Understanