How do you save even more money after going solar? The trick is knowing when to consume power and when to minimize your consumption of power. Your solar system generates the cheapest energy that you consume in your home. Because of that, it’s a good idea to know when your system is generating power and how much power it is generating. It is also important to know when you are using power, and how much. To monitor your system like a pro, you’ll also need to monitor your energy usage like a pro.
Track your energy production to monitor your system like a pro
Your solar system monitoring App provides you with hourly measurements of its power production. Use that information to determine when your solar system is producing the most power. You should plan to run major appliances during those hours because that will save you the most money on electricity. It is better to use the electricity produced by your solar system than it is to sell that power to the utility company. Be careful not to consume more power than your system is producing. If you are on time-of-use rates, you might end up paying peak rates.
Monitor your system regularly because its power output is affected by the seasons. As of the time of writing, your system will most likely produce 65% of its annual power output in the spring and summer, and produce 35% of its annual output in the fall and winter. In practical terms, you will likely have fewer hours of electricity production in the fall and winter days. Find out when those hours happen and make the most of them.
Where to get your solar energy production information
- If you leased your system through Freedom Forever and Sunrun, you can use Sunrun’s monitoring portal to access your solar production data. Contact Customer Support for help setting up your account if it’s your first time!
- If you purchased your system with Freedom Forever (meaning, you bought not leased) you can access your energy production info via the Freedom Forever App for iPhone and Android, or on your Freedom Forever Customer Portal online.
Monitor your electricity consumption like a pro
There are many types of household electric meters in use. Far more than what could be covered in this article. You should contact your utility company for information on what type of meter you have and how to read it. Find out how much electricity your home is consuming when you run major appliances. Your goal during the day will be to keep electrical usage under what your system is producing for as long as possible.
If you want to track power consumption in your solar monitoring app, you can add a consumption meter to your solar system that will report your consumption right alongside the system’s power production. Contact us for more information on how to add a consumption meter to your system.
Some meters may run backward during the day
Depending on what kind of meter your home is serviced by, you may see your meter run backward during the day. If that happens, that means you are producing more electricity than you are consuming. If this is the case for you, it means that you have excess electricity available. You may wish to use that extra power on things like doing laundry. You will only be able to draw power from your system at night if you have batteries installed.
Read your utility bill like a pro: Understand how you are billed for electricity
Your electric meter tells you how much power you are consuming, but it does not tell you how much you are paying for it. There are many different ways you can be billed for electricity. A previous Solar Academy article called How to read a utility bill will teach you about the different types of utility rate plans and how to understand how those plans affect your utility bill. If you live in California, you are most likely to be on a time-of-use plan. The important thing to remember about these plans is that the time of day you use electricity determines how much you pay for it. Find out when the peak rates happen on your plan and minimize your electricity usage during those hours. If you can’t minimize your usage during peak-rate hours, then you may want to consider adding solar batteries to your system. The batteries provide power to your home during those peak rate hours and then recharge from your solar during the day. Batteries can be configured to provide power went you want them to.
Don’t be surprised by your true-up bill
12 months after your solar system is switched on, you may receive a true-up bill from your utility company. The true-up bill reconciles your actual energy usage over a 12-month period. If you produced more net power than you used, you will be credited for that production. If you used more net power than you produced, you will be billed for that excess net usage. Your monthly bill will show your net electricity usage or production. You will want to monitor your net energy usage or production shown in your monthly bill to see if you are staying within your system’s electricity production.
When and how to monitor individual appliances to see how much energy they consume
You may, like many people have an old refrigerator in the garage, you know, the one that makes a funny noise when it starts. That funny noise becomes a lot less funny when you realize that it may mean that old refrigerator has become an energy hog. There’s an easy way to find out.
A cheap device called a Kill-A-Watt that you can simply plug an appliance into to find out how much power that appliance is consuming. Once you know how much power the appliance consumes, compare that information with the amount of power it is supposed to consume. You can find that information in the owner’s manual, which you can often find online. If the appliance is consuming more power than it is supposed to, that appliance is costing you money. If you have older appliances, which are often energy hogs, you may want to upgrade to newer energy-efficient appliances. Your utility company may even offer rebates to help with the purchase of newer appliances. You can find the Kill-A-Watt at hardware stores.
You are in control when you monitor your system like a pro
By following the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be able to stay on top of your solar system’s production and your home’s energy usage. Once you know about your production and usage, you will find that you’ll only need to monitor your solar system’s production occasionally, it will be pretty much the same, year after year, thanks to Freedom Forever’s 25-year production guarantee. Just make sure to always stay on top of how much power your home is using. That can and does change regularly. If you find that you need more solar power, or that you can benefit from home batteries, Freedom Forever can install them for you.