TECO and Solar on my Home.

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TECO is an electric utility that services a four county footprint in and around Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay Solar has installed many residential solar arrays in TECO’s local footprint, mostly in the city and Tampa and the surrounding Hillsborough County area.

HALF of all the electricity distributed by TECO comes from coal burning plants that pollute the air we all breathe.

Like most electric companies in Florida TECO is a net metering utility, which means that TECO customers can bank kilowatts with the utility and use that power at a later date. This is done via a bidirectional meter that is installed by TECO after your rooftop array has been installed and passed county inspection.

TECO charges a $18 monthly connection fee that all customers have to pay, even if 100% of your energy comes from your solar array.

The bidirectional meter is normally installed a few weeks after the solar array has passed county inspection, in some cases it has taken TECO longer than a month to install the bidirectional meter, but in 2019 they seem to have corrected this issue.

I’m very familiar with TECO because I’ve helped several hundred TECO customers go solar since 2017!

-Ben Alexander

Director of Sales

TampaBaySolar.com

 

Going Debt Free with Greentech.

This is the solar hot water heater and photovoltaic panels on my roof:

front of roof

For the last few years I’ve been teaching the “Go Debt Free” class at my church in Land O Lakes. Since 2014 I’ve personally paid off over $300,000 in debt, which is really my only qualification to teach the class!

My best student paid off $100K in debt within 2 years of taking my class.

The word “mortgage” actually comes from the French word “morte”, meaning death…. so your mortgage is really a “payment unto death”. It doesn’t have to be. You can pay off your mortgage in your 30’s or 40’s if you’re intentional about it.

I’m proud to say that my recurring monthly expenses are one third to one half my income, since I’m paid on commission which varies from month to month. My debt had been a combination of 2 mortgages, business loans, credit cards and car payments. The combined payments on $300,000 in debt was a crushing $4,200 per month. Ouch.

So what does green technology have to do with going debt free? Isn’t green technology far more expensive than standard technology?

Let’s look at cars for a minute.

When the Toyota Prius hit the market 18 years ago it cost $25,000, far more expensive than a $18,000 Toyota Camry LE model. The Prius got 48 miles per gallon, the 4 cylinder Camry got 28 miles per gallon. At $3 dollars per gallon over 100,000 miles the Prius owner will spend $6,200 on gasoline while the less efficient Camry driver will spend $10,700 at the pump.

Buying a new Prius does not make sense, but when you research the prices of a 3 year old Prius versus a 3 year old Camry (with similar mileage) the prices evened out. Most USED car buyers will own a car until it hits very high mileage (this is financially smart). As used cars you can get either model with 50,000 miles for about $16,000. Assume that you drive both cars for another 150,000 miles at $3 per gallon… the Camry driver will spend a whopping $16,000 at the pump, while the Prius driver will only part with $9,300 for gas.

What does green tech have to do with paying off debt? Take the $6,700 you will save by driving a Prius and pay down the mortgage on your home, or put that money in your child’s college fund, or just evaporate one of your credit card balances.

Most people don’t look at small recurring costs as huge long term costs. Who knew that a Camry uses $16,000 in gas over 150,000 miles? We just pay it and don’t think about it because we don’t think there is another option.

There is another cost in your life that most people are blind to because they feel powerless to get rid of it. If you own a home and pay $200 per month for electricity that’s $2,400 per year, well over $26,000 over the next decade when you factor in rate hikes and inflation.

A $150 per month electric bill is $19,000 over the next decade….

Most people think solar on your roof is far more than your electric costs. Not true since panel prices hit grid parity in 2016. A solar array that will generate $26,000 over the next decade (that’s a 10.5kW system) will cost you less than $18,000, even if you finance it. The array will evaporate a $200 per month bill and replace it with a $165 per month payment.

When the system is paid off in the next 6 years you will only pay a small monthly fee to the electric company. Currently the TECO fee is $17 per month, Duke energy’s fee is only $9.

The solar on my roof here in Wesley Chapel lowered my bill by $200 per month, $2,400 per year… my payment is only $135 per month because I put money down on the system.

Even after my solar pays for itself it will add value to my home. The panels have a 25 year warranty, so they should last decades. I’ll get my money back 3 or 4 times if I don’t move.

A few years ago I bought a 2013 Chevy Volt that runs on electricity only for the first 40 miles after a charge. This means that the solar on my roof is charging my car for FREE. The Volt only uses gasoline after the electric charge is exhausted, so there are many days when I use ZERO gasoline.

Consider your finances if you never spent another cent on gasoline… especially when gasoline goes over $4 per gallon. Some people spend $300 per month on gas alone. What if you used that $300 towards the principal on your mortgage?

