Customer story: Jo Costello and Kris Conrad MacNamara

Jo Costello and her partner Kris Conrad MacNamara joined the solarZero GridforGoodTM in 2018. They had the Totara package, consisting of 9 solar panels and a smart battery, installed at their home. 

Located in Waitakaruru, a rural community in the Waikato region, their home has always been a busy one. When they initially joined there were 4-5 people living in the home, though now it’s a little quieter with just 3 people and a couple of fur-babies. 

To keep the bustling household functioning, they have a big freezer, two fridges and a couple of TVs, all drawing on power. For a time, they even had an old fashioned 80L hot water cylinder drawing plenty of power but delivering very little in the way of hot water. 

In fact, during the winter it wasn’t uncommon to receive power bills of $330-350 per month. And this is while still relying on a wood fire for heat as they don't have a heat pump ramping up their power bill to help keep them warm.

So, they went hunting for a way they could save on their power bill. 

Introducing solarZero

They were already on the lookout for a solar solution when they came across solarZero and they jumped on the chance to join.

Because, while solar had been a desire of theirs for a while, the upfront costs of a traditional system was a major sticking point - they just didn’t have that kind of money lying around. So, with $0 upfront cost, a fixed monthly fee, and guaranteed savings, solarZero was a no brainer for them.

I was on the lookout. I did really want to put solar on the house. But at the time we didn’t really have the money and then that popped up and I just felt like it all worked out, without really trying.

Savings on their power bills

And, it’s certainly paid off for them. Even with the monthly solarZero energy services fee, they’ve never had a bill higher than $250 during winter, and earlier this year experienced months where they paid just $33 and $81 for their grid power use. When considering how much they could be paying for power if they didn’t have solar, Jo definitely knows she made the right decision.

I don’t even know what the price of power has gone up to now. I suspect we’d be paying a lot more than $330-350 a month over winter given that we’ve been on solar since 2018.

And everything is so expensive now. You’re paying $6 for a head of lettuce. You need to save money where you can and I feel pleased now that we have solar. That’s one thing we’ve got an element of control over.

The 20-year commitment

The 20-year agreement also wasn’t something that phased Jo. She sees the benefits of the commitment from both parties. And she knows that if they were to sell the property the solar system could be a great selling point due to the savings it provides on power bills.

There’s a lot involved in putting it on and you wouldn’t want people signing up for 5 years. You want some kind of commitment from both parties. And the fact is if we sell our property, it will be offered to the next person to take on and I guess over 3 years you would really notice the savings in that time.

Benefits of the smart battery

Living on a farm, the battery has also come in incredibly handy over the years. Since having solarZero installed, they’ve barely noticed when a power outage hit their region.

At times I would come home and the clock on the stove might be flashing, showing there’s been some kind of power cut. But we’ve never really had to experience no power since we’ve had solar. I’ve gotten up in the middle of the night, gone to turn the power on and the lights have gone off. Then then the solar kicks in which is kinda cool. For a brief moment, the power’s off and then the battery does its thing. When you’ve got meat in the freezer and things like that it makes you feel good knowing that you’ve got a backup there.

Recommendation for others

Jo’s advice for anyone considering solar? 

You should really hook on. For people who don’t have the money to buy their own solar system outright, it’s a really good option.