Squirrel Hill Locals Go Solar

Squirrel Hill folks are among the Smartest People!


Tom Berna of Squirrel Hill was smart.  He recognized both the environmental and the economic benefits of going solar for his home.  He mainly wanted to reduce his carbon footprint but he also wanted a good investment.  He got both with a 4.5 kilowatt (kw) array of solar panels that will produce his electricity for the next 30 years without emissions–and pay for itself in just 10 years.  He is looking at that as a 10% return, better than any bank currently provides.  Tom also took advantage of the 30% federal tax credit that was renewed last year for solar systems.  Additionally, with those savings, he replaced his old gas hot water heater with a new electric one.


Not everyone caught wind of the Coalition’s Solarize Squirrel Hill campaign when we started it in 2015, but a friend in St. Louis brought it to Tom’s attention and he looked it up on the Solarize Allegheny/Squirrel Hill website and learned what to do from there.  He got quotes from the two certified installers linked to the site and chose one with whom he is very pleased.


Likewise, John Good would encourage everybody to do what they can for climate change and especially for clean air.  He first learned about Solarize Allegheny when it began in Point Breeze but took advantage when we promoted it for Squirrel Hill.   He likes how effortless it was on his part, with the installer doing all the paperwork and even taking care of the details with the electric company.  Now, he enjoys the no-maintenance aspect of the flow of electricity to his home.


The installer provided a free tracking program to Alan Mallinger who now enjoys monitoring his 14 panel roof-top array.  The tracking program, which works on smart phones, tablets and computers, is used by many to track hourly, daily, monthly and yearly electrical production.  It estimates how many equivalent trees he is “planting”, how many tons of CO2 emissions are saved, and how many light bulbs’ worth of power have been generated.  Some folks check the totals everyday. Even overcast days can contribute quite a bit to a monthly total.  However, the “coolest part is to see my electric meter going backwards,” Alan remarked.


Alan and his wife talked about going solar for a long time but found it to be too expensive.  Now, the cost has come down so much that he chose to go ahead.  At one time, the cost was over $10 per watt installed, but has “dropped to between $3 and $5 a watt depending on the scale and difficulty,” said Ian Smith. Director of Residential Consultations at EIS Solar (one of the two certified installers involved in our program.)


Interested in exploring solar energy for your home, just as at least 16 other Squirrel Hill households have done so far?  Do a search on Solarize Allegheny/Squirrel Hill and click on the GET STARTED button.  The rest is easy – two pre-screened installation companies will automatically contact you to provide you with a quote.


What if you can’t go solar because of the configuration or shading on your home?  Replace as many lights as possible with LED bulbs.  One person told us they shaved about $50/month off their electric bill in their 3-person home by replacing every light with LEDs.


However, going pollution free, with your own local solar energy production is very satisfying, economical, and smart.


This article by your SHUC Solarize Committee:

David Knoll, Rita Botts, Maren Cooke, Ron Gaydos, and Roger Westman

about SHUC

Preserving, Improving, and Celebrating the Quality of Life in Squirrel Hill

For over fifty years, the Coalition has been an active and important link in the community. It has served as a sounding board for new ideas, as well as a “watchdog” in the areas of public safety, education, residential quality, the business district, and parks and open space. With its focus on the quality of life in the 14th Ward, SHUC continues to monitor activities and future developments in the community through a range of standing committees.


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