The benefits of solar energy are extraordinary. No one knows that better than Andreas Lindenthal, who established his own solar company to help wean people off non-renewable and expensive energies such as oil, natural gas and coal that pollute the environment.
BY RICK WEINBERG, CALIFORNIA BUSINESS JOURNAL
The defining moment came when Andreas Lindenthal received an electric bill for $450. That was the turning point. The last straw, so to speak. The moment that changed his life.
When he looked at the staggering amount of the bill for his 3,000 square foot home in Mission Viejo, Calif., he decided that there was only one way to go: solar — taking advantage of the earth’s most natural and most powerful resource and reducing his electric bill by an astounding 90 percent.
But Lindenthal didn’t just go on to equip his own home with solar. He decided to launch his own solar company, GoSolar, at a time when solar had finally made a major breakthrough commercially and economically.
“I saw the trend finally happening in the U.S. in 2012, when solar became commercially feasible on a larger scale,” says Lindenthal, who grew up with solar energy in Zurich, Switzerland. “Before that, solar was very expensive; it was only for satellites and tree-huggers. Then prices started to decrease and the government was getting involved by subsidizing tax credits. Even utility companies got involved by providing rebates.
“That’s when solar really started to gain momentum,” he adds. “That’s when people could really afford to make the switch. When I saw that, I decided this was the right time to not only do it for myself, but to get into the business as well.”
No one should ever underestimate the extraordinary benefits of solar for one second. They are simply overwhelming – from the environmental impact to cost, savings, convenience and comfort.
Perhaps the most staggering fact about the power of the sun and solar is that every hour of sunshine is equal to the amount of energy used by the entire human population in one full year.
“It’s basically unlimited,” Lindenthal says.
Equally important is that solar reduces – and in many cases eliminates — the use of expensive, non-renewable energy sources, such as oil, natural gas and coal that pollute the environment.
Then there are the cost benefits, which includes the increase in home value.
“The average single family home in California uses about 9,600 kWh electric energy every year,” Lindenthal says. “This equals an electricity bill of approximately $2,200 at today’s utility rates. With a properly sized and designed solar energy system, this can usually be reduced by more than 80 percent.”
That means the average family in California can save over $1,800 every year by switching to solar energy. Over the life of a solar energy system, which is at least 20 years (most solar panel manufacturers provide a guarantee of at least 20 years on their equipment), it is possible to save over $100,000 if the monthly savings are invested at eight percent.
“The money that is saved can be used for retirement, your children’s college education, vacations, a new car, growing your business or other investments,” Lindenthal says. “The savings are quite remarkable. I know. I experienced it first hand.”
As for the increase in home value, a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that “California homes with a solar energy system sell for a premium over homes without a solar energy system.”
The study also finds that the increase in value is approximately $5,500 per installed kW. That means installing an average size solar energy system will increase the value of a home by approximately $25,000.
“This increase is typically more than the cost of the solar energy system, so you are immediately in the black,” Lindenthal says.
Just ask Gregory Ain, who is experiencing the savings, energy benefits, comfort and convenience first hand.
“First, solar is one of the cleanest energies we have available,” he says. “For my family, it was a no-brainer to go solar.”
Not only from the environmental standpoint, but monetarily.
“We’re going to wind up making money on our solar system,” he says. “We’ll get our primary investment back after a few years and after that it’s all free money, all cash in the pocket.”
Lindenthal understood the array of benefits of solar at an early age while growing up in Switzerland, one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to utilizing the power of the solar and wind.
His household and environment was all about renewable energies. He even did his graduate thesis at the University of Applied Sciences of Zurich on solar. He designed a sun-powered water pump that could be used to raise water and water holes in the desert.
“Switzerland is very eco-friendly – it’s a small county without any natural resources,” he says. “The general attitude is that we need to be sustainable and we need to rely on renewable energy. Sixty percent of all the energy in Switzerland is from renewable energy – solar, wind and water — for the last 40 years.”
Lindenthal graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and worked for years in the field in Zurich before being transferred to Orange County, Calif. Then came the turning point of his $450 electric bills, which changed the course of his life and career.
“Solar isn’t the alternative energy, coal and oil are,” he says. “To me, solar is the original energy. I am very passionate about the environment and about living a sustainable lifestyle. I’m very passionate about not abusing the environment and about protecting it. To me and my clients, this is the only way to go.”
Andreas Lindenthal, President
27452 Avanti Drive
Mission Viejo, Calif. 92692