The ultimate way of getting the most benefits when going solar is a strategy that involves a solar system with batteries, an electric vehicle (“EV”), energy-efficient appliances, a smart home system, and timing. The timing refers to the order in which you acquire those things. The strategy is based on how much power utility companies in California will allow you to generate. Customers of SDG&E have no restrictions. So Cal Edison (SCE) customers can generate up to 120% of their average usage. PG&E customers can generate up to 110% of their average usage. This strategy is designed to work in California. You should evaluate your state’s laws to see if this plan will work in your state. It should work well in states that incentivize green energy.
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The first step: Go solar
When you go solar, tell your sales representative that you want to max out your solar system. That representative will need to see your utility bill. Information from it will determine what the maximum amount of power your utility company will allow you to produce is.
Include a battery system because batteries power your home during the peak rate hours in the evenings. Those peak rate hours happen after the solar system stops producing power for the day. Thus, the batteries save you from paying the electric company’s highest rates. Plus, in California, you may be eligible to get a financial incentive for home batteries. Another benefit of batteries is that they can provide power to your home during blackouts.
Second step: Get an EV
Get an EV or plug-in hybrid. EV’s get special lower time-of-use rates. In California, EV’s are also eligible for the Electric Vehicle Carbon Credit (EVCC). The EVCC is an annual credit that you get on your utility bill if you apply for it. For 2019, the credit was $850.00. To apply for it, you will need to search for electric vehicle information on your utilities’ website. You need to apply for it no later than April 30th. [Author’s note: I received the EVCC this year]. An EV will also save you a lot of money on gas.
Here’s a comparison of the cost of a tank of gas in a Chevy Volt (8 gallons) versus the cost of charging the battery under this system:
- Gas = $32 ($4 per gallon x 8) gets 240 miles
- Battery ($2 for a full charge) gets 60 miles
- It takes 4 battery charges to get the same 240 miles that you get from gas
- Thus running on the battery costs $8 versus $32 for gas.
Takeaway: An EV saves you money on gas, cuts your utility bill and earns you the EVCC (at least in California).
Change your utility billing to an EV rate. In California, all three major utilities offer special lower Electric Vehicle utility rates. These rates, called EV-TOU rates, take a big bite out of your electric bill. To get information on an EV-TOU rate, you will need to search for EV TOU on your utility company’s website.
Third step: Install energy-efficient appliances
This step is designed to cut your power usage so you can start using less power. Installing energy-efficient appliances can cut the amount of power you use, thus may reduce the amount of power you need from the electric company. Many states even offer rebates for installing energy-efficient appliances. You can find a complete list of the rebates available in your state at the DSIRE website. Just enter your zip code and you’ll get a list of them.
Last step: Install a smart home energy management system
Since your home will be on a TOU rate, when you use power is just as important as how much power you use. You want to avoid using power as much as possible during peak hours, and shift power usage to off-peak hours. A smart home energy management system can do this for you automatically.
Saving the most money when going solar takes discipline too
At Freedom Forever, we’ve helped a lot of people benefit from going solar. One mistake we’ve noticed is that people sometimes start using more power after going solar than they did before going solar. To receive the biggest benefit after going solar, you want to cut your energy usage. But even if you do need to use more power, Freedom Forever may offer a solution. In most cases, Freedom Forever can expand your solar system if you start using more power. Just give us a call.