By putting solar on my roof and driving a plug-in electric vehicle my costs for electricity and gas will be at least $15,000 LESS over the next decade. If I sell my home I’ll get a higher market value because of my array on the roof, especially as electric cars become more common.

You get what you focus on, you are less likely to take on silly debt when you are moving towards a debt free lifestyle. Read some Dave Ramsey books, get a notebook and start writing down your total debt numbers… as you get rid of debt your stress level will go down and you’ll find financial peace.

Ben Alexander / Sales Director for Tampa Bay Solar 813-391-3895    

Everyone asks me this.

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For the least 2 years I’ve been helping homeowners go solar all over Tampa Bay. One of the questions that I get all the time is:

“We’re in Florida, why don’t we all have solar yet?”

Here are some factors that are holding back solar in this state:

  1. People still think solar costs an arm and a leg. NOT true. Solar is cheaper than your monthly payment to the electric company. My bill went down $200 per month, the payment on my system (on a 4% loan) is $165 per month. I also got back a $7,000 tax rebate for getting a system on my home.
  2. Some folks think the ROI on solar is a million years. Again, the ROI (return on investment) for the solar array on my roof is just under 7 years. If you get a quote for a solar array and the payback is longer than 8 or 9 years you are being overcharged!
  3. What about my roof? Solar has been around since the 1980’s, if panels caused leaky roofs there would be NO solar industry. My company uses Iron Ridge roof brackets. These brackets are rated to 150mph CAT 5 hurricane winds.
  4. Plain old regressive thinking. Some people still own a flip phone, some folks like to churn their own butter. There is always resistance to new technology, even if using the old technology is more expensive.
  5. Some folks think the HOA will block solar. Not true, FL state law states that the HOA has NO SAY in whether you can put solar on your roof. This law is easy to find via Google, you do not need any clearance from your HOA to install solar, if they tell you otherwise they are breaking the law.
  6. We have a ton of renters in Tampa Bay. If the renter pays the electric bill the landlord has zero incentive to invest in solar. Landlords will spend the smallest amount to money to charge the highest amount of rent, so solar does not make sense.
  7. Credit challenges abound. The main financing option that I use requires clients to have a 700 credit score or higher. Many people are mired in debt, with a credit score below 700, and they have trouble getting financing for a system.
  8. Last but not least, a lack of long term thinking. Many people look at the monthly cost of solar and never think about the long term costs. If your TECO bill is $150 each month that’s $1800 per year and nearly $20,000 over the next decade when you factor in inflation and rate hikes.

Just as consumers were afraid to buy the Toyota Prius 15 years ago rooftop solar will become common place in the next 5 years. As more homeowners see solar going up in their subdivision they will talk to their neighbors and hopefully call me!

Ben Alexander / Sales Director for Tampa Bay Solar 813-391-3895    

Solar if you have Duke Energy

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Duke Energy is an electric utility that services 7.4 million customers from Florida to Indiana.

Tampa Bay Solar has installed many residential solar arrays in Duke’s local footprint across Tampa Bay, from up North in Citrus county and as far east as Polk County

Like most electric companies in Florida Duke is a net metering utility, which means that Duke customers can bank kilowatts with the utility and use that power at a later date. This is done via a bidirectional meter that is installed by Duke after your rooftop array has been installed and passed county inspection.

Duke charges a $9 monthly connection fee that all customers have to pay, even if 100% of your energy comes from your solar array.

The bidirectional meter is normally installed a few weeks after the solar array has passed county inspection, in some cases it has taken Duke longer than a month to install the bidirectional meter, but in 2019 they seem to have corrected this issue.

How do I know all this cool stuff?

I’m the Director of Sales at Tampa Bay Solar, and I’ve been helping homeowners in Duke’s service area go solar since early 2017.

-Ben Alexander

TampaBaySolar.com

 

 

 

3 Reasons Electric Costs will Rise in Florida!

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If you own a home in Florida and you don’t have solar yet you might want to consider the cost of electricity over the next few years. Electric costs are going to go up in Florida, for the three reasons:

#1. 900 people move here every single day. This is why residential construction is booming in this state. In 2018 Pasco County issued building permits for $800 million dollars in new residential construction. All these people will use electricity, and the electric company will have to build additional generation capacity. Those costs will be passed along to the consumer.

#2. By 2020 there will be over 40 different plug-in electric vehicle models offered for sale in the United States. Electric vehicles use anywhere from 20 to 30 kilowatts of electricity per day… the average single family home In Florida uses 50 kilowatts per day. This means that a family with 2 plug-in electric cars could double their electricity usage. Again, this increased demand for electricity will drive up prices.

#3. On a national level 35% of our power grid is fueled by natural gas. As of 2019 natural gas prices are at the same price per therm as 1999. Part of this low price is due to the discovery of massive natural gas deposits 7,000 feet deep in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. Low natural gas prices will eventually climb, not only from global demand but also because the Marcellus Shale gas deposits are finite. As natural gas becomes more expensive so will the price per kilowatt.

