Good News for Renewable Energy Assistance in PA

About two months ago I posted on a quote we received for a Solar PV system that would cost over $30K to install and still not cover 100% of our electricity demands in the 100K House. This was meant to show, even with all of the efforts to make the home energy efficient and minimalist, that we were still a long way from being able to afford zero energy/carbon status on our budget.

100K House to Seek LEED for Homes Silver Rating

Well, I’ve been hearing rumblings of a new bill for a renewable energy fund in PA that Rendell and company have been trying to push through for some time. It seems that just a few weeks ago Ed got his way and the state of PA has a new $650 million fund for the development of alternative and renewable energy.

Good News for Renewable Energy Assistance in PA

Included in this bill is $100 MM for solar power and water-heating systems on homes and small businesses where up to 35% of the install cost would be paid.

Quick Review of LEED Checklist for Platinum Target

What does this mean for the 100K House? Nothing really for now, but it could substantially impact future iterations of the home. I could see a zero energy/carbon upgrade option for the house that would actually be feasible now with this extra financial incentive for solar. Here’s how we could get there off the top of my head:

  1. Beef up the insulation a bit
  2. Upgrade the windows
  3. Use a pellet fed hot water boiler to supplement the solar thermal system and provide 100% zero carbon hot water and heating demand
  4. Install a PV array that would now cost less than $20K after state and (hopefully) Federal incentives

This would still be a costly upgrade at over $25K but I would suggest taking a hard look at reducing your lifestyle to be able to afford it. If you owned a car, you could sell it and start using a bike (which may be included in the house anyways) and public transporation. The cash made from the sale of your car could go towards the extra down payment that may be needed on the house and if you were financing $20K for your car over a 5-6 year period, you would now be converting that to a 30-year loan at a lower interest rate on an asset that is appreciating and saving you money every month.

The monthly swing in savings could easily top $500 after erasing your car payment, insurance, gas, tolls and maintenance. You will also be saving a couple hundred in utility bills per month. This type of monthly savings can make these life altering decisions a bit easier to swallow. You’d also get in better shape and improve your social life with all of the new biker friends you will make. Makes me wish I had a car again so I could sell it all over again.