Same here. I even went so far as to get an estimate, but who the heck has a spare $20 grand lying around? (No, seriously, who has it, and can I have it? Pretty please? It's for everyone's sake, after all.)
One thing I'd recommend is to keep your eye on what's happening with Boulder County's new programs that are coming from Issue 1A. That's the program where the county is planning to issue $40 million worth of bonds to fund efficiency and renewables for homeowners in the county. It's basically subsidized financing to invest in these things which you then pay back in your property taxes, so you don't have to come up with the money yourself on the front end. Of course, if you're going to get solar energy, you should do a lot of efficiency work first, so that you don't need to spend as much money on an unnecessarily large system.
Thanks for the info! Alas, I'm in Denver county, so the Boulder stuff won't have a direct impact on me, but I'll definitely do some research on the site you've kindly recommended. And, of course, as goes Boulder, so goes the rest of the state-- eventually.
I live in an Off the grid solar house that was designed from the start to be Solar.
Map the site for solar gain in the winter. The sun is low on the horizon. You should be getting unobstructed sun.
You could put in more windows on the South face of the house and block off windows on the north. This is passive Solar. Like the Anastazi indians used.
Then there are Roof top active panels. If you do this the easiest thing to do is a domestic hot water system. If you are going to do a huge conversion better consider future reroofing. Better to have a metal roof then they never have to come down to re-roof. If you are doing Solar Electric... First thing to do is every tiny energy saving thing. Like permafrost fridge, compact floressents, and unplugging every fantom load at night. Then after that you can buy the least amount of panels.
There are volumes of books on Solar out there now. You can go in alot of different directions.
Thanks Kelly. The estimates I've had are for solar electric, and it's apparently quite feasible for our house-- just expensive. We have low power usage already, and our (flat) roof gets excellent sun exposure, with plenty of room for south-facing panels. It's just a question of where to come up with the dough to finance the thing!
I didn't see your original question, but let me add that you don't have to convert the whole house at once. You can start with one room, say your computer room and provide power for it, lights and radio with a small solar setup, then add on later. Or, if you're a garden person, put your fountain, yard lights,e tc. on solar for a start.
I've been living in a small space using solar and wind power for 15 years. My setup has a current cost of about $5,000. Meets my needs fairly well, but not without a lot of conservation.
Thanks Stephen. I had a couple estimates, but no one mentioned the room-by-room thing. Any recommendations on who to talk to about that? I really like that idea-- I could afford to piecemeal the whole thing over the course of a few years much more than all at once!
When I had my system installed, the company who did the sizing said it was important to get an inverter (the electrical device that coverts the DC power to AC) that matched the power produced by the panels, so I don't see how you can dramatically increase the power you are producing without buying a new inverter that handles the greater power.
This is going to sound silly, but my mom and I talked to a guy at CostCo selling solar panels for a thousand a pop. I don't know how I should feel about CostCo solar panels, but it seemed like a reasonable price. We are getting a big tax refund for buying a house after July of '08, and were thinking that solar panels might be a good thing to do with the money. Of course, we also thought about stashing it in a savings account as an emergency fund.
I know of a program in California where you basically rent your roof to a company that will put solar panels up. You get the energy, they get the tax break, it sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. If we had something like that in Colorado, I'd certainly sign up.
You know who has 20k lying around? The dude at Get Rich Slowly (google it, its a great blog). It took him years to save it, but he shows its possible.