In the war against climate change, are solar panels our victory gardens?

Meet the company making solar power solutions simple.

Photograph by Topher Donahue
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Solar panels dots the roofs of many houses across the country, providing a simple, affordable solution to other energy sources.
Photograph by Topher Donahue
EnergyGeeks believes you should have a choice in where you get your energy. They help you make smart decisions about the solar options that fit your lifestyle and budgets. With a wealth of information about local resources at their fingertips, their expert team of Geeks creates customized solutions on the basis of home size, location, and average monthly energy use.

The world’s leading climate scientists now give us a little over a decade to stop and reverse climate change. As time is running out, the brightest minds in renewable energy are looking up. Literally. Solar solutions are now easier, cheaper, and smarter than ever before, and the power is in the personal. The best way to save the planet, and your wallet, may well be one rooftop at a time.

It’s a matter far beyond debate for most of the world: the time to cultivate renewable energy resources is now. The authors of the latest landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to avoid catastrophe — mass die-offs of coral reefs, widespread drought, famine and wildfires, and potentially conflict over land, food and fresh water. Renewable energy sources such as hydropower, wind, solar and geothermal energy must increase from about 20 percent of the electricity mix today to as much as 67 percent in the coming decade. According to some estimates, in thirty years, the world will be using 75% more energy than it does now. Our current energy mix won’t meet that demand. Fossil fuels are naturally limited, but currently provide most of our power…by far. To reach a sustainable mix in time to avoid environmental and human disaster on an unprecedented scale, this process clearly must accelerate.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Most of us don’t need any further dire warnings to understand the urgency of reducing our carbon footprint. What we need to know is what to do and how to do it, easily and affordably.

The good news? Cultivating renewable energy sources, particularly solar, has actually never been easier and more affordable. With the improvements in solar technology from the panel to the grid, the solar industry is growing, creating jobs, and making solar a better economic choice on both a societal and personal level.

See how easy and affordable it is for you to make the change to solar energy with EnergyGeeks.

For Mackie Hilborn, CEO of EnergyGeeks, North America’s largest online solar platform, the issues are as much economic as humanitarian and environmental. “The math is simple,” he says, “Energy demand is going up, and availability is going down. This has created a crisis in terms of national security, income inequality, and real suffering among the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations. For so many reasons, we need to generate our own power, and solar is unlimited. I love solar because every country in the world has access to it. From an energy supply perspective, it's not just the luck of the draw digging for oil, gas or coal. It is about each country on the planet having access to the sun and utilizing it to grow and control their individual energy markets.”

“Now it’s just a question of how to build an infrastructure to capture that energy, store it, distribute it, and build a network around it so that everybody can get the energy they need. It's clean, it's renewable, and it's going to be here sustainably forever. In North America, solar is going to be very powerful for our economy, making the search for fossil fuels a thing of the past. It's going to create jobs and position us as a leader. Energy is the largest commodity in the world. So, our mission, ultimately, is to power the world with 100% renewable energy, starting right here at home in North America.”

How? The solutions are local and now, with the free services EnergyGeeks provides, also highly personalized.

Get a customized recommendation from EnergyGeeks.

POWER MADE PERSONAL

As Mackie explains, “As individuals, we’re all asking, what can I do? Can I contribute? The answer is not only Yes, you can, but you can also save money doing it. By installing solar energy in your home, you can increase the value of your house and control your energy costs, which translates into more money in your pockets. When energy rates go up or things change, you've got control over what happens with your house and your family.”

Mackie understands this better than anyone. As he says, “You start looking into solar and you’re drinking from a fire hose of information. There are many types of equipment and a variety of financing options. There are just a lot of factors!”

Luckily EnergyGeeks has created a workflow that will help consumers make smart decisions about the solar options that fit their lifestyle and budgets. With a wealth of information about local resources at their fingertips, EnergyGeeks creates customized solutions on the basis of home size, location, and average monthly energy use. At no cost to the consumer, they’re available by chat, text, phone or email to answer questions and offer personal guidance from initial inquiries through quotes, financing, installation and beyond.

Marcus Joo, EnergyGeek’s Chief Technology Officer, explains how it all works. “Our Solar Recommendation System matches your energy needs with the perfect solar solution for your home, and it’s often not what you’d expect. Sometimes our recommendation system will produce some very unique plans. You might think initially that buying a system makes sense, but it may turn out that leasing is a far better option, depending on your long-term plans, financing options, etc. On a macro level, we have a lot of machine learning and predictive modeling to identify the perfect recommendation. As more people go solar with us, we're capturing more data and we're training a more efficient model. But we’ve really built a people-centered system. It’s all about working with an actual human being, your dedicated Energy Geek, who not only is an expert in solar but also in customer service.”

Even in places with very little sunshine?

“We get this question about sunlight a lot,” Marcus explains. “People in northern climates wonder if they can get enough sun to provide all the energy they need. The answer is most always yes. With the current technology that's available, many households can cover most of their total annual energy needs from their roof, either 100% or close to that.”

“Eventually, we'd love to be able to cover all 50 states,” Mackie adds, “We just added Illinois and Alberta recently and we've been seeing great results. By the end of next year, we hope to offer our platform in close to 15 to 20 states.”

If the goal is to take as much of the world solar as possible, why not work with major corporations versus individual homeowners? Wouldn’t larger scale conversions move things more quickly?

“We think distributed energy, basically homeowners going solar, has the biggest impact on actually transitioning us to a renewable planet.” Marcus explains. “It's going to come from people who decide to help their community and also help themselves at the same time. On a technical level, it actually helps to have localized energy. You produce it where it's being consumed so there's no loss on transmission lines. You don't have to move the power around. Your kid wakes up on a Saturday, watches their favorite cartoons on a TV powered by the solar panels on your roof. That's powerful stuff. It's not some coal plant down the road, it's being generated right there at home. It's like growing your own food in your garden.”

Want to cultivate our planet’s sustainable energy future on your rooftop?

Take a moment to share some basic information with EnergyGeeks and they’ll let you know if solar might make sense for you now.

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