Open house attracts solar-minded homeowners

By Carol Carpenter
RMC Communications Team

Jim Hart and Don Koch at solar open house
Don Koch, left, discusses
the benefits
of solar with Jim Hart.

About a dozen Colorado residents, mostly from the Denver area, recently saw and heard firsthand how going solar can improve the environmentand save them money.

Attending an October 13 solar open house at the suburban Centennial home of Jim and Karen Hart, participants saw 24 new solar panels that were installed on Jim’s roof in late July. They, too, looked at a meter, newly installed by Xcel Energy, which records how the Hart’s solar energy use is going up, while their fossil fuel energy use is going down.

Attendees also listened as Jim explained how his family’s carbon footprint is shrinking and how his energy costs have also decreased. Jim answered many individual questions about the process of going solar, too. “People have a lot of misconceptions about solar, such as that a bunch of batteries are needed for the system to work or how the new relationship works between a solar homeowner and Xcel Energy,” Jim said.

Jim and Karen have taken advantage of an ongoing program offered by Sierra Club and Sungevity, a national solar home energy specialist. Three months ago the Harts signed a 20-year lease with Sungevity that will provide them with clean, renewable energy and lower their total energy bills in the next two decades.

“At this time of year with my air conditioner off, I normally paid about $100 per month to Xcel in energy costs; now I’m paying only $50 a month because of my solar panels,” Jim said. “Next summer, with the air conditioner on, I will pay more, but because the days are longer then, I will also produce more solar power.”

Another big plus is that after going solar, the couple also received a $750 gift card from Sungevity, and the Sierra Club’s Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) also received $750 for its many ongoing, statewide environmental programs. Sungevity offers homeowners a free online “iQuote” via, whereby they can see if buying or leasing solar is right for them.

Open house response

Jim hopes attendees of his open house will decide to go solar with the Sierra Club and Sungevity and receive the same benefits he is now enjoying.

One open house participant, Marcia Verba of Denver, said she has been “toying with the idea of going solar” for some time, but was worried that the upfront costs of buying a solar system would be prohibitive. “Then I heard about the leasing option and wanted more information. My questions were answered today, and I will take some time to think about it for my home,” she said.

Solar open house, Jim, Becky and couple
From left, Jim Hart, solar homeowner; and Becky
English, RMC Energy chair; show Jim's new solar

power meter to Andy and Lynn Hanford.

Another visitor, Don Koch of Aurora, said he will consider going solar, primarily to lower his use of carbon-based fuels. “I really knew almost nothing about solar before today, but Jim was very helpful in answering my questions,” Don said. “My main concern is using less carbon and going to cleaner, renewable energy. Of course, it would also be good to save some money, too.”

Several attendees chatted individually through a video conference with a Sungevity specialist, who answered in-depth questions about the entire process, including the technical details and costs of getting solar panels installed.

Also joining the open house to help answer questions about both the solar program and RMC’s many environmental programs were Joshua Ruschhaupt, RMC director, and Becky English, RMC Energy chair. “This is where the clean energy revolution really happens,” Becky said.  “Installing a renewable energy system and engaging in extreme energy efficiency are two things that make a huge difference in both our carbon footprint and our personal financial well-being.”

All Sierra Club members, supporters and other Colorado residents (except in certain areas of the state where the program is not available) are encouraged to consider adding solar panels to their home. The program is available not only to homeowners in single family homes, but also to those who live in townhouses, condos and patio homes that are managed by homeowners’ associations.

“Our partnership with Sungevity, with more than two dozen solar installations since last year here in Colorado, and more than 1,000 nationwide, has helped our Rocky Mountain Chapter and other Sierra Club Chapters with critical fundraising that propels our conservation work locally,” Joshua said. He continued, “this is an incredible program that every homeowner should take advantage of to lower America’s carbon footprint, lower their own electricity bills, and at the same time promote Sierra Club’s important conservation work right here in Colorado.”

You can join Jim and more than two dozen other Colorado Sierra Club solar homeowners and add solar panels to your home today. Requesting an iQuote for solar is quick and easy. It takes less than 3 minutes on the web at

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