Go Green & Save Green this St. Patrick’s Day

Go Green & Save Green this St. Patrick’s Day

Here in Ohio, it seems that spring has come early and while our trees aren’t green quite yet, St. Patrick’s day is a good reminder of all things green. It’s a great opportunity to start thinking about greening your home and consequently, saving green in the long run!

In the world we live in, energy is an expense that is almost impossible to avoid. Reducing the amount of energy we use is good for both the planet as well as our wallets.

Tips to Green Your Home by Saving Electricity:

1. Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes

2. Plug electronics into power strips

3. Purchase Energy Star products

4. Switch out incandescent bulbs for CFL & LED bulbs

5. Wash laundry in cold water

6. Go solar!

How Going Solar can help you Go Green & Save Green

Solar power uses clean, renewable power from the sun to make energy. The standard way of creating energy relies on non-renewable fossil fuels which release carbon when processed and contribute to rising greenhouse gasses in our environment. In fact, the majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from vehicle emissions and power plants that generate power for the utility companies. Compared to its alternative, solar power has a much friendlier impact on the environment.

Energy from the sun is readily available, abundant and won’t run out! Fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas, need mined before they can be processed. The mining process is harmful to the environment and it is expensive. This expense, in part, is passed on to customers by way of their electric bill. Using solar power over fossil fuels is one of the most important steps a person can make to reduce the amount of carbon they put out into the environment. By switching to solar power, you can put your money towards capturing earth’s cleanest and most readily available energy resource: the sun!

Solar systems provide homeowners with the opportunity to generate their own power. Solar energy systems have a high up-front cost, but once installed, the fuel (the sun) is free forever. Due to the thirty-year system life and low maintenance costs, once the system is purchased, the cost of energy is fixed at a known quantity. Conventional energy prices, however, with their dependence on fossil fuels (coal, gas, and oil) are subject to the volatility of those markets, as well as any future costs of environmental remediation or carbon emissions penalties. The cost of owning a solar system remains set and the reward- the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow- comes as you avoid energy costs that tick upward year after year.

How to save the most green?

Call now. Our schedule is quickly filling up and customers who are looking to take advantage of the full 30% federal tax credit before it drops at the end of this year should start now. Also, Third Sun Solar offers zero down financing! There is no better time to commit to owning your energy now and in the future.

Solar can give you 30 years or more of energy cost predictability, along with a nice rate of return on the solar investment. That could make you and your family feel really good — knowing you are also taking positive steps for the climate, the planet, and your future generations.

Get a free solar quote by filling out this free quote form. 

 

The Third Sun Solar Advantage – $500M of buying power and more!

In 2011, a group of solar installers representing territories from across the United States came together and launched a revolutionary plan to better serve their customers. These companies decided it was time to form a national organization where independent solar installers could support each other by pooling their purchasing power as well as sharing best practices. This cooperative model allows Third Sun Solar, an average sized regional solar business, to negotiate equipment purchases as though it were a $500 Million company.  Membership in Amicus Solar allows Third Sun Solar to achieve scale while still maintaining the speed and nimbleness, as well as the “family business feel” of a smaller local company. 

Today, we have 51 member-owners with office locations in 38 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada and we’re growing. Between all members, we have licenses to operate in all 50 states! The Cooperative is owned and democratically led by its member companies (like Third Sun Solar!).  Amicus members are passing their enhanced purchasing power along to customers by offering best solar pricing on high-quality solar electric system installations.  

Why does Third Sun Solar’s membership in Amicus make a difference to our customers?  

  • We purchase better equipment at lower pricesallowing us to provide better pricing to you without cutting any corners
  • Your system’s performance, quality and operational efficiency all improve based on Amicus members sharing best practices and technical knowledge
  • You have access to superior financing partners for residential and commercial loans   
  • Amicus vets all suppliers, only choosing companies with good track records so we can assure you that the equipment you’re investing in is the best out there  
  • It allows you to support istate installers instead of larger, national companies without sacrificing cost or quality  

 

Company founders Geoff and Michelle Greenfield recently won the “Cooperative Award” from Amicus Solar Cooperative for the work Third Sun Solar does for the group.

