By Scott Laskey
Most homeowners already know it: solar installation for the home is one of the best options for lowering your energy bills and saving money on your long-term utility expenses.
What doesn’t get talked about quite so much is what to expect from your bills after you install solar power. How much will your solar panel savings be, and what will those first few energy bills look like after your system goes in?
Luckily, we’re here to supply the answers you need. Read on.
The answer is simple: yes.
Here’s how it works:
When you first install your solar panel system, your local utility company will provide you with an option to pay yearly. The annual billing cycle starts the same date your system turns on (not necessarily the date it was installed) and ends a year later. The utility company calls this a “true up” bill.
Here’s what happens on that “true up” bill:
You’ll see a breakdown of how much energy the company has credited to your account, and how much you’ve consumed. You’ll pay the bill annually, although you may receive a quarterly or monthly statement that breaks down your usage and credits.
If you use gas, your solar panels won’t cover the gas portion of your utility usage, so you’ll still need to pay for that as usual.
Eventually, your system may produce enough power that the utility company will owe you money, instead of the other way around. What’s better than solar panels with no electricity bill?
Sometimes, homeowners call us surprised. In most cases, they’ve just received that first “true up” bill, and the total seems…wrong.
Maybe it looks too high, or they used more electricity than they expected they would. In these situations, it’s easy for a homeowner to get a bit panicked, believing their system isn’t working, or that they made a mistake installing it.
Fortunately, this is seldom the case. Here are a few reasons a solar bill might look too high following the installation of a residential system:
This is a rare occurrence, but occasionally a system doesn’t work the way it should. While the grand majority of residential solar arrays in and around California are installed properly and running correctly, mistakes do happen.
The easiest way to prevent problems with your system is to have your solar installer walk you through the process of operating the system. This allows you to bypass any potential issues and understand how to read your system’s output.
If you feel like it, you could even ask the installation team which tell-tale signs you can look for to ensure your system is working correctly. If you ever discover any problems with your system, contact the team who installed it immediately.
What takes up the most power in your home?
If you don’t know, you’re not the only one. The answer, though, is simple:
If you’re running a central air conditioner (which uses about 2,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year), heat pump, or clothes washer or dryer frequently, you could be consuming much more energy than you regularly do.
This, in turn, could be eating up your solar savings and making it difficult for you to reap the cost-saving benefits of your system.
If your system is properly installed and you haven’t upped your home’s energy consumption, the chances are good that you’re reading the meter wrong. This is a common problem and not something to be embarrassed about.
If you find yourself in this situation, just contact your local solar installer for assistance learning to read your system correctly. We’ll also be able to help you learn about troubleshooting your solar panels so that you can stave off any problems down the road.
If you’re having trouble understanding what to expect from your utility bills after solar panels, contact a local solar contractor. Here at Sandbar Solar, our team specializes in solar installation and is here to help you learn the ins and outs of your new residential system.
After more than 14 successful years, Sandbar Solar maintains its position as the most established solar company in Santa Cruz. Thanks to our experience in the industry, we’ve got the knowledge and background to help you understand why your energy bill might seem higher than it should be, and identify the proactive steps you can take to get the savings you deserve.
Contact us today to learn more.
Scott is the founder of Sandbar Solar & Electric. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from UC San Diego, Scott has an NABCEP certification, and has lectured on and taught many high-tech construction practices and solar PV technical concepts to education institutions, including Stanford University and state-recognized electrician apprenticeship programs. Scott enjoys sharing his knowledge of the evolving renewable energy space and making a difference in his community.
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