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Go Solar! -- Alameda, California Solar Installations

Kevin S. of Alameda, California describes his experience with Save-A-Lot Solar as part of our Go Solar! series.

What went into the decision to install a PV solar system? Kevin’s 4-person family lives in a historically significant 100-year-old home. With all of its beauty and charm, the home lacked energy efficiency. It has single-paned windows (which are difficult to replace with double-panes for structural reasons) and incredibly poor insulation. After trying all conventional methods of increasing efficiency, such as wrapping the water heater and adding insulation, it became clear that the family needed to explore alternative options.

The family always considered the environment a top priority - they ride the bus, take the ferry, or bike their commutes in order to reduce their collective carbon footprint. However, they do own a pick-up truck in order to travel to the mountains and carry large loads. Along with that truck came the guilt that all of us green-doers know too well.

It was time to Go Solar.

How Kevin chose a solar installer. Kevin interviewed several installers. He chose Save-A-Lot Solar because of their stellar referrals and commitment to the cause. They had experience and passion. He liked that they were a small business and were able do all of the work themselves without subcontracting out.

What was the installation process like? In one word? “Painless.” It took 1 day to install the rails, 2 days to install the panels, and 2 days to complete all of the connections. It did take some time to complete all of the necessary paperwork before the work could begin - including approval from the city and local utility. The family was concerned with aesthetics of PV panels. The installer designed a system in the back of the house which gets southeasterly sun.

How were the rebates handled? Kevin describes the paperwork process as straight forward. They took advantage of a program which provides upfront tax rebates in the form of an interest free loan. Save-A-Lot Solar helped with much of the paperwork. After rebates and incentives, the out of pocket cost was about $15k.

The energy savings. The solar project was complete and functional in December, 2010. This has provided a couple of winter months of solar energy. Kevin reports that the energy production varies depending on weather and sun conditions. Some days he watches as the electric meter runs backward and other days he pays his utility for some electricity use. Kevin and his family look forward to the California summer when solar energy production should be at its peak.

Kevin’s recommendations for Going Solar. “Make sure the person you use, that this is all they do. There are a lot of part-timers who are trying it out make a quick buck. You want someone who is passionate and that this is the focus of their business.”

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