neighbor-solar-couple-cropeditors-blog-entry3Studies show that solar is contagious, and, in our case, happily, that’s turned out to be true!

Exactly one year after we had a 5.59 kW solar system installed on our perfect-for-solar, south-facing Aurora, Colo. rooftop, another house in our neighborhood – with an even better south-facing roof than ours — has sprouted solar.

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Actually, we can’t take the credit for the sleek new 5.1 kW Namasté Solar installed system atop Leonard Kunz’ and Elaine Chandler’s home. Leonard has had a solar thermal system on a previous house and Elaine is a lifelong environmentalist who’s wanted to go solar for a long time.

But Leonard tells me we should get some of the credit. You see, we live in an HOA and when Leonard and Elaine saw that our HOA allowed us to install our system last June, they decided it was time to look into solar for themselves.

“When you got a system, we knew it would be acceptable for us too – that ours wouldn’t be opposed by the HOA,” Leonard told me when I asked what inspired them to go solar.

Progressive HOA
Thank God we both live in a progressive HOA that sees the beauty of solar, a beauty which contrasts sharply with the environmental and health ugliness of coal, despite what some more regressive HOAs in places like, oh, I don’t know, say, Omaha, Neb., claim about the “ugliness” of solar (we just wrote about the case of Timothy Adams, whose HOA is suing him for installing a solar PV system on his Omaha home).

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It doesn’t hurt either, that Colorado has a solar rights provision which ensures that HOAs must allow homeowners to install rooftop solar.

In fact, the spreading of solar in our neighborhood of about 50 homes — which, by the way, has at least 20 rooftops that are perfect for solar PV, and another 10 that are very good for PV (see the Google Maps image), isn’t really about our HOA, but about Leonard’s and Elaine’s commitment to:

a) power production independence;

b) saving money;

c) doing the right thing;

Independence & solar savings
Leonard’s really excited the couple will be covering up to 108% of their annual electricity use with their brand new PV system.

“It’s great knowing that the production of electricity we use is happening on our roof,” he says.

I’m so pleased, really pleased . . . It’s really nice to see our system up on our roof.
— Elaine Chandler, Aurora, Colo. homeowner with a brand new 5.1 kW solar system

And the economic savings aren’t bad either.

Leonard and Elaine will see a $42 per month electric bill, substantially lower than the $75 they were paying on average before – and they’ve locked in that lower rate for the next 20 years, thanks to a SunRun solar lease.

neighbor-solar-couple-hugThe couple opted to lease a solar system rather than buy one (we bought ours before leasing become available in Colorado) for the reason that’s made solar leasing more popular than buying in virtually all places in the U.S. where leasing is offered: The substantial upfront costs of home solar.

“We just didn’t have the money to do it otherwise,” explains Elaine, who is retired (Len still works full time at a rental equipment company he founded and owns). “Plus, we thought in our situation – I’m 65 and Len’s 74 – this would be a better way to do it.”

Lease saves upfront costs
Leased, or owned, in the end, it really doesn’t matter in terms of the greening and cleaning of our local grid. At peak sun times, we’ll have 11 kW of solar electricity flowing into the underground electric cables in our little corner of the world.

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That’s pretty cool, especially when you think about plugging an electric car into that greening grid, which we hope to be doing soon (hint to our other neighbors with great solar rooftops – put up more solar PV!).

Beyond a cleaner local grid, there’s the simple satisfaction home solar gives you. This unique satisfaction — which easily beats the joy of, say, buying a new TV or computer — is actually very difficult to achieve through any other means.

“I’m so pleased, really pleased,” said Elaine when asked how going solar made her feel. “I grew up with the idea that we really need to be careful about our environment. This is so important. It’s really nice to see our system up on our roof.”

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