Why Solar makes Sense and Cents in Ohio

From a purely economic standpoint, solar energy is a better-performing investment than many other investments. In Ohio, we have two incentives that make the transition to alternative energy much more palatable. In addition, solar companies add their own incentives as discounts or promotions. The combination of federal, state, and local incentives leverage your money to make returns greater than the average investment.

The 30% federal tax credit comes back dollar-for-dollar the winter or spring following installation, in the form of a tax refund.

At the state level, Ohio has a financing incentive called Ecolink loan in which the state reduces your interest rate 2 to 3%. The result is a remarkably low interest rate at which to finance not only your solar, but also any other expense, as only 50% of the loan must apply to an energy-mitigating project. In 2016, my husband and I added solar to our house and renovated our kitchen, which we financed at 1.54%.

Periodically, solar energy companies have a promotion. One company that I work with had a $650 promotion for a home expo. This included waiving site assessment fees ($150), and deducting $500 off the total system cost. The company has agreed to extend the offer past the expo, which ended January 5th. To take advantage of this promo, text your site address and email address to me at 614-383-8379.

How much money you save depends on how long you own the system. As a general rule, the return on investment is roughly 7 to 10 years. So if you own a system for 25 years, you’ve saved about 3 times as much as you spent. That’s assuming that the cost for electricity holds steady at 2019 rates. Of course we know it won’t; there is no reliable way to predict how expensive electricity will be 25 years from now. If you own solar, you won’t care.

Many people wonder if there is enough sunlight in Ohio to make solar a sensible investment. The answer is yes. One of the top 10 states leading in solar energy is actually north of Ohio: New York, which has fewer average hours of sunlight compared to Ohio.

Some people assume that they can’t afford solar. The truth is that you need only 10% of the cost of the system to go solar, OR patience to wait 3 weeks for the state to vet your ECO-Link financing application. Let me or a solar company show you how affordable it is. In fact, doing the long-term math is a very enlightening exercise that demonstrates how solar is not only affordable, but economically the right choice by far.

The sooner you own solar, the more money you save. The 30% federal tax credit expires December 31, 2019, so don’t put off your solar adventure. Call or text me at 383-8379 to begin exploring possibilities.


Home Expo 2019 Solar Seminar!

One of the biggest advantages of installing solar is the opportunity to finance another home renovation project at a super-low interest rate through the Ecolink Loan Program. For example, when my husband and I installed solar on our home in November 2018, we also renovated our kitchen, and financed both upgrades at 1.54%. You read that correctly. It’s not too good to be true, and yes, it does feel like free money! We held on to our capital, and diverted it to other uses. That kind of financial freedom is incredibly powerful. What you could you with the capital you have earmarked for a home renovation project? Go on vacation? Buy a car? Dream big, the possibilities are endless. Come to the Home Building and Renovation Show and see what home projects you could tackle with a Ecolink loan!

I’ll lead a seminar about solar energy at 11 am on Saturday, and you’ll learn about the Ecolink loan program, residential solar energy, and ways to unlock your money’s potential!

Solar Workshop at Sunbury Urban Farm

The best time of year to learn about solar energy is around the equinox, which is September 22nd. You can look at your site and determine the average solar exposure, knowing that it will be better 6 months of the year, and worse 6 months of the year.

On Saturday October 6th at 10:30 am, I will be teaching a free solar energy workshop at Sunbury Urban Farm, 2140 Sunbury Rd. More information can be found here.

Customer Service Above All

At a recent closing, I saw my client out the window walk right past the closing office, looking like she was on a mission. Wondering if she was lost, I resisted the urge to text and re-direct her. So I waited, patiently, until she arrived at the closing office with a beautiful bouquet. I then realized her mission was to buy some flowers for me. She and her husband also made a gift to the wind ensemble that I founded and conduct, which was a beautiful, meaningful gesture. This is what clients do when they feel like their wishes have been honored, and their goals met.

 

I’m on a mission, too. My professional goal is to treat every client just exactly the way I would want to be treated: with care, kindness, honesty, and integrity. With promptness, and swift answers to questions, none of which are ever “dumb.” With the kind of personal touch that necessitates going above and beyond. When dealing with clients, I simply ask myself how I would want any given scenario to be handled, and then I handle it that way. Turns out that the golden rule is applicable to any situation, at any age, well beyond the Kindergarten years in which we learned it.

 

Customer service is absolutely the driving force behind my work. I’ve left places of employment because I was mystified at by the self-above-client culture dominating the workplace. When you put a customer first in that environment, you get sideways glances from the co-workers who expected you buy into the culture.

