Author Topic: First electric bill since installing solar panels  (Read 7144 times)

MoneyCat

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First electric bill since installing solar panels
« on: April 29, 2015, 10:00:29 PM »
We recently had a 3.57 kW solar energy system installed on the south-facing roof of our house, but I was a little concerned about it because after the system was designed and paid for my wife decided to get a Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid as a company car.  The C-Max Energi uses about 8 kWh of electricity to recharge its battery pack via standard outlet when it's depleted and we hadn't planned on that when the system was designed.

Well, we finally got our first bill after energy production started and we owe a grand total of $1.78 for mandatory service fees.  We ended up producing 109 kWh more than we used for the month.  We had been cutting back on electric use lately by changing everything to CFLs, unplugging appliances that weren't being used, charging laptops and phones at work instead of at home, etc, but I was really pleasantly surprised at how little energy we used compared to what we produced.  Hope we can keep this up!

Chrissy

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2015, 11:35:54 PM »
Now THAT is badass.

expatartist

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2015, 11:58:04 PM »
Fantastic you guys! I'm looking at solar for a tiny flat, so very interested to hear how things go for you.

Neighbor Don

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2015, 09:24:11 AM »
Nice job MoneyCat! My advice would be to start charging your electronic devices at home since you'd be using clean energy.

nereo

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2015, 10:01:56 AM »
Fantastic!  Just curious - why did you choose CFLs over LEDs?  Initial cost?  Personal preference?

MoneyCat

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2015, 10:10:00 AM »
Fantastic!  Just curious - why did you choose CFLs over LEDs?  Initial cost?  Personal preference?

LEDs are too expensive for my taste right now.  I am able to get packs of 8 CFL bulbs for $5 at my local warehouse store.

Candace

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2015, 10:18:30 AM »
Wonderful stuff. Bravo.

Have you projected how long the system will take to pay for itself?

MoneyCat

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2015, 11:45:48 AM »
Nice job MoneyCat! My advice would be to start charging your electronic devices at home since you'd be using clean energy.

I've just been trying to conserve home energy as much as possible to save up some energy to power the air conditioner in July/August.  We usually do just fine in June with small fans, but when the temperature goes into the high 90s/100s we have to use air conditioning.  That sucks up a lot of power.

MooseOutFront

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2015, 11:51:50 AM »
Wonderful stuff. Bravo.

Have you projected how long the system will take to pay for itself?
same question.

Wupper

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2015, 11:52:51 AM »
How much did the solar energy system cost? And what is the ongoing expense to maintain the system, if any? How long will the system last?

Not sure if this is a viable system for me in Ohio, or not. Seems like we don't receive many sunny days, but if it can save me $$, I'm interested.


MoneyCat

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2015, 12:07:11 PM »
Wonderful stuff. Bravo.

Have you projected how long the system will take to pay for itself?
same question.

Well, since we live in the state of New Jersey, there was no sales tax on the purchase, plus we get 15 years of SRECs, in addition to the 30% federal tax rebate.  Taking all of that into consideration plus the actual energy savings, the system should pay for itself in about five years.  Then we will have a guaranteed 20 years of decent profit from the system.  You'd have to check your own state's incentives to see if something like this would make sense for you too.

MoneyCat

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2015, 12:13:19 PM »
How much did the solar energy system cost? And what is the ongoing expense to maintain the system, if any? How long will the system last?

Not sure if this is a viable system for me in Ohio, or not. Seems like we don't receive many sunny days, but if it can save me $$, I'm interested.

We paid about $18,000 out-of-pocket for a 3.57 kW solar energy system.  We'll be getting about $6000 back as a federal tax rebate with our next taxes because we purchased the system instead of leasing it.  We'll also get 15 years of SRECs from the state of New Jersey.  We produced enough energy for 1/2 an SREC in one month and it wasn't really that sunny, so I'm guessing we'll get seven or eight SRECs per year.  When you combine all that with the actual savings on our electric bill, it really turned out to be a good purchase for us.  Of course, we have a completely unobstructed south-facing roof, which makes energy production a lot easier.

nereo

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2015, 12:19:14 PM »
How much did the solar energy system cost? And what is the ongoing expense to maintain the system, if any? How long will the system last?

Not sure if this is a viable system for me in Ohio, or not. Seems like we don't receive many sunny days, but if it can save me $$, I'm interested.
Solar radiation in Ohio is similar to NJ - depending on where precisely you live it may be slightly higher.  Whether it can save you $$ depends a lot on rebates and incentives, as well as whether you have a southern-facing roof and what your current energy use and expenses are. 
Sol has done a really good summary of his experience, and that's in the decidedly overcast PNW. 
Most seem able to recoup their initial cost in under 12 years - many can do it in 5 years or less.  Of course the most immediate payback is simply making your home more energy efficient to begin with (if you haven't done that already).

Bob W

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2015, 12:56:36 PM »
Now I'm upset that our house is all electric heat,  the state offers little in incentives and I don't have a decent south facing roof.   Damnit.

But what really upset me was the $1.78 mandatory service fee the OP has.   Crap!  I think our bill has between $20 and $25 in bs charges on there.   I think there is even one for energy efficiency.   

By the way there was a blurb to today about Elon Musk coming up with some super batteries that will allow people to use solar to get completely off the grid.

Course if Musk is doing it he must be getting huge Federal subsidies and the batteries will end up costing three times as much as the competitors. 

nereo

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2015, 02:08:13 PM »
Now I'm upset that our house is all electric heat,  the state offers little in incentives and I don't have a decent south facing roof.   Damnit.

But what really upset me was the $1.78 mandatory service fee the OP has.   Crap!  I think our bill has between $20 and $25 in bs charges on there.   I think there is even one for energy efficiency.   

By the way there was a blurb to today about Elon Musk coming up with some super batteries that will allow people to use solar to get completely off the grid.

Course if Musk is doing it he must be getting huge Federal subsidies and the batteries will end up costing three times as much as the competitors.
Funny you shoudl mention Musk's new "whole-house batteries".  I'll probably write a new thread on it but it looks like it's going to be a lot easier to go completly off-grid and use nothing but solar in the next few years.  NOt sure what it will cost (press release hasn't come out yet) but the battery factory they're building out west..... damn!

As for mandatory fees - ours (Hydro Quebec) are almost $18 per billing cycle.  Would love to use solar panels here, but all of our energy use is in the winter (heat, no summer AC).  Oh well.

MoneyCat

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2015, 03:03:03 PM »
As for mandatory fees - ours (Hydro Quebec) are almost $18 per billing cycle.  Would love to use solar panels here, but all of our energy use is in the winter (heat, no summer AC).  Oh well.

If you use net metering, then you can "save up" solar energy during the summer and use it during the winter.  Most solar energy set-ups work that way.

nereo

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2015, 03:27:03 PM »
As for mandatory fees - ours (Hydro Quebec) are almost $18 per billing cycle.  Would love to use solar panels here, but all of our energy use is in the winter (heat, no summer AC).  Oh well.

If you use net metering, then you can "save up" solar energy during the summer and use it during the winter.  Most solar energy set-ups work that way.
Hmm.... well i just looked into it a bit further and it seems that Net Metering is an option.  However, I currently get no grants or rebates for installing a solar system, and I can't sell money back to the grid like they can in Ontario and many other municipalities.  So - still in the realm of possibilities. However, since my bill can never go below $0 (I can't sell surplus back) the ROI would likely be 14-16 years on a system like Sol's.  So - not an economically smart decision at present.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2015, 03:38:55 PM by nereo »

Wupper

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2015, 04:40:42 PM »
We paid about $18,000 out-of-pocket for a 3.57 kW solar energy system.  We'll be getting about $6000 back as a federal tax rebate with our next taxes because we purchased the system instead of leasing it.  We'll also get 15 years of SRECs from the state of New Jersey.  We produced enough energy for 1/2 an SREC in one month and it wasn't really that sunny, so I'm guessing we'll get seven or eight SRECs per year.  When you combine all that with the actual savings on our electric bill, it really turned out to be a good purchase for us.  Of course, we have a completely unobstructed south-facing roof, which makes energy production a lot easier.

Thanks for the reply. Based on your answers, this might actually work for me as well. Very interesting. I need to dig deeper. Thanks again.

gluskap

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2015, 05:41:39 PM »
I was looking into if this was feasible for me or not too and decided that it didn't really make sense for me.  There seem to be no additional state incentives for California and they won't buy excess energy we produce so time it would take to break even would be at least 7-8 years based on our current energy usage.  Which didn't seem worth it.

Great idea on the charging phones/laptops at work though...I'm going to start doing that!

NICE!

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2015, 04:08:33 AM »
I was looking into if this was feasible for me or not too and decided that it didn't really make sense for me.  There seem to be no additional state incentives for California and they won't buy excess energy we produce so time it would take to break even would be at least 7-8 years based on our current energy usage.  Which didn't seem worth it.

