5 Ways to Reduce Energy Bills By Investing in Home Solar
While a solar power investment aligns homeowners with the popular green energy movement, there are also solid financial reasons to invest in solar.
According to the California Solar Initiative (CSI), California leads the nation in solar projects with a reported 580,741 solar projects installed in the last 12 months.
Gilmore Heating, Air, Solar offers advice to homeowners about why investing in solar energy is a good idea.
"Solar power is not a new initiative for California. We've been leading the U.S. in solar energy installations for the past decade," said Darrin Gilmore, general manager of Gilmore Heating, Air, Solar. "However, there have been a lot of changes in policies that have caused some Californians to pause their plans to go renewable for fear the incentives and savings have dried up. We know high utility bills are a concern for many homeowners, so we want to get the facts out about the real benefits still available to them when investing in solar."
Here are five reasons why investing in solar is a good idea, based on California's regulatory environment. Details on programs and incentives vary by state, so check with your utility provider for more information.
1. US government mandates solar initiatives: California's solar initiatives are among the most aggressive in the country as a result of strong local government support. California's energy policy Renewable Portfolio Standard requires 33 percent of California's electricity to come from renewable resources by 2020, and 50 percent by 2030. This is good news for homeowners who want to invest in a growing market like solar that has state-level backing and support.
2. Financial incentives reduce investment costs: The CSI was established in 2006 and provides $2 billion in incentives for solar installations in California, including homeowner rebates from 20 to 35 cents per AC watt. According to Go Solar California, the CSI program pays solar consumers an incentive based on system performance in either an upfront lump-sum payment based on expected performance, or a monthly payment based on actual performance over five years.
3. Financing: Options available through California partnerships (The HERO Program and the Ygrene Energy Fund) provide financing options for California homeowners who want to invest in solar power and make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. Qualified contractors that install solar electricity systems would be able to offer advice about these financing options.
4. Save on your utility bill: Homeowners can cut their utility bills in two different ways: By using the electricity generated by solar panels, and also by selling the electricity they don't use to the local electricity provider for an energy credit. The energy credits can be used to pay for electricity not produced by the solar system.
5. Bank your excess electricity for a credit: California's net energy metering, or NEM, program offers California homeowners with solar systems the ability to bank excess electricity by transferring it into the local electrical grid in exchange for an energy credit. The rate is based on a 12-month average of the market rate for energy, and is about 3 to 4 cents per kWh. New solar customers are automatically enrolled in this program.
"The first step for homeowners wanting to lower their utility bills is a home energy audit," says Gilmore. "The qualified contractor can then make further recommendations for energy efficiency, help you get the most productive solar energy system for your home, and guide you through the application process for rebates and financing."
Read more about home solar power.