg d'Hemecourt, explained the entire process and designed a 9.5 kW (DC) ground mount solar system for their yard, air source heat pumps for heating and cooling, a heat pump water heater, and a Tesla Powerwall for battery storage.
“It’s kind of a scary process,” said Karen, “You don’t know a lot about it, and you don’t know what questions to ask in the beginning. Greg made it all very easy.”
“Everyone made it easy!" Francis added, "Communication with Megan [Ulin, Project Developer] was great, and the installation teams explained everything that they were doing."
“From the electricians, to the crew hanging the panels on the array, digging the trench, everything, it was all wonderful,” said Karen. “And we like that it’s an employee-owned company!”
Because the Maineris were relying so heavily on the propane generator, they knew they wanted battery backup storage to go with their solar.
“The generator was a real pain,” Francis says, describing the process of going out to the garage in a snowstorm, disconnecting the electric panel and firing up the propane generator. Now, with a Tesla Powerwall, they don’t even notice when they lose power. They lost power three times this past winter, but only noticed when they heard the neighbor’s generator start running.
“It’s just a real peace of mind having it,” says Karen.
In addition to switching to a heat pump water heater for their domestic hot water needs, the Maineris also installed air source heat pumps for heating and cooling. Although they still have the propane central heating system as a backup, they mostly rely on the heat pumps and a pellet stove for warmth in the winter, even during this winter’s record-breaking cold snap.
And the best part? Sleeping in cool bedrooms in the summer! Living in a log cabin without an attic, the upstairs rooms normally get fairly hot in the summer. “Prior to this we never had any AC, we just used window fans. It’s so nice to go upstairs and have it not be 85 degrees.” They are considering adding another heat pump to the other upstairs room, and because they’ve been tracking their solar production and consumption, they know it would be covered by their current solar array.
“I’ve been tracking costs through the Eversource bills we get every month,” says Franics. “I’m unbelievably pleased that we keep having a negative amount. I knew we would be using more from the grid during the winter months but the negative balance was never challenged; we came out in March and April still with a negative balance. I’m really happy with the way that has worked out.”
In 2022, their first year with solar, they generated 12.75 MW of clean solar power, offsetting 12,160 pounds of carbon, the equivalent to planting 91 trees.
“We’re really happy with everything,” said Karen. “We feel that we’re now doing our part to contribute to reducing fossil fuels, because we’re feeding solar power back to the grid.”