Walking on Sunshine

Walking on Sunshine

Growing up in the country and having a farmer as your dad you tend to have a respect for nature. You see the cows that give you milk as the gentle creatures they are and the land as something that helps yield the crops to feed the cows. Doesn’t help having a home surrounded by beautiful trees.

Sorry that was a little hippy-ish.

Solar Panels

Thinking Green

I really think the thing that triggered my interest in green technology was the Tesla Roadster. That’s when I started reading about electric cars, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.

When I moved into my first apartment I went out and bought CFL light bulbs to save energy and money. I kept the incandescent to put back when I moved out. I ended up saving around $5 a month.

When we bought our house we did many upgrades but they were mostly comfort related. We needed new windows because the old ones were original to the 40 year old house. (You could feel the wind come through the gaps.)

The one thing I had always wanted were solar panels and our new house was perfect for them with a south facing roof.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

The solar panels were less about comfort. I wanted to control where we were sourcing our electricity from and if we saved money that was a bonus.

Unfortunately, the company we went with wasn’t very good. There were a few installers but no one had a reputation yet. Luckily for us the panels we ended up with were some of the best and the crew that did it were awesome.

The management on the other hand were less than enjoyable. They kept putting off our project for nearly a year and I had to constantly badger them to get any information. All the while they were in the news about scoring contracts and completing work for cities and businesses.

In the end I am happy with the product but not how we got there.

Let’s break down the cost:
We paid $16,802.47
-$5088 fed rebate
=$11,714.47 out of pocket

I wish I knew how much we spent in interest for the HELOC loan we took out to pay for these but those documents are long gone. You will have to ignore my lack of stupid tax in the spreadsheet.

The image above shows our progress so far and below is a projection of the next 22 years. If prices stay as is (like that’ll happen) we will still save money but if we average a two percent increase we will save much more. I have the projection set for 25 years since that is the minimum warranty and they are likely going to last much longer.

As this article is being written our electric company is planning a 6-9% rate increase.

Pockets of Sunshine


The state of Minnesota is a net metering state which means the electric company has to buy the electricity our panels produce at the same rate we buy it from them. This is a huge incentive to have solar panels. We are also on a contract with our provider that says at the end of the year they will cut us a check for the total kWh production of our panels multiplied by $0.08. They will do that for ten years to help bring down the middle cost of our panels.

Where my calculations fall short is I don’t know the cost of electricity in the future. It could go way up or stay the same. It could even go down (the Germans are working on fusion reactors).

Are solar panels right for everyone? Absolutely not!!!! It depends on your state, electric company, and worst of all, which way your house faces.

My solar panels will pay for themselves eventually but that date is hard to pinpoint. For now I am just happy to be producing clean energy and filling my car with it.

Do you have solar panels or want them? Is there a different renewable energy like geothermal, wind or something else at your home? Do you do anything energy efficient at your home?

6 thoughts on “Walking on Sunshine

  1. I want them but I’m so torn in MN to see how it pans out. Project Sunroof says my house likely won’t be a good candidate, but that’s about the extent of research I’ve done. I’d be curious to see how this pans out for you over the next 12 months. 🙂

  2. I would love to get solar panels although I am really intrigued by Tesla’s new roofing tiles. I think they could be really interesting if they work out well. Solar definitely seems like they are the wave of the future 🙂

    1. The Tesla tiles are pretty awesome but not too cost effective when you have an asphalt roof and/or already have panels 😥. Solar and wind are definitely making strides. MN loves its wind power and warming up to solar.

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