CRESTVIEW — Justin Madison and "Flyin' Brian" Dickenson sweated it out Thursday morning from a rooftop in the Carnegie Hills subdivision. The workers — technicians for Pensacola-based Compass Solar Energy — were installing a 12-panel, 5-kilowatt solar electricity system. Soon, the same sun they were braving will help homeowners Kaye and Steven Finney save more than $100 a month in electricity charges.


CRESTVIEW — Justin Madison and "Flyin' Brian" Dickenson sweated it out Thursday morning from a rooftop in the Carnegie Hills subdivision. The workers — technicians for Pensacola-based Compass Solar Energy — were installing a 12-panel, 5-kilowatt solar electricity system. Soon, the same sun they were braving will help homeowners Kaye and Steven Finney save more than $100 a month in electricity charges.



After arriving in Crestview from North Carolina with the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), the Finneys wanted to take advantage of one of Florida's most famous resources. "We just moved a couple months ago to the Sunshine State, so we felt we should get solar panels," Kaye Finney said. "We've always been interested in renewable energy."



The couple were attracted by a federal tax credit that will knock nearly $5,000 off their $17,700 system, Compass Marketing Director Amy Vogt said. Also attractive is the potential for the power company to buy excess unused energy from the couple, Kaye Finney said.



The Finneys are one of 25 Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative member families who supplement home electricity use with renewable sources, CHELCO spokesman Mladen Rudman said. Of them, all use solar power except one member, who uses wind. Systems range from 1 kilowatt to slightly less than 13 kilowatts in power, he said.



The solar systems are not powerful enough to completely replace power purchased from CHELCO, Vogt said, but they help offset traditional power’s cost. If there’s a power outage, solar panels keep generating usable power as long as the sun is out, CHELCO energy services supervisor Bryan Gilbert said. "They'd be able to run minor things like lighting, but not major appliances," Gilbert said. "They could probably watch a little television and run some fans."



Sun that beats down on the Finneys' house will also power new attic fans Compass is installing. Kaye Finney said with their black shingle roof, her attic can be unbearably hot. "It's a nice-sized attic, so if the fans can lower the temperature 20 or more degrees, it'll be much more tolerable up there," she said.



What can you run on 5,000 watts?



The Finney family's new solar array provides 5,000 watts (5 kilowatts) of power on a sunny day. Here are some typical monthly residential power draws.



Aquarium: 50–1,210 watts



Clock radio: 10



Coffee maker: 900–1,200



Clothes washer: 350–500



Clothes dryer: 1,800–5,000



Computer:



    Monitor, awake/asleep: 150 / 30



    Laptop: 50



Dishwasher: 1,200–2,400 (using the drying feature greatly increases energy consumption)



Dehumidifier: 785



DVD, Blu-ray player: 17–21 / 20–25



Fans



    Ceiling: 65–175



    Window: 55–250



    Whole house: 240–750



Hair dryer: 1,200–1,875



Heater (portable): 750–1,500



Clothes iron: 1,000–1,800



Microwave oven: 750–1,100



Stereo: 70–400



Refrigerator (frost-free, 16 cubic feet): 725



Television:



    Flat screen: 120



    27-inch: 113



    36-inch: 133



Toaster: 800–1,400



Toaster oven: 1,225



Vacuum cleaner: 1,000–1,440



Water heater (40 gallon): 4,500–5,500



Water pump (deep well): 250–1,100



Source: CHELCO



Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.