You know the old saying: practice what you preach. Skogman Realty’s Cory Barnard, one of only two “EcoBrokers” in Iowa, is doing just that. He recently completed a solar installation at his Cedar Rapids, IA, home with the help of Iowa electrical distributor Van Meter Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA, and Rabe Hardware, according to a Van Meter press release.
Barnard wasn’t only interested in reducing his family’s energy costs, but also their carbon footprint. As a certified EcoBroker, a green designation awarded to real estate professionals, it’s his job and passion to educate clients on eco-friendly alternatives. He decided utilizing solar energy at his home would be the best way to show clients how going green can also save them green. “There's really no better way to educate buyers—than being able to show them firsthand what I have experienced,” said Barnard in the press release.
Barnard was purchasing 13,030 kWh (kilowatt-hours) annually from Alliant Energy, which means his solar array would need to produce close to that amount in order to significantly reduce his energy costs. Long-time partners Van Meter and Rabe Hardware teamed up to develop a plan.
“We designed this project with Cory's family in mind and their needs,” said Jake Rabe, owner of Rabe Hardware. “Our solar designs are house by house. It's not a one-size-fits-all,” explained Rabe. “We really have to get the information that we need based on the last 12 months usage history, and then we can really dial in an exact need for the consumer.”
Rabe also takes things into consideration like the age of children to determine how much energy a family will need in the future. Children use more power as they age, but household usage decreases when they eventually leave home for college and careers. “Van Meter and Jake at Rabe Hardware have been huge in helping me with this,” said Barnard. “Jake explained things to me better than any other company that I met with when deciding to do this project.”
In order to meet Barnard’s needs, Rabe Hardware’s design called for utilizing all the allowable roof space and installing 27 60W solar modules.
Because these modules would be visible from the street, Ethan Wollbrink Van Meter’s solar specialist, who helped Rabe Hardware and Barnard wade through a sea of product options, recommended 60-cell, black-on-black modules to maintain the curb appeal of Barnard’s home. “That product question is the largest overlooked detail in my opinion,” said Wollbrink. “There are globally over 80 manufacturers of modules.”
In addition, Wollbrink recommended a SolarEdge inverter, which converts DC (direct current) electricity to usable AC (alternating current) power while also maximizing energy output.
Rabe’s licensed and trained electricians performed the installation. Taking advantage of a 30% federal tax credit and a 15% break at the state level, Barnard was able to save $9,342, cutting the cost of the $20,762 project down to $11,420.
The 27-module array will produce a minimum of 11,234 kWh’s per year – 86% of Barnard’s annual usage. This means his $1,923.86 annual electric costs will be reduced to just $265.18, and the savings will pay for his system in just 5.5 years.
After those 5.5 years, Barnard and his family will enjoy inexpensive, clean energy. And Barnard will also enjoy being able to personally show clients the cost-saving benefits of utilizing a renewable resource.
“The neighbors are actually very jealous of our utility bill when we start talking at the neighbor's pool or neighborhood get-togethers,” said Barnard. “We're basically paying $10 a month in a service fee that would be an extreme cost during the summer. I know a lot of people in the neighborhood that are having $200 to $300 bills and ours are staying the same at a low, low cost.”