POWERHOME Solar customer Jill Barnes is like so many others, in that she and high school sweetheart-turned-husband-of-35-years Tim look for ways to save money and improve their lives in the process. But her story is unfortunately unlike many others, too.
Utilizing Solar Panels for Health Benefits
On her way to sign up to become a volunteer emergency medical technician in a neighboring community in 2012, Jill broke her neck in two places after an 89-year-old man ran a stop sign and struck her car. The first surgery to fix her neck was botched and required a second surgery. The result left her unable to work and in need of extensive physical therapy. Those needs meant having therapy even after her health insurance stopped covering it. And because she had previously stopped working to care for her father for 17 years, she had no social security disability insurance to cover such expenses, either.
Barnes installed an indoor swim spa at her Lima, Ohio, home that allows her to do the exercising she needs to even move. Spending some time with her, you see winces of pain when she walks and how she exercises caution in getting up from a seated position or when sitting down. She even had to rearrange the kitchen cabinetry to allow her to reach things she no longer can.
She’s in the spa three days a week and 45 minutes at a time. Better that than taking painkillers and risking potential addiction to other drugs, something she saw far too often in her prior line of work.
Because the 2,300-gallon swim spa must be continuously heated to 102 degrees, it more than doubled her family’s cost for power. With that bill getting out of hand, Barnes saw one of POWERHOME’s Facebook ads and contacted the company to see if solar panels could help.
Have they ever.
How Much Solar Panels Have Helped Jill Barnes
POWERHOME first spoke with Barnes in late September, when her home had been online with solar for about three months. She told us then that her home went from using 1,400-2,000 kilowatt hours a month to being the most energy efficient home in the area. She shared with POWERHOME a copy of her energy usage, where it showed her home using 36 percent less electricity than even the most energy-efficient homes in her area. She proudly calls her home “solarficient.”
“The most I have used is 457 kilowatt hours in a month,” Barnes said in September. “My last bill was $20.29 for my actual usage. My delivery fees were more than my actual bill was.”
Experiencing Winter with Solar Panels
Fast forward through the winter months, and Barnes said she paid only $300 for her electric bill, another big win for she and her husband.
But Barnes’ road to get the panels came with a potential roadblock. To get the most energy production from the proposed 15-panel roof array, POWERHOME needed the panels to go on the front of her home, which faces south, but her township ruled that they needed to go on the back, citing aesthetics concerns. A variance hearing was set to get permission to install on the front, and POWERHOME covered the $500 cost for it. After POWERHOME sales consultant Colleen Dempsey educated township officials on how the system would look and work, the variance was granted, allowing Barnes’ solar project to move forward.
“Once she showed the pictures and we explained everything, I think there was a couple of them that were real interested in getting solar too,” Barnes said.
Addressing Other Misconceptions of Solar Panels
Barnes’ installation has drawn curiosity from neighbors, and she said that she’s even noticed passers-by slowing down in front of her home for a closer examination. But Barnes also noticed that once the novelty wore off, people forget that the panels are even there. It helps when the panels blend in with the roof and look like they belonged there in the first place. It’s a sleek, attractive look for any customers whose panels need to be placed on the front façade.
One of the biggest questions that many potential Ohio customers have is whether there’s enough sun in the state for solar to work. Barnes knows the real answer.
“I’ve had a lot of tell me solar doesn’t work in Ohio. [Or] it’s too cold in Ohio. [But] the sun shines when it’s cold, it just doesn’t heat up a lot. You don’t need heat on solar panels. You just need the sun. We have enough sunlight that we get all kinds of power from the solar panels.”
Barnes has said that she plans to have her system paid off in five years, which means the power that her system generates will be completely free to her after that fact. Without the ability to work because of her injury, she and her husband plan to put the savings from their electric bill toward retirement or other investments.
Jill Barnes was asked if she had any advice for future POWERHOME customers. Without hesitation, she said, “If your appointment is next week, see if you can make it sooner, because the sooner you get them in, the happier you’ll be.”
Saving money and improving lives. Jill and Tim Barnes’ home is powered by the solar energy that gives them the chance to do both.