Oh man, I just got off the phone with a rep from Solar City, and I am sooooooo tempted right now to grab some solar panels for the roof!!! I can’t believe how easy and SIMPLE it all seems, and they even have a $0 down deal too! (No, this is not an ad, haha…) There are of course some catches to the plan, but as you’ll see in a bit they’re not nearly as bad as one might think :)
But first, let’s track back a little. Where the heck did solar panels even come up in my work-from-home life? Haha… well, I got snagged while roaming the aisles of Home Depot one cold month ;) You know how every now and then they try and get you to do a free estimate for flooring or windows or anything else homeowners go gaga over? Well, I declined all those when they were presented to me, but as soon as I thought I was done w/ the interrogation, I got hit up with one last question to finally grab my attention:
“How would you like to never pay for electricity again?”
“Ummmmmm” I started to say, as I got half intrigued/half thinking I was about to get scammed. “How the heck is that possible?”
“With solar panels! Why not grab the free energy from the sun instead of paying the electric company every single month? Just jot down your info here and we’ll have a rep give you a call later on.”
I’ll admit he had me at solar panels. While I’m certainly no environmental rock star (see proof here, here, and here), the idea of being a lot more self-contained is HUGE right now in my “perfect world” dreams. I would totally build my own house, grow my own food, and have natural water and everything else that came along with being “organic” in case the world were to end one day (aka the economy implodes). And solar energy is one key aspect in making that plan nice and possible!
So I quickly told him to sign me up (didn’t even bother reading other SolarCity reviews), and four weeks later I get the call and all 101 of my “what if” questions were answered ;) I give her mad credit for her patience that’s for sure, haha… and it only took about 20 mins to pretty much have me convinced (pending final approval from the Mrs., of course, as well as you guys). The only thing I forgot to ask about was the tax benefits, d’oh…
But in a nutshell, here is a smattering of all the info I gleaned (SAT word!) on this stuff:
- You put $0 down, and have a system installed 100% within a few short months.
- For the next 20 years (yup, that’s what the contract would be), they’d maintain everything absolutely free, and your “payment” for the whole thing would be included in your monthly bill – which would still be lower than your normal electric bill as it is now without the panels.
- Every month you’d save roughly 5%-15% of your entire bill, all depending on your personal use and how much sun typically hits your house on average. (We’d get more accurate numbers here if we decided to proceed to stage #2 where they look over our actual situation)
- At the end of the 20 years, you have the option of upgrading equipment or ending the deal.
Of course, if you sell the house, or decide to take it down for whatever reason, you’re then held responsible for the remaining amount owed on the equipment. BUT, and this is a big but here, the odds that any new homeowner WOULDN’T want to save money via solar energy would be incredibly small you’d have to figure, right? If all they have to do is xfer everything into their own name? If it did ever come down to that though, you could always have them give you back all the equipment that you would now become the new owner of (along w/ a possible $7,000+ bill), which you could then bring along to your NEXT home to have it installed there as well. And in theory you’d be back to the good ol’ days of saving energy again ;) But I don’t want to be the one to test it out…
So that’s the main option they pitch to people, and probably the one I’d select too if we decide to move forward with it all. The OTHER route you could take, would be to buy everything from them right from the beginning and then take FULL VALUE of the savings you’d get starting on day #1. Which could mean bills of anywhere from 80% off (!!!) to even 100% or more!! Where you’d produce a lot more energy than you actually consume, and the electric company would start giving you “credits” for it cuz now you have a surplus :) Again, probably not a likely situation, but it IS indeed possible. The only problem with going this route is it would cost you I believe anywhere from $10,000-$20,000, depending on the size of your roof, AND you’d be responsible for maintaining it all the way too. Meaning if it breaks or something nasty happens, you have to keep shelling out more money for it to stay on track and keep bringing you those hefty discounts.
Pros and cons to either solution here, but in the long run either route would more than make up for the initial investments. And you’d be helping out the environment to boot :) I believe they also have a “pre-pay $X amount” middle ground scenario as well, where you can tweak the numbers even more depending on how much you actually want to get in savings every month. But you’d have to play around with it for a bit, and find out how to maximize your efficiency there. It is a nice, though, that you don’t necessarily have to go w/ one of the other extreme routes we just talked about though, so at least you have options.
And that’s my solar panel story! Lots of exciting stuff brewing in the air over here, and super excited to run it by Mrs. BudgetsAreSexy and YOU GUYS to see what your thoughts on the whole thing are too. I couldn’t find any major cons other than the worst-case scenario of us signing and then selling the house a few months/years later, only to have the new owners hate the entire thing (that would REALLY suck), but again even w/ that the odds are still pretty low. And if we were to rent out the house instead, we could always lower the rent or be even more convincing of how awesome our house is compared to our neighbors w/out it ;) Hell – having the panels installed could even help us SELL the house a lot faster too! I’d TOTALLY be swayed towards solar energy than without.
So, dear friends, what ARE your thoughts on this whole thing? Have you ever looked into solar energy yourself? Do you happen to HAVE solar panels right now on your house, as we speak?? I wanna hear thoughts! Right now I’m 75% into signing up, but I’m not gonna do it if I’m missing something totally out of left field. So all of your opinions count massively today! Here’s your chance to alter the future of my finances for ever and ever and ever ;) Use your powers wisely.
PS: You can read more about the company here if you’re interested. They do business across the entire country, so hopefully one of you have ALREADY used them and can give us the inside scoop! :)
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!