May 08, 2019

How you could save money on electric by going solar

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

On average, a Florida homeowner pays $118 per month for electricity.
Tuesday, May 7th 2019, 6:43 PM EDT by Claire Lavezzorio


BABCOCK RANCH, Fla. – Is the sun’s energy worth it for you?

On average, a Florida homeowner pays $118 per month for electricity. However, some homeowners have figured out how to pay next-to-nothing by going solar.

At Babcock Ranch, solar technology is standard. It only makes sense that a resident like Mark Wilkerson lives there.

“You won’t find this in any other garage in Babcock Ranch. I promise you that,” said Wilkerson, referencing his vast collection of all-things solar.

He owns everything from a solar-powered fan hat, to some of the first solar panels he installed on RV’s.

He’s seen the industry grow since its start when the only people going solar lived off the grid.

Now, it’s mainstream.

“I know people that have had nearly a $300 a month electric bill and have reduced it to $9. That takes a big system,” Wilkerson said.

New homes in Babcock Ranch bundle the cost of solar panels into its mortgage.

However, you don’t need to live in Babcock Ranch to go solar. Any homeowner can install panels onto the roof of your already-lived-in home. In 2010, homeowners paid $40,000 for an average-sized system. Today, that price has dropped to $18,000.

Through the end of this year, there’s also a Solar Tax Investment Credit, which allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes.


Where the Sunshine State stands

Despite the progress, Florida is not the leader in solar energy.

“A lot of that’s been solar resource, but policy. They have led in policy,” Wilkerson said.

California steals the top spot for solar installation. The Sunshine State doesn’t even make the top-five.

However, some Babcock Ranch homeowners are trying to change that.

“I said to Bill, many people put a lot of expensive upgrades in their home. We didn’t do that. This is like an upgrade,” Diana Gillet said.

The Gillet family installed 15 panels on their roof. Tracked by an app, they can monitor how much energy they’re producing each day, which so far, has been more than they’re using.

The changeover hasn’t come without concerns.

“I mean we’re not the young people here. It did cross our mind, ‘Will we be alive to see this paid off?’,” Gillet said.

For now, not paying an energy bill and saving Southwest Florida’s environment is enough of a payback.

“If not, we’re leaving it for the next person,” Gillet said.