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Your Home and the Facts About Going Solar: An Interview with Amy Vogt of Compass Solar Energy

By Amy Vogt

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Based in Pensacola, FL, Compass Solar Energy is an industrial, commercial and residential solar contractor focused on reducing power costs for its customers. Since 1998, Compass Solar has offered high-quality solar contracting services from design to installation and continues to complete large- and small-scale solar electric and solar thermal projects throughout the world. We are Northwest Florida's only NABCEP Certified PV Installer. Locally, we have installed more than 90% of all the solar from Pensacola to Panama City to Destin.

What are the biggest benefits for homeowners who use solar energy?

Obviously, saving money on your electric bill is the biggest benefit of solar. Solar also increases the value of your home, reduces your carbon footprint, and decreases our dependence on foreign oil. Solar is truly the best investment out there - it is risk free, tax free, and can deliver a return on investment between 10 and 30 percent.

Can you briefly explain what some of the main solar options are for people's homes?

Solar Hot Water gives you free hot water from the sun. You can typically save $15 per person in the household each month with a solar hot water heater. Solar Electric creates electricity for your home. It's what most people think of when they think of solar. In Northwest Florida at today's rates, a 5,000 watt grid-tied solar electric system will save about $1,000 for the year. A popular add-on is a properly sized Solar Attic Fan. Solar attic fans can cut cooling costs up to 25%. All three of these solar systems qualify for a 30% federal tax credit. Many Northwest Florida families also install Solar Pool Heating, which allows them to double their swimming season with no additional operating costs!

How does solar water heating compare with gas or electric water heating?

In Florida a solar water heater can provide 90% to 95% of your annual hot water needs. That is free hot water from the sun. A solar hot water heater is a practical way to get your hot water versus all the effort it takes to extract crude oil from the Middle East, load and ship it across the globe to be burned in an electric power plant to create electricity that is then sent to your home via electric lines to ultimately be used to generate hot water for your household.

Are there some common misconceptions about solar energy that people should know about?

Many people think solar is too expensive for most homeowners. The fact is solar energy solutions are more affordable than ever and most of homeowners who go solar save 50% to 100% on their energy bills. Solar produces a high return on investment. Other investments don't even come close. Solar is a guaranteed risk-free investment that produces double-digit returns.

What advice do you have for a homeowner who is interested in going solar but has a limited budget?

If you have three or more people in your home, you NEED to invest in a solar water heater. You can also invest in an expandable solar electric system and add on as your budget permits. We also offer financing options to fit every budget.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

Email me at amy@compasssolar.com or call the office at 850-439-0035. Please also connect with us via Facebook (http://facebook.com/compasssolar) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/CompassSolar).

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