 

Dedicated to the mission of offsetting carbon emissions and giving customers agency over their energy production, Amicus members are mission driven, vision aligned businesses working to bring the solar revolution to energy consumers across the nation. We are proud to say 40% of Amicus members are B Corporations.  Similar to Patagonia, one of the founders of the B-Corp movement, these Amicus members are a special kind of company, with a legal commitment to people, planet, profit that is verified by an outside audit. Amicus Solar Cooperative is a B Corp itself, having won the distinction of achieving top 10% of all certified B Corps in the Impact Governance category. In 2015 Third Sun Solar was named Best for the Environment by B Corp

For average sized businesses like Third Sun Solar, who don’t have the big buying power of huge corporate solar installers, having this strong value chain relationship is important. Amicus is interested in maintaining thriving local solar installation companies and creating a competitive advantage by buying pooling power. Amicus empowers solar entrepreneurs by giving them a venue to compete on the big stage. As a result, jobs and money stay in your neighborhood!  

Here at Third Sun Solar we are invested in our community – it’s wellbeing and its future.  

If you would like a competitive quote for your home, business, or non-profit please reach out to Third Sun Solar today for more information. 

 

Snowfall and Solar Systems

If you’re considering going solar, you might be wondering if cold and snowy midwestern winters should affect your decision. This is one of the most asked questions we get.  Third Sun Solar has 19 years of experience installing systems on all types of buildings across Ohio. To date, our portfolio includes nearly 900 installations in the mid-west. These folks didn’t let our cold winters or snowfall discourage them from going solar, and you shouldn’t either!    

Can my solar panels produce energy if they are covered in snow? No, a solid covering of snow all but shuts off production.  The good news is that overall production loss from the snow is very small when looking at performance on an annual basis. Losing a day of production in January is a fraction of a day in July.  Here at Third Sun Solar, our team takes winter’s shorter days, snowfall and the orientation of sunlight all into account when estimating the output of your system. 

Residential Solar System Covered in Snow

Depending on the tilt of your roof and the slant of your panels, snow will typically slide off on its own. Even in the heart of winter solar panels give off a small amount of heat, which helps to warm and melt the snow. Additionally, snow on the ground can reflect light, amplifying the sunlight absorbed by your solar panels. During sunny winter days, the sun will warm the dark solar panels and the snow will melt and snow will typically slide off the smooth surface. An added bonus? Cleaning the panels won’t be necessary, snow can get this job done easily!  

Are cold temperatures bad for my solar panels? Unless covered in snow, solar panels are actually more efficient in cold conditions.  Like most electronics, solar panels function better at colder temperatures than under intense heat.  Most arrays hit their highest power generation of the year on cold clear winter days at noon.   

Should I try to clear the snow off my solar panels? Snow will usually melt quickly off your panels. There is the occasional blizzard, however, that leaves snow lingering on rooftops for an extended period of time. Overall, yearly production loss from snow cover is very small. At Third Sun, we do not recommend trying to clear the solar panels. Getting onto a roof in inclement weather is dangerous and using any type of tool on the panels themselves can damage the panels. Snow falling off of the panels can be a nuisance, and if the lower edge of a roof mounted array is close to the edge of the roof, we will recommend “Snow Guards” over doorways or areas with pedestrian activity. 

Remember that, living in the Midwest, the worst of the winter months and the short days only last for about three months. Time with reduced solar output is limited. In the sunny summer months, your system can generate more solar energy than you use, which will be reflected in a surplus energy credit. At the end of the year, our customers are happy with their overall annual production.   

Now that you know this, consider…  

2019 is the final year to get the full 30% federal tax credit before it drops. Ohio homeowners are realizing the savings and the return on investment will increase when you go solar before the end of 2019.   

If you would like a quote for your home, business, or non-profit please sign up for a free solar estimate or call 877-OWN-SOLAR today.   

Solar Installation

Ohio Solar Installers: Defending Quality, Safety, Ethics and the Planet

Defending Quality, Safety, Ethics and the Planet

The news last week from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that now more than ever we need to accelerate the shift to clean energy. For 19 years, Third Sun Solar has believed the best way to achieve this shift is by providing quality solar installations and using a high integrity consultative approach with prospective customers as they explore their options and investigate how and if solar is right for them. Our success is largely due to following these principles, and we believe that treating our customers with this respectful approach has led to our loyal customer base and helped the solar industry as a movement.

