Understanding an electric bill after going solar

solar meter

What are kilowatt hours anyway?

In order to understand solar energy production, it’s helpful to have a grasp on how it is measured. The size of a solar system is often described in kilowatts (kW). Watts are a unit of power that we use to express output of energy that the system is producing.  

One kilowatt = 1,000 watts

So, kilowatts measure power while kilowatt hours measure energy usage and production over a set period of time. This is how your utility company determines how much electricity to bill you for. All the appliances in your home have a rating based on how many watts of power they use.

When sunlight is captured in a solar array, it produces electricity measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). One kWh is produced when a kW of power production is sustained for one hour. 

Net Metering

Net metering is a billing mechanism that allows residential customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the utility grid. When your solar system is installed, you will also get a bi-directional meter that will measure both the electricity you are purchasing from your utility and the excess electricity you are sending back to the grid. 

net metering bell curve solar vs the grid

Utility power usage from the grid drops when solar is on site

You are charged only for your “net” energy use from that meter; which is the electricity you purchased minus what your system sent to the grid. If your solar system generates more kilowatt hours (kWh) during daylight hours than you purchase in a given month, you receive a 1:1 credit on your account for those excess kWh. 

When your usage is low, like a Wednesday afternoon when everyone is at work, surplus solar production is sent to the utility for the same price you pay for it, reducing your bill, and saving you money.  The utility can then utilize this power, sending it to your neighbors to support their needs – selling it to them on the same power lines you are using!

Results! 

real life solar customer electric bill

 

What will your particular electric bill look like after going solar? That will depend on a few aspects, including your particular solar system’s energy production, your local electric rate and your household’s energy consumption. When assessing your home for solar, a goal is to build an array that will generate as close to 100% of your household’s energy usage as possible. This is dependent on additional key factors such as roof space, budget and tax liability. Our experts will help you create a financial equation that balances your electric bill and energy needs. Then, it is as simple as adding up the thousands of dollars you’re not spending over the years by using solar, especially as energy prices continue to increase.

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