As the prevalence of solar energy use increases throughout Whatcom County and beyond, it’s easy to wonder: Is now really the right time to invest in solar power?
It’s a good question, and one the folks at Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing answer with a resounding “yes.”
Barron CEO John Barron says there tends to be several misconceptions about what investing in a solar energy system can mean.
The first misconception is specific to our often-wet, cloudy environment: that there’s not enough sunlight here to make a solar system practical.
“That would absolutely be false,” Barron says. “Extreme heat can actually degrade solar power production. Solar is looking for light, not heat. We’ve got a lot of days with adequate light, even in the winter.”
No matter the season in the Pacific Northwest, a southerly exposed roof with clear access to sunlight and mild temperatures will produce plenty of power, even when accounting for minor dips in especially cloudy, dark weather.
A second myth is an idea that a solar array will be massive and cover your entire roof. This, too, is not the case. John Barron has reached net-zero with his Bellingham home with a 30-panel, 10-kW rooftop array that covers no more than a quarter of his overall roof. Each panel is about 3.5 feet by 5 feet in size.
Merrill Bevan, Barron’s director of sales and marketing, says Solar by Barron works to help customers design the smallest solar system possible with their unique whole home approach. By looking at how a building uses all forms of energy—from heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) to electrical and plumbing—Barron can design a solar array based on your home’s historic energy consumption and options for maximizing energy efficiency.
An energy efficient heat pump, a heat pump water heater, and upgrades in insulation and weatherization are all great solutions to achieve ultimate energy efficiency. Barron can also use an energy monitoring system installed in your home to measure actual energy usage. These test periods can range from an hour snapshot to a month-long whole-home energy audit, gathering data to help interpret the specific number of panels needed.
“We bring all of those things to the table so that instead of using outdated technology that requires a larger footprint for solar, we can help our customers create the smallest footprint possible through mechanical and weatherization technologies to be as efficient as they can be,” says Bevan.
A third myth: that investing now will result in investing too soon, as solar technology advances to be far more efficient. This, too, is a fallacy.
“Right now, solar panel technology among all manufacturers has gotten to about 27 points on a 30-point efficiency scale,” John Barron says. “People that invest now are not making an investment that’s going to be short-lived.”
Solar arrays are also extraordinarily durable, Barron continues, saying many of the panels they install are backed by 25-year guarantees on parts and labor.
Making the initial investment in solar can give homeowners pause, but Bevan shares that many Barron customers take advantage of affordable low-interest financing for energy smart equipment including solar installations. For most customers monthly payments are often no more than their original electric bills prior to installation—in some cases less—and once paid off, the result of solar is a net-zero energy bill with monthly savings or “free power” continuing for the life of the system.
It was a goal of John Barron’s to turn Barron’s Ferndale facility into a net-zero campus and he is proud to have achieved just that. Barron’s system consists of a 100-kW solar array on the roof of their 35,000 square foot facility and they received a full return on their investment in just three years. Many of Barron’s employees have also gone solar for their homes.
Other financial perks of going solar include the Federal Solar Tax Credit, which has now been extended. While it was originally slated to decrease to 22% in 2021 before expiring in 2022, the credit is now remaining at 26% for the next two years. It grants dollar-for-dollar tax decreases to both individuals and businesses, helping make solar energy installation more affordable. Equal to 26% of the total cost of a Solar by Barron energy system, the credit can directly reduce your tax liability by over $5,000.
Solar by Barron is also currently offering 10% more power to solar customers who go net-zero with energy usage. Customers get to choose how they’d like to “future proof” their home—whether that’s to boost their clean energy output for future home upgrades like a heat pump or electric car charger station, or as a joint contribution to future-proofing our community by bringing more clean energy into our grid.
Barron’s certified solar designers combine energy efficient heating and cooling solutions with power from the sun to virtually eliminate your power bill. The overall effect of making a home solar-powered and extremely efficient can be profound for those who live in it, as the team often hears from their customers.
“It’s like they live in a different home,” John Barron says.
Helping people improve their lives through solar gets to the heart of Barron’s overall mission—one centered around three pillars of comfort, health, and energy efficiency. John Barron says they’re proud of the work they do, and they’re not about to slow down anytime soon.
“It’s not just about being a business and making money selling solar panels,” he says. “We want to make a difference in what we do. We know what solar does for people and we know what it does for the community as a whole.”
For more on how solar energy can make a difference in both the world and your world, please visit www.solarbybarron.com.