How to Get High Enough Usage to Make Solar Worthwhile
Last Updated: February 11,2021
Not everyone that wants solar can qualify for it. One of the reasons people can’t get solar panels installed on their homes is because they don’t use enough electricity to make solar a wise investment.
Generally Speaking, Your Power Bill Has to Be at Least $75 per Month to Make Solar Worth It
The honest-to-god truth? Solar isn’t a smart investment unless you’re using enough electricity in your home.
Homes with low usage also have low power bills. These homeowners would pay more for solar than they currently do for fossil fuels.
Taking a Look At Usage Requirements for Solar
Homeowners who consume an average of 500 kWh/month use enough electricity to start saving money with solar. This energy usage minimum equals 6,000 kilowatts per year.
Reno Usage Requirements
In Reno, almost everyone has NV Energy as their electric provider because it has a regulated utility market. NV Energy’s rate structure plays a large role in whether solar is a good option.
Electric Rates for NV Energy Customers
As of January 1, 2021, the NV Energy electric rate for domestic service includes eight cents per kWh year-round. Those who opt into time-of-use metering pay between eight and five cents per kWh depending on the time of year and day.
New Mexico Energy Usage Requirements
In Albuquerque, PNM is the utility provider for electricity. This utility offers a base rate and a TOU rate.
Electric Rates for PNM Customers
As of 2021, PNM electricity rates for residential customers include eight cents for the first 450 kWh/month, 12 cents for the next 450 kWh/month and 15 cents for any additional usage. Those on the TOU rate pay between six and 19 cents depending on the month and time.
Common Ways Energy Consumption is Increased to Qualify for Solar
The more energy consumed, the more the utility will charge. The rate of solar, however, doesn’t change. Those with increasing power bills benefit from switching to solar power.
Adding a few appliances to your home may be all it takes for solar to makes sense. Check out some common home additions that add the most electricity.
1. Switching to Central AC
Adding a central air conditioner allows customers to have better control over the climate in their home. However, there’s a trade-off.
In comparison to traditional swamp coolers, central air conditioners use more energy. A central air conditioner uses between 3,000 and 5,000 watts per hour. A significant energy jump from the 500 to 1,500 watts per hour a swamp cooler uses.
2. Adding an Electric Water Heater
Once your old water heater has had its day, those with solar or planning to add solar often upgrade to an electric water heater because a water heater takes up a lot of energy that solar panels would now produce. An average water heater uses about 4,500 watts per hour.
3. Running a Typical Hot Tub
Heating and pumping water for a hot tub also consumes a lot of energy. A typical hot tub uses about 4,350 watts per hour.
Because homeowners typically run hot tubs continually so they can go in on a whim, this adds up fast. However, with solar, this added luxury gets covered by photovoltaic production.
4. Usage for a Pool Pump
If you’re just shy of minimum usage, a swimming pool is worth considering. Pool pumps use about 1,000 watts per hour, drastically less than running a hot tub because the water isn’t heated, and it only runs a couple of hours a day.
5. Adding an In-home Theater
The rise of companies like Netflix and Redbox has increased home movie watching. As a result, Television sets have gotten bigger. Some even buy projectors and use the whole wall.
However, when your television gets larger, so does your energy usage. A 19-inch TV can draw as little as 14 watts per hour. A 54 inch TV uses 66 watts per hour, and 90-inch models can use up to 381 watts an hour.
Projectors use a lot of power too. Typical projectors use about 300 watts per hour. However, projectors can range anywhere from 150 to 800 watts an hour.
6. Increased Amount of People in the Home
If you have more people living in your home since you last took a look at solar, you may want to look into it again. Every extra person in your home uses a little more energy, whether their renters or kids who’ve just learned to play Xbox. And if you have renters in your home, you have the added cost of two sets of almost every appliance as well.
Checking Your Energy Usage for Solar
There are a couple of ways to determine if your usage has changed. The easiest way to check is to look at your online billing history.
However, you can also call your utility and ask for your usage over the past year. If you want, a Go Solar Group representative can call the utility with you.
How to Calculate and Read Usage on a Utility Bill
Most look at how much their energy cost. The price of electricity, however, doesn’t tell you how much energy you have used.
Look for the section on the bill labeled kWh or usage. These numbers show how many kilowatt-hours got used in that billing period.
To find out if you are using enough energy to qualify for a solar array, add up the last 12 months of usage. A year of energy usage will give an idea of how much energy you typically use. If it is 6,000 or above, you should be good to go.
What to do Once Your Usage Qualifies for Solar
Once you’ve determined that you use more than 6,000-kilowatt-hours in a year, it’s time to look at solar. Obtaining several solar quotes will ensure that you the best deal.