Jeremiah starts by talking about the incentives and rebates that solar power owners can get from the federal level, state level, energy companies, and manufacturers. They talk about the size and number of solar panels, as well as the wattage required to power a household. According to Jeremiah, there is high production in the western and eastern states, especially during the summer. He highlights that their products last for 25 years.
They further talk about the cost savings vs the periodic household maintenance such as in the roof and shingles. Also, they discussed the installation process, ventilation, and roofing requirements. Tessa asks about the average cost for a household to purchase and install a solar panel system, the damage heavy storms may cause, and the roof and attic structure for the panel weight. Jeremiah also shares about the energy reduction system.
Visit Energy Advantage Roofing and Solar: Home (yourenergyadvantage.com) for more information.
The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Bill Oelrich: Welcome, everyone, you’re listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. As always, your three-legged stool, coming to you from the Northland, talking all things houses, home inspections, and anything else that’s rattling around in our heads.
BO: So Jeremiah, tell me the name of your company. What exactly do you guys do?
Jeremiah Broz: Yeah, right, that’s such a great question. We’re still figuring it out. So it’s Jeremiah Broz and the company is Energy Advantage Roofing and Solar. I’m a serial entrepreneur, I have a lot of experience in failure, I started this one up to sell solar to roofing companies. So in Colorado, it’s a heavy hail state. In a heavy hail state, such as Colorado, what I recognized is do all these re-roofs over and over again, every seven to 10 years, etcetera, and people are selling the same product over and over again, putting back what it was, because that’s what the insurance company wants, that’s what the home owners don’t know and don’t ruffle their feathers. There’s really no value-add. Solar was fairly… Is fairly still kinda new, but was up and coming, and I’m like, “Look, every time we re-roof a house, we should be selling solar, we should be selling solar, we should be doing renewable energy.”
JB: At the time, there’s this ITC… There’s still an ITC federal tax credit of 26%, but at the time you could look at overlapping roofing components with solar components to get an ITC on both. So mixing federal tax credit with insurance proceeds, packaging a better package for consumers was the MO of the company.
BO: Okay, very good. So it sounds like you do more solar than other types of work, is that correct?
JB: Yes, yes, that is correct, Bill. So we do our own installs of solar and we focus on really keeping our crews busy and kilowatts produced per week. So we wanna just per crew, we wanna average 40 to 45 kilowatts of production per week, and then we have a sales division that focuses on just back-filling each quarter, each month ahead of time. The anomaly of Energy Advantage is we also do roofing, so from shingles to steel, to coatings, to TPO, you name it, and when a storm hits in Colorado, then we’ll move some of our assets to focus on the storm, gather a bunch of roof contracts, kinda fulfill those while installing solar on top of those customers roofs as well.
BO: Okay, Reuben, can you take a second and just set up the relationship here? This isn’t the first…
Reuben Saltzman: Yeah, why are we having a Colorado guy come on a Minnesota home inspection podcast?
BO: Yeah, exactly.
RS: Jeremiah and I go way back. Jeremiah and my brother, who’s two years younger than me, they were really good friends at high school, but all of my friends were friends with my brother and all of his friends were friends with me. We were pretty close, we kinda had the same circles. So by extension, Jeremiah and I were good friends in high school. We have got some crazy stories, Bill, before you jumped on today, we were just chatting about some funny stuff, Tessa may have learned a thing or two about me that I wouldn’t have shared otherwise. [laughter] Yeah, we go back. We got in a lot of trouble together, growing up. We were just getting together recently over Christmas, Jeremiah and his daughters were over at my parents house, and it was… We’re just catching up on everything and we were talking about what he does, and I was just fascinated at all of the solar work they’re doing and the incentives that home owners have to put the stuff in. By the time I was done just asking Jeremiah questions about what he does, I was ready to buy a solar roof from him.
RS: I’m like, “This is amazing what you guys do”, and I’m not an easy sell, I’m a skeptic, but I couldn’t punch any holes in what it is that he’s doing, and I just thought, “You know what, he’s not a local vendor.” And we got… I was thinking to be kind of cool to get somebody local on here to talk about this too, but who cares? The concept is there, so I thought, let’s get Jeremiah on here and have him explain how this whole solar thing is working and all the changes that are happening to it. And here we are today.
BO: I did a lot of research on solar probably seven or eight years ago, because I was thinking, maybe we should do this. And I learned a little bit about the process, but Jeremiah, I want you to explain to everybody how the process works. I know there is a tax incentives or whatever, the energy company will pay for your solar over time is what I came to learn. Then I also learned there were different manufacturers that were reimbursed at different rates, like if you bought this panel, you got 30 cents, if you bought that panel, you got 50 cents, and I thought that was fascinating, and there were… It seemed like there were different levels of not quality but sourced from different areas, one was from China, one was from Oregon, and one was from Hibbing in Minnesota of all places. As you can imagine in Minnesota, the one from Hibbing got reimbursed at the highest rate. But I also understood that when the pull of money that’s set aside for solar in a given year is done, your project rolls to the next year, and maybe that’s not true, any longer, but that’s the way it was when I was researching. So if I’m a homeowner, what does the process look like to become part of the power grid?
