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Watts in Williston with Dan Roy

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Daniel Roy
Photo credit: Jesse Baum

Source: Jesse Baum, EAN/University of Vermont Clean Energy Internship Program

Dan Roy, an accountant with the Burlington Electric Department, knew that he wanted to try to have solar electricity power his home.

“It’s always been in the back of our minds to do this… we thought about where we were going to live long-term, and now that we have two girls, this is where we’re going to be. So that made the investment worthwhile.”

He continues, “I come from a family of architects and home builders, so there’s always been that influence to do energy efficient things.”

With that in mind, Roy had an energy audit done through Building Energy to identify inefficiencies in his home. They found that there were areas of his house that were prone to losing heat, and identified specific fixes to make his home more energy efficient.

Beginning the Project

To set up the solar panels on his home, Roy learned more about the technology behind solar, and what sort of array might work best for his family and their energy usage. He contacted three different companies to learn more about how each would set up the panels, and how much each company would charge for the panels and installation.

After deciding to use Building Energy to buy and install the panels, the process was “fairly straightforward.” Roy says. The overall installation was incredibly fast—the technicians arrived in the morning before Roy left for work, and the panels were installed and generating electricity when he arrived home!

Pricing the Panels

The entire process, including consultations, installation and the panels themselves, cost the Roys $11,500 for a 4 kilowatt array sized to their 2,300 square foot home. However, installing solar panels meant that they were eligible for a 30% Federal tax rebate applied to the total cost of the project. The panels were paid for in installations- 10% when Roy contracted Building Energy for the project, 50% just prior to the installation, and the remaining 40% within a month after the project was completed.

Smart Savings

The Roys are now often generating more electricity than they are using in their home—such that the most recent statements from their utility show them earning a credit of around $30!  This can be applied to future months when they use more electricity.  Ultimately, they expect to pay off their array fully in 10-11 years with these savings, after which their electricity will be virtually free!

The Roys are able to keep their energy usage low by using simple methods. Roy says that he and the family are mindful of conserving energy by turning appliances off when they are not in use, and using electricity more at off-peak times, when there is less demand for electricity. As a result, they will see their solar investment pay off sooner.

Roy noted that not only has he made the transition to renewable electricity, but that others in his neighborhood have installed arrays as well, and more still are looking into the process, learning from their neighbors.

                “It can be a regular topic of conversation around the neighborhood.” Roy says.

Visit for more information on how you can combine efficiency and solar in your home!