How to Get High Enough Usage to Make Solar Worthwhile
Not everyone that wants solar is able to qualify for it. One of the major reasons people aren’t able to get solar panels installed in 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 is that solar isn’t a smart investment unless you’re using enough electricity in your home.
If your usage is low, your power bill amount is also lower. This means that you will end up paying more for solar over the life of the array than you would have paid your utility company.
Taking a Look At Usage Requirements for Solar
Go Solar Group has determined homes that use an average of at least 500-kilowatt hours per month save enough to make solar worthwhile. This energy usage minimum ends up being at least 6,000 kilowatts per year.
San Antonio Usage Requirements
In San Antonio, the main utility is the municipal utility CPS Energy, but also includes Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative (GVEC) and Bandera Electric Cooperative (BEC). Texans in Baxter county most likely have CPS as their electric provider.
CPS Energy’s Residential Electric Rate
In 2014, CPS Energy charged their residential customers 7 cents per kilowatt-hour. Then from June to September, they charge 2 cents more for anything over 600 kilowatts each month. However, if you are considered a high electrical usage tenant, the rate per kilowatt hour increases.
Reno Usage Requirements
In Reno, almost everyone has NV Energy as their electric provider, because it is a regulated utility market. This means that their rate structure plays a large roll in whether solar is a good option.
Electric Rates for NV Energy Customers
As of 2020, NV Energy electric rates for domestic service are between 8 – 10 cents per watt year-round depending on what part of Nevada the customer lives. They also have the option to pay between 4 and 37 cents per kilowatt-hour depending on the time of year and day energy was used.
Utah Energy Usage Requirements
The main utility across Utah is Rocky Mountain Power. Here is a look at what their residential tier pricing looks like.
Rocky Mountain Power Bill Structure
As of 2014, Rocky Mountain Power charged customers 9 cents per watt if they used under 400 kilowatts of energy a month. The next 600 kilowatts of energy, however, jumps up to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Additional power over 1,000 kilowatts is bumped up to 15 cents per kilowatt-hour. This isn’t including increased charges for energy that is used during peak and off-peak hours.
Common Ways Energy Consumption is Increased to Qualify for Solar
As you have seen the more energy you consume the more your utility will charge you. This, however, isn’t the case with solar.
Which is why those that start to see their power bills increase would benefit from solar. Here are some common home additions that add the most electricity.
1. Switching to Central AC
Adding a central air conditioner is a great update. It allows you to control the climate in your home, but there is a trade-off.
In comparison to traditional swamp coolers, central air conditioners use more energy. A central air conditioner used between 3,000 and 5,000 watts per hour.
2. Adding an Electric Water Heater
Once your old water heater has had its day, updating to an electric water heater is a great move for those with solar. This is because a water heater takes up a lot of energy that is now being produced by your panels. 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 is another energy hog. A typical hot tub uses about 4,350 watts per hour. This is astronomical when you consider that hot tubs are running constantly so you can get in on a whim.
With solar, however, you don’t need to worry. This added luxury can be covered by your photovoltaic production.
4. Usage for a Pool Pump
If you are just shy of minimum usage, a swimming pool is worth considering. Pool pumps use about 1,000 watts per hour. This is drastically less than running a hot tub because you aren’t heating the water, and it only running 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 become larger; some even buy projectors so they can use a 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.
If you decide to use a projector this usage is pretty large 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 you can determine if your usage has changed. The best way to check is to look at your online bills.
However, you can also call your utility and ask for your usage over the past year. If you want, Go Solar Group can call with you and ask for it.
How to Calculate and Read Usage on a Utility Bill
Most look at how much their energy cost. This, however, doesn’t tell you how much energy you have used.
You need to look for the section on your bill labeled kWh or usage. This will tell you how many kilowatt-hours you were charged for 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. This will give you an idea of how much energy you use in a given year. If it is 6,000 or above you should be good to go.
What to do Once Your Usage Qualifies for Solar
Once you have determined that you are using more then 6,000-kilowatt hours in a year it is time to look at solar. Getting several solar quotes will help ensure that you are getting the best deal.