Great idea on the charging phones/laptops at work though...I'm going to start doing that!

CA doesn't have additional incentives? That really surprises me, especially considering the really high renewable energy standards the state has set. Maybe that is only on the PG&E (utility company) side of things?

Christof

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2015, 04:58:59 AM »
Great idea on the charging phones/laptops at work though...I'm going to start doing that!

Make sure you check the rules at work... In Germany it's considered theft if employees charge personal devices without permission, and might be a taxable benefit when done with permission.

Bob W

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2015, 07:38:20 AM »
Now I'm upset that our house is all electric heat,  the state offers little in incentives and I don't have a decent south facing roof.   Damnit.

But what really upset me was the $1.78 mandatory service fee the OP has.   Crap!  I think our bill has between $20 and $25 in bs charges on there.   I think there is even one for energy efficiency.   

By the way there was a blurb to today about Elon Musk coming up with some super batteries that will allow people to use solar to get completely off the grid.

Course if Musk is doing it he must be getting huge Federal subsidies and the batteries will end up costing three times as much as the competitors.
Funny you shoudl mention Musk's new "whole-house batteries".  I'll probably write a new thread on it but it looks like it's going to be a lot easier to go completly off-grid and use nothing but solar in the next few years.  NOt sure what it will cost (press release hasn't come out yet) but the battery factory they're building out west..... damn!

As for mandatory fees - ours (Hydro Quebec) are almost $18 per billing cycle.  Would love to use solar panels here, but all of our energy use is in the winter (heat, no summer AC).  Oh well.

Im in Midwest US.   Our total winter hours of sun from Nov-Feb must be something like 300.  Thankfully our house is ground source heat pump and insulated fairly well.   Our 3000ish house has a total energy usage of around $125 per month average.  That includes water, sewer, heat, AC, electric -- everything but trash.   It would have to be a very cheap solar set up to pencil out for us. 

But still there is my off grid fantasy -- would love to do that and probably will on our nest house. 

dude

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2015, 10:38:53 AM »
We recently had a 3.57 kW solar energy system installed on the south-facing roof of our house, but I was a little concerned about it because after the system was designed and paid for my wife decided to get a Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid as a company car.  The C-Max Energi uses about 8 kWh of electricity to recharge its battery pack via standard outlet when it's depleted and we hadn't planned on that when the system was designed.

Well, we finally got our first bill after energy production started and we owe a grand total of $1.78 for mandatory service fees.  We ended up producing 109 kWh more than we used for the month.  We had been cutting back on electric use lately by changing everything to CFLs, unplugging appliances that weren't being used, charging laptops and phones at work instead of at home, etc, but I was really pleasantly surprised at how little energy we used compared to what we produced.  Hope we can keep this up!

How does that compare to your pre-solar installation bill?  Did you get credits to install the panels, and if so, what was the out-of-pocket cost to install?

Whoops, asked and answered, I see!  Disregard!
« Last Edit: May 01, 2015, 10:41:06 AM by dude »

sisto

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2015, 01:17:55 PM »
We recently had a 3.57 kW solar energy system installed on the south-facing roof of our house, but I was a little concerned about it because after the system was designed and paid for my wife decided to get a Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid as a company car.  The C-Max Energi uses about 8 kWh of electricity to recharge its battery pack via standard outlet when it's depleted and we hadn't planned on that when the system was designed.

Well, we finally got our first bill after energy production started and we owe a grand total of $1.78 for mandatory service fees.  We ended up producing 109 kWh more than we used for the month.  We had been cutting back on electric use lately by changing everything to CFLs, unplugging appliances that weren't being used, charging laptops and phones at work instead of at home, etc, but I was really pleasantly surprised at how little energy we used compared to what we produced.  Hope we can keep this up!

I wish my service fee was only $178. I have to pay $16.32/mo to give my excess power to my utility company.

NaturallyHappier

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Re: First electric bill since installing solar panels
« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2015, 06:43:29 PM »
If you follow my path, the next goal is to become energy neutral with your home.  I ended up installing geothermal to get rid of the oil bill and then I expanded the solar system to get more production and more srecs.   My system is in PA, but I am able to sell my srecs in DC for between 450 and 490 each.  NJ srecs are looking good at $213.00 on flett exchange.

My breakeven point is May of next year.

When it's sunny were makin money!