Living in the Sunshine

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sounds like Maine to me. We do all of those things here. Soon, here at Huston & Company, we’ll be living in the sunshine more literally than before. This winter, we’ll be installing a solar array on the roof of our workshop. 

Bill Huston has been considering this project for some time, but he’s always put it to the back of his mind. Because the electricity usage at Huston & Company is fairly low to begin with, Bill was under the assumption that it would take many, many years for such a project to pay for itself. But this fall, hel had a discussion with a friend, an architect, who had installed solar arrays on several of his projects and he described to Bill the pros and cons. Not too many cons, as Bill learned; and many, many pros. This motivated him to investigate further. After careful consideration, and lots of quotes and estimates of efficiency, and some back and forth with the energy company, and the bookkeeper, the decision was made. 

The greatest benefit for Huston & Company is the switch to “green” power and the ability to meet 61% of our power usage with solar powered electricity. Even with our relatively low electrical consumption, this project will pay for itself in seven short years. On weekdays, when our shop is running full tilt, the solar panels will provide us with 61% of the power we need. On weekends, when the shop is closed, we’ll send energy back to the grid, producing energy credits. We’ll be able to use those energy credits to offset those rainy, gray days when our solar array can’t “soak up the sun”. 

Aside from being so green and saving money on our power bills, there was a third incentive. The tax credits. The federal tax credit, which comes in the form of a direct grant, is 30% of the cost of the project. A huge help. The Maine State tax credit, a rebate, is $2000. These credits, of course, were a big part of the decision to act now. The federal tax credit is set to remain available until 2014, but the form of the credit may change. 

The solar array is expected to last up to 40 years. The portion of our roof where it is to be installed was at the end of its lifespan, so we decided to replace that first. Other than that, there really isn’t any further preparation work that we need to do ourselves. Our “solar people”, Revision Energy, tell us the entire installation will take less than a week and won’t be disruptive to our own work at all.  

We’re all very excited to see the work begin. We know it will create a buzz in the community as people drive by and see it on the roof for the first time. We hope some of those people will stop in to ask us about it. We’d love to think we might have inspired others to “live in the sunshine” as well. 

I’ll continue to post about the installation of the solar array as it happens. Stay tuned.

Huston & Company designs and builds custom fine furniture for private homes, academic institutions, libraries and large and small office environments. All of our furniture is crafted by hand in our workshop in Kennebunkport, Maine. A catalog of residential furniture is available. Visit our website: