MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you ever thought about going solar, this weekend is a perfect time to figure it out.

As part of a nationwide program, homes all around the Twin Cities will be on display as part of a solar energy open house.

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Susan Clarke went solar, and her St. Paul house will be on tour.

“My panels generate energy, the electricity goes back to Xcel [Energy], and then I pay for anything over and above that I’ve used and not generated,” Clarke said.

She’s owned this century-old St. Paul home for more than 40 years.

“I walked in and it was just, ‘This is it,’ before I went anywhere else. I grew up in Victorian houses in England, and they just feel right,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

She quickly realized for all the charm it had, it lacked energy efficiency. So she decided to go solar which cost around $13,000.

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“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years and years and years, and then I finally got the money together to do it, and also there’s this program that the state had, you know, where you got a really generous tax write off and rebates from Xcel, and so it just made the whole thing very possible,” Clarke said.

Her bill went from about $250 a month to $150. She used the company All Energy Solar.

“A lot of people say, ‘What’s my return on my investment?’ And the simple answer to that is, ‘What’s your return on your investment right now? Nothing. You’re getting nothing. You are renting your electricity,'” said Michael Allen with All Energy Solar.

The return is tangible for Andy Flamm, who raised his family in a Highland Park home. In over six months, he made more electricity than he used, racking up $128 in credits.

“When we saw that half of it would be subsidized, and then we saw how much we would save in energy usage over the years, we think we’ll break even within maybe 10 to 12 years,” Flamm said.

Not everyone is a perfect candidate for going solar. You can call a company to get an assessment. It depends on the sun exposure of your home.

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The home tour is this weekend all over the metro. Click here to find a solar tour. Attendees should visit and sign up directly with the home or business owner nearest you to visit their installation. Please check individual tour sites for specific dates and times.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield