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Fayston family challenges myth that solar is not affordable

Solar energy systems and options have come along when it starts to make financial sense for families on tight budgets to go solar. In Fayston, the Laidlaws, a family of five living on two teacher salaries with expense items such as an $1,800 monthly daycare bill, have recently made the transition to solar energy.

They were surprised to discover that solar made sense for the environment and for their budget. By combining a Vermont State Employee Credit Union low-interest solar loan with state and federal incentives, the Laidlaws were able to finance a home solar system. In doing so, they replaced their monthly electricity bills of $120 to $150 with a monthly loan payment of $91.96.

“We definitely don’t fit the stereotype of solar panel owners. I’ve never dreamt of living off the grid and I’m definitely not part of the 1 percent. But I do like a good deal which is why I’m powering my home with solar and saving money,” Kim Laidlaw said.

She said she likes the additional financial control that solar gives her over her long-term budgeting. With a locked-in loan payment, she can assume a fixed cost for electricity for the next 15 years despite expected utility increases. And, after 15 years, her electricity bills disappear. “It’s a no brainer,” she said.

Solar also positions her to take advantage of future savings. Currently she pays $680 a month for the family’s cars. With solar already mounted on the house, she’s ready to pounce when the first electric station wagon becomes available that can fit her three kids and their booster seats.

“Yes, we’ll have to add more panels or pay for more power from the traditional grid, but with soaring gas prices, solar gives us financial options to keep our family budget under control,” she said.

The story of the Laidlaws transitioning to solar is one of the stories told in a new book published by Real Goods Solar entitled 87 Solar Myths and the Surprising Truth about How Simple it is to Go Solar.

Real Goods Solar is celebrating the launch of the new e-book at events around Vermont. For more information about this event and others, visit http://realgoodssolar.com/solar-near-you/vermont. The e-book is now available for download from the Real Goods Solar website and Facebook page.

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