Indeed, our industry already faces many challenges as we are in an uphill battle we work to compete against an entrenched century old fossil fuel industry. With the recent growth and popularity of solar driven by improved technology and more public awareness, we have seen a growing number of national companies (and fly by night contractors) moving into the Ohio market. While we recognize that healthy competition is welcomed and is ultimately beneficial to consumers, we are also very concerned that “a few bad apples” could hamper the progress we have been working toward for almost two decades. Specifically, we have received complaints regarding aggressive sales tactics, deceptive marketing and low quality craftmanship from some of these new entrants.

When installing solar, there are several nuances that are state specific. All our public utilities operate under the guidance of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and they are required to follow specific rules regarding net metering and interconnection policies. These policies differ by state, so it is important to work with an installer familiar with Ohio policies, so the customer can be properly educated and understand their options and the true economics of their investment. Whether it is a lack of knowledge or intentional deceit by these new companies, the result is a misinformed customer and the potential to tarnish the reputation of our budding industry.

As these companies decide to cut corners, play loose with the facts and apply aggressive sales tactics, we receive a wide range of complaints. When working with a solar installer, it is important to ask the following questions:
– How long has the installer been working in your area?
– Does the installer use their own employees or hire subcontractors?
– Does the installer hold an electrical license (and is that electrician in Ohio or some far away state?)
– Are they insured in your state?
– Do their employees receive workers compensation and employee benefits?
– Are they using local weather data or national averages for their production estimates?
– What type of reviews do their customers and employees post online? Check Google Reviews, Better Business Bureau, Indeed, and Solar Reviews.
– Are they willing to provide references that have had their system installed longer than a year longer than five years?

The old saying “under promise and over deliver” should be the moto of a mission-driven company. This will build loyalty with customers and provide a positive reputation on our industry.

At Third Sun Solar, we have worked hard to build a strong, credible clean energy industry in Ohio over the last 19 years and would hate to see this reputation suffer from a few bad actors. Please consider checking out reviews from both customers and employees when selecting an installer. A company who poorly treats their employees, may not have much regard for their customers once the contract is signed. Remember, it is these very employees that will be responsible for the installation of your solar equipment (and the safety and quality of the work, electrical work within your home and the proper weatherproofing of the attachment to the roof).

We believe in this industry, and our planet is need of our services. Let’s not ruin this opportunity to make a lasting impact on our climate by taking short cuts and misleading people who believe in the benefits of solar.

If you would like an expert and honest quote for your home, business, or non-profit please sign up for a free solar estimate. 

Solar Tour Open House Saturday October 6, 2018

We always get the question, “Does solar actually work in Ohio?” Yes folks it really does and we can show you! Join our solar expert David Zelasko and one of our happy customers for refreshments and learn how solar is saving them money on their electric bill. Please see event details below.

12898 Painesville Warren Rd, Painesville, OH 44077-9217, United States

Saturday October 6, 2018 12pm-4pm

We hope to see you there!

Why We Became a Certified B Corp

Third Sun Solar is proud to be a certified B-Corp, a designation awarded by an outside nonprofit organization to businesses “who meet the highest standards of verified, overall social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.”

Many folks ask us why we submitted ourselves for consideration, seeking to learn if it was purely for altruistic reasons, or if there were practical considerations as well. While we have run our business for “People, Planet and Profit” since our start in 2000, it was certainly still a hurdle to becoming formally certified by an outside organization; the process included time and resource-consuming logistical challenges, such as officially changing our LLC operating agreement to state that we must manage our business to serve people and the planet in addition to seeking profit. Since our first certification in 2012, we have since undergone recertifications as well as a random audit.

So why all the effort? There are many reasons, but these primary themes stand out:

Optimization

At Third Sun Solar, we use this word to describe the engineering and design choices we make as we come up with the best solar solutions for each customer situation. In our early days, I personally selected the best combination of inverters, panels and racking for each project, and spent a lot of time running the numbers and comparing the different options to arrive at an “optimal” solution for a customer’s goals. Today that work is carried on by our expert team, but I still apply that approach to running the business. I am analytical and curious by nature—running Third Sun Solar with my team involves hundreds of choices and decisions. With a focus on our mission, “To empower people to save the planet with clean energy”, we have concluded that focusing on a ‘triple bottom line’ (social, environmental, financial) is the optimized way to achieve that mission.

