After more than 20 years living in her Silver Spring, Md townhome, Barbara Good was ready for some big updates. There were several important improvements she wanted to make. She installed new hardwood floors, renovated her kitchen, and invested in a new roof – then topped it all off with an array of solar panels from Standard Solar.

Although Barbara recycles “everything she can,” drives a Prius and switched to CFL lights as soon as they were available, she does not really identify with being an environmentalist.

“I’m thrifty,” Barbara said.

That thriftiness is what inspired her to go solar, and to make energy efficient updates to her home.

Barbara had begun researching the possibility of installing solar panels and contacted Standard Solar after being referred to them by another solar energy professional. She wanted to work with a local company with plenty of experience, and was pleased with the professionalism of Standard Solar.

A team came out to meet with Barbara and analyze her house for a potential solar system. During their visit, they recommended an energy assessment (although at the time they were still building the Standard Energy Solutions energy assessment division) and looked over Barbara’s appliances and windows in addition to her utility bills. After noticing an old refrigerator in the basement, her Standard Solar experts said that it should probably go given its inefficiency.

“I immediately got rid of that kilowatt hog,” Barbara said.

On the day of the solar installation, Barbara went to work as usual. As she left her home in the morning, the first panel was lifted over her roof, and the nearly 3kW system was complete when she came home.

The thirteen panels mounted on her roof have cut her power bills from the utility company in half, and produced over 11,000 kW hours in the four years since her September 2007 installation.

After getting the panels installed, she also had the recommended home energy assessment, so she could maximize the energy savings with the solar system. The suggestions from the assessment prompted her to add more insulation, install ENERGY STAR-rated windows, and tighten up the spaces where her home was leaking energy. She knew the savings on her energy bills would be significant in the long run, and that the investment in her home was a sound one.

Barbara is eager to share the numbers associated with her energy savings – before the 2.92 kW array was installed on her roof, Barbara was paying an average of $230 per month to the utility company. Once her Standard Solar system was up and running, her bills dropped by one hundred dollars per month, sometimes more. In fact, the first month after having her system installed, Barbara saw her net energy consumption drop from 1350 kWh in August to a mere 540 kWh in September; a decrease of 60%. Selling the solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) from her system earns Barbara about $1000 per year at current prices, and she saves at least $1200 each year from the electricity generated by her system. If everything stays the same, her solar investment will be paid back in about seven years (her system was installed before the new tax credit worth 30 percent; when she installed, she was only eligible for $2000). With electricity costs increasing, that makes Barbara very happy about her decision.

“If I could fit more panels on my home, I would get them,” she said. “I’d build a roof for my deck and stick some on there. In fact,” Barbara jokes, “my chimney looks pretty bare, too.”

Watch the video below to hear Barbara describe her solar experience in her own words.