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Jim Tyler could have saved you a lot of money this summer.

In one of the hottest, driest and latest summers in recent memory, most Tulare County residents have seen record electricity bills coincide with record temperatures. But Tyler, owner of Jim Tyler Construction and Solar in Exeter, says if you had installed a solar panel system on your roof your electricity bill could have been as low as $30 per month.

“One of my clients cranked up her air conditioning this summer and let it run all day for a month,” Tyler said. “Her electricity bill, which would have been hundreds of dollars was only $30 last month.”

Tyler said the average home only requires a small 3-kilowatt system while commercial buildings require a larger 6-kilowatt system. Last summer, Tyler said he installed solar panels at a local commercial building whose electricity bills dropped from $800 in August 2011 to $75 last month.

“There is a great satisfaction in hearing about people watch their meters spin backwards,” Tyler said. “I’ve also always tried to be a ‘green’ person. I want to help the environment and to what I can to sustain it for my kids and grandkids.”

Tyler said a small 3-kilowatt system for a home can remove 4794 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere. He said that is equivalent to planting 16,142 square feet of trees and is the same as NOT driving your car 5,753 miles, a little more than two trips across the country from Los Angeles to New York.

Tyler will be displaying and discussing his solar panel installation at the 11th annual Visalia Home Expo this Saturday and Sunday at the Visalia Convention Center. Tyler said he will be giving away free tickets through his website www.jimtylerconstruction.com and on his Facebook page. If you miss him at the Home Expo, Tyler said he will also have a booth at this year’s 99th annual Fall Festival in Exeter on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Exeter City Park.

“It’s kind of like putting together a big puzzle before you even have the pieces,” Tyler said. “I enjoy the challenge of finding the right size system to the fit the needs, the size and exposure of the roof.”

Tyler said he started doing solar projects about a year ago and business has been a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal construction market. With more than 20 years of experience in construction, Tyler said new construction and remodeling projects have slowed to a crawl but because of rebate and tax incentive extensions through federal programs, solar projects have been grown. Tyler said the federal government continues to offer solar rebates to stimulate the economy and reduce the load on the country’s energy infrastructure. He said the federal tax credit of 30% on solar projects has been extended at least through 2013. Both programs are available to anyone regardless of their income.

“Solar is definitely getting more popular every year,” Tyler said. “I think people are concerned with the environment and their bank account and this is a way you can do both.”

In order to better keep up with the demand of his growing solar business, Tyler has hired Sarah Chelgren to handle marketing and sales and a team of solar installation technicians to handle multiple projects. Tyler also said he has done both small 3-kilowatt projects for homes as well as 6-kilowatt projects for commercial buildings. Through a partnership with a manufacturer, Tyler said he also offers large-scale industry projects of 1-2 megawatts for customers. He also offers zero down financing with easy terms for 10, 15 or 20 years through the Federal Housing Administration.

“It’s an FHA loan, which also applies to other improvements,” Tyler said. “I had one client who originally called for a solar system but then decided to include a bathroom remodel into one loan.”

Tyler said all of the products he buys are American made, including the solar panels and aluminum coated railing used to house and position them. He said most American made products are high-quality, durable and come with full 25-year warranties. The only exception, he said, is a new inverter made by a Canadian company called Enphase Technology. The company offers a micro-inverter system where each solar module and converts DC power to grid-compliant AC power instead of one invertor for the entire system of panels. Each microinverter then transmits performance information to the internet where customers can monitor it and manager their solar system from a laptop or smart phone 24 hours per day.

“This company is offering technology no one else has and really puts your solar system to work for you,” Tyler said.

Solar projects have also inspired a new branch to Tyler’s business – solar maintenance. Tyler said after a few months, solar panels can become dirty. Obstructions, tree growth, dirt and weather can leave solar panels partially blocked from the sun and lower the efficiency of electricity generation. Tyler said he will continue to offer free maintenance to customers for the first three months but he has begun offering a $20 per month payment plan to clean the panels to keep them operating at peak performance going forward.

If you are interested in learning more about solar, call Jim Tyler, owner of Jim Tyler Construction and Solar at 559-280-4540 or www.jimtylerconstruction.com.

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