Some people only want solar panels if they can offset their entire electricity bill. But does that make sense? Grid-Interactive solar energy systems work with the grid to reduce your monthly energy use and cost.
I get the idea of becoming “independent” from the utility company. Many people feel utility companies are greedy and inefficient. But you actually may be better off from an investment perspective to install panels that produce less than 100% of your annual usage. That is because we have tiered rates in Southwest Florida where you pay more for electricity as you use more.
Offsetting the most expensive tier may be a better investment. For example, if you use 2,500 kWh of electricity per month, but only pay the higher tiered rate above 1,000 kWh, you might consider just offsetting 1,500 kWh.
On the other hand, larger systems may be priced lower per panel. Installing a small system increases the price per installed watt, so your return on investment may be less, even though you are offsetting your most expensive energy.
Either way, you can offset all or part of your electricity bill based on your budget. Most people want to shoot for 100% offset, but they may not have the budget or even the roof space to do so.
Change Your Mindset
Rather than worrying about how much it costs to produce all of your required energy needs, just consider your budget. The key is to compare how much you are spending and how much return on that investment you will get.
Almost nobody invests in the stock market by saying, “I’m not going to invest unless I can meet 100% of my annual income needs.” You just invest what you can, or what you think it is reasonable to risk in such an investment. Solar energy is no different. You are best off by determining how much you are willing to spend, looking at the return on that investment, and asking whether the risk/return is acceptable.
And you can always add more! The systems we install are easily expandable, and even easier if you let us know up front that you are considering future expansion.
Net Zero Home
The idea of a net-zero home, one that produces as much electricity annually as it consumes, is a compelling goal. We do have clients that go “all in” and achieve net-zero status.
We should mention that you will always have a small customer charge. Utility companies charge you a base fee (about $10-$20 per month) for the administrative costs of handling your account and providing you with metering. There are also some local and state taxes that you can’t get away from.
That said, being “net-zero” is about the energy more than the investment. When you produce as much as you consume annually, you are essentially offsetting 100% of the fuel used by the utility to produce power. In fact, it’s probably a bit more than 100% because you are reducing losses associated with delivering power long distances from the generation plant. If your primary goal is to reduce dependence on traditional fuels for energy, we can certainly help you with your net-zero goals.
If your primary goal is the return on investment, lopping off your most expensive power and getting your price per watt down should be your primary goals. You can reduce your price per watt (or per panel) by buying enough panels to spread fixed installation costs out as much as your budget allows. The price per watt is pretty linear because fixed costs are fairly low, but you will find better pricing on larger systems.
Discover Your Power
I like to call this discovering your power. We ask how much your current electricity bills are so we can guide you properly. Everyone’s goals are different, although the reasons for going solar usually fall into one of more of a few categories:
- I want to reduce my environmental footprint.
- I want to invest in solar energy and earn a return.
- I want to stick it to my utility company.
- I want to add value to my property.
- I want to do the right thing.
Regardless of your personal goals, we can help you discover your power.