solar

Green Scene (Solar Energy)

Everything you ever wanted to know about solar energy but were afraid to ask.

From solar panels on the roof to a solar pool heater, making homes more energy efficient seems easier than ever these days. So why is it still such a mystery to so many? “At this point, the cost of solar has come down so much that it’s usually lower than what homeowners are paying,” says Raul Vergara, owner of Cutler Bay Solar Solutions. “I compare it to renting electricity versus buying electricity. With solar, homeowners own their own electricity.” Vergara should know, his company is the largest solar installer in the tri-county area and is responsible for the largest decrease in carbon emissions our area has seen in decades.

We sat down with Vergara to look at the pros, the cons and the what, where and how of energy efficiency and to sort through the myriad of questions that come with making a change.

Who is a good candidate for Cutler Bay Solar Solutions?

Pretty much anyone, says Vergara. But more specifically, “Somebody who is using too much energy and they’re not sure how they’re using it… but they want to save money.” To that end Vergara and his team look over potential clients’ electric bills to see what typical energy consumption is and start from there.

What parts of the home does the company look at?

For Vergara it generally comes down to four parts- the air conditioning, the water heater, the lighting and pool pumps. “If it’s something that’s on or running for a significant amount of time then we want to look at it,” he says.

How do I know if my home is a candidate for solar energy?

Though it’s optimum to be facing south, 80 percent of South Florida homes are suitable for solar potential according to Vergara. The 20 percent that are not can sometimes come down to shading issues or roof types. Condos as well, may not have roof space for solar panels. For the majority however, the panels can even increase the value of a home.  “Consumers are more savvy, they understand the value of solar,” says Vergara.

What’s a good place to start?

Vergara says look to your water heater. “An electric water heater is on 24 hours a day,” he says. “That’s a lot of electricity. It’s a very easy, low-cost swap to go solar.”

What’s the biggest misconception about solar energy?

Though Vergara says consumers are more and more educated about solar energy, there is still a misconception that panels are just for the wealthy. “Solar has now become affordable for everyone,” he says. Programs such as Ygrene can help homeowners take away the worry of up-front cost. “You can stop writing the check to FPL,” Vergara says. “The money is staying in your house.”

What’s the first step?

Vergara and his team will come to potential clients’ homes to do an assessment, eventually giving owners what he calls a “roadmap” to energy efficiency. “We look at where can we mount panels, how many, what can we reduce,” he says. “We can take care of the process and help them on their way to energy independence.”

To learn more about Cutler Bay Solar Solutions, please visit cutlerbaysolarsolutions.com or call them at 305-280-0638.

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