Interested in renewable energy and other Green activities...

Renewable EnergyEdit

There are some other very interesting ways to use solar to reduce our costs, such as for hot water heating for the pool house. That has a 3-10% return on investment, which is better than mutual funds right now. It uses a different technology than generating electricity, which is what most people think of when thinking of "solar". Look at "The Solar Sourcebook" at [] for details.

Discounts, Grants, and other Cost SavingsEdit

Maryland provides some grants to help with costs. (NEED MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS)

Recommended VendorsEdit

Energy AuditsEdit

(under the Pepco program)

++We used Ecobeco under the Pepco program (energy audits for $100). I would not necessarily recommend them -- they used the report as an opportunity to market services to the point where I wonder about its findings. They also take a while to issue the report. In other ways, however, they were very good. For example, the auditor spent extra time with us on an issue unrelated to the services the company was marketing. And they will follow up once you make improvements and help you assess the success. I don't know if that means that they will come in again with the blower fans and measure the house's efficiency again or not.

Live Green
(under the Pepco subsidized program)
(301)674-1700 or (301)652-5272

+++++Michael, who did the audit, is great. He was very professional and made recommendations that would give us the most bang for our buck. I never felt like he was trying to sell us anything or do anything other than evaluate our home. We got a couple quotes form other companies based on the audit that Live Green did but ended up using Live Green to do the work - putting insulation in our attic, the ceiling of our upstairs, and in the crawl space below the basement. Our house feels so cozy now. I am very happy with the difference that it has made. We just had the work done a week ago so I can't yet report on a reduction in our energy bills.

Pascale Maslin

Standard Energy Solutions

+++++We used Standard for an energy audit. They cost $100 and and they were here for about two hours. They sent me a comprehensive report.

Solar EnergyEdit

For a complete listing in our area, go to:

Aurora Energy

Capital Sun Group
Al Nunez
(202) 270-5000

Chesapeake Solar
Columbia, MD
Very well-respected in the environmetal movement, used by a lot of local enviros, and local references

Standard Solar
Lee Bristol
Gaithersburg, MD
The oldest company around here, 20 years. Excellent references, including local projects.

Potomac Regional Solar Energy Association
They have classes, events, and other cool stuff.

Vivint Solar
+++++We got quotes from Solar City and Vivint. Both has comparable packages for buying panels outright, getting a loan to buy the panels, and ‘leasing’ your panels (no money down, no monthly payments, but you purchase your energy from the company at a slightly higher kWh rate than for the other two option). We ultimately went with Vivint – we got quotes from Solar City first and were going to go that route, but that inspector didn’t like something unspecified about our roof structure. So we got a quote from Vivint, which didn’t have the same problem. Installation was smooth, and took about 4 months from our final decision to flipping the switch – some of that time was our getting our roof redone, but it also takes time to get your order made/shipped, having them installed, having them inspected by Pepco, and getting final approval from Pepco to turn the system. We decided to get a loan to purchase the panels – I think we would have been OK with the lease option, but prefer the idea of owning the panels. Not sure if it will be cheaper in the end, since then you have to worry about repairs!

Note 1: The panels are supposed to be good for 20-30 years. Since our roof shingles were 13 years into a 15 year life, we decided to get our roof redone before getting the panels installed. There is a charge for having the panels removed and reinstalled, and we didn’t want to have to pay for that if we could avoid it!

Note 2: Our roof could only hold 19 panels, which covers about 65% of our annual electric use. Some months it covers all of it; most months it does not. When it does generate all of our electricity (or more), we do pay about $8 to Pepco to maintain the lines, etc., but we do get a credit for any over-production. We purchase the balance of our electricity from a 100% wind energy option via Pepco (although we may look into the new community solar options in the future).

Wind EnergyEdit

Chesapeake Solar
Columbia, MD
Very well-respected in the environmetal movement, used by a lot of local enviros, and local references