Differentiation

When we launched Third Sun Solar at the end of the 90s there were hardly any dedicated businesses focused on solar solutions. Today, solar customers have many choices, each promising that they are “the best”, “high quality”, etc. While Third Sun Solar’s long industry leadership helps us stand out from this crowd in many ways, we decided that achieving B-Corp certification would go a long way toward further distinguishing us as a leader. Our B-corp status is another way of showing we are fully committed to the highest quality and safety for our clients, our employees and the greater community (AKA our PEOPLE). Those who already do business with us can see firsthand that we’re trustworthy and honest; our B-corp status proves we stand up to rigorous scrutiny regarding our environmental practices (AKA our PLANET). While it is pretty easy to recycle cardboard, we go way further, including a 100% solar net-zero office, carbon-offsets for our driving, and even composting our kitchen scraps. By contrast, some of our supposedly environmentally-driven competitors don’t even recycle!

Competitive

One of the most important reasons we have become a Certified B-Corp isn’t altruistic at all. Like all for-profit businesses, we’re striving for a significant competitive advantage over our competition (other solar companies) as solar achieves its destiny as the preferred energy form in homes and businesses (AKA our PROFIT).

We’re also engaged in a “war for talent”. Third Sun Solar is primarily successful because of our people. Though we gain market advantage in areas ranging from internal software to low-cost purchasing through a co-op, at the end of the day the most important factor in our success and growth are the people on our team. From the first phone call or email communication to all of the human interactions along the way, and finally to the crew bolting equipment together and programming the electronics, our people are at the root of our success. Based on that understanding, we believe that recruiting, retaining and motivating the very best team members is our “secret sauce”. In this context, our B-Corp certification gives us a significant advantage (invisibility and attractiveness to high-quality candidates as well as employee satisfaction and retention), and it is one that we are glad to have.

Before founding Third Sun Solar as a business, I worked for several nonprofits in the social sector (focused on Appalachian poverty and affordable housing), along with my time in a government agency (the US Peace Corps). Those were formative experiences, and I have a lot of respect for many great people and programs working to solve big problems and make the world better through these sectors. I also have seen (and sadly continue to see) the destructive nature and short-sightedness of many conventional businesses, especially the largest of corporations where the conventional practice (and the legal requirements) focus only on immediate profit and only profit. The B-Corp movement is an effort to change this. Third Sun Solar and many other mission-driven businesses are harnessing entrepreneurial energy and drive to solve social and global problems that have vexed the nonprofit and governmental sectors for decades.

We are in the midst of an experiment and are excited to be part of a movement that takes the best of capitalism, creativity and market forces in an effort to use business as a positive force for social good.

Employee Spotlight: Brittany Maxson

Meet Brittany Maxson!

Regional Office: Athens, Ohio

Year Joined Third Sun Family: 2016

Brittany Maxson is the voice of Third Sun Solar. As our First Impression Specialist, Brittany speaks to nearly every client on his or her journey to going solar. She has an Associate’s Degree in Wildlife Management and Natural resources management from Hocking College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Ohio University. When Brittany is not manning the phones at Third Sun, she can be found out in the wild with her husband Victor, hiking, fishing, hunting, or just walking puppy Gryphon. Brittany is passionate about making a lasting difference in her community, so she’s joined The Plains United Methodist Church as a trustee and volunteers at the Athens County Dog Shelter. Brittany lives our Third Sun values in every way. We couldn’t be happier to have her as part of our family.

Solar Myth Busting: Solar is Too Expensive

Myth: Solar is too expensive.

Fact: Going solar is one of the best investments any homeowner can ever make.

We’ve heard it before: “Switching to Solar is Too Expensive”. Let’s take a look at the real costs of making the switch to solar energy before deciding that solar is too expensive. Let’s consider the facts first:

 

  • Initially, the cost of a solar installation is an investment. An investment that, when designed and installed properly, will put money in your pocket for many years to come. As utility rates increase, the money saved will only continue to rise.

 

  • In recent years, the cost of solar panels has dropped substantiallywe’re talking 60 % over the last 10 years, making solar more practical and economical than ever before. This is the exact opposite of fossil fuel sources (oil, gas & coal), which become more expensive and less abundant with every ton burned.

 

  • Residential electricity rates have seen an increase of 4% nationally over the past 10 years.  In some places like Oregon, locals have seen dramatic increases as much as 40%, there is no denying that rates will continue to be on the rise.

 

  • Solar panels typically come with a 25-year warranty, but systems installed decades ago are still generating energy today, so it’s expected that a new array will last many years beyond the warranty period. That’s 25+ years of saving 50-85% on your electric bill annually! Think of how you could better spend that money.

