Until now, Patrick McCombe has believed that improvements to the envelope of his home should come before an investment in photovoltaic panels. Now he’s weighing a deal that seems too good to pass up.
McCombe lives in Connecticut (he’s an associate editor at Fine Homebuilding magazine) and he recently attended an informational meeting sponsored by an organization working to lower the cost of PV. Panels could be purchased or leased, but the bottom line was that with federal and state incentives, McCombe could buy a 10-kilowatt array for $15,000.
“I’ve always believed that envelope improvements make more sense than PV,” he writes in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor, “but the state and federal incentives and super low prices of PV coupled with our very high electric rates has me considering an installation.”
McCombe heats his small house with fuel oil, a relatively expensive fuel common to New England. Even though he doesn’t use that much oil, the prospect of weaning himself from this fuel entirely is very attractive.
“Am I silly for installing PV first without significant envelope improvements to my very small but not terribly efficient home?” he asks. “In the three years we’ve lived there we’ve needed three tanks of heating oil, so our heating costs are much lower than most folks in New England. Our house is small and reasonably airtight. If we lowered our plug loads, it’s conceivable we could also heat our house with heat pumps or resistance heaters using our 10 kW array.”
As the installed cost of solar electric continues to fall and subsidies remain in place, this is a choice many other homeowners could be facing. That’s the topic for this Q&A Spotlight.
That’s too good of a deal to pass up