JB: Cool, no, that’s a great question. And something as kind of new and not quite a commodity yet as solar can be really confusing to find out where to start. So first on the federal level, the federal level has what’s called an investment tax credit, and right now, currently, as long as you pay in federal taxes, you have what we call a tax appetite, they’ll reimburse you 26% as a credit, as a federal credit. So you might get that back in a check or if you’re a small business owner, they might be able to write that off or get that reduced on your tax liability, start there on the Federal. Then you go to the state level, so Minnesota, the state might have a REC, a renewable energy credit. It varies per state, it varies per county and it varies per city, and then you have energy companies. [chuckle] like here in Colorado, we have probably four or five major different energy companies in which Xcel is our biggest here in Colorado, which I assume probably Xcel is probably the biggest there, so there might be similar RECs then with Xcel.
JB: We’re not seeing manufacturer rebates anymore, partially because probably the difference between seven years ago to now is price reduction, the prices dropped so much and the wattage per module or per panel has increased. So when I started in the industry in 2017, the highest wattage panel I could purchase was a 260 watt. Well, now, we’re installing 400 watts. We even have somewhere at like 420 watts per panel per project. So what’s cool is… I think about it this way, and this is the way I explain it to home owners, is if you’re paying $100 to the energy company, okay, you’re renting your energy and you’re kind of at the whim of two things, one is if the energy company decides to increase rates, which I don’t know if Xcel is.
JB: As in Minnesota has moved to peak hour rates, so here in Colorado of between… Instead of $0.12 a kilowatt hour straight through, it’s now $0.02 and then $0.07, and then from 2:00 to 8:00 it goes like $0.23 cents. So we’re gonna start to see people’s bills jump up 130%. So right now because of the price per modules, the tax incentives and financing, so now we’re getting loans to customers at 25 years at a percent, 1.5%. It’s crazy.
Tessa Murry: Wow.
RS: That is crazy.
JB: So yeah, if your bill is $100, instead of renting the energy, we can get you in a loan where you own your power, you own the solar for $100, and…
RS: So, wait. Jeremiah, let me just get clear on some of this stuff. You had mentioned the different wattages, but what does that mean? You talk about 250 watts, 400 watts, so how many watts is an average house gonna need just to run it so that you’re basically “Off the grid” so you can do most of your work with your own panels? What would that look like?
JB: Sure. If your home is 2500 square feet, let’s say, we’ll start there, you’re probably a 7-kilowatt system; 3000 square feet, 3200, your probably an 8 kilowatt system, that’s what we see on average in homesteads.
RS: Kilowatt is 1000 watts, so divide that 7000 by 400, and that’s how many panels you would need…
JB: So essentially, think about it this way, it used to be where 10 panels would get you a 2.6 kilowatt, now 10 panels gets you a 4 kilowatt.
JB: So it’s about power production per space of the home. You’re producing more energy in the space that you have available.
RS: And how big is a panel?
JB: So they go 60 cell, 72 cell, 96 cell. Sixty cell is probably like 4.5 x 3.5 or 4.5 x 3, 4 x 3.
RS: Oh, I was assuming it would be about a 4 x 8 sheet.
RS: That’s much smaller than I thought. Okay.
JB: No, yeah, it’s… We gotta get them up ladders and bring them up one at a time. And then commercial… Some commercial modules get larger.
RS: So how many panels are you gonna put on a house? Is there gonna be enough roof surface to put all those panels up?
JB: So I’ll tell you kind of the process of what we do, and I may have asked Ruben for his energy bill too ’cause I think we were gonna see about just installing a bunch of solar in Minnesota.
BO: His is nothing because he regulates the electricity in his house. His four kids, they only get to use electricity for four hours a day.
JB: Right? They’re back there on a bike making their electricity. [chuckle]
RS: You know what, I’m gonna be honest, I’ve got a broken hot tub right now, my water outside in the dead of winter is at 80 degrees and it has been 80 all week. I think I got a problem somewhere, but I think the heater has been on non-stop for the last several days, and I think my electric meter is spinning it right now. I just have not had time to fix it. And I can’t shut it off ’cause if I do the water will freeze. I’m just like, “What do I do?” Yeah. Okay. Sorry, that was a side note.
JB: We’ll hook you up. I’ll hook you up.
RS: Thank you.
JB: Yeah, yeah, we’ll do some solar, a little back up battery, we’ll cut it out, yeah.
RS: Good. Yes.
JB: So if it’s 8000 watts and we have a 400 panel, it’s 20 panels.
RS: And you could fit that on an average roof?
JB: Yeah. Summer, it’s probably like two arrays. An array is how panels all fit together. When we look at roofs, there’s two things that we look at: One, the south-facing azimuth is the best, so the south-facing slope is always the best. And then in Colorado at least, the west is second best because of that peak hour rate from 2:00 to 8:00 paying is the most expensive electricity you’re gonna buy. So if you produce during those hours, that’s always the best. So if we can always fit on two azimuths, your south and your west, that’s usually the best candidate for solar. We never do north ’cause it just… It doesn’t produce well, and we’ll do east sometimes as a third option.
JB: But when we look at your energy bill, first we look at what’s called the kilowatt hours, which is different than kilowatts, a lot of people don’t realize. But the kilowatt hours is actually what you use, it’s the demand, kilowatts is production, how you actually produce it. So when we determine your kilowatt hours that you use, our job is to size a system that works for what you’ve used over the last 12 months. But then also come in and educate you about how to reduce demand even lower: LED light bulbs, potentially attic insulation or roof ventilation for summer time and maybe energy efficient appliances. That’s our energy audit. Because I believe the federal government for example, with the tax credit, and I think we’re gonna see some more tax credits, there is this top-down approach to getting solar to be more popular and renewable energy, but it’s just taking a lot of time, people aren’t always bought into it. I believe in this kind of ground-up approach of just educating the consumer in their home of what they can do to contribute, what they can do to contribute, and some of the small stuff. And I think with starting there, then they can take on some of the burden of the responsibility to have a lower demand, and then we can size the appropriate system almost as a partnership of how to achieve the outcome versus just saying like, “Hey, you use a lot of energy, so I’m gonna give you a big system and I’m gonna make a lot of money out of it.”
TM: You know, coming from the background in energy efficiency, I think about it in terms of like, compare your house to a car, you’re driving down the road, it’s the middle of winter, you’ve got your windows rolled down and you’re freezing your butt off, you wouldn’t just go put a bigger heater in your car, you would roll up your windows first, right? And so you have this big, old, leaky house, no insulation, it’s not very air tight, the first thing you should do is try and button up the building envelope, air seal it, insulate it, add proper ventilation, then you can size for solar panels that meet the need.
JB: Sure. Yep, that’s exactly right. We have a product on the commercial side too that’s being developed from a company out here in Colorado called Maplewell Energy, and it governs demand of commercial property. So in commercial buildings, the way electricity works, you have this electricity trickle that comes in, but then when you turn on all the lights or the freezers or whatever, it surges the energy and the grid or where it’s pulling the energy from doesn’t have enough, so it has to outsource that energy and it’s called a demand charge. So if the bill is $5000 a month, typically 50% to 60% of that bill is demand. So we have a system that automates how it sets up through 15-minute increments to lower the demand. So it’s almost like just by this computer communicating with all other facets of the building, it’s telling the building to roll up its windows, it can determine what’s coming down the pike for weather and then how that’s gonna dictate the difference of the HVAC system, et cetera, and then it creates the energy production off of that.
RS: That’s wild.
TM: This is like a computer system that gets installed when you put the solar panels on a house?
JB: Yeah, we’re installing the first one. Here in Colorado, we’re doing a large industrial project, and part of it is… We’re doing some cool things on the solar side but part of it is like, I go, “Look, we have to make some incremental changes on how we’re using the energy before we start producing more energy.” All of these car companies have made a commitment to go 100% EV, right?
JB: If everybody got in on EV or an electrical vehicle right now, and put a charge station on and they don’t have solar, where is that power coming from? [chuckle]..
TM: It’s a good problem.
RS: Thats a lot of energy.
JB: Yeah and they’re burning more coal and the grid does not have the capacity to have all this increased power. So who’s thinking about that?
TM: That’s so fascinating. So that’s the type of computer system that you’re using in commercial, but are you gonna be installing them in residential systems too?
JB: They’re too expensive right now. Yeah, it’s too expensive. On the residential side, there is some… We do have some smaller products, like $100 a pop that goes into the main control panel, and then you hook up like… I don’t know what they’re called. Anyway, it shows like a granular usage per breaker, and then it tells you on your app where you have what’s called load vampires, so it might be an out of date appliance…
TM: Ruben, don’t you have something like that already installed in your panel?
BO: Of course he does… [chuckle]
RS: I do, I’ve got the Sense Energy Monitor installed in my main electric panel. You know about those Jeremiah.
JB: The product we have here is called Vue from Emporia. Yeah you would say… It would flash Reuben’s hot tub like bing, bing, bing. [chuckle]
TM: One question I was gonna ask you, so then what’s the average cost for a homeowner then to purchase a system and install on their roof? If they’re doing 17 to 20 panels after all these tax incentives and utility rebates and stuff, what’s the average cost?
RS: Yeah, what’s the whole breakdown on it, sell us on it, if I wanna get one from you why should I?
JB: Exactly, Why should you… So what I… What’s your energy bill Tessa?
TM: Ooh, you know what, I moved into a new place right now, and I don’t know yet.
RS: We’ll use mine, it’s about a 100 bucks a month for electricity on average…
JB: There you go, I’ll charge you that.
JB: A 100 bucks for 25 years [chuckle]
BO: Wait a minute, you just take what we’re using and then kind of reverse engineer how it’s gonna get paid for that.
JB: Sure, sure, of course. So there’s two components to that one. We do our own installs, the only piece we’re missing, which we’re almost getting there is developing our own product fully and 100% integrated company. So there’s not a lot of variables that tell us what we can’t charge. Do you have LED lighting in all of your… In your entire house?
RS: Pretty close, I’m pretty close.
TM: Working towards it…
JB: And then I’d look at your attic insulation on like your roof ventilation. I would look at some of the stuff ’cause I could probably shave some of that commitment down, right, that energy site demand down. So we sell what’s called Solaria panels, they’re a premium panel in the market place. I’ll tell you the number one reason that we’re getting to that’s gonna make Energy Advantage different than everything else out there, one is we’ll have a module, so Solaria backed up with a battery backed up with our labor install for 25 years, you ain’t gotta touch nothing. Okay. Well, we’ll give you some service components et cetera. Two is I’m working on a deal right now for the very first biodegradable battery. Yeah. Look at it. It’s a product called graphene, graphene battery. You’re gonna start to see some of the stuff come out, it can do one million charges, the battery can last 114 years on average. I just give people a 25-year warranty because when I tell them 114 years, they don’t believe it. And I’m like, “Great, we don’t even need to talk about it.” [chuckle]
JB: So now think about this, I don’t know if you guys have hail or storm damage up top, but your roof and your asphalt shingles holds a lot of your heat. Bad ventilation holds a lot of your heat in your summer time. Your electricity rates are gonna be highest come summer time, typically it’s gas come winter time. So on your roof, when you get hit with hail and you’ve got that insurance proceeds, instead of replacing your shingles, we’re gonna put what’s called stone-coated steel on top. We’re not tearing off any more shingles because 6% of all landfills nationwide is what? Asphalt shingles. Isn’t that crazy? Asphalt shingles.
BO: It makes sense, it’s like every two years people are tearing their roofs off.
JB: Oh my gosh, and these shingles are supposed to be lasting 40-50 years, they’re getting replaced on average, every seven to ten year. Roofers are having a heyday. Shingle manufacturers are printing money and insurance companies, they’ll make their money back, like their algorithms work. Who’s getting stuck with the bag? The homeowners, right, in the storm-driven area and our landfills. So check out our website, yourenergyadvantage.com, but you’ll see the videos where we screw in stone coated steel over the shingles we’re gonna pass by your municipality’s HOAs et cetera. When we put this product on, it’s a 26-gauge steel that’s warranted by the manufacturer up to 3-inch sized hail. You’ll never need a new roof again, the difference between asphalt and steel is the steel will repel the UV rays, what does asphalt do? It absorbs it. Now you have a true cool roof that’s properly ventilated, and then we put solar on top. So now why Energy Advantage? We have a 25-year solid-roof-battery-solar-labor product, and your house is now energy efficient.
BO: Question for the building scientist, I heard you say that your roof will be cooler with proper ventilation in the summer, but isn’t the attic space the same temperature as the exterior as the roof in the summer, if it’s all done right, there shouldn’t be this huge variable, right?
JB: If it’s done right, it should be a 7 to 10 degree difference.
RS: I’ll tell you from experience, I have never found that in my life. [chuckle] If it’s 70 degrees outside and the sun is shining, that attic is going to be 100 degrees.
RS: I mean, it’s gonna be really, really hot.
TM: And darker the roof the worse it is.
BO: That’s right. And so should the roof be 100 degrees. The roof and the attic should equal temperature.
JB: Think about it this way, when we do a warranty claim on a roof, one of the quickest ways for a shingle manufacturer to deny the warranty claim is improper ventilation of the attic cavity. Because on average, Colorado is fairly dry climate, right? And for 70, 90 degrees, whatever it feels like 70, in the attic, it’s 130 degrees. So what happens then is it literally blisters, it’s called heat blisters, but it almost boils this asphalt and it pops these blisters all over, and then compromise the shingles. So, on the outside to touch, if it’s 90 degrees, the shingles aren’t… They might be like a 100, they might be right close to touch, ’cause that asphalt holds the heat, but they’re not 130 degrees. Your attic cavity, if not properly ventilated is definitely hot in the ambient temperature of outside.
