Solar Update

1. Nov 1, 2007

Chi Meson

For those interested, I have just received my third electricity bill after the installation of my solar hot water heater. Currently, I have realized at total of $158 "saved." Putting that against ~$3500 of total cost, then somewhere between $1200 and$2000 federal tax credit , and the diddly-squat credit from Northeast Utilities, I am on target for a 4-year payback.

Caveat: I did the labor myself, which included 150 soldered joints, 20 threaded joints and 10 compression unions. I have to find out how much I can claim for the labor as a tax credit. A friend says I should claim $50 an hour at least. Anyone know any thing about writing off you own home labor? 2. Nov 1, 2007 jim mcnamara Staff: Mentor Chi Meson - If you were heating with electricity, you were doomed anyway. Gas water heating will not be far behind. I'm at at a utility company, we kinda know this stuff. The gas and electric traders are great for knowing current and projected contract prices for all kinds of energy. And buying someone lunch now and then pays off. Generally, with fuel adjustment clauses being enabled everywhere, the outlook for ebill charges is they will go up by a minimum of 10% over the next year, countrywide. And gas costs per residential therm will be in the$1.00+ range by January.

Do not pay attention to money directly because in a while you will be comparing apples to sycamore trees. Due to rate inflation primarily from fuel surcharges and therm costs.

If you do not have a consumption graph on your bill, look at the kwh and the therms you used last last year for September, and then the year before. Those numbers matter, not the dollars. Example: In the SW average ebills will probably inflate by 10-20% in the next year. Texas is getting clobbered so badly there are folks who want to repeal the law that created open unregulated residential markets.

Some utilities, like Texas El Paso in New Mexico, saw a 50%+ increase per kwh because of fuel adjustments this past summer. TEP customers in Texas proper also had problems.

In actual dollars your payback is gonna appear to happen later as your rates go up. But your real dollar savings will be a lot greater than you now estimate. You post in Maths and Physics, so you can work out why, I'm sure. Just work out your real cost per therm and kwh now, and use that as a baseline. Your return is gonna be very worthwhile.

Wanna feel better: propane should be near \$3.00/therm retail by mid-December as foreign oil prices soar and the dollar falls.. Propane: 1.087 gallons per therm at sea level. Above 3500' that number gets worse. I heat with propane (and wood pellets). I'm buying as much propane as possible this month. And I live at 6500'. Oh well.

3. Nov 1, 2007

Chi Meson

Jim,

actually I do get a nice bar graph comparing my kWh per day average for each month going back to the previous year. I am down to 16 kwh/day, from a high of 31 (August 06), and 28 for (October 06). I am aware of the upcoming surge(s) in energy prices, and have no problem justifying my decision to go solar. Still it's fun to actualize the savings.

I'm watching the heating oil prices too: