Solar power, unlike coal or oil, is a renewable resource. Every day, the sun rises and keeps the Earth a livable temperature and nourishes plants and animals. To make electricity, some homes have a solar power system that converts sunlight into electricity to power modern life. It’s pretty magical.
Because it seems magical, it’s easy to forget that renewable doesn’t mean unlimited. But the fact is that no matter the number of panels a particular solar system has, there is a limit to how much power it can produce.
Depending on the amount of annual sunshine, the location and number of panels, every solar system is designed to produce a certain amount of power to meet your electricity needs. To really see savings with solar, it’s important not to increase your electricity use dramatically.
Increasing electricity use after going solar will make it seem like you aren’t saving money. But really, your solar system, no matter the size, will provide power and reduce the amount of electricity you consume from the grid.
The most popular reasons electricity use increases
There are a number of reasons why electricity usage spikes. The top reasons we see at Sunnova are:
- Hot Weather: You may be really good at keeping tabs on your thermostat, but a long run of really hot days will make your air conditioner work harder and more often.
- Visiting Family: Adding more people to your home increases the use of every resource in your home, from hot water to food, and even electricity.
- An Electric Vehicle: A lot of solar customers want to reduce their carbon footprint everywhere they can, so they buy an electric car. It’s a great idea, but recognize that you may be outstripping the production of your solar system.
- The Holidays: Between Christmas lights and family get-togethers, your electricity use is far from your normal amount during the other 11 months of the year.
- A Failing Appliance: When an air conditioner or refrigerator are on their last days, they become horribly inefficient. With fridges especially, it’s common to keep your old one after you buy a newer, more efficient model — adding to the amount of electricity you use.
How to keep your usage in check
The first step to making sure you see savings from solar is simply to track your usage. After you understand your home’s electricity use, you’ll want to find ways to shift use to the day time. Solar systems produce electricity during the day and whatever power you don’t use gets sent to the grid. Running your dishwasher or doing laundry during the day instead of at night, when you use power from the grid, will help reduce your utility bill.
You can also make your home more energy efficient. Switching to LED lights, buying energy efficient appliances and insulating your home will help reduce your overall energy consumption and help you save money.