JB: Now steel, you touch it at 100 degrees and it’s cool. It holds no heat, right? It’s got 11 different coatings, like polymers and epoxies and heat retardant chips. Yeah, and it’s a 100% recyclable. It’s 100% recyclable. So again, the whole mantra of like, when you think about eco-friendly building, and I don’t… And I’m not lead certified or anything, but I think about this stuff. I go, “Where does this product go? Where does our waste go? What’s happening to it? And are we A, recycling the product, and are we re-using the product? Right? That can be done.
BO: But that holistic thought process isn’t something that I think a lot of people really take into consideration. They want whatever they want to be on the packaging to make me the consumer feel good about making that decision, but at the end of the day, what is the carbon footprint or the impact of that material being sourced from getting to end. And by the time it breaks down and it’s no longer whatever material it was.
JB: I think most contractors don’t seek it as a viable option to educate the end user. Most small businesses, let’s say, are trying to make it, especially, in some of the years that we’ve had, it’s just been really tough. So what I’ve seen is just like, don’t ruffle the feathers, right? If we can make money, if we can feed today, if we can just survive today, if we can make this work now, if we can whatever, right? There’s really no thought beyond just surviving right now, and I think we’re seeing that more than ever.
BO: You offer a 25-year warranty for the metal, the batteries, the solar panels, knowing that at least the battery components will go much longer, the panels themselves, how long will the cells last?
JB: So with Solaria, 25 years. We get a 25-year product backup warranty from our manufacturer. They’re the only manufacturer out there that we work with that offer that. That’s why they’re our premium panel, we back that. We back their product with a labor warranty that matches it. So that’s our contribution to the system. There’s another component, let’s call it an inverter. An inverter is like a fairly expensive component. These inverters typically only go 15-year warranties. I’m trying to negotiate to get them backup to 25, we may just have to honor that piece as well. Home Depot, this may have been a while ago, but Home Depot did some sorta study where they make on average $125,000 per customer who comes in their store per lifetime, so it’s not the $3 bolts that they buy today, but it’s holding that customer for a lifetime.
TM: Two questions for you. One is, can the solar panels themselves get damaged from the hailstorms that come through and how often does that happen? And then my second question is, how often do you have to beef up the framing in an attic to support the new steel roof that’s on top of the original asphalt roofing and the solar panels themselves?
JB: That’s a great question. So the first part of the question, yes. Some modules can get damaged. We’ve had areas in Colorado at 4.5 inch size diameter hail. We’ve had some hail go through your attic cavity into your living room.
TM: Oh, my gosh.
JB: Yeah. And in Texas, in Wiley, Texas, around two, three years ago, there was a record 8 inch hail.
BO: Everything is bigger in Texas.
JB: Yeah, right? Especially the deductible, yeah.
RS: Oh, yeah.
JB: So it’s getting bigger and when that happens, yeah, it may damage panels. Good thing is insurance pays for it. Your panels, though, always lasts better up to hail than any shingle and probably metal. Partially, it’s because of the glass, the thickness of it, and then second one is like, what’s called coefficient of friction. Because it’s so smooth, it doesn’t have an area to grip that ice, ’cause that ice isn’t perfectly round when it comes down. It doesn’t have an area to grip that ice, so when that ice hits shingles or something that it can grip, that’s when it tears part of that way.
JB: What was your second question again?
BO: Beefing up the roof, the side framing.
TM: Yeah, you have to beef up the framing, yeah.
JB: So our steel comes in four-foot sections by 14 inches and it’s lighter than asphalt shingles.
TM: Really? I didn’t know.
RS: So really no need to beef up anything?
JB: No, the only time we send in a structural engineer is for tile, to determine, I think, it’s like the snow load per square foot or square inch, ’cause we do have some heavy snow that’s intense in Colorado.
TM: That’s surprising. I would think that you would need to do a lot more additional support for the small roof type and solar panels.
JB: No, I mean, there’re some differences in building code between different counties. Some building code like Denver requires decking to be half-inch or 7/16th, some counties like in Colorado Springs, they got away with a quarter-inch.
RS: What? Quarter inch roof decking?
JB: Yeah. So it’s like a quarter inch of 5/16th, yeah. Yeah, so…
RS: I can’t even imagine that.
JB: You see these out there right and then we get in there and then we tear this away. We’ve got guys stepping through decking and I’m like, woah, slow.
TM: Oh, gosh.
BO: There’s no snow load in Colorado Springs?
JB: Well, I don’t know about the snow load, but as far as the building code of what was when we tear up roofs, we were seeing decking at a quarter inch.
