Ray Martin describes himself as a product of the oil shortage back in 1973 when he remembers waiting in line for hours to fill his tank with gas and in 1977 as an industrial engineering student at Georgia Tech he organized an energy fair and got to drive an electric car.
At Georgia Tech he established a recycling center, helped install solar panels on the roof of the aerospace engineering building, and he bought and rode a used bicycle. During summer break, he explored recycling as a business and rode shotgun on garbage trucks collecting data.
Now Martin, a sales and marketing VP, is married with two children living in a 3650 sq. ft. four bedroom and three and a half bathroom home in Fremont, Ca., is still thinking green.
In November last year he had solar panels installed after toying with the idea for several years. His house has zero shade on its roof and is perfectly situated for solar power.
“The rebate and incentives sped things along,” he said. “It is a positive investment. It is not all about money. It is also about education, adds value to the home, and it is a burgeoning industry. It also helps to educate my children in solar power. It’s great fun to see the meter going backwards, too. The kids ask what is a watt and what is a kilowatt. It is a chance to promote an awareness of going green.”
Before buying the photovoltaics (PVs or panels), Martin planned on buying a $40,000 car, instead he decided on getting a $25,000 car and spent the rest on the PVs. It was a smart financial move.
But there are many other reasons why Martin is more than happy after installing the 10 PVs. His state rebate is $4190 and a federal credit of $2000. He says, because his average electricity cost was already fairly low, about 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, it will take him about 20 years to pay off the panels, but “after that it will be gravy.”
In the 12 months prior to installing the PVs, his average electric bill was $48 and $51 for gas. He is still paying his gas bill and his electrical bill has been slashed to just $7.63 to have the solar panels hooked up. In his most recent month he earned a credit of $65, and he has already decided to get a solar water heater within the next year.
“The PV system is already performing better than advertised,” he said adding that he expected to save between $450 and $500 a year going solar and that his children probably will continue to follow his footsteps.
“It all happened really quickly. It took six weeks from placing the order to installation, which was easy and our daily routine was not affected,” he said. On another plus, the installers repaired a leak in the roof and replaced four broken roof tiles at no extra cost. “It left the roof in better condition than it was in before,” said Martin.
Clean Solar, which installed the PVs, also made it a smoother ride for Martin by filling out all the paper work for the state rebate. He will get his federal incentive through his tax return.
All this did not come together without some solid homework. Martin took part in a 40-hour solar education class for electricians and was taught how to track the sun’s trends. “I read about it on the Internet and spoke to people who already had panels. It all helped,” he said.
Martin says his decision to go solar and his belief in green has a positive affect on the environment. “Absolutely,” he added. “I subscribe to the vision that all energy should be renewable.” As for the future, Martin says that if he decides to sell his house the new owner will also be pleased because it will come with no electrical bill.
“It was a good investment and asset for the home,” said Martin.