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Beyond Solar Panels – Why Glass on Roof is Just the First Step

Last Updated April 18, 2024

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Michael Jones

By Michael Jones

Michael literally wrote the book on solar (it’s called The Homeowners’ Guide to Going Solar) and has been a solar consultant for over four years.

We have to think beyond solar and toward the larger energy transition

Often, when I’m knocking doors on Cape Cod, a homeowner will interrupt my pitch to ask “is this about solar?” I usually respond by saying that it’s a much bigger conversation than that. It’s really about the future of energy beyond solar. 

Most people don’t realize that there are massive changes going on in the energy sector right now. How we generate electricity, how it gets delivered to our homes and businesses and, most importantly, how much we’re going to have to pay for it, are all being transformed. Little by little. Every single day.

And hardly anyone knows it’s even happening!

Warren Buffet thinks these changes are going to unleash the biggest transfer of wealth in human history. And, as with any transfer of wealth, there are sure to be some winners and some losers.

More Disruptive Than the Internet

Personally, I liken it more to the rise of the internet. I’m old enough to remember when the internet first started to take over our lives back in the mid-to-late 1990s. How about you?

I can remember the first acquaintance of mine who lost their job to the internet. She was a travel agent. Remember when we used to pay people to book flights and hotel rooms for us?

Now it’s hard to think of anyone I know whose job, whose leisure time, whose home, whose everything hasn’t been transformed in some way by the digital revolution of the last 25 years.

Now imagine that happening all over again, Not over the next 25 years, but over the next 10-15 years. 

Oh, and for good measure, imagine multiplying it by two. Are you ready?

Two Transitions in One

I hope you are because two of the largest sectors of the global economy are about to be transformed beyond recognition. And the ripple effects of those dual transformations will have some kind of impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives.

The people whose job it is to pay attention to this stuff already have a name for it. It’s called The Transition – the simultaneous transition of both the energy and the transportation sectors into 100% green industries. 

This isn’t a matter that’s up for a vote. The decisions have already been made by people way above our pay grades. And those decision are now written into public policy, utility rates, tax regulations, building codes, and even global treaties.

Despite the claims of certain high-profile political figures, who might dismiss climate change as a hoax and insist we’re going to carry on burning fossil fuels, the people who actually run the energy and transportation sectors have already decided on the path we’re going to take.

And we’d better buckle up for what’s sure to be a bumpy ride.

What This Means For Your Home

So how about you? Are you going to get out in front of this transformation or are you going to be one of the people who gets left behind?

Your home – from rooftop to basement to driveway – is going to be where you feel the effects of the transition most acutely. How you heat it, how you cool it, how you cook in it, how you tend the garden and how you travel to and from it. They’re all going to change dramatically. And sooner than most people realize.

And ultimately, how you, the homeowner, adapt to these changes will have a significant impact on your home’s future value.

I used to have clients who worried that putting solar panels on their roof might negatively affect their home’s value. Now, some of those same people are wondering if failing to put solar on the roof might make it more difficult to sell in a future, all-electric world.

The same rationale applies to heat pumps, EV chargers, induction cook tops and all manner of other green tech upgrades. 

If you don’t adapt your home for the future that’s already coming, and then try to sell it to someone who is thirty years younger than you, do you think you’re going to get top dollar for it in a competitive housing market?

Replacing One Billion Machines

The folks at Rewiring America estimate that we need to replace one billion fossil fuel-burning machines in the coming years. Intimidating as that number may seem, it actually works out at a far more manageable 7-10 machines per US household. 

Obviously, the big ones will have the most impact, so a single family home that buys an EV, a handful of mini splits and an induction stove is going to make a huge dent in their carbon footprint. 

Throw in an electric lawn mower for the garden, an e-bike for quick trips to the grocery store and some solar panels on the roof to power them all, and you can safely say that you’ve done your part to help solve the climate crisis.

The Cape Cod Solar Guys Approach

We at the Cape Cod Solar Guy pride ourselves on the fact that we go beyond solar and look at your home with all due consideration for all these changes that are happening. 

We don’t just look at your Eversource bill to see how much electricity you’re using now. We sit down and talk with you about how much electricity you think you’re going to be using a year, three years or five years from now. 

We’ll ask if you’ve had a Mass Save home energy audit in the last 3-5 years and maybe put you in touch with one of our Cape-based Mass Save partners.

We’ll quiz you on how old your cars are, how old your furnace is, how old your stove is. We’ll ask you to seriously consider how likely you are to replace those machines with electric equivalents when the time comes.

Then we’ll help you to calculate how much electricity those machines will use. And only then will we help you decide how to power them with renewable energy.

The Myth of 100% Offset

Offset refers to the proportion of your existing electricity consumption that can be covered by installing solar panels. If, for example, you used 5,000 kWh of electricity over the past year and your system is anticipated to produce 5,500 kWh in the coming year, then it will have an offset of 110%.

Most people prefer their solar system to have an offset of at least 100%, or as close to that percentage as possible. That way, they no longer have to worry about getting bills from Eversource because their solar panels will cover all of their needs.

Some people even refuse to go solar if they can’t achieve 100% offset, arguing that there’s no point if the panels can’t cover all of their electricity consumption.

But 100% offset will soon become extremely rare. 

With the best will in the world, there won’t be many Cape Cod homes that can support a solar array large enough to fully power the all-electric homes of the future. As The Transition gathers steam and electricity consumption increases with the addition of each electric appliance, few homes with be fully powered with rooftop solar.

More likely will be a system that covers 60-70% with rooftop solar and the balance being made up with a subscription to a community solar farm.

Final Thoughts on Energy Beyond Solar

And that’s fine. Using more electricity is a good thing, not a bad thing. And we’re going to have to unlearn 50 years of messaging that we need to cut electrical consumption for the sake of the environment.

More to the point, there’s a whole new conversation to have that takes us way beyond solar panels into a future that looks very different from the way we think about electricity today.

While it promises to be a bumpy ride, it’s a journey that takes us beyond solar into a better future and a safer world for our children.

If you’d like to learn more about the future of electricity beyond solar, you can contact us to set up a no-pressure, informative chat about your current and future energy needs.

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