Why invest in solar energy? A homeowner answers.

Solar Washington asked Chris Muench about his interest in solar that led to installing solar on his home. (This post originally appeared on the Solar Washington website.)

Investing In SolarSolar Washington: Why did you invest in solar energy?

Chris Muench: During the unusual heatwave in summer 2021, dry trees fell on power lines and we lost power. This was the last straw, and I decided to do more for the environment and achieve zero-carbon emissions by 2025 for my home. The first step was to sell my gas-powered car and invest in a green energy source for my house.

SW: How did you select your installer?

Chris: I did a lot of research and came across the 2021 Solar Washington Summit. The summit had very interesting topics, so I became a member of Solar Washington and registered. After talking with several installers and doing extensive research, I connected with A&R Solar, one of the Summit’s sponsors, to discuss my needs. The offer they made for a 13.6 KW Solar System with 20kWh backup batteries matched what I had found during my research and a couple weeks later they installed my system in October 2021.

SW: Can you share any lessons you learned during your solar experience?

Chris: The biggest lesson I learned is that there are lots of choices available when it comes to solar systems. It’s not an “off the shelf” buying experience and interested parties should do lots of research before deciding on a system or an installer. Also just going solar is not enough if the home is not “energy aware”. There is almost no integration between a solar system and home appliances. With the help of Span.IO, I developed a smart home energy management system to monitor each device in my home, identifying energy hotspots and energy wasters with the idea to replace any appliance or device that is not “behaving energy aware”. Simply by monitoring the energy behavior and changing how I use the appliances in the home, I reduced my home energy consumption by 40%. During power outages I can precisely define which appliances can be used resulting in longer battery backup times.

SW: What is next for you?

Chris: Since I learned a lot about renewable energy, I applied for a board position with Solar Washington and I joined the board in April 2022. I want to tell others about solar and its benefits, even in Western Washington where sun is not always present. I also think that much more could be done to drive homeowners and even communities to solar and other renewable energies and would like to become a voice for solar. As for my goal to be zero-carbon in 2025, I plan on replacing fossil fuel-based appliances like the furnace and cooktop with smart electricity-based appliances and hope to increase my battery backup storage by using V2H (Vehicle to Home) of my EV’s battery. I also plan to produce a series of whitepapers and videos showing how zero-carbon can be achieved with today’s technologies.