So you have more people using electricity, powering up more electric cars, while the cost of making the electricity is rising due to higher natural gas costs!

These factors make solar a great option if you own a Florida home with high sun exposure on the roof. At current electricity prices your solar array will pay for itself in 7 years. Solar also increases the value of your home at resale!

No one wants to buy a home with a $300 monthly electric bill, and it looks like that will be a reality for many Florida homeowners (who don’t go solar) over the next decade.

$300 per month is $3,600 per year…. $36,000 over the next decade. Most residential solar arrays are less than HALF that cost.

And I know that because I’m….

…. Ben Alexander

Director of Sales

TampaBaySolar.com

 

 

Compare yourself to THIS person.

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In reading Jordan Peterson’s book Twelve Rules for Life I was struck by his fourth rule:

“Compare yourself to who YOU were yesterday, not to who someone ELSE is today”.

In my work in solar sales I visit beautiful homes all the time, and many homes are clearly much more expensive than the humble home I reside in. Most of my clients are married, and when I run their credit and ask them their household income sometime I’m shocked by the number… especially those folks who are earning over $400,000 per year as a couple!

What you don’t know is how much debt other folks are holding, you might see a neighbor driving a new Mercedes but they won’t tell you about their $700 per month lease payment. The same goes for that gorgeous million dollar home that’s propped up with a $950,000 mortgage balance!

We compare ourselves to others on social media as well, when folks post pics of cars and vacations… and then I look out my window at my humble little 2013 Chevy Volt…

But when I compare myself today to where I was a year ago a very different picture emerges. That Chevy in my driveway is PAID OFF today, but still had a loan balance one year ago… my solar team was just getting started a year ago… my income this past month was far higher than January one year ago…

My house is far closer to being paid off today compared to my mortgage balance one year ago. By comparing my 2019 self to my 2018 self I have a clear idea where I’m headed. Both guys are still single, but the 2019 version is more confident, more comfortable with dating, etc.

This concept of comparing one’s present self to past self is very useful in detecting decline as well. Do you weigh more today than you did before? Do you have more debt? Is your income lower today than it used to be? Is your health declining from lack of activity?

I was unhappy with my body weight after Christmas and started fasting 16 to 20 hours each day. Here I am about five weeks later and I’m a little thinner and feel better already. I know that I merely have to stay on track to hit my target weight of 175 pounds and then STAY at that weight.

Look at where you are today and compare yourself to where you were a month ago, a year ago, maybe even five years ago. If there is something you’re not happy about take action now, today.

Ben

February 4rth, 2019

 

Cold water swims + Intermittent Fasting

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That’s NOT me in the pic above… got that from a random Google search.

She looks pretty chilly, eh?

The ambient temperature last night in Tampa was around 50 degrees, so the unheated pool in my subdivision was in the mid 50’s when I did 10 laps this afternoon.

Since January 1rst I’ve been doing an 18 to 22 hour daily fast (just eating dinner, really) and doing a daily cold water swim in the late afternoon, as my schedule permits.

I feel amazing, I’ve eliminated inches from my midsection and my chest and shoulders feel a bit bulkier. I’ve dropped 10 pounds, but some of that may have been muscle gains, hard to tell. My clothes fit looser, one of the signs that my weight is shifting in a healthier direction.

I’m dropping weight at the same rate I did when I used to run 4 miles each day, but with Intermittent Fasting I’m not tearing up my knees and ankles.

If you are not familiar with Intermittent Fasting there are many comprehensive videos about it on YouTube, and this is how I learned about it. If you’re overweight and feeling sub-optimal I’d encourage you to look into this.

There is a very specific level of mental sharpness that occurs towards the end of a fast. I’m actually experiencing that “high” right now as I write this. It’s 6PM and I haven’t had anything other than hot tea since midnight, which puts me at 18 hours fasting. I don’t feel hungry at all, but I’m going to dinner soon (with a lovely woman) and I’m sure the food will be as delicious as my companion…

I eat normal food for dinner, I’m not “keto” or vegetarian or any of that, I just try to eat a balanced dinner. I still drink some alcohol, but I’m keeping away from beer for the most part. The great part about fasting is the built in calorie restriction, even if I have a heavy meal of pasta and garlic bread that is mitigated by a much lower caloric intake before and after the meal.

When I hit the pool near the end of my fast I feel strong and razor sharp mentally. There is very little on the internet about fasting combined with cold water swimming, but the way I feel when doing both is frankly amazing.

I’m just under 200 pounds at this writing, my goal is to hit 175 and STAY there for the rest of my life. I think the swimming and daily fasting are a long term and sustainable way to make that happen.

Ben Alexander

January 23, 2019