Going green with the help of that big yellow thing

I admit that I have no idea how solar energy works. Granted, I have no idea how regular energy works either, but living with it for this long has at least made me feel like an expert. One day I will explain to my daughter, “In my day, you’d plug a lamp into the socket and it would turn on because of the electrical currents and wires that somebody else installed. It was a lot of work. You kids have it so easy today, with the sun.”

It’s difficult for me to grasp green energy in general. We recently made a trip to the west coast, and along the I-10 are miles of wind turbines, surely the brainchild of some California hippie vegetarian tree-hugger. Every time we pass those things I marvel at the fact that wind can produce energy by making things spin around. “How does that work again?” I will ask my wife. And she will start talking about how the wind produces energy and then it’s stored in the turbine or something, but I stopped listening a while ago. She doesn’t understand either.

But like me, she knows it works. Which is why a few weeks ago she arrived home informing me that we should think about solar panels for our house. And by “think about” she meant that she had already scheduled a solar panel meeting, so I should start thinking fast.

By no means am I opposed to green living—I prefer it, in fact, as I am a hippie vegetarian tree-hugger—but I was skeptical for financial reasons. I have seen many homes with solar panels here in the West Valley, and they just look so expensive. “Pfft. I bet one of those panels costs a million dollars. GO BACK TO SCOTTSDALE.”

So I was prepared to meet this solar panel man, shake his hand, listen to his spiel, and wish him well in his future life of us not having solar panels. But the more he talked, and the more my wife listened, it became clearer and clearer—we are getting solar panels.

While the panels are expensive (although not quite a million per), they are leased and not owned (although owning is an option). Our lease payment will replace our energy payment … and will be cheaper. Cheaper is better, according to math.

I had originally assumed a company like APS would be at odds with a solar company, but they actually work together. Homeowners are encouraged to go solar because it adds to the pool of energy. Also, because our house faces directly east and west, we’ll be getting maximum efficiency from our panels. If nothing else, solar panels will serve as our touchĂ© to the sun, which has been trying to kill us for five years.

Most important of all, those blazing hot summer days will serve a purpose other than making me miserable. We’ll be doing our part for Earth because we took the initiative to have someone else install panels on our roof.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come as an energy-inventing society, thanks to people like Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin’s kite, California hippies, and the solar guy we talked to, who was probably just a sales guy and didn’t exactly invent solar energy. I don’t know how any of this stuff works, but I’m happy to do my part by using it. Mostly to charge my computer so I can do my fantasy football draft.




NOW I get it! The sun wears sunglasses!

Note: This column appears in the 8/16 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/17 issue of the Peoria Times.

Comments

sabkon wells said…
hey. your experiences are quite inspiring . thanks for sharing the,m. we had like to hear more from you..

MicroFIT Solar
Solar NJ said…
Using that big yellow thing in the sky for a source of energy really is some sort of genius, isn't it? If we wanna continue to keep this big green rock smilin', we're gonna have to partner up with that big yellow up there. He knows whats good.

-Sharone Tal
Tiffany Larsen said…
Yes, it's truly amazing to think how energy can be generated with wind or with sunlight, isn't it? I'm glad your wife persuaded you to get solar panels. Your energy savings in the long run will offset the installation costs. And thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), installation of renewable energy systems are more affordable now.

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