Combine solar power and energy efficiency to maximize consumer savings
By Jose Luis Contreras
Summer has a tendency to send energy costs skyrocketing; and each year, as the days begin to shorten and fall draws near, consumers throughout the country vow to end outrageous energy bills – no matter what it takes. For some, the solution may be to simply suffer the season without air conditioning; for others, solar panel systems seem like the best possible alternative. But as it turns out, the most effective way to balance both comfort and consumer savings lies in a blend of cost-effective energy efficiency measures and smaller, less expensive solar systems: and according to industry experts, this combination yields not only optimal savings, but also lower costs for consumers in the long run.
San Diego is no stranger to steep energy price hikes. In 1999, the average single family detached home in San Diego required 675 kWh to stay cool and function comfortably – and even in the summer months, consumers paid only $71 to meet that need. Fast forward twelve years, and the energy consumption rate hasn’t changed; yet in June of 2011, that same 675 kWh usage cost families $150. This increase corresponds to an average annual price hike of 6.4% — a statistic that will see families of the not-so-distant future paying $315 for every 675 kWh used.
Solar panels have provided many local homeowners with at least some degree of relief from rising energy costs; and despite the substantial upfront investment required for purchase and installation, most solar systems include a solid warranty and promise up to 40 years of functionality at little to no operating cost. The money consumers save on energy bills as a result of solar installation will generally cover the investment in 6-8 years – leaving homeowners with free electricity for 20-30 years as a result. (For example, if a homeowner has a $150 electricity bill on average, he can choose to either purchase a solar system for $17,500 (after tax incentives) or pay $150,000 to SDG&E over the next 30 years for the exact same amount of electricity). Faced with such a choice, more than 8,000 San Diego homeowners have seized the opportunity to install solar systems over the last five years; and according to the Los Angeles Times , that number will only continue to grow as more and more people take advantage of attractive financing options and competitive pricing.
San Diegans can save more with an expert energy audit and compatible solar technology
Solar technology is a viable solution for moderate consumer savings; but by combining the power of solar with expertly-implemented efficiency measures, homeowners can make even greater gains when it comes to energy savings. The Wall Street Journal reports that energy advocates are touting a shift in both government and consumer focus from solar production to efficient energy consumption – one in which basic adjustments like insulation, duct sealing and LED bulbs take precedence over solar panels in order to yield drastic cuts in the amount of energy wasted on lighting, heating and cooling. A custom energy audit is all it takes to pinpoint the right efficiency improvements for each and every home; and as a result, local consumers can invest 10-40% less than what is needed for the average solar system into efficiency measures and smaller-scale solar installation – a trade-off that pays big in the form of maximum energy and financial savings for years to come.
Efficiency alterations may sound inconvenient, or even daunting; but with the help of an expert energy auditor, homeowners can determine precise solutions to suit their individual needs and learn how to combine efficiency with an appropriately-sized solar system. Solare Energy offers consumers the convenience of free home assessments, conducted by certified energy auditors and guaranteed to make efficient living as simple and comfortable as it is practical. Established in 1989, we are now one of the largest installers of solar and energy efficiency systems in the San Diego area. To learn more about our services, visit us online: www.solareenergy.com.
- Jacob pushes for residential solar energy buyback plan
- Solar water heating pilot program ends Dec. 31
- Water district expects to generate savings with solar
- County wants to help homeowners finance renewable energy
- County hopes new bill will spur home solar, wind
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