What Happens With My Utility Bill When I Go Solar?
Imagine: a world where our homes are powered by the sun, our cars are charged by the solar power from your home, and fossil fuels have been displaced by renewable energy. That exciting future is coming, however, we’re not quite there yet. Today, we continue to rely on our electric utility providers for energy, and even when adding solar to our homes, that connection still remains important.
You may have heard that solar eliminates your electric bill. That’s not always true. So, what happens to your utility bill when you add solar to your home? Let’s break it down.
Now, energy tech is going a step further. Technology, like Curb, is connecting the energy we use in our homes with real-time data to help us make smarter energy decisions, saving money and helping the environment along the way.
Does My Utility Bill Go Away?
Many people assume that by adding one form of power (solar) to your house, you are replacing another form of power (your current utility provider). Unfortunately, that isn’t reality. Solar panels on your home produce energy only during daylight hours.
At night, you still need energy, but your solar panels are not producing. That’s where your utility comes into play. Your home is still connected to the grid, and when your solar panels are not producing energy from the sun, you can get energy from the electric grid. You will always have a utility bill and, most likely it will be a reduced charge from the utility company for the electricity used during those dark hours of the day.
Do Batteries Eliminate the Need for My Utility?Solar energy storage batteries have made significant advancements in recent years and now allow you to store energy produced from your solar panels in a compact wall unit installed in your home. Batteries can help you extend the energy you produce into the nighttime and reduce your need for electricity from your utility. Using multiple batteries in your home may even get you through the night, but that is largely dependent upon your energy use, the size of your solar system, and the capacity of your batteries. When considering batteries, make sure to ask these key questions to understand if you have enough storage to achieve your goals:
The answers to these questions will help you better understand how many batteries you need and whether they can support you off the grid or during blackouts. In most cases, batteries will not provide enough electricity storage to power your home without any need for your electric utility, so that connection will still be important.
Connecting to Your Utility Can Have Other Benefits Too
When your solar system is connected to your electric grid, your local utility company is able to meter, or measure, the full amount of energy generated versus how much is used.
This allows the utility to pay you for your excess solar generation in a process called net metering. Many utilities offer it or something very similar. When a utility offers net metering, they determine your net energy use, providing a billed charge for used energy and a credit for banking energy to be used later. Check with your local utility or your solar provider to find out if your utility offers net metering.
Besides providing power at night, being connected to the grid also allows you to participate in a new product called a virtual power plant. Elevation works with thousands of customers to help them shift energy usage out of late afternoon and early evening peak power usage times into midday periods when solar is abundant.
This is done with Curb technology and/or Elevation’s smart thermostat integration. With enough shifting of energy usage out of peak periods, utilities may be able to avoid building a natural gas “peaker” power plant or even reduce the risk of rolling black outs. Also, because power prices are highest for most utilities during peak times, shifting energy out of peak times can save money. This way, you get the combined benefit of solar and Elevation’s smart home technology.
Get the Most Out of Solar
You can maximize your solar benefits by being more energy efficient in everyday activities.
Understand your home’s electricity. Most homes are not entirely powered by solar, so understanding your balance between solar and the electric grid is key to maximizing effectiveness. Home energy monitoring technology, like Curb, is key to ensuring you’re getting the most of your solar energy.
Consider a solar battery or energy storage system. With a solar energy storage system, the power generated by the solar panels during the day can be stored and used at night to reduce grid reliance.
Find out if your local utility offers net metering. Call your local utility or speak with your solar provider to understand what solar incentives are offered.
Track your energy use and production to see how your energy load balances over time. Look into an energy monitoring technology, like Curb, to measure your energy usage in real-time.
Know the Facts
Solar energy is no longer exclusive to big businesses and corporations. It is a viable and legitimate alternative energy source that has the potential to change the world and our lives in powerful ways. However, it’s also important to realize that your electric bill isn’t going to vanish.
Discover the difference solar can have on your energy use and your utility bill by contacting Elevation today.