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Run on Sun Monthly Newsletter

In this Issue:

May, 2011

Volume: 2 Issue: 5

Are Solar-Powered Homes More Valuable? Yes!

While the value of having a solar-powered home might seem self-evident - after all, energy prices are only going up so your solar power system will save you more and more money every year - there has been an open question as to just how much a solar power system would increase a home's value at resale time. A new study published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory titled, An Analysis of the Effects of Residential Photovoltaic Energy Systems on Home Sales Prices in California, is a significant step toward answering that question.

The report, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Clean Energy States Alliance, looked at the sale of some 72,000 homes in California of which approximately 2,000 had solar power systems installed at the time of sale. The research found a substantial premium for solar-powered homes ranging from a low of $3.90/nameplate DC watt to as high as $6.40 with most model assumptions coalescing near $5.50/watt. For existing homes, the premium was even higher - ranging from a low estimate of $6.00 to $7.70/watt. (As all of our residential work involves existing homes, we found this conclusion particularly encouraging!)

Given that residential installation costs are currently running in the $6.00 - $7.50/watt range, this means that for the typical residential solar installation in the Run on Sun service area, the solar premium on home value more than exceeds the total cost of installing solar even before rebates and tax incentives are included. There is no other home improvement that would provide such a 1-for-1 improvement in your home's resale value while simultaneously resulting in thousands of dollars in savings over the years that you continue to own the home.

Whether it is to increase the value of your home at resale time, or to dramatically cut your energy costs, or to simply green your home and be more environmentally conscious, a residential solar power system continues to make more and more sense. As in dollars and cents.

For existing homes, the premium was even higher - ranging from a low estimate of $6.00 to $7.70/watt...

Help Us Spread the News!

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Run on Sun Featured in Pasadena Weekly Article - The City of the Future

The April 28, 2011 edition of the Pasadena Weekly has a very nice article by Sara Cardine titled, The City of the Future, which includes an interview with Run on Sun Founder & CEO, Jim Jenal.

Part of its month-long series of articles on going Green, Cardine's piece looks specifically at how Pasadena has taken long strides toward turning itself into a truly Green City. Starting with its adoption of a "Green Action Plan" in 2006 - the same year that Run on Sun was founded - Pasadena is working hard to turn its good intentions into practical actions. For example, Pasadena has made major reductions in its own energy usage and is pushing to do much more.

From the article:

Since the Green Action Plan was established, the city has seen improvements on multiple levels, said Ursula Schmidt, the city’s sustainability affairs manager. In addition to increased water and energy conservation, renewable energy use and recycling, the city is also making headway in its green building program and in an effort to establish an alternative-fuel fleet.

Last year alone, Pasadena trimmed its peak power demand by 4.45 megawatts and saved enough energy to power 3,640 homes for one year. Officials now hope to see a citywide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 25 percent by 2030, along with an increase in the citywide use of green energy sources beyond recently adopted statewide standards. Last month, state lawmakers passed SBX1 2, a law requiring that 33 percent of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2020. Pasadena is already pushing itself past that benchmark; last year the City Council adopted a comprehensive integrated resources plan that set a goal of 40 percent renewable energy use by 2020, according to Gurcharan Bawa, PWP assistant general manager.

Encouraging commercial and residential customers to Go Solar is a big part of the strategy to meet those goals. Caltech, one of the largest energy users in the City, has installed over 1.3 megawatts of solar power on its campus with more planned. Yet some customers have been reluctant to follow Caltech's lead. To get the installer's view, Cardine interviewed Jim Jenal and quoted him as he described the process of working with an installer to get a proposal and ultimately, an installed system.

Please check out the article online or pick up a print copy (which features a wonderful picture of Jim with that famous Solar Kid) and let us know what you think.

As Cardine concluded:

“This isn’t rocket science — it’s truly something normal, everyday people can understand and feel comfortable with,” Jenal said.
It just begins with a little knowledge and the commitment to make a difference.

We couldn't agree more!

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Reducing Your Carbon Footprint - One Server (and PC) at a Time

One of the paradoxes of our so-called Information Age is that while the Internet brings a world of knowledge to our fingertips, it comes at the cost of a fairly high carbon footprint. Those servers that sustain the World Wide Web consume enormous amounts of power - power which for the most part comes from burning coal.

Google solar array

That dark little secret means that the very largest Internet entities - such as Google, Facebook and Twitter - could be responsible for enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. While Google has been highly visible in its efforts to power its server farms from renewable sources - sporting everything from vast solar arrays to the latest fuel cell technologies - Facebook and Twitter have been largely silent on this issue.

At least for Facebook, that silence has now been broken. Announcing something that it is calling the Open Compute Project, Facebook is now offering information on the greening of its server farms and providing documentation on what it did so that others can follow suit. According to the OPC site, Facebook claims that its "vanity free servers" are 38% more efficient and 24% less expensive to build and run than what is generally found in state-of-the-art data centers. Still, the LA Times is reporting that Greenpeace is pushing Facebook to do more - including pledging to get all of the energy that it needs to run its data centers from renewable sources. No word yet on whether or not Facebook will make such a pledge.

All of that is good for Facebook, but what about the rest of us? True, most of us don't run server farms or manage data centers, but we all use computers to access the Internet - to write and then to read this post, for example. What about us? If we are not in a position to upgrade our computers at home or at work to the latest and most efficient models, what are we to do?

In an effort to make our operations as green as possible (within our budget!) we recently installed "power saving software" called Granola from MiserWare that helps you "help save the planet" by lowering the energy usage of your PC. Or as they say:

Granola makes computers more energy efficient without slowing them down. It's safe, it's easy, and it lets your computer run like a hybrid Ferrari – fast when you need speed, but energy efficient when you don't. Granola helps you save the world.

We have used the software for just over two months on our primary office PC and here are our results so far: 19.7 kWh saved for an overall efficiency improvement of 23.8% Will those numbers save the world? No. But imagine the savings if every PC owner adopted similar software? In our experience the software has been entirely transparent and we have had no problems using it at all.

We have said it before and we will say it again - energy efficiency is more cost effective than energy generation. We encourage all of our clients to make their buildings as energy efficient as possible before adding solar. In that vein, we applaud the efforts by Facebook and are happy to promote Granola - collectively we will save the world.

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