A homeowner in suburban Denver decided to lease solar panels to save on his electricity bill. He shared his story, as well as pictures, with the LeafScore team.
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For his four-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot, two-story home in a Denver suburb, Britlandt Abney, a design review engineer in the state of Colorado’s Department of Health and Environment Water Quality Control Division, chose Vivint Solar, a Sunrun company, for his solar home installation in February 2021, and is thrilled with the results.
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He paid no money down, and leases the equipment for $55 a month, about the same amount as his former electricity bill with the local utility, Xcel Energy, plus a 2.1% escalation charge each year.
Reduced the A/C bill
Abney noticed an immediate impact on his A/C bill, which has become a bigger expense in Colorado with increasing heat and drought.
“Our air conditioning bills are reduced about 90%, basically non-existent. We use the A/C every day about four-and-a-half to six months a year, Colorado’s a sunny state. In the winter, our bill is basically unchanged, since the majority of power in our home is from our natural gas heating, so it’s just lighting.”Britlandt Abney
He doesn’t miss the Federal and state tax credits he would get if he purchased the equipment. “We’re a young family with two kids in day care. If we bought, we’d get the tax credit, but buying is a huge upfront cost and most of the maintenance is your responsibility. We get a lot of hail in Colorado. So we’re leasing, no tax credit, but no responsibility for maintenance and repairs either. We wouldn’t be able to go solar if we bought.”
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No problems occurred during installation, Abney says. His house roof is very flat, with a chimney on the side, so there was no issue fitting the solar panels around peaks or skylights. (He has a skylight on an addition, but that roof has no solar panels.)
He doesn’t have battery backup, but says he doesn’t really need it for emergency off-the-grid use. “Colorado has wildfires too, but not to the degree that California, where I grew up, does,” he adds. “It’s a possibility but not a super-big priority.”
Motivated by climate concerns
How he picked Vivint is a “little bit of an accident,” he explains. While he was always interested in solar energy, he thought, one of these days. But then a friend of his started working for Vivint, so they talked through the benefits and costs, and the friend stopped by and gave an estimate. “One thing led to another. Before you know it, I wasn’t just helping a friend, I was signing up for solar.” The fact that his in-laws in the Bay Area went solar with Vivint a dozen years ago also helped.
Afterward, he was surprised (and delighted) to get a check for $1,000, since he referred friends to the company. “What’s the catch? I kept looking for it, but didn’t find it.”
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Going solar is just the latest step in his and his wife’s journey to be greener citizens in the last few years. They cut back on their meat consumption, and donate to charities who do carbon-offset programs. As for single-use plastic water bottles: “Don’t get me started. Aside from the environmental problem, and the expense, bottled water doesn’t have the same treatment standards as tap water,” says Abney, whose degree in environmental resources engineering is from Cal Poly Humboldt (then named Humboldt State University), where he studied under Lonny Grafman, co-author of To Catch the Sun, a free e-book about DIY solar power.
See also: Colorado solar incentives
Sunrun, the nation’s largest residential solar installation company, acquired Vivint, in 2020.