SolTerra is a mission-oriented company where employees are continually reminded to reflect on the ‘why’ behind what they do. As we approach the end of 2016, it’s natural to circle back to this idea. So we recently challenged our solar team to think about their personal ‘why’. Each Solar Design Consultant then reached out to a handful of clients and asked a simple question: why did you go solar? The responses were overwhelming - clients shared their motivating factors and personal stories with a great amount of pride.
Here's what they had to say...
“What came to mind when I read your question was a conversation we had with our daughter a few days ago over the book ‘The Cat in The Hat.’ In that book, the Cat comes in and destroys the house, but then puts it back together, all while Mother is away. The two kids are asked at the end whether they will tell their mother what happened, and the question is left open. We were talking with our daughter about how you should always tell the truth, most importantly because it's the right thing to do. The same goes with installing solar for us -- It was the right thing to do for the environment, for sustainability, and for our finances. I swear that between the federal tax refund, the incentive payments, and the credits, the thing has practically already paid for itself.”
- Solar Homeowner in Seattle, WA (5.5kW)
“We made the decision to go solar primarily because the economics worked, given the subsidies and tax advantages. So far, even with the state’s changes, it’s working as planned. I think there’s a secondary benefit (for us, although I get for many this might be a primary benefit) that we’re creating ‘green’ energy and having some net positive effect in that way.”
- Solar Business Owner in Seattle, WA (9.9kW)
“Solar was an important decision for me because I am concerned about climate change, but feel relatively helpless to solve it. Having the panels on my house gives me a tangible and quantifiable way to see how I am reducing carbon emissions on our planet, to show other people my commitment and that it is something that "mainstream/normal" people do.
I am most proud of my decision because I put my money where my mouth is. I don't just say that I am concerned about climate change and support clean energy, I have made a personal investment/commitment to solving it - even if it is in a small incremental way.”
- Solar Homeowner in Bellevue, WA (11.4kW)
“What am I most proud of, other than diversifying my power sources to be less dependent on the grid? Probably the power bills I received this summer with negative balances (i.e., bills where our net production exceeded our net usage and we received a credit from the PUD).”
- Solar Homeowner in Vancouver, WA (9.9kW)
“My husband and I have thought about adding solar panels for years, and since we were adding a second story to our house the timing was finally right. With a two-year-old daughter we feel it is important to do whatever we can to support clean, renewable energy, starting with our own home.”
- Solar Homeowner in Seattle, WA (9.6kW)
“I have always been fascinated with technology and the idea of harnessing the "free power" of the sun! The idea that once the structure of solar is in place, the power of the sun can provide electricity without causing further or ongoing damage to the earth as with other forms of energy production was the "driver" in my decision. I'm most proud of being a part of a movement which I feel is changing the way the world feels about energy and its uses in a more productive, useful and less damaging way! Makes me very proud that my Grandchildren (future consumers) have become interested in solar since the installation and continue to ask questions.”
- Solar Homeowner in Puyallup, WA (9.8kW)
“How can I lose... Germany is the most ‘solarized’ country on earth, and there is no place in Germany with weather as good as in Seattle. The question is then paradoxical...why not, not why! Also, in addition to the incentives, my house is 5 to 10% cooler on a hot day due to the interstitial area between the roof and the solar panels.”
- Solar Homeowner in Mount Vernon, WA (5.6kW)
“What are we proud of? Wrong question. We didn’t do it to show off or gain a glow of self satisfaction. We finally did what we’d wanted to do for a long time when we could do it because it’s the right and sensible thing to do: many people CAN’T do it because they’re renters or in a bad location or haven’t the money. I think it’s really up to societies as a whole to make these commitments regardless of the slings and arrows of politics, vested interests, and corruption.”
- Solar Homeowner in Portland, OR (5.7kW)
“Solar was an important project for me for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, I believe investing in alternative energy sources is a vital step towards a more sustainable and symbiotic relationship between us humans, and our planet… Climate change is the elephant in the room, and no matter how small of an impact my system will have in that global fight, I feel that every little bit of help we can individually provide is essential to the survival of our planet... Ideally, my system will encourage more people to invest in solar by making it possible for them to physically witness the power of the sun and the benefits of a home installation. The second reason I decided to move ahead with the project was my father. I was raised in the Oregon coast with no electricity. We read by candlelight until we installed a solar array tied to batteries when I was seventeen. I remember home systems were still a fairly new technology and it was difficult and quite the process to complete. It's very encouraging how much easier and mainstream they have become since our first solar experience. The ease of instillation, coupled with the incentives they now offer have made solar installations a much more realistic investment for homeowners. My father, although still young, passed away three years ago from bone cancer. Even though he was never able to see my project, it is my way of physically honoring him and his legacy. I am hoping through actions like this I can continue to be the positive influence on our planet and the people around me in much the same way that he was to me and the people who were around him.”
- Solar Homeowner in Washougal, WA (11.2kW)
“With small children in our house, we wanted to not only do our part to create green energy and be a little more self sufficient, but also show our commitment to the environment to our children. I’m positive they don’t realize the financial commitment and just think its really cool, but we feel like it’s the right thing to do if you have the means to do it. We feel like we are making a difference, setting an example for our kids and showing/telling others about how they can make the investment, and love those $0 electric bills in the summer months.”
- Solar Homeowner in Kirkland, WA (9.9kW)
“The primary reason I chose solar was to help the environment. The incentives didn’t hurt either.”
- Solar Homeowner in Seattle, WA (10.36kW)
“For me the decision to go solar was twofold. The first was financially. It had to make sense financially for me. As I looked at the rising rates of energy and seeing the demand for energy go up, I thought that going solar would help me offset much of that cost. I also knew that the incentives would help pay for much of the cost. So when I looked at the bottom line I was able to pay just about the same I would for my monthly energy bill but be able to have solar power. And then within seven years after it was paid off I would then be making money.
But this is where the other facet enters in because if I look completely at the money that I was investing in solar it is not the best investment on the market. I could easily take that money and put it into something else that would give me a greater return. So that's where the second aspect came in and took over. I am very interested in being self-sufficient. The reason I bought my property and my barn and do what I do it so that one day I would not be reliable upon any of the markets to sustain life. I do not want to be part of a panic if things were to go down. I want to be able to have energy that I can rely upon in the event of a power outage or other cause of power loss.
The whole idea of going green was never really a part of the decision. I don't know if that is the main factor for a lot of people. People complement me on the solar panels and they assume that I am trying to go green but I tell them going green has nothing to do with it. So I assume there are some people that truly believe in green power and trying to be better for the world however I probably do not fit in that category.
So if you really want to know what sold me on the solar, it was when you showed me the spreadsheet with data based on where the sun was, the pitch of my roof and the efficiency of the panels looking at my current electric bills and could show me how these panels would pay for themselves without putting too much of the financial burden on me, I was able to get closer to my goal of self-sufficiency. So a win-win for both parts of my brain. Emotional and logical.”
- Solar Homeowner in Sumner, WA (8.55kW)
“The timing was perfect for our decision to solar. The incentives were the main factor in our decision to get solar panels. We love the idea of creating our own energy and being less dependent on our utility company. I wish solar was more affordable so that everyone can use it and make the world a cleaner place.”
- Solar Homeowner in Brush Prairie, WA (9.24kW)
“I am appx. 5 years from retirement. My wife and I downsized into this new smaller home as our possible retirement home. We may stay here after we retire if health issues require it, or we may sell and move elsewhere. In either case, I determined that adding solar now was the right answer. If we move, it will help us sell, and we should recoup the outlay for the system. If we stay, it will be the gift that keeps on giving throughout our retirement with reduced utility bills.”
- Solar Homeowner in Stanwood, WA (8.96kW)
“We cherish our five acres and the beautiful environment we live in and it is important to us to live in a responsible manner. Adding the solar system is part of our on-going plan to be sustainable and to minimize our impact on the environment. Two years ago we moved from fossil fuel primary vehicle to an electric car. We love our Nissan Leaf! We did see our energy usage increase as a result of that decision. With that data, we knew it was time to add solar to offset not just the electric car energy impact but hopefully most of our energy costs. We are most proud of the example we are to our neighbors and co-workers!”
