Sustainability and environmentalism are becoming more popular in all aspects of life, from reusable straws to vegan taco trucks. This also applies to home improvement.
There are many ways to make a home more sustainable, but installing solar panels has become a trend with long-term benefits worth paying attention to.
Jerry Shkavritko, who owns Valverax in Matthews, plans for his company to venture into solar panel installations by mid-2020.
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“With solar, homeowners get to have the energy for their homes basically self-generated from their panels,” Shkavritko said. “There are a variety of systems out there; some cost more and some cost less, but it’s a long-term investment.”
Right now, Valverax focuses on installing sunrooms and roofing systems in homes. Shkavritko said solar panels add to the vision of the company.
“My vision is to create a company that offers homeowners a self-sustaining set of products,” Shkavritko said.
While some may think solar panels will not work if there is shade, Shkavritko said systems with micro-inverters enable part of the system to continue to function even if some panels are covered by shade.
Besides the environmental benefit of using solar energy, the installation of solar panels provides an economic benefit.
Dale Maitland, of RSRV Power in Charlotte, said when homeowners install solar panels, they get a 26% tax credit in North Carolina. Additionally, he said the power generated goes to a net meter through Duke Energy, and if a homeowner is generating
more power than they are using, they get credit for it.
Maitland said the long-term benefits make the installation worth the money.
“What we do is we design a project that replaces their electricity bill,” Maitland said. “So, if you’re paying $150 in electricity bills, we try to generate $150 worth of electricity that you pay on your solar panel and pay very little. You might have to pay a meter charge with your energy company. After the solar panels are paid off, the majority of your power and electricity is for free.”
Phillip Ingold, owner of Charlotte-based GPI Sustainable, said there are other ways to make a home more sustainable that also provide long-term economic benefits.
Ingold works with his clients to present options within their budget on how they can remodel a part of their home to make it more sustainable. Ingold said he has recommended different water systems, living roofs and recycled plastic roofing designed to look like slate.
With the sustainable installments, one of Ingold’s clients was able to pay only $300 per year to heat and cool their building.
He said the investment in sustainable home remodeling is worth the price tag.
“I think of it as getting fuel efficiency in a car,” Ingold said. “If you get a car really cheap right now, you’re going to pay for it over your life with the gas. The same is true with a house.”
However, he said small steps can be taken to make a home more sustainable.
“Everybody can’t do everything and you shouldn’t,” Ingold said. “But at least be aware of how the decisions you make in the beginning will save you money beyond five years.”
The most important part of the process, in Ingold’s opinion, is planning ahead.
“You really have to do your numbers for the lifespan of time you plan to be in a house,” Ingold said. “Then, you can make sustainable work.”
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