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Solar Case Study – Paula Churchill

Avatar for Dan Hahn
Written by
Published on 10/14/2014
Updated 11/04/2014

Paula Churchill wanted to go solar but needed a way to reduce the costs involved. After retiring and picking a house that would be ideal for solar panels, she did some basics herself and had a professional installer do the wiring, allowing her to get the power she wanted without busting the bank.

Paula Churchill warmed to the idea of solar power long before she decided to take the plunge in 2013. She’d already used solar for hot water at her previous home. After retiring, she found a house that had a “perfect” roof in the back for solar, with the exposure needed to generate enough power. It was enough to make her feel it was time to expand her use of the sun to serve the entirety of her electric needs.

Unlike most people, however, Paula decided that just paying an installer to do things she was capable of working on herself made no sense. It didn’t hurt that her brother had already gone solar in North Carolina with a 7KW system, so she knew a bit about how things worked in terms of the steps needed to put solar on a roof.

Paula did all of what she called “the grunt work,” namely setting up the scaffolding and other items that were not outside the realm of home repair. Since she was already making improvements on her new home, it was easy to incorporate the structural items needed for solar. All she had to do was note them as part of her improvement plan when doing the rest of her renovations.

Once that was finished, Ecolectic did the rest, making sure all of the wiring and other high tech parts of the installation were completed successfully. So far, Paula’s system has performed flawlessly. Ironically, Ecolectric wasn’t one of the places she initially investigated, having sourced a recommendation from a friend, looked into a place that had already installed a system locally, and picked out a name from the phone book.

Paula got solar estimates ranging from $15,000 to $22,000. The fluctuating cost estimates are what inspired her to take some of the work into her own hands. “The prices varied so much; I ended up making some of the purchases myself and ended up saving about four thousand dollars in the process.”

We asked if doing part of the work herself invalidated her ability to get credits, but Paula said no, at least not in her state. She was able to get the Federal tax credit, along with a state rebate of $3,750 and an energy rebate of $2,750.

Though a few commercial buildings are already solar, for the most part Paula is alone in her move to solar right now. “I’m an early adopter,” says Paula. Given that she’s producing more power than she needs and the surplus will be used to subsidize her electric bills in the winter, it’s unlikely that she’ll be alone for long, as more people investigate and see their New Hampshire solar savings.

Last modified: November 4, 2014

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