My name is Jimmy, and I thought I would introduce myself. How do they say it? Long time lurker, first time poster. I am 37 years old and currently living in a house built in 2005. I am a Paramedic and currently working for Amazon as an Onsite Medical Representative in Fort Worth, TX. I haven’t always been energy conscious. I would say that a majority of the time I have spent responsible for my own bills, I haven’t always been a spend thrift either. All of my adult life since I moved out of my parents’ house I have had an electric bill, along with a phone bill, car insurance, water, mortgage/rent etc. and just assumed those were non-negotiable numbers I was always going to pay. It wasn’t until last year that I really began to think about my spending, and where my money was going. Why wouldn’t you do that, and why hadn’t I been doing that all along? Who knows, but I do pay very close attention now. I shop my insurance rates out regularly. I recently refinanced my home. I drive a 1999 Ford Ranger that I make every attempt to repair when it’s within my skills, and replace parts with ones with lifetime warranties when possible. I am constantly working towards lowering my monthly expenses.
Last year (2020) In September, I called a solar installer to come give me a quote after reading a news article on google news about them, and a local business who had selected them to install solar. I did not get multiple quotes on the install, and the salesman used every tactic in the book on me. I paid $40,000 for 25 panels as well as the installation of a radiant barrier and extra blown in insulation in the attic. I feel like this might have been a little on the high side for the cost (hindsight), but at the time I was tunnel visioned on “lower electric bill” and justified it in my head that I will always have an electric bill, or rather be paying for electricity in my house, so does it really matter who the money goes to? The salesman got me with the free $1000 solar attic fan, which was only free if I bought from him within 48 hours. I will say that I do have a regret or two about the solar install and the decisions I made, but there’s no going back now. Just things I have to live with, and lessons learned for future Jimmy.
When I financed the solar, the financing company called and asked if I wanted to refi, and roll everything together, at a lower rate than I was paying now so I went ahead and did that. Really only costing me about $25 more a month on my house payment to include the solar. I used some cash out on that refi to pay to install a hybrid hot water heater (heat pump) which the EFL says costs about $100 a year to run instead of $500 like the 10 year old one I replaced. This cost about $3,300. I also recently had the HVAC system replaced with a new system that is a half-ton larger, and has the top of the line handler in the attic. Old system had electric heat, new system is a heat pump system, dual staged. This cost about $8,800
I have really gotten into the “data” side of my homes energy usage, and started keeping tabs on things. I have Alexa in every room in the house, and I installed Gosund light switches on every switch in the house. If they make a “smart home” option, I prefer it. Water heater has an app, HVAC has an app, Garage door has an app and security system has an app. I just wish I had bought the Sense monitor sooner, as I don’t have any data from before I made all of the changes to the appliances and started keeping track on things other than raw KWH monthly usage, so I really don’t have anything to reference to justify my decisions made. Sense was filling in the void I had with my Solar system and that was monitoring how much I was using, as compared to how much I was producing. The solar company installed the Enlighten system by Enphase, which was only giving me productivity numbers.
Interesting story about the Sense for me. After I purchased it, I took on the installation myself after watching a few YouTube videos and face timing my parent’s neighbor who is an electrician. When I opened the panel to install the CT’s, I spied two CT’s already installed on my mains. Did a little bit of digging, turns out when the solar installers put their equipment in, it had the capability to track consumption but they never turned it on. I called them and gave them hell on the phone and they offered to send me a check to cover the cost of the CT’s they installed… Doesn’t replace historical data. Still haven’t seen the check and that was a month or two ago.
I have really enjoyed daily checks on my total/overall energy picture of the house as provided by the sense energy monitor, as I said earlier, I wish I had put it in sooner.
And Hard 8 BBQ in Fort Worth is the best, hands down. Smoked Bologna sandwich on Jalapeno Sourdough bun for me.