Installing a solar electric power system can dramatically cut or even eliminate your electric bills, say owners of such systems.
News stories from around the United States and Canada this year show how people in all walks of life have been able to use solar panels to combat the constantly rising rate of electricity – and in some cases to protect themselves from an unreliable grid.
$3 Electric Bill
Hans Wekking of Surrey, British Columbia, pays just $3 a month for energy and that amount includes the cost of charging his electric car. His 10 solar panels are tied into the grid.
“This shields you from any rate hikes,” he said. “Once you’ve paid for the system, the electricity is free,” he said. “So if there’s any future rate increases — like gasoline keeps going up, so is electricity — so for 25 years you are producing electricity,” he added.
Wekking is correct about future rate increases – in both countries. The US Department of Energy estimates that the cost of electricity in the United States will increase by 21 percent over the next 10 years and 51 percent over the next 20 years. That makes the $10,000 that Wekking spent on his solar system a very good investment, he said.
$11 A Month For Electricity
Ronnie Barger of Boutte, Louisiana cut his electric bill from $180 to $200 a month to $11 a month by hooking up solar electric panels. Banner even told a local newspaper that his digital electric meter sometimes runs backwards. That means he’s feeding electricity into the grid that the power company will have to buy or credit him for.
“I love that stuff,” the veteran police officer said of his solar electric system.
It’s easy to see why Barger’s system was actually feeding electricity into the grid on a cloudy day when reporters visited his home. His, too, is a grid-tied system.
“Of course they are good for the environment and they help out with pollution, but it wasn’t until I calculated how much my return would be on my investment that I really committed to it,” Barger said. He noted that the solar system might actually pay more than some of his investment accounts. “I realized that instead of having my money sitting around getting terrible return I invested in this instead.”
Barger estimated that the tax credits paid for 80 percent of the cost.
Powering A 2,700 Square Foot Home For $20 A Month
In sunny Fairview, Texas, Paul Westbook said he is powering his 2,700 square-foot-home for less than $20 a month. That’s impressive because Westbrook is an area where people use air conditioning most every day.
Westbrook used a combination of solar panels, a wind turbine, a heat pump, increased insulation and strategically placed windows for natural lighting to reduce his electric bills. Westbrook installed 14 solar panels that heat his water and produce about 75 percent of the energy that his family uses.
The best way to lower electricity bills is to combine solar power with insulation, Westbrook said.
Solar Electric Works
These grid-tied examples show that solar electric works in a wide variety of locations and climates. They also demonstrate that solar electric is no longer an exotic technology — it’s a proven method of energy production that any household or business can take advantage of. Of course, solar-powered systems that are not tied into the grid would eliminate the electric bill altogether.
Unplugging from the grid or reducing dependence on it is now a viable option for almost any American or Canadian household.