Thousands of Americans have already gone solar, but a key question for some who are still considering making the switch is “How much can I really save by installing my own solar power system?”
Determining your solar power savings requires a careful and detailed examination of your current and future energy usage, your current electricity bill and other important considerations.
Here are five things you should consider when estimating how much you can expect to save by going solar.
1: Your Current Energy Bill
Since a primary goal of most solar customers is to reduce their rising energy costs, the amount you currently pay for electricity is a big factor. Customers who pay $150 or more each month to their utility company can most often quickly realize big savings once they go solar, but even customers who pay less for electricity can see a drop in their monthly utility bills.
Either way, whether you currently pay a little or a lot, your current energy bill is a big factor to consider in determining how much you can save by going solar.
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2: Your Energy Consumption
The more electricity your household currently uses or expects to use in the future, the more power your new solar energy system will need to generate in order to offset 100% of your current utility bill. Getting detailed numbers on the amount of kilowatt hours you currently consume and how much you might need in the future is an important step in estimating your solar power savings.
The types of things that can increase your current energy consumption and also the size and cost of your solar power system include:
By taking a close look at your individual historical energy usage data, the solar energy experts at Sullivan Solar Power can design, build and install a system that is tailored to deliver the amount of power you currently need.
Failing to conduct this important analysis may leave you with an unsufficient amount of solar-generated electricity to meet your current or future needs, forcing you to continue paying increasing utility rates to make up the difference.
Just like with real estate, the amount you can expect to save by going solar is all about location. Properties near the beach that see coastal clouds during the day likely need a larger system with more panels to generate what they need, while inland and desert installations that see more sun can get by with smaller systems.
Another consideration is shade from trees or neighboring structures, which can dramatically reduce your solar power system’s efficiency. You want your solar panels in direct sunlight so they can catch and turn the sun’s rays into clean, green electricity for your home.
4: North, South, East or West?
The direction your home’s roof faces is another major factor in determining the cost and savings from going solar. Roofs that face to the south are best, since they tend to receive the maximum direct sunlight during the day. Roofs that face east or west are good too, since they are likely to generate efficient electricity during the morning and afternoon hours. Roofs that face north generally don’t get enough direct sun to efficiently generate electricity with solar power.
5: Time of Use
As more utilities shift from tiered pricing models to time-of-use pricing, when you use energy is becoming just as important as how much you use. By 2019, all California utility users -- both solar and non-solar -- will be on time-of-use pricing. That means you may pay more for power during the early morning and evening peak periods, but less for power used overnight or during other off-peak hours. Therefore, your individual energy usage, including the times when you use electricity, must be factored in to any estimate of your solar power savings.