Solar pays off — for monk-ish couple

March 12, 2009

The Washington Post reported today that,

While people around him fret about their escalating utility bills and vent at their politicians, Al Schnoebelen looks out his triple-paned living room window and feels pretty lucky.

Last month’s energy charges from Delmarva Power? A mere $3.35. With taxes and surcharges more than doubling the bill, Schnoebelen wrote a check this week for a whopping $10.65.

And that was relatively high. Before a failing propane freezer was replaced with an electric one last year, Schnoebelen and his wife, Nancy, paid about 35 cents a month before taxes.

The couple’s 2,000-square-foot, two-bedroom Eastern Shore bungalow has been powered by the sun for 19 years.

What did their system cost? According to the Post,

The solar system cost $4,200. It was shipped in a box from a California company: three batteries and transformers to convert the sun’s low-voltage power to AC current. The company went out of business when the solar fad of the 1970s and 1980s faded.

But things have changed over the last 20 years:

Today, there’s new technology for those who follow the Schnoebelens’ path. But the start-up costs are significant, at $8,000 to $40,000, depending on how much power the system produces, officials with the Maryland Energy Administration said.

Moreover, do you really want to live like the Schnoebelens? According to the Post article,

The Schnoebelens live simply — no Internet, no cellphone, no answering machine, no cable on the TV.

Steve Milloy’s new book, Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them, spotlights how the greens want to permanently rollback your standard of living.

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