Saving Money and Financial Independence

Charging electric car from solar panels

By Richard Bott and Sarah Hardy
Electric car owned by Richard Bott and his wife, Sarah Hardy, which they charge from their home solar panels.

My wife and I recently started our switch from fossil fuels to grid-tied solar and an electric vehicle. It has been a real eye-opener for us, from saving money to financial independence. We thought we were doing a good thing by helping climate change, but it turned into more and we would like to share our experience.

In our opinion, the benefits of solar generation and electric vehicles are not being promoted fully. A lot of solar generating systems, along with electric vehicles, are only being promoted and sold as environmentally friendly and reducing climate change. This is true, but the mention of climate change has become a political football for politicians and corporate lobbyists, which seems to provide a negative view. 

For us, yes, we are happy we are potentially helping the environment and reducing climate change, but more important, there is an immediate financial win: saving us money and giving us financial independence from fluctuating oil, gas, and electric prices. You can save money by going all-electric today, plus the “payback time” has just about reached zero! Also, you are not contributing to the excess profits of big oil and gas producing countries and corporations.

In August of 2023, we bought a Chevy Bolt EUV and have been driving that as our primary vehicle. We absolutely love our Bolt! Chevy hit it out of the park with the design, looks, ease of driving, cost. We have not experienced any of the negative headlines regarding anxiety over mileage and finding a charger. 

Our Bolt is charged at home for free from solar panels and is fully charged when we need it. In fact, we had more anxiety with our gas vehicle in finding the least expensive gas and managing the sometimes-daily fluctuating prices.

We paid $32,000 for our Bolt, received a $7,500 Tax Rebate from the Federal Government (thank you), received $1,000 from our electric utility, and sold our Subaru Crosstrek for $20,000, costing us only $3,500 for our new Chevy Bolt. Also, Chevy installed our Level 2 Charger at our home for free.

On top of that, in driving the EUV as our primary vehicle we are saving approximately $160/month on gas. Plus, the EUV only recommends service every three years to check fluids. (That’s brake fluid and … that’s about it!)  

We no longer have to do oil changes every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, no emissions controls, no spark plugs, no muffler, no gas filters. And the brakes on the EUV last longer due to the “one pedal” driving. This, for us, is a $500 to $800 savings per year, or about $66/month in servicing.  

The first week of February 2024, we had Granite State Solar install 18 425-Watt solar panels on our garage, which produce about 8 kW, at a cost of $28,800. We will also receive a 30 percent ($8,640) tax rebate on the $28,800 installation costs from the Federal Government (thank you), reducing the installation cost to $20,160. Granite State Solar helped secure financing for the $20,160, for a monthly payment of $190 per month for 12 years.

We bought the Chevy Bolt EUV in August 2023 and our average electric bill from August 2023 to February 2024 was $279/month. The solar system was operational the first week in February 2024 and our average electric bill from February 2024 through May 2024 was $150/month, a savings of $129/month. On top of that, in driving the EUV as our primary vehicle, we are saving an additional $160/month on gas and $66 per month in service, for a combined savings of $355/month. 

Subtracting the $190/month finance fee from the combined gas, service, and electric savings of $355/month, we are currently saving $165/month, not including any electric savings from our utility “bank.” (Whatever surplus electricity we produce flows onto the grid for others to use, and the electric utility credits our account by putting that amount in their “bank.”) We have already banked 1,000 kWh (250 kWh/month) in the four months of service. 

The value of the banked electricity can be used next year to further lower our monthly electric bill, for an additional savings of $37/month, for a combined savings of approximately $202/month. Currently we estimate total financial savings of $2,424 per year.

Our loan for the solar panels will be paid off in approximately 5–6 years, increasing our yearly savings to $4,704. Plus, it provides us with financial stability from the up and down fluctuations in gas, oil, and electric prices, and stops paying excess profits to big oil and gas producing countries and corporations.  For us, solar energy and electric vehicles save money, plus allow individual, average, everyday Americans to be more financially independent. Hope this is helpful.