Featured Solar Homeowner: The Rutledges

Newest Duxbury Solar HomeBack in March of 2012, Kristin and Rob Rutledge saw the story of SunCommon launching on WCAX and were intrigued by the idea of saving money and going solar. From the stunning mountaintop vista of their home in Duxbury, they are thrilled to have a well sized array of solar on their roof. Here’s what they have to say about going solar.

What were your motivations for going solar?

The concept of using a renewable power source was just awesome, and we wanted to protect ourselves from the rising cost of electric power.

What had kept you from going solar previously? What was the ultimate deciding factor in making the jump to solar?

It was most certainly the cost for us. We’re a larger family with young kids, middle class and we just don’t have tons of money stashed away… But the thought of replacing our current power bill by going solar was something we just had to look into. And we’re so glad we did!

What advice would you give to future solar homeowners?

Duxbury's Newest Solar HomeCheck it out, it certainly can not hurt.

What are you most excited about?!

Coming home and seeing panels on our roof. Monitoring our system with the easy to use apps available by SunPower is also a lot of fun for the family.

What is the most important power device your panels will be charging?

Appliances and our lights I would say.


~Kristin, Rob, Darby, Briley and Lira Rutledge

Featured Solar Homeowners: Susan and Chip Evans

Long time residents of Middlesex, VT, Chip and Susan are now proud solar homeowners. Chip is recently retired from his position as Executive Director of the Vermont Human Resource Investment Council in Montpelier and Susan is a reading teacher at the Doty Elementary School. They keep busy and healthy, biking, hiking, sailing, and skiing in the Vermont playground. We thought you’d be interested to hear what made them decide to go solar with SunCommon.

How did you hear about SunCommon?

We learned about SunCommon from an interview with Andrea Cohen of VBSR on WDEV. We checked the website and saw how easy it was to explore the possibility.

What were your motivations for going solar?

Our house is reasonably energy efficient, and we have heated primarily with wood for many years. We wanted to do something more to reduce our impact.

What had kept you from going solar previously?

The up-front cost was a big factor, especially when paying for college. We also had concerns about finding a qualified installer and our ability to maintain the system over the long term.

What was the ultimate deciding factor in making the jump to solar?

We had wanted to do this for years, and being able to do it without a big investment and with technical support for long-term maintenance was the key for us. The way our system is financed we have zero risk, no up-front cost and will make some long-term savings, so why not!Middlesex Solar Home

What advice would you give to future solar homeowners?

It feels great to be part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem. We saw this as an economical way to meet our electric needs and do something good for the environment. The system looks good, is very low profile and does not adversely affect the appearance of the house.

What are you most excited about?!

It is satisfying to see that meter clocking the clean kilowatts! And we love being part of a stealth energy revolution. Beyond being a straightforward money saving home improvement, the SunCommon model also gives the homeowner an opportunity to impact a global problem. Without anyone really noticing, this is becoming a quiet, people-driven energy revolution. Instead of a single point energy generation system like a coal or nuclear, this system is multi-point, low-impact generation controlled by energy users themselves. Anyone who has sunshine on their roof can participate. There are very few opportunities for individuals to impact the national energy system so directly. It’s hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to do it.

What is the most important power device your panels will be charging?

The operation of the system is completely transparent. It powers our entire house and is always there regardless of the weather.

How do I go solar?

The process for going solar is simple. It starts with filling out our get started form. You can do so by clicking the get started button. If you want to know more details about the process and the steps involved between signing up and turning on the power, click the button below to find out more.

Joanne and Paul Go Solar in South Burlington

Unlike most of us who don’t have to think about where our energy comes from, Joanne Heidkamp who works at Green Mountain Power, is in touch daily with what it takes to keep our lives electrified. She was one the first people to sign up in March after our launch and has been a wonderful fan and customer to work with. Joanne and Paul are hopeful that their experience will inspire others to go solar. We thought you might want to hear what makes them proud to be new SunCommon solar homeowners!

What had kept you from going solar previously?

We had been interested in installing solar panels for a long time. However, we were not interested in taking out a loan to do it. Also, we had a large maple tree in front of our house. Last fall the maple tree died, and in the spring we learned about the lease option through SunCommon!

What advice would you give to future solar homeowners?

First, have patience, the process takes time. Second, having a roof that will not need work for the life of the panels is very helpful.

Joanne Heidkamp and Paul Demers

You are one the first in your neighborhood to go solar – how does that feel? Do you enjoy your new celebrity status?

Celebrity…not quite. But it is gratifying to see the genuine interest that people have in understanding the potential for solar on their homes in our neighborhood.

What are you most excited about?!

Joanne is excited that we’ll be putting electricity on the grid on hot summer afternoons when demand for electricity is highest. If enough small solar projects come on line, it means that Green Mountain Power won’t have to turn on their dirty, expensive fossil fuel burning peaker plant in Berlin.  Paul enjoys monitoring the panel’s electric production on sunny and even on cloudy days!

What is the most important power device your panels will be charging?

We cook a lot, so powering the stove and the oven is important. We also use our laptops a lot, so its nice to think that some of the juice powering them is solar generated.

How does solar work?

Even with all this information about solar, you may be wondering the most basic, how does solar work? I thought it was too cloudy in Vermont to have solar panels? Do I still pay a utility bill? The basics of solar are relatively simple. Find out how solar works by clicking below.

Solar Homeowner Feature: The Henriksons

Miriam and Jim Henrikson recently became one of the first SunCommon solar homeowners in Milton. After reading about SunCommon in the Milton Independent they contacted us and soon after decided to take advantage of our low cost offer to buy the system outright! 10 weeks later, they have flipped the switch and now obsessively watch their meter spin backwards. We’re super excited for them!

