Many solar owners say that nothing is more gratifying than watching your meter spin backwards or cutting your electricity bill down dramatically. Owning your own solar system also creates a new awareness of not only how much energy your system is producing, but how much energy your household is consuming as well. As Bill Stillinger, General Manager of PV2 has said on this blog “having solar means a new awareness to say ‘we don’t need to have those floodlights on in the backyard all night long.’ We come from an era of cheap energy, and we are not in that era any longer.”
But shutting off every light in the house when it’s not in use isn’t enough. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, space heating and cooling account for the biggest percentage of residential energy demand. Many solar owners compliment their smart investment in solar is by making another high return investment in energy efficiency.
The energy efficiency experts at Next Step Living have provided some suggestions on how solar fits into an overall home energy efficiency strategy.
- Work with your solar installer on your energy usage. Consider your energy needs now and in the future. Most installers will ask for several months of electric bills to gain a better understanding of your household energy usage. Hear more perspectives on how to think about the right sized system for your energy needs by clicking here.
- Either before or after installing solar, consider an energy audit. Your state or utility may have a program available that offers cost-effective steps to help your home be more efficient and comfortable. Connecticut residents can have a Home Energy Solutions (HES) assessment administered for recommendations big and small.
- Some small steps toward a more efficient home that may be covered by a HES assessment are replacing lights with Compact Florescent Lighting (CFLs), adding low-flow shower heads and using a programmable thermostat.
- Households that heat with oil, propane or electric baseboard can explore upgrading their heating system with an air source heat pump, also known as a Total Climate Control (TCC) System. More information on TCC can be found at Next Step Living’s website.
- Other high-return investments in energy efficiency could be replacing single pane windows, or old drafty windows with high efficiency windows. Not only will they make temperature control in your home easier and more efficient, it will increase the value of a home.
Whether you’ve been conserving your energy use for decades or you’re about to get your first energy audit, it’s always a smart decision for your household budget and the environment. A new solar owner shared his thoughts with us on energy efficiency: “I’m very conscious of making sure that lights are shut off and things are not running. We’ve got to decrease our demand on fossil fuels; this isn’t going to last forever. I have a hybrid car. I’m sure I’ve reduced my carbon footprint with my car, and now I’ve reduced further it with my solar system.”
What is your overall home energy efficiency strategy? How does owning solar make you think differently about your household energy usage?