West Virginia Family Living Well Off The Grid.

Living off the grid in West Virginia - Sonny and Linda Jobe's Solar Powered Pothole FarmEntering retirement age, Sonny and Linda Jobe decided to make a change and live entirely off the grid by purchasing and outfitting a farm house in Doddridge County West Virginia with 20 solar panels. The solar panels produce most of the power they use – 18 panels for electricity and 2 panels dedicated to powering their hot water heater. How do they do it? By owning a small home and adapting their lifestyle. From Sonny Jobe:

“If it’s gonna be sunny, it’s when we’ll do most of the cleaning and things – between vacuuming and 3 or 4 loads of laundry.”

Check out the full story to find out how the Jobes are further adapting during the winter months. [MNN]


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Would Solar Power Work At Your House?

Solar PanelsGreat story on GigaOM about Kevin C. Tofel’s personal journey and switch to solar power. The article,“One year with solar energy at home: Mostly sunny!,” covers the costs, tax breaks and the decisions he and his family had to make to go solar. Kevin and his family live in southeastern Pennsylvania and lost power during Hurricane Sandy – here’s how one of their cost-cutting choices came back on them:

“One of the upfront decisions you’ll need to make when planning a solar panel system is will you still be tied to the electric grid? Or will you go off-grid? There are pros and cons to each; the former costs less up front while the latter provides stored power during the evening hours or during an outage. Since we had no power during Hurricane Sandy, you can guess which system we have: One that keeps us tied to the grid.”

If you’re seriously considering switching to solar, read the full article. It’s excellent and focuses on the economics of switching to solar and stays away from the “I’m greener than you” message. [GigaOM]

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Thanks To The SolarCalculator and SolarLease, SolarCity May Be Your Next Renewable Utility

SolarCalculatorIn the crowded market of renewable energy suppliers and ideas, SolarCity may have found their Jubbling niche with a product that is as brilliant as it is simple. All you have to do is visit SolarCity.com and enter some data into their SolarCalculator – average electric bill, your address, roof description and local utility company – and they’ll kick out information on how much you could save by installing solar panels. The genius of their product is that they give you the option of buying the panels or more importantly, leasing them from SolarCity. Your lease payments go to SolarCity for renewable energy instead of the utility company. And believe it or not, the utility companies want it this way. They have a limited amount of kilowatt hours to distribute so they encourage their customers to consume less.

SolarCity HomeHaving the SolarCity panels operational will not completely take you off the grid. If you have a stretch where you need more electricity than your panels are generating, your local utility will seamlessly cover the difference. And the reverse is also true; you can get energy credits for the excess electricity you send back to the grid. It’s called “net metering” and you must get permission from your local utility and SolarCity before it’s active. Basically, your meter will spin backwards when you are generating more than you are consuming.

Residents and businesses in California, Arizona, Texas and other sunny states – please give SolarCity’s SolarCalculator a shot. You are blessed with sunlight – why not absorb some of it.

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