BO: Interesting. When it comes to metal, you put metal roofing on, what does that do? I mean, does the snow slide right off that, or will it accumulate the same as it would on shingles?
JB: So, definitely, check out our website so you can see what stone-coated steel is, ’cause when you see that, you’re like, “Okay, I get it.” It looks like shingles. If we put on which we do also install what’s called standing seam metal, and those are just ribbed joints that come together like this and they go straight down. Yes, snow definitely slides off some of that stuff. We would stagger snow guards into a product like that.
JB: To go back to your original question about the rafters too, sometimes when we do what’s called a batten system on top of the shingles. We put a little 2 x 2 battens, sometimes elevated, sometimes not. That batten actually supports between the rafters on the top side, ’cause now we have an elevated batten up every 12 inches. So when you have these issues like an improper building or a quarter inch decking in Colorado Springs, we can actually make that roof stronger.
RS: And those battens would be installed perpendicular to the joists?
JB: You got it.
RS: Or rafters, I should say.
TM: That’s what I was just gonna ask? Okay, so the battens are horizontally installed. So does that prevent the air flow between the two roofing materials, like, if you have those battens horizontal, like, do you still get airflow… Are you looking for airflow in between the steel-coated and the asphalt? No, just…
TM: Okay, that’s just installed directly on top and then you still have the added vent.
JB: Yeah, because remember, no water gets in.
RS: Well, and I suppose when we think about the whole purpose of airflow is you’re trying to help cool the surface of the roof, but that’s not even an issue with this type of roof surface.
JB: Yeah, that’s a great question. We’re talking about airflow of the attic cavity. The airflow of the attic cavity is based on the ventilation, so it’s the intakes that usually come up from your soffits and then the exhaust that typically comes out of the ridge, so that’s how the air will move through your attic cavity. When we put steel on top of the roof, think of this, now, instead of shingles as being exposed to the elements, the shingles is the underlining. That’s it. The shingles is an added layer of protection if water got through.
RS: No, I’ve got a just a kind of a technical question, I’m trying to think of how you do this? Now, you leave the existing roof in place, you put these battens down, so you’re raising everything by two inches, then you got the steel roofing. What do you do with your roof vents, do you have a special roof vent, like a special extendo vent that’s fixed up above?
TM: Good question.
RS: How does that work?
JB: That’s an awesome question. And for clarification, we can install the steel two ways. We do a direct deck with no battens. If it’s usually like a 6 x 12 or lower, if it’s a steeper roof, we always go battens, or if the customer has decking issues of sag-ability, and they need more support. To go back to your question, we cut open the ridge, we remove all the box fence…
JB: So now we put a ridge vent in, and then our cap’s on top, so now all of the air is coming out of your ridge.
RS: Got it.
TM: Make sense, yeah.
RS: Got it. Make sense.
BO: Cosmetically, how do you make it look good on the gable ends? And you’ve got these gaps now that weren’t there, how do you make that cosmetically… That’s a problem.
JB: Yeah. That’s a great question. We have rake edge caps. Think about a tile roof, how you have specially pieces called rakes that glove. So that’s what we put on.
BO: Okay. And you can walk on this metal roof just like you could walk on shingles?
JB: Ours you can, not other people’s. So what’s different about ours, yeah, is we actually put a Styrofoam backing underneath the metal, so there’s no airflow, there’s no gap. So other metal roofs, if there’s a gap in between whatever the shingles on the top, you will dent it, I can almost guarantee it. Even though it’s 26 gauge steel over a 4 foot span of air, 100 pounds could dent it. So we put Styrofoam backing in there, you can be 300 pounds, 500 pounds, I don’t know. Actually, I don’t know if a 500-pound person should walk on it. But you can be really heavy [chuckle] and avoid that.
BO: Okay, back to solar. What happens when you’re taking in more energy than you’re using? What is my meter doing?
JB: Right. So that’s called a Net Meter agreement. So not all power companies have a Net meter agreement. But some power companies that do like Xcel, Xcel does here at least, they’re probably in Minnesota. Think of it this way, your Solar… Your PV system photovoltaic produces during the day, and it optimizes production at a certain time of the day, right? And then it has a minimizing production. At night, it doesn’t produce. So what happens is you overproduce during the day, and you send energy back to the grid, and then they stack these credits for you. They say, “Okay, Reuben your house overproduced by X amount of kilowatts per this day.” And then when Ruben turn… Has his hot tub going all night long, [chuckle] it will let energy back off the grid at night for his credits to offset the energy. When we put a battery in…
JB: So what’s cool is we can play a couple things with a battery. So you overproduce during the day, and then you may fill the battery until the battery is full. And then when the battery is full, then you can send back to the grid. And remember those peak hours, so we talked about in Colorado from 2 to 8, well, if the sun sets at 6, technically, the last two hours of the peak hours is really expensive energy. So instead of pulling off the grid for the really expensive hours, you could just pull off a small battery, that is your energy, you produced it, it costs you nothing, and then pull the rest off the grid when it’s cheap. So we kinda go through this little exercise. One of their azimuth of the house, how much of the south-facing slope do they have? Two, how much capability can we produce on their roof? Three is, do we use a battery or not use a battery to make it the most cost-effective? When we put all that stuff into an algorithm, we tell you the recommendation of your solar project.