- Solar Homeowner in Enumclaw, WA (13.8kW)
“Fighting climate change was the #1 reason I went solar. It's real progress, and it will work regardless of what the government does. Secondary was the ability to have power if the grid goes down, such as prolonged outage due to severe earthquake. Why now? Finally owned my own home with good sun exposure and saved up the money to buy the panels. I’m most proud of taking action rather than just talking about how many problems climate change has and will cause.”
- Solar Homeowner in Aloha, OR (5.77kW)
“We like supporting alternative energy & had already thought about using solar when we had the house built by orienting it to take advantage of the sun. After having a sun room in our previous home we knew of the advantage that even passive solar had. We also like being more self reliant and are waiting for the market to justify the expense of batteries for backup.
[The timing was right because] the tax credits were our big prompt into action. We also had reached a point of financial ability to be able to do it.
[We’re most proud of] knowing that we have a 20-year system that supports the whole solar/alternative energy industry. Of course, when the meter runs backwards it feels good too!”
- Solar Homeowner in Ridgefield, WA (9.24kW)
“There were really two purposes for us to look at solar and that was to help reduce our electricity consumption as well as do something good for the environment. With a pay off period of about 6 years, how could we do better with those dollars? And with the rebates in place at this point, we’ll be able to take maximum advantage which helps the bottom line.
I’m very impressed with the way the panels work even on rainy, cloudy days. Even with the short days, we’re still able to create more energy than we’re using. I can’t wait for the longer, sunnier days to see what they can really do.
As well as helping the environment, I’m very pleased that all our components are not only USA made, but Washington State made as well… I’m grateful that was even an option and love the opportunity to provide those companies with business.”
- Solar Homeowner in Snohomish, WA (9.14kW)
“We are committed to lessening the damage that we personally are doing to the environment. We believe that individuals taking action to decrease their impact can collectively be transformative. We know that our consumption of non-renewable energy is one of the areas where we do the most damage, so both lessening our consumption overall and replacing non-renewable energy sources with renewable solar has always been a priority for us.
For us, the timing had everything to do with the flow in our life (time, energy, resources) and almost nothing to do with the technology advances, greater consumer availability and incentives. We were however very fortunate to take advantage of those conditions.”
- Solar homeowner in Seattle, WA (6.78kW)
“I have been green for years. Graduated from Ohio State with a degree in Zoology and therefore took numerous ecology and natural science classes. I can remember the long gas lines in the 70's and have long been a proponent of conservation and preserving our natural resources. I am the one who walks my dog and picks up trash on the side of the road. With our move to Washington and the building of a new house it seemed like the perfect time to install solar and reduce our carbon footprint. And I must admit that I love getting the power bills of $18.50.”
- Solar Homeowner in Vancouver, WA (7.84kW)
“Being the owners of a small working family farm, solar was just one of many important decisions we've made to try and reduce our carbon footprint and become more dependent on our natural resources. The reason we chose to go solar at this time was we plan on retiring in the next 5 to 10 years and want to have it paid for prior. We are most proud of the way we are showing our grandchildren there are alternatives and options. You should always try to look for better ways to treat yourself and your planet – ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work’ ~ Thomas Edison”
- Solar Homeowner in Olalla, WA (6.9kW)
“I think the primary reason for solar panels is that we wanted to to our small part to help the environment. We have money now so saving dollars on our energy bills is nice but not a big factor. The timing was right because 1) we did finally come into some money so we could now afford it and 2) we needed to replace the roofing materials anyway and it was easier to do roof replacement together with solar panels, and our ‘green roof,’ all at the same time.
Oh, and we are very proud of doing something positive for the environment. Plus, having solar panels makes us cooler people - and we all want that, don't we?”
- Solar & green roof homeowner in Seattle, WA