Sense Blog

Lessons from a Solar Homeowner

A New York homeowner is thankful for his solar power after this long, hot summer.

Another summer with nearly record breaking heat combined with millions of people working from home due to COVID-19 has kept air conditioners running around the clock. High electricity bills have only added to financial woes for many Americans. With people working and staying at home, energy data from Sense showed an average 22% rise in utility bills across the country in April after many people stayed home.

But a Long Island man isn’t worried, even though New York utility bills are the fifth highest nationally. Ian Newman is a paramedic who lives in Glen Cove with his wife and 19-month old daughter. A year after moving into his home in 2014 and discovering that their utility bills averaged $320 per month, Ian and his wife started investigating whether solar panels made sense for their house. They calculated potential savings of more than $100,000 over the 25-year life of a solar system.

Convinced that solar was worth the investment, the couple worked with Ronkonkoma-based SUNation, a Sense partner, to secure a low-interest, 15-year loan from NYSERDA. SUNation took care of all the paperwork and permitting, including a zero percent interest bridge loan to cover the waiting period before the Newmans received rebates from the state.

Says Ian, “When we were looking for a solar provider, SUNation didn’t oversell us. They said we’d make enough electricity for 80% of our bill and it ended up more like 120%. They were helpful every step of the way, calling once a week to let me know about permitting, and even the CEO called a couple times to check in. It was installed within 3 days and it’s worked great since.”

The investment paid off. The Newman’s monthly loan payment of $164 is about half of their original utility bill. Today their average electricity bill is only $13 per month, with their pool, hot tub, air conditioning and appliances all powered by solar.

This year SUNation introduced Ian to the Sense Solar home energy monitor, which was installed in his electrical panel and tracks which appliances and other devices are turned on and off in his home, and how much electricity the entire home is using, while also showing him how much solar power his panels are producing at any point in time.

Seeing what’s happening in their home in real time has changed the whole family’s relationship to their energy needs. Says Ian, “We try to rely mostly on solar. For instance, I’ll look at the Sense app and see the AC is on and it’s using more energy than the solar is producing. So I’ll turn off the AC for a while. We keep the TVs and lights off during the day and we’re more conscious about using the washer and dryer when we’re producing solar power.” The utility banks his solar credits so the energy that’s produced during peak times is credited toward future electricity bills.

The savings matter more now because Ian is temporarily disabled by a back injury and his wife is working from home, so the electricity bills have increased. Ian comments, “Things were on constantly this summer. If we didn’t have solar, our electricity bill would have been double what we’re paying. We’re always saving money.” He also sees solar as a long term investment in his home. Says Ian, “Having solar brings value to the house. We’ll pay off the loan when it’s due in 10 years or when we sell the house. Solar gives our home a zero electricity bill, which adds value to the house.”

Ian’s experience with SUNation highlights how solar installers can succeed in today’s solar market. SUNation provided outstanding, personal customer service, supported Ian through the permitting process and installed his solar panels quickly and reliably. By partnering with Sense, SUNation gives customers detailed insights into both their solar production and home energy usage so they can evaluate their solar investment more realistically and monitor their solar success. And, of course, satisfied and engaged customers can lead to more referral sales.

To learn more about Sense’s solar partner program, visit https://sense.com/partners
Find out more about SUNation at sunation.com.