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HARNESSING THE SUN
One of the home energy trends most often associated with environmental consciousness is installing a solar-powered electricity-generating system. New Paltz-based CPA John DeNicolo and his wife Nancy installed solar panels on the roof of their 1,700 square-foot home late last year, and since February they haven’t paid more for electricity than the standard charge for being hooked up to the electric company’s grid. “We’re actually generating positive energy over the last six months,” DeNicolo says. “It actually does work.”
DeNicolo feels there is no greater way of combining saving money on energy with being kind to the environment. “It seemed like a decent investment, and it also had a political or ecological element to it,” he says. “My wife and I wanted to do something in a positive way to conserve energy.”
DeNicolo says the initial installation price tag of around $42,000 was offset by grant money through NYSERDA and federal tax credits, so they only spent around $12,000 out of pocket. “All of that incentive is what it takes to make [installation] cost effective,” he says. “I’m very pleased. They’re talking about a 25-year guarantee, but they expect the system to last 50 years with some degradation. If I’m around in 25 years, it’s been a really heroic journey.”
And for those fearful of having to get up on a ladder to clean the panels, DeNicolo says not to worry because you don’t need to. “One time a bird took a crap on one of my solar panels, so I was kind of curious and thought it was a political statement or a sabotage,” he says. But when he asked about cleaning it, “they told me to leave the system alone. The rain comes and washes it away. It cleanses itself.”
Most importantly, DeNicolo says, the system works even when the weather is frigid.
“In the middle of winter with no snow on the roof I’m generating positive energy,” he says. “From the day the switch was flipped, it’s been amazing.”
Whether you’re looking to make huge changes to your home or just do a few simple things here and there, saving money on energy during the winter doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. And as long as you’re open to trying new ideas and spending a bit of money up front, the benefits down the line are at your doorstep. Just don’t let in a draft when you answer the call.
Advanced Radiant Design: www.radiant-design.com
Alfandre Architecture: www.alfrande.com
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority: www.nyserda.org
Sustainable Hudson Valley: www.sustainhv.org
Wittus Fire By Design: www.wittus.com