Solar power is good for the environment. There’s no doubt about that. Installing PV solar panels on the roof of your home is a step in the right direction towards green living. Not only does it provide you independence from the already overtaxed electric grid in your area, but it gives you the peace of mind that you’re doing your part to help the environment. Solar power is both sustainable and renewable; unlike fossil fuels, solar energy will never run out, and it continues to renew itself through our sun, so we don’t have to worry about plundering resources that can’t be replaced.
But purchasing solar panels for your home also has a more direct and pragmatic benefit: it lowers the cost of your utility bills drastically. By generating your own power through solar energy, you are no longer reliant on your power company. You have direct control over your primary source of power. After an initial, up-front investment, the solar roof panels will start paying you back immediately through lower utility bills.
It’s difficult to say exactly how much your utility bills will drop after installing solar panels in your home. It is, of course, dependent on your usage of electricity. Without solar panels, the equation is pretty simple: the more electricity you use on a daily basis, the more the electric company charges you. With solar panels, things become more complicated, but there is one thing you can be sure of: no matter how much electricity you use, your utility bills will decline sharply.
If you use more electricity than you can generate through solar panels, which is often the case, then your utility bill will be lower, but it will not zero out. Your home will remain connected to the local electric grid, but it will use the energy from your solar panels first. Only once this energy is depleted will your home turn to the electric company’s supply. You can think of the local power grid as a supplement to what your home can generate, and you will only be billed for what you use after your solar energy has been consumed. As you can see, your utility bills will be much lower than if you were simply relying on the power grid.
There’s also the possibility that you could use the exact amount of power that the PV solar panels on your roof provide. While this is unlikely, it would result in a zero carbon footprint for your home – you would consume exactly what you brought in. You’d have no utility bills to worry about, and could rest assured that not only were you not paying for electricity; you were powering your home with sustainable, clean energy.
The third and final possibility is one that many users of solar power in the UK find, to their delight – they are generating more solar power than they use. If this is the case, then you are lucky because your power company will actually pay you for that extra power. Whether it happens on a weekly basis, or just while you’re on vacation and aren’t using your home, when you generate extra power that gets sent out to the power grid, the Feed-In Tariff, or FIT, system kicks in. Not only will you save money on your utility bills and savor the independence of being free from the electric grid, but you can be paid by your electric company for the power you’re providing them.
This is a guest post by Nick Levitan, occasional guest on environmental science and full time enthusiast. Nick is currently working with eco-kinetics a great place to find solar power services, or to find solar pv installers.