 

  • Homeowners don’t have to wait 25 years to see the savings; depending on the size of the system, homeowners can take advantage of simple payback of 9-12 years.

 

  • Solar panels operate during peak daytime load periods when fossil fuel powered electricity is at its greatest demand and most expensive. In fact, with an efficiently-designed solar array, the panels will be returning excess power to the grid when it’s most needed, generating credit instead of cost.

 

  • Some people worry about the value of their investment if they choose to install solar panels, but might decide to sell their homes later. Well no surprise here, solar installations actually increase the value of your home on the market, with the added bonus of spending less time on the market.*

 

In our modern society, having electricity has become essential for day-to-day living, and the use of a depleting resource is becoming a real crisis. With our rate of energy consumption in the U.S. increasing, and the cost of fossil fuels predicted to also continue rising, now is a perfect time to make the switch. Don’t let the cost of going green stop you from making the switch. With our current trends, switching to solar energy is a great way to save.

 

 

*appraisalinstitute.org

Columbus Ohio Solar Consultant

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Walling

Meet Ryan Walling!

Regional Office: Columbus, Ohio

Year Joined Third Sun Family: 2015

Ryan Walling has been an amazing player on our team as a Residential Solar Consultant at Third Sun Solar. He graduated from The Ohio State University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability with a focus in business and sustainability. Aside from work, Ryan is also a sports enthusiast (not limiting his love to any sport in particular) and an aspiring author. He’s currently working on writing a book about his perspective of the solar industry in the Midwest and the financial aspect of it. We look forward to seeing what’s to come with Ryan as a part of our family.

residential rooftop solar panels

Groups Going Solar Together via Solarize Programs

What are these talks of solarize programs and solar co-ops all about?

There has been a lot of press in the Midwest surrounding communities creating group solarize and solar co-op opportunities. But what does this mean for you?

What are solarize and solar co-op programs?

Both programs are locally-organized group-buying opportunities provided by a city, neighborhood, or organization where multiple homes and businesses go solar together as a group. In addition to getting a bulk discount, the group members benefit by learning about solar together and sharing the task of evaluating and selecting a solar installer. These programs have established periods of time for joining, so they are limited time offers.

Why are these programs forming?

Solarize and solar co-op programs can quickly deploy a large amount of solar, and make the process easier and more efficient for all parties. Organizations often offer this type of opportunity as an employee benefit. An important benefit of a group going solar all at one time is that everyone can learn together and share knowledge in addition to the discount.

What are the benefits of these programs?

If you live in an area that has a solarize or solar co-op program already being offered, then:

  • You are in a position to not only take advantage of the 30% Federal Tax Credit, but you will also have the opportunity to purchase a solar array for your home or business at the group-negotiated discount rate. These rates vary by program, and some solarize opportunities present additional grants for eligible homeowners.
  • Joining a solarize or solar co-op allows you to rely on the expertise of your group in choosing a reliable solar installer. Working together with accountants, lawyers, engineers and construction experts in your community helps members feel more confident about choosing solar and a reliable installater.
  • Lastly, taking advantage of these opportunities while they are occurring dramatically increases the environmental benefits for the entire community in which you live or work.

There isn’t a solarize or solar co-op happening where I live or work. Should I wait to go solar?

The time to buy solar is now, even if you live in a community without one of these group-buying opportunities because:

  • Costs for solar have dropped significantly over the last decade, making solar an affordable energy solution.
  • There is currently a 30% Federal Tax Credit being offered.
  • Our clients dramatically lower their annual electric bills by 50-90%, keeping money in their pockets.
  • You might consider organizing your own “group purchase”. Even having a few homes go solar together can lead to savings and efficiency (see below).
  • Easily start your free evaluation by completing this form.

How can I start a solarize or solar co-op program for my community?

Third Sun Solar has experience working with neighbor groups, businesses and churches to offer group-buying opportunities to their neighbors, employees and congregations. We can help walk you thru the process, and offer an incentive package where discounts are spelled out depending on how much solar gets installed. Working with a group saves us money and time, so it’s an easy decision for us to turn this saved money into a discount.

Third Sun Solar has also been selected as a preferred installer for multiple community co-op and solarize programs (for example: GCEA & OH SUN programs). We would be happy to answer your questions about gathering a group together to go solar. For more information, call us: 877-696-7652.