BO: Now, presumably, this is all modeled out, they know how many kilowatts you can capture if it’s overcast, versus if it’s full-on sun and all of this can be modeled to really dial it in.
JB: As well as you can tell the future, yes. So for example, in Colorado sometimes has forest fires during the high producing months. California does, Nevada does. When they’ve had these record fires, every single system under produced, most… Sorry, I shouldn’t say. Most under produced out of our hands. Nobody can predict, you had to pull off the grid.
RS: What about during heavy snowstorms? Long periods of really cloudy weather? What about stuff like that?
JB: Right? Yeah, you’re not gonna produce that much. Or…
JB: Sorry, I shouldn’t say that. It’s gonna affect production.
JB: Yes. Yes.
BO: And that’s where you need the combo, green energy sources of wind or something else that can fill in the gaps when the sun’s not shining.
JB: Yes, we don’t have a wind residential component yet, but definitely wind for the grid. So Xcel Energy has made a commitment to be 80% renewable by 2030 and 100% by 2050. And it’s through solar, wind, hydro. I think those are the three main components. We do have natural gas generator option on the residential level, but now we’re starting to see issues of natural gas actually going up too.
BO: That’s not exactly something you can fire upon at a moment’s notice and get the natural gas component going, because we’re in a long stretch of overcast weather.
JB: So if we do a natural gas generator, a PV system, and a battery, then they can actually communicate with one another of when to turn which one on, to fill the battery, pull off the battery at certain times of the day.
BO: The natural gas is specific to the residence?
JB: Yeah. Generac is a big manufacturer of natural gas generators. I think there’s other ones like Ventana, there’s… Yep, and natural gas generators too can also help with mainstream commercials. When you have that demand charge you’re trying to knock down, you gotta figure out how to get that demand charge. So through automation, the multiple resources of energy production.
TM: I think the future of houses too. It’s not just necessarily even trying to supplement solar with wind, it’s just building a more energy-efficient house in the first place, zero-energy houses, and houses that are really energy-efficient that don’t need that much. That’s the future. But I know we have to wrap up soon. But I was just gonna ask you real quick, Jeremiah, if you’ve seen… What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry over the last few years that you’ve been involved with it?
JB: So from the government to energy providers, they’re trying to push for renewable energy, they are. The average consumer is a little bit slower in adopting and buying into what it is. Well, you’ve seen prices suppress quite a bit to where right now, get a couple quotes, check it out to see if it’s a viable option, but it shouldn’t cost you any money out of pocket. And it should be pretty dang close to your energy bill. We’re gonna start to see roll-ups happen, where large companies, maybe Sunrun, SunPower, etcetera, starting to buy other companies out, and are really good multipliers, because I think there’s gonna be some regulation that’s coming down the pipe and solar. We’re certainly seeing California already now. I don’t know if this passed or not, but there’s a tax liability now for anybody who gets solar, because there’s this thing called the Energy Des file. When you have 10 houses on a block and seven, eight have solar, then the last two to three homes in the block, energy is so much more expensive. So now legislation is trying to create a tax for those who are getting solar to offset some of the costs of the people who haven’t gotten solar yet.
TM: So backwards.
JB: Yeah, I don’t know if it passed or not, but I’ve talked to some buddies out there, right? So they’re trying to figure out what this looks like. The EV chart… The EV coming down the pipe is gonna be a big one that’s gonna change how a lot of this is gonna be pulled off the grid, and the capability of it. So there’s gonna be more regulation that’s gonna be happening right now on your energy production. So that’s why I tell people, “Hey, if you’re ever interested now, just send me your energy bill. Just get it. I don’t care how much it costs. We’ll figure it out. Just send it to me. I’m gonna get you installed now so you can own it before this regulation happens and then it’s not even an option anymore.”
TM: So now is the time to get in, right? If you’re a homeowner?
JB: Yeah. Yeah. Send it. Just email me your bill, I’ll show you.
BO: Jeremiah, can we go back to the inner connectivity that you talked about on that commercial grid? I immediately thought of the Internet of things, right? Like, does this fall underneath that umbrella of a description, all of these mechanical devices being networked through some smart controller that tells the dominoes when to start tipping in terms of energy production or restriction?
JB: So are you referring to what I talked about earlier, this product called Janet or the energy… Or demand reduction?
BO: Yes. Yeah.
