Sinai House, an independent non-profit affiliated with Temple Sinai and located in Ward 6, provides transitional housing for DC families. New Columbia Solar installed a solar system with a size just below 6 kW, split between 2 apartments, in September, 2016.
Size of solar system: 6 kW split between 2 apartments
Monthly Savings: >30% depending upon the unit
Up-front cost to customer: $0.00
Why did you decide to go solar?
Our families are responsible for their utilities which can be as much as $150 – $250 per month. When you’re earning $10/hour, that is a very significant cost. Our goal is get families back on their feet and to do so, we want to take as many loads off their backs as possible. So reducing their utility bills is very important to our mission.
Is solar succeeding in reducing cost?
The solar system is reducing electricity from the grid and depending upon the unit is providing savings of approximately 30% depending upon the unit. Some of our residents are on fixed annual charges, so they won’t see the benefit immediately unless they switch off the program.
Are your residents and Board of Directors supportive of solar?
The Board of Directors has been incredibly supportive. It was actually a Board Member who initially discovered this solar program. Now that we’ve taken a first step, we’re excited to do even more! The residents are excited as well. Going Green is seen as an option only for people with resources to figure it out. When you’re struggling to stay ahead every day, you don’t have time to think about ways to Go Green and it is great that this program allows low-income to participate.
Is solar important to members of the Temple Sinai Congregation?
While Sinai House is independent of Temple Sinai, it’s actually the Temple Sinai Congregation that got this started. When Temple members decided to go solar, they arranged for an energy company to donate a solar system, which was donated to us. That system hasn’t yet been installed, but that first step is what led Sinai House Board members to investigate solar. Without the Congregations support, this may not have happened.
Has going solar had any other impact on Sinai House?
Yes, now that we’ve started, we’re continuing. We’re investigating weatherization programs, and getting smarter about appliances. We’re also investigating the possibility of helping our residents get jobs in the solar industry. These are good paying jobs and the city is investing in training. We think it would be good if we could get our residents into these program.
Can you please describe your experience working with New Columbia Solar?
New Columbia Solar made going solar effortless. They explained everything step by step and made it simple so that we could explain it to our residents and get approval from the Board of Directors. They were so fast and so professional. Our residents hardly even aware of the installation.
What was the best part of working with New Columbia Solar?
They went above and beyond and helped us with issues that we not even their responsibility. When we had a problem with another energy company, that had nothing to do with their solar system, they helped us and educated us so that we could advocate for our residents and we got it resolved in our favor. When we were concerned about our roof, they helped us find a cheaper solution. Finally, they introduced us to other programs that we might be able to benefit from in DC, both the local and federal government.
Would you recommend New Columbia Solar?
Absolutely, and I already have!