The day a solar advocate finally went solar

By Rob Sargent
Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy

Sometimes the first step is the most important one to take

I've been a solar energy advocate for a long time. Since 1984, I’ve worked to build support for and enact policies that will help us tap into what is, by far, our largest and most dependable energy resource: the sun. 

Unlike our most common energy sources -- fossil fuels -- the sun doesn’t produce air pollution that clogs our lungs. It doesn’t pollute our waterways or create highly toxic radioactive waste that makes us sick. And, perhaps most of all, it doesn’t contribute to the warming of our planet.

But in all those decades of hard work, something always nagged me. I was spending all this time working to help solar succeed, but I had never taken the time to put solar panels on my own rooftop.

I’d always wanted to power my home with 100 percent renewable energy. But I could never find the right opportunity to do it. I had a full-time job promoting policies to move the country off fossil fuels -- and on top of that, like so many others, I was raising children, which included everything from doctor’s appointments and coaching Little League to shuttling kids back and forth from school and soccer practice, while also making time for household chores. 

Honestly, I just felt like I was too busy to make it happen.

I knew that a combination of reducing our home energy use and installing rooftop solar was an extremely valuable way to contribute to the shift away from fossil-fuel energy. Even so, the last thing I thought I had time for was meeting with solar companies, sifting through their proposals and verifying their claims -- along with discussing things like no money down leases and low-interest loans. 

So, despite my best intentions, I put it off. Until I finally decided to take that first step.

The roof on our small Boston home may not be very big, but that didn’t matter. I was tired of looking up and seeing the sun beating down on our shingles, while knowing I was letting all that clean renewable energy go to waste. So I sat down and looked at my options on EnergySage -- a great online comparison tool that made the process less daunting. I could consider offers side-by-side and assess companies objectively. 

For a long time, I thought going solar at my own home would be too difficult to fit into my busy work-life schedule. But once I clicked “Get Started,” it turned out that the rest fell easily into place. Within weeks, I settled on a solar company, and now the sunlight that used to warm the southeast roof of our small Boston home now falls on a solar array, turning that sunlight into clean, renewable energy.

Now, my family’s home is part of a larger solar movement sweeping across the country. More than two million homes and businesses have gone solar in the U.S., and I’m glad to be included in that number.

Admittedly, installing solar panels on my roof is a first step, but I know that achieving 100 percent renewable energy is an ongoing process. We’re still working to switch all of our lights to LEDs, update our appliances with more energy efficient models and transition off of gas heating.

It’s a process for our country, too. I’ll keep advocating for a renewable energy future, fighting for policies and commitments that put us on track to using 100 percent clean renewable energy as a society. 

There’s a lot of work left to be done. But it feels good to come home to see my family’s contribution to a clean energy society covering the top of our house.

Sometimes the first step is the hardest. But it can be the most important to take.

For more information about going solar in your own home, you can check out EnergySage’s online tool here.