JB: Yeah. So there’s this thing… I think it’s called Energy Arbitrage and you may have seen some of this on the news where large department stores like Walmarts, Targets, Ikeas, they’re gonna start putting solar on top of their buildings to then disperse energy to local homes around the neighborhood. Yes, yes.
TM: That’s cool.
JB: So you’re gonna start to see inventive ways of getting energy distribution cost effectively, right? Out there. Again, that’s gonna come with some regulations, stuff like that. I hope that they focus on demand reduction before a larger production and distribution, because if you don’t do the demand reduction even at the granular level, it’s like, “What are we really fixing?” We’re putting… Like, we’re turning on the heat with our car windows down.
JB: Right? Ultimately, at least what Janet does, is when you put Janet on three, four buildings together, they can actually communicate with one another.
JB: And that’s part of the concept of Energy Arbitrage that’s coming down the road.
BO: This has to be thought out in different ways. You have to reduce the load you’re using where you can.
BO: You have to figure out how to fill in the gaps with other green when one’s not available, but then there’s this concept… I love Bitcoin and I’ve been doing a lot of research on Bitcoin and they’re talking about how Bitcoin can actually become part of the energy grid by using excess energy that would otherwise not go to production. They could ramp up when there’s excess energy and shut down from 2:00 to 8:00, because we don’t want them sucking up energy, their modules, right? So, balancing out who uses what and when is also gonna be a big part of this equation.
JB: Yes. Absolutely. I think as it fully develops, there’s gonna be a better cohesiveness of community and when they start looking at energy as a finite resource and it’s gonna develop a more cohesive community, and we’re gonna communicate, it’s gonna be a beautiful thing.
TM: That’s exciting.
BO: It is gonna be a beautiful thing and it’s gonna be the most logical thing of all time, and it just… There won’t be no emotion, it’s just that makes sense to do that, then it makes sense to do that, and everybody’s gonna win, and I can’t wait. Like, the smartest people in the world are gonna be working on these kinds of things and I think it’s just gonna be awesome.
JB: Yes, sir. You’ll see us out there.
BO: See? That’s what I said. The smartest people in the world are gonna be working on it.
JB: It’s not me, it’s my guys.
BO: Jeremiah, do you look at every single house as a mini power plant?
JB: So, no. And here’s the thing, a lot of people ask me, “How much money can I make by putting solar on?” I go, “None. Don’t look at it that way.” I’m like, “Think about it this way. What you buy energy for from the power company, they’re sure as heck not gonna sell it back to you at that rate. If anything, it’s like half or a third.” So, it’s not… Don’t think about it as you’re gonna make… Those days are gone. Those days are gone. But if you’re sick of renting and you wanna own… Because two things I think about. One is, if I lock you in at $100 bucks a month right now to own your own energy, not only are you able to combat against rising energy costs, maybe Xcel if they wanna start charging you more per watt, but also inflation.
JB: We can all probably agree inflation is not going negative. [chuckle] It’s definitely not going away. There’s probably more… Probably seeing more of it now than we ever have before. So, lock in on an asset that you’re gonna need, which is production of your own energy, ’cause you’re probably gonna use electricity to… Like, we haven’t figured out a way to not use electricity yet. Lock in on that asset now and protect yourself against some of these outside lier. It’s own power plant, I think in producing energy then to sell off and monetize others won’t happen, but if they’re educated in being protected against the prices, are feeling helpless, that is real. That is really where we’re going and that is the sense of cohesive community.
BO: Outstanding. Jeremiah, where can people find you? Just go ahead and plug your business right now ’cause I’m sure you’re gonna get 50 or 60 people who… No, I’m just kidding.
RS: In Minnesota that you can help.
JB: I’m gonna come to Minnesota, bring my crews and we’re gonna go install a gigawatt.
RS: Sounds good.
TM: There you go.
JB: Yeah. Reuben, we’ll do a barbecue at your place. We’ll start there at your house.
RS: My house first. Thank you.
JB: My parents are there. I actually got energy bills when I was in Minnesota. So it’s Energy Advantage Roofing and Solar, yourenergyadvantage.com. And if you wanna text me or if you have questions, if somebody’s really interested, you’re checking out a home, whatever, 303-917-5765, 303-917-5765. And it’s Jeremiah, yourenergyadvantage.com.
BO: Awesome. Thank you, Jeremiah, for your time. It’s a great conversation and it feels like we need several more conversations just to really begin to educate people on this. It’s just scratching the surface. So, thank you so much.
JB: I love this. Thank you for having me, guys.
BO: Thanks, Jeremiah. We really appreciate you giving us some time today. And I wanna thank everybody out there who’s listening. You’ve been listening to Structure Talk: A Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. As always, thank you so much for listening. We really appreciate it. Have a great week.