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Save money, go green, get solar panels on your roof

A big smile lights up Jeremy Levee's face when his gaze gravitates to the rooftop.

"Everybody wants to reduce their carbon footprint and save money," he said.

"This system will pay for itself in 10 years or less."

Levee, president of Integrated Solar Solutions, is at a home on Westpoint Drive in Kelowna's Mission neighbourhood where 18 solar panels are being installed on the south-and-southwest-facing sections of the roof to harness the power of the sun.

At 455 watts per panel, the system will total 8.2 kilowatts, enough to provide 95% of the electricity the household uses year-round.

So, essentially, bye-bye to electricity bills and hello to a net-zero house.

</who>Jeremy Levee is the president of Kelowna-based Integrated Solar Solutions.

"Of course, the sun has been around forever and solar is not a new technology," stated Levee.

"But, it's really caught on now with solar grants, interest-free loans, FortisBC and BC Hydro doing net metering, and more and more people embracing the electrification movement, whether it be solar or an electric car."

Levee calls having solar panels on the roof to power your whole home and charge up your electric car while it's in the driveway the "electrification dream".

</who>18 solar panels make up the installation at this home on Westpoint Drive in Kelowna's Mission neighbourhood.

Integrated Solar Solutions is a solar agency, which takes you through the whole process.

Using the example of the 2,500-square-foot house on Westpoint Drive, Levee walked us through a typical process.

"Every home and customer is different, so we do super-custom systems," he explained.

First, Integrated Solar Solutions assess the roof to make sure its shape and exposure will work for an efficient and effective installation of solar panels.

South and southwest-facing roof sections are best for capturing the sun's rays.

If all's good on that front, a third-party auditor (Integrated works with Energy Works) does a pre-retrofit inspection and sends the report to the federal government.

If the federal government approves, the $5,000 federal rebate is also approved.

The customer has to pay a deposit and then the balance of a typical $20,000 job for solar panels, installation, and hooking the system into the home's electrical panel.

If the customer can't come up with the $20,000 themselves, Integrated has the option to offer interest-free bridge financing to selected customers.

That financing covers the up to 90 days before the $5,000 rebate arrives from the government to apply to the 10-year, no-interest loan the federal government offers through the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation.

That leaves $15,000 to pay off over a decade at $125 a month.

The $125 a month payment essentially replaces the $125 a month you would have previously been paying to FortisBC or BC Hydro for electricity.

So, the system pays for itself in 10 years and in the meantime, you live in a net-zero house that's good for the environment and your green sensibilities.

The program, while complicated and up to 10 years in length, essentially gives you a free solar system.

And then, everything after a decade is gravy.

The net metering mentioned earlier refers to FortisBC and BC Hydro programs allowing customers with solar to bank excess power in their account when the sun provides more power than the household can use.

And then, in the winter, if needed when skies are grey, the customer can draw on that solar credit for electricity.

"What makes solar make so much sense is the numbers and math," summed up Levee.

"It's very affordable to get into and then the money savings and reduction of carbon footprint lasts forever."

Lastly, we have to mention that some people are hesitant to go solar because they aesthetically disrupt the roofline.

"Looks are subjective," said Levee.

"Actually, the look of solar panels means you're going green and saving money. Your neighbours will think it looks good and want a solar system, too."

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