By Nick Hein, 2/26/20
A year after Ken and Barb installed their solar array with the help of Legacy Solar Co-op, it’s been performing even better than expected -producing more than 100% of their electric needs. That’s gotten them thinking, since their utility doesn’t pay them as much for the excess, they’d like to use it to offset (or eliminate) their natural gas usage. They wonder if replacing their current furnace, water heater and appliances with the most efficient models available, their rooftop array could produce all the energy they need to use in a year. Then they could completely disconnect the natural gas service.* So it looks like they could become 100% net-zero, and now the question is whether they should. Let’s join Ken and Barb one evening as they discuss it.
“Barb, I’ve been reading about something called ‘Deep Energy Retrofits’ where homeowners upgrade their insulation and mechanical systems so their solar array can provide all the power they need. It looks like something we could do.” “OK, I can see how that would be a good idea for the planet since we’d be completely free of fossil fuels, but does it make sense for us financially?” asks Barb. Ken replies: “I’m not sure yet, and it probably depends on how much we spend on the upgrade, but I read an article from one person who did it and found that it paid a better return than his 401k. He also liked the fact that the return was more predictable and the investment was going into his home.” (1) Read more