Had you ever looked into solar for your home before? Why did you decide to go with SunCommon?

No, but we did look into wind power. Our lot was not suitable for the turbine. We chose SunCommon because we were impressed with our initial contact with Solar Guide Serena and our subsequent visit at the office in Waterbury.

Jim, you used to be an electrical engineer with CVPS so your understanding of energy is deep. What do you think about solar power?

I think it’s great now that there are no batteries.

What would your advice be to others thinking about going solar?

If possible buy vs. lease.

You two built your wonderful Milton home just a few years ago and put a lot of thought into the design and layout. How does solar fit into the design?

When site planning we placed the house for optimal benefit from the sun. We kept our house plan simple to allow for efficient and uniform heating and cooling(without AC).

How has going solar changed your living habits?

Since going solar we have become more aware of our electricity consumption and have changed some of our bad habits. Such as letting the TV run when we’re not really watching it. Now we either have peace and quiet or listen to a CD. Also we don’t turn as many lights on at night and are using battery charged candles instead. It’s really a lot of fun to realize that you have that much control over your carbon footprint! We’ve already eliminated 202 kg of carbon emissions from the environment since going solar!!!

Are you Excited?

Beyond excited!!!

What is the most important power device the panels will be charging?

For Jim the kegerator and for Miriam the hot tub!!!(also the kegerator!)

Homeowner Feature: the Pierce Family

Chris and Melissa Pierce are proud solar-powered homeowners and new members of the SunCommon community. Driving north on Rt. 12 outside Montpelier, you can’t miss their home perched up on the hill about three miles out of town. This quintessential Vermont house is the product of Chris’s vision, ingenuity and patience. Chris saved money by contracting the house himself, as well as sourcing and re-using local materials. You can see and feel the level of care that went into his house – and if you’re inspired, Chris loves to give tours! With his wife Melissa, a fourth/fifth grade teacher who recently won a Governors award for the recycling/composting program that she orchestrated with her class at Union Elementary School, they are raising two kids, Lachlan and Somerset. They have several egg laying ducks and chickens, chinese geese and five alpacas.

We thought you’d like to know more about Chris and Melissa and what went into their decision to Go Solar with SunCommon.

How did you hear about SunCommon?

I heard about you all through a friend who is a guest chef on WCAX, he told me he had heard about it there and I said “I’m going to check it out.” I filled out your web application that weekend and started my relationship that week. It’s been a fun ride and a great group of folks to work with. Couldn’t be happier with that decision.

What kept you from going solar previously?

Frankly, it was the cash layout!

What was the ultimate deciding factor in making the jump to solar?

The new Sunpower panels are really what made me chase this deal down. The use of the most effective and efficient panels on the market made it a no brainer.

Are you excited?

Uhhh…you could say that! Aside from the green factor it adds to our already “green” home, the education it gives to the kids is priceless. We are teaching them an extremely important message by utilizing this type of energy. They will fully understand the use of and waste of energy and where it can come from, and be educated on how to do their part to keep the world we are handing to them as beautiful and clean as it can be, and possibly help educate others to do the same.

What is the most important power device the panels will be charging?

Chris: the beer fridge! ;-)
Melissa: our duck egg incubators…

How do I go solar?

The process for going solar is simple. It starts with filling out our get started form. You can do so by clicking the get started button. If you want to know more details about the process and the steps involved between signing up and turning on the power, click the button below to find out more.

South Burlington’s Rebecca Kraemer is SunCommon’s First Solar Customer

Here’s an interview with SunCommon customer #1, Rebecca Kraemer. As an employee at Small Dog Electronics, Rebecca was helping us set up our IT needs when she learned about our innovative new solar business model. She wanted in, we wanted to test out our process, and so together with our Installer, Peck Electric, we successfully designed and installed her system in a matter of two weeks. The result: a proud company and our first happy homeowner!

How long have you lived in your current house? Who else lives there with you?

I built my house a little over two years ago.  I live there with my family of four: two cats and a dog. ;)

Is there a special story about this house, it’s acquisition, history, etc?

I was itching to buy a home during the 2008 recession and unfortunately I really didn’t like the options in my price range.  I found a nice piece of land with city water and power and it ended up being less expensive to build a small energy efficient home on a nice sized lot than to buy an existing home.

How long have you wanted to go solar? What kept you from getting it before?

I’ve wanted solar since I built my home but unfortunately I really couldn’t afford it in the initial plans.  It was one of those “one day” ideas.  Recently, my employer, Small Dog Electronics, added a solar array of SunTrackers to our Waitsfield office and it really got me re-inspired to see if I could make solar a reality.  

Did SunCommon rock your world?

Heck yeah!  I really appreciated how much detail you guys went into both during the initial fact-finding process and during the installation.  Everyone I’ve dealt with at Suncommon has been upbeat, knowledgeable and easy to work with.  It’s been a really great experience!

What are you most looking forward to about having solar?

Having a lower environmental impact by producing my own electricity!  The lack of an electric bill is just icing on the cake.

What is your favorite or most used appliance?

I’m a massage therapist so my washer and dryer get a real workout!  The other love-of-my-life appliance is my coffee roaster, mmm.

Anything else you want to add?

I LOVE the SunPower online and iOS monitoring app.  I was out of town this past weekend and was totally watching how much energy I was creating from the road!

Did you know that being the first SunCommon customer would come with so much glory?

Haha, I could have only dreamed. ;)

Rebecca Kraemer from South Burlington: SunCommon's 1st Solar customer