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An All Around Energy Saver - Winky Thomas

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Source: Katie Chamberlain, Middlebury College


  • High initial cost of panels


  • $400 less on energy bill
  • 30% write off on taxes
  • 12-year 2.99% interest loan with SunCommon
  • Sourcing power from the sun

Winifred (Winky) Thomas moved to Middlebury in November 2014 from the New Jersey suburbs. She is a retired social worker, who now works at community lunches, sings in the church choir and community chorus, and walks 4 miles every day with her dog, Babette.

Energy Actions

Winky has done more to reduce her energy consumption than most of us can even think of. She changed all her light bulbs to LED bulbs, switched to low flow shower heads, started her own compost pile and backyard vegetable garden, installed 34 solar panels on her roof, and switched over to electric heat pumps. She continues to turn off all the lights when they’re not in use and uses a clothes line rather than a dryer.

Solar Savings

Winky purchased her solar panels from SunCommon in mid-July of 2015. She decided to buy solar panels after a SunCommon inspector determined that her roof was perfect for them: southward facing and the right pitch.  She opted to pay for her panels by taking out a mortgage from her bank and using SunCommon’s 12-year 2.99% interest loan. Her purchase counted as part of a federal government incentive program, which has given her a 30% write off on her taxes. Winky’s solar panels also power her two heat pumps, one in the living room and one in the dining room. Her last energy bill from Green Mountain Power was $400 less because she is sourcing her electricity from her rooftop solar array.

Inspiration to Change

When asked why she was inspired to make these changes, Winky said she wanted to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem in regards to global environmental issues, especially climate change. She believes that if everyone does what they can to help, however small a change, that will make a huge difference. 

After installing the panels, Winky and SunCommon worked together to throw a party at her house, showcasing the new solar array. Whenever she gets the chance, Winky talks to people about her low energy use and her experience with green technology and changing her habits. She thinks it’s important to discuss what we can do to change our behavior and our technology.

Looking Towards the Future

Winky has two projects planned for the future: replacing two sliding glass doors and finding a new car. She isn’t ready to sell her car yet, but she’s looking into hybrid and electric cars and is particularly excited by the idea of an electric bicycle.

As for challenges, Winky hasn’t come across any! While there were costs associated with her energy upgrades, Winky is already seeing the payback. She hopes to continue improving her efficiency and help find new solutions.

To find out more about SunCommon, visit:

To find out more about heat pumps, visit: