The more I talk with people interested in solar, the more I’m convinced the single largest influence for them moving forward with solar is the conversations they are having with neighbors that already have solar. And why not? These people have actual experience with solar to share, not some Pollyanna solar yarn spun by some solar salesman. These people should be a great source of additional education and support when making a final decision.
With that in mind, why am I seeing so many individuals who were initially interested in solar turning their back on it after these conversations? A shockingly high percentage of neighbors are sharing stories that all track back to a single topic:Their savings have not turned out like they were promised. Let me address this complaint and offer some help to those who feel they might have been duped.
I WAS TOLD MY ELECTRIC BILL WOULD BE ZERO
Although there are many reasons why your electric bill may still show charges, I’ll focus on the main two.
Your utility company has flat fees: All utility companies have a flat “connection” charge each month that is levied as long as you’re connected to the grid. In addition, certain taxes and assessments do not go away simply by going solar. These vary anywhere from $5 - $12 a month. As long as your system is producing as much energy as you’re using each month, these flat fees should be all you’re paying.
Your solar sales rep misrepresented some portion of your system: There are certain metrics you need to be keenly aware of regarding your system when going solar.
Last year’s actual electricity usage – Any reputable company will require this information. This allows them to know how large a system they need to design in order to produce that same amount of energy to erase your entire energy bill.
The stated production of the system being installed – Two things here. First, if this number doesn’t match or exceed last year’s actual electricity usage, expect a monthly electric bill--no matter what a solar sales rep tells you. Second, solar companies use all sorts of calculations to arrive at this number. From licking their finger and holding it up to the wind, to using very precise software with decades of historical sun measurements. Insist your solar company shares with you how they came to that number.
Any “Energy Savings Packages” included with your solar system - This issue bugs me more than ANY other in the entire industry. Too many customers have been given an “energy savings package” consisting of LED lights and a Smart Thermostat, and being told this will reduce their electricity usage by 15-20%. This way, the solar company can sell a solar system that only produces 80% of last year’s electrical usage and state with this “package” your monthly bill will disappear. These packages actually save between 3-5% and leave many customers owing 15-17% of their monthly electricity bill. If your solar proposal has one of these RUN THE OTHER WAY!
I FEEL LIKE I WAS DUPED…NOW WHAT
If you were promised a zero bill, but continue to pay large portions of an energy bill each month, here are some things you can do.
Review your installation agreement – All installers are required to have you sign an agreement with the specifics of the system being installed on your home. Often, this agreement states the “Expected 1st Year Production” of your system. If your system is producing at a much lower production than this stated number, you have leverage to approach that company and demand some type of remedy.
Find your original proposal and look for an “Energy Savings Package” – If you show huge savings tied to a handful of LED bulbs, I’d suggest a call into the company to discuss that 20% claim.
One final option. I don’t care if your system is through Mobius Solar or not. Bad business is simply bad business. If you’d like help deciphering the details of the solar system already installed on your home, or have questions about a contract you’ve already signed, please reach out to me at email@example.com or at our office line (385) 434-3999. No sales pitch, just a helping hand.