KAYSVILLE, Davis County — When John Loveless peers up at the sun, he doesn’t see just another hot summer day. He sees dollar signs.
“There’s enough energy falling in my yard right now to power 100 homes, so I might as well capitalize on a little bit of that,” he said.
Loveless, an electrical engineer, has collected and monitored his energy bills for the last 14 years and has been interested in efficiency.
So he installed a 26-panel, 6.2 kilowatt photovoltaic array, enough to cover about three-quarters of his family’s energy needs.
He says in 2012 his annual bill for electricity came to $1.10.
“That was a rough year,” he says. “I always jest that getting solar panels was kind of a gateway drug.”
Loveless cut his electric bill even more by making his house more efficient — using compact florescent and LED light bulbs, unplugging some devices that draw phantom power day and night, adding insulation and installing a device that recovers heat from the hot water that goes down the drain.
He eliminated his gasoline bills by ripping the gas engine out of a pickup truck and replacing it with an electric motor. Later he converted an old Geo Metro to an electric car. He leased an all-electric Nissan Leaf for his wife.
He got rid of his natural gas bills by replacing his gas dryer with an electric one and hiring a company to install a ground loop heat pump. It circulates liquid through pipes buried 300 feet under his yard, where the ground is a constant 56 degrees Fahrenheit. During the winter, it draws the heat up to the house and during the summer it sends the heat down to the ground. The pump runs on electricity which is generated by the solar array on the roof.
Loveless says he once spent $5,500 dollars a year on energy — $3,500 for gasoline, $800 for natural gas and $1,200 for electricity. Now, he spends about $500.
On the bright, sunny day he spoke to KSL, his electric meter was actually running backwards. He was using about 1,000 watts, but he was generating about 4,700 watts and sending the excess back to the electric grid “powering my neighbors’ houses.”
Loveless says it all began as a way to save money and become more self- sufficient, but it’s become more than that.
“For me, personally, it’s almost a moral thing now to not use fossil fuels,” he says.
“(There is a) realization that renewable energy is here now and doable and actually more affordable than staying with what we do now,” he says.
Loveless maintains a web page with details about all his energy-efficiency home improvements.