 

Here’s the reality of having a “customer first” philosophy: Every transaction will take more time. You will work harder, and the hours you work won’t fit neatly into 9 to 5. You DO hold proverbial hands if necessary, you DO have face-to-face interaction, you DO make personal phone calls, and you DO arrange for every contractor to give the same personal treatment that you give. All of the above takes time, and more time translates to fewer transactions. You know what? I’d rather make less money from deliriously happy clients than make more money from clients who got shortchanged. I’m different, I’m not rich, and that’s OK.

 

If you’d like to experience that personal touch in real estate or solar consulting, please call or text 614-383-8379. I look forward to serving you.

How Failed School Levies Affect Property Value

It’s all about supply and demand.

Well-supported schools draw families to a district, reducing inventory in that area. Reduced inventory drives the price of homes up, and stabilizes the ‘micro-economy,’ or economy of the area. Conversely, under-supported schools with higher student/teacher ratios and fewer curricular opportunities drive families away from the district, increasing available home inventory, which drives property values down (sometimes significantly) and de-stabilizes the micro-economy.

The best example of this can be found in Grove City, Ohio 2009. My in-laws live in Grove City, so this hit us on a personal level. In a paralyzing turn of events, the Grove City school levy failed, prompting extracurriculars to be abruptly cancelled, class sizes increased, classes cancelled altogether, sports (including football) to be cancelled, and buildings closed. Marching band season was scrapped. Teachers were immediately laid off. Students relying on sports and music scholarships had no venue to perform. Perhaps the most painful outcome, however, was the split schedule forced upon students and families. Some high school students went to school from 7 am to 1 pm, and some went to school from 1 pm to 7.

Families trying to salvage their student’s senior year (and scholarship opportunities) immediately fled to other districts. Seeing the exodus, businesses got nervous and followed suit. Those families and businesses took their money out with them.

The closure of school buildings hurt the Parks and Rec department, as venues for their programs were shuttered.

Surrounding geographic areas sensed the collapse and started actively recruiting people. The Grove City Mayor was forced to address City Council about the poaching, citing a Dispatch ad enticing Grove City residents to move to Pickerington. According to meeting minutes, he said “…You never recover from those residents that move away; the companies that never come; etc. We need to educate the public and ourselves over the implications that another failed Levy would have on the City.”

Indeed, as residents and businesses left Grove City, property values dipped well below values in peer districts. Home sellers took giant losses totaling tens of thousands of dollars.

When levies are up for a vote, it is often argued “I have no plans to move, so I don’t care about property value.” For those homeowners, it is wise to remember that sometimes people sell because they have to, not because they want to. No one plans to get divorced, no one plans to lose their job, and no one plans an abrupt move to take care of a sick, injured, or aging family member. However, those scenarios force people to sell their homes, like it or not.

Keeping property values stable is the best way to insulate homeowners from devastating losses. For this reason and a host of others, please support your local school levy.

Ten Steps to Selling your Home workshop

Coming up on March 28th at 6:30 pm at Westerville Library: a free workshop in which we’ll discuss Ten Steps to Selling Your Home. At this event, we’ll explore how to prepare to sell, ways in which to increase the value of your home, and how to set yourself up for a stress-free transaction. Resources and discounts will be available. Though the workshop is free, registration is required, as seats are limited.

Solar tariff by the numbers/WORKSHOP

You’ve heard about the tariffs now being applied to imported solar panels. You’ve heard the criticism, the outrage, maybe the praise for saving domestic jobs… it’s confusing. Is the tariff good or bad? Does it make solar more expensive for consumers, and if so how much? Let’s break this tariff decision down by the numbers and you can decide for yourself.

The decision came as a direct result of bankrupt domestic solar panel companies (two, specifically) that felt threatened by the wave of cheap imported solar panels being utilized in the US. The domestic companies couldn’t produce the panels at the same low cost, and were being forced to operate at low profit margins, forcing them into bankruptcy. These two companies came to the federal government for relief, proposing a tariff on imported panels. The federal administration granted that request.

By doing so, the employees of those two companies are assured continuing employment. This saved between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs which were in jeopardy.

However, the solar installation sector employs at least a dozen times as many people. An estimated 35,000 installers job are now in jeopardy because the increased price of solar will cancel or delay jobs which were designed with conscientious budgets. Without new projects to install, those installers will be unemployed. The difference between the number of jobs saved and the number of jobs jeopardized is roughly 30,000.

