Behind every installation is a good story – meet Mona and Frank. Since moving into their home in 2001, Frank and Mona have been thinking about solar. Their first step was to get a small solar battery system which operates a gate to their property. “For the most part it works fantastic, and so for years we’ve been talking, trying to figure out if there is any way we can go solar for the house.” At the beginning though, it seemed “too cost-prohibitive,” explained Frank. “We’re basically a single-income family here, so especially with kids in school and college the cost of solar just seemed to be really out of reach.”
Frank, who works for the City of Tucson, learned about TFS and the SunPower lease through the Solar Benefits Tucson (SBT) program in 2012. He said, “It was just perfect timing; I saw the notice on the City of Tucson website where they talked about the SBT program, and I thought I would just jump in on that. We looked at the cost and we figured that it would be about even for us, year long.” For their home, solar covers 80-90% of what they use annually, and explains Frank, “In the past our electric bills always more than doubled in the summer time; it would go over $400 in a month. So far, with solar I haven’t paid anything this summer.”
Since installing solar, the Hands have become more aware of their electrical usage, and by using their SunPower data monitoring, they can track which activities are using the most electricity. “There have been a couple of days where we’ve had electric spikes, and you’re looking at it, thinking ‘What did we do that day?’” Frank explained that as a result, “We know that when we use the washer and dryer, especially the dryer, it’s going to really jump. Since having solar installed we’ve just become more cognizant of our use.”
Frank, who checks in on their system from his phone, tablet and computer says, “I was doing it every day for a while, you know how it is when you first get the system, but now I check every few days to see what’s going on with the usage, and just monitor it. I’ll go on during the day and pull it up and to look at it and just to see what’s going on.”
While their main motivation behind going solar was financial, both Frank and Mona appreciate that their solar is also helping the planet. “The fact is, going solar does help the environment: we all talk about the big climate changes and we must have some effect on that,” explains Frank. “So hopefully by doing all of this, by installing solar, it will reduce that effect.”
In addition to installing solar, the Hands are dedicated recyclers: “all the light bulbs in the house are the energy efficient ones, and we’ve actually done that for years,” said Mona.
For the Hands, being environmentally and socially conscious is very important; in fact Mona is the Director and driving force for a 501(c)(3) non-profit they founded in 2002, called Kids Animals Life and Dreams (K.A.L.D.). In 2009 K.A.L.D. added a youth program called “Dreams in Motion”, which helps youth in foster care volunteer in the community to gain work experience. Mona meets with the youth at a farm where they work with animals, which helps them build beneficial relationships. As a volunteer, Mona works closely with Child Protective Services, providing transportation for the youth as they go to various locations to volunteer, where she often works with them side by side. By helping these youth learn how to become financially self-sustainable through employment, K.A.L.D. can make a positive impact on their future and our community.
The Hands want to share this advice to others thinking about going solar, “If you can afford it, do it. Solar is a terrific option. Going solar saves and it is better on the environment. We’ve looked at a lot of different options over the years, and it’s just never financially been something do-able, until now.”