The affect of the price increases varies depending on the type of consumer. Residential projects, which use only a few dozen panels, will be affected the least, with an expected 3 to 5% increase. For the average household, that translates to  between $400 and $900 on a solar project that costs between $11,000 and $23,000 and saves an average of $35,000 over a lifetime. The savings could be significantly more as the price of electricity rises. At today’s rates, you can expect save a minimum of twice as much as you spend, though it will likely be more.

Commercial and industrial projects will be more acutely affected by the solar tariff, as they require hundreds or thousands of panels. The higher the number of panels, the more the tariff affects the price. It is these commercial and industrial projects that are most in jeopardy, and most deeply injure the solar industry.

It is worth noting that the affects of the new tariff will not be felt for months. In anticipation of the announcement, panel distributors have been stockpiling panels so that they can sell them at yesterday’s rates. In addition, the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported panels are exempt from the tariff each year, so tariff-free panels are still coming into the country, for a limited time. All of this means that if you are considering solar energy, you should start inquiring NOW, as the stockpiles of tariff-free panels will last an estimated 3 months, plus or minus.

I will be teaching a free workshop on residential solar on Thursday February 1st at Westerville library. At that workshop, we will going into even more depth on the economics of solar, as well as basic design, cost, financing, and vetting installers. Please register to save your seat!

 

My experience as a solar consumer

I’ve been teaching workshops about residential solar energy for over a year now (next one is December 14th!), but it’s been just recently that I’ve been able to speak from first-hand experience. The process for going solar has been much easier than most people think. It’s actually been pretty painless.

Once I requested a quote from one of my vendors, I applied for an Ecolink Loan, a process that from application to approval took about 3 weeks. This is the beauty of Ecolink loans: I financed this solar installation AND my kitchen renovation at just 1.34% over five years. (!) The amount of interest I’m paying on this is negligible. When we closed on the loan, I almost felt naughty, like I got away with something.

Once the money was available, deposit was made, and the system was installed within two weeks. I got it up in time to get the 2017 30% federal tax credit which we’ll use to pay down the loan, further lowering the already-low loan interest. I wanted to get the system up before the tax credit expires in 2019, and well before tax reform threatened it altogether. If that happens, it would likely be before 2018 elections.

I also beat a potential increase in the price of solar panels, which may be coming due to proposed tariffs on imported panels.  This may increase the cost of panels up to 35% (about a $1500 to $2000 increase). This is expected to happen in the next few months, so I *just* beat that by starting the process in September.

THERE IS STILL TIME for you to start this process and have the system installed well before these two market changes occur. Asking for a quote now locks in the price of panels at today’s ultra-low rates. 2017 installation is not likely to happen this late in the year, but you would still receive the federal tax credit for 2018; you’d just have to wait a little longer for it.

I hate high-pressure sales both as a consumer and a professional. However, please know that if you’ve ever considered solar for your house or business, NOW is really the time to get it done, before you end up paying $7000 more than you needed to! I saved about that much by doing it now. Don’t wait.

If you’d like an estimate on solar, I only need two easy pieces of info: 1) your address to evaluate your site on aerial maps, and 2) the total # of kiloWatt hours used at your site in the last year. This number is typically found on page 2 or 3 of your electric bill, and typically ranges between 7,000 and 30,000.

Consultation and estimate is provided at no cost to you. Call/message me and let’s get started! 614-383-8379.

 

FREE Residential Solar Workshops!

Tickets are now sold out for the free residential solar workshop on Thursday October 19th, but you may sign up for the next (identical) workshop on Monday November 13th at Westerville Library! Thank you for the overwhelming interest!

In this class, we will discuss why people choose solar, and countries that are world leaders in renewable energy. The answers will surprise you. Come to the workshop to find out which countries are leading the way to a renewable future, and how you can become part of the movement.

Solar-powered country living!

At Sunnysideofcbus, I try to share what’s awesome. This house is at the top of my list. It has all the things that make me happy (and a little bit jealous). The 7-kiloWatt grid-tied solar array powers the whole house and the owner’s electric car. Yes, I’ve got e-car jealousy too. But that’s just the top of a long list of green features that includes sustainable flooring, recycled glass countertops, rain barrels, raised garden beds, sizable shed with enclosed chicken coop, wood-fired hearth, and solar tubes for natural lighting. All this is located on 1+ semi-wooded acre, less than a mile from a wetlands with walking path, and across from farmland. 1401 Curve Road Delaware, Ohio has all the right stuff for homesteaders, green living enthusiasts, and folks who just want some nature in their lives. For more information and photos, please visit this link and feel free to register. Your information goes only to me, and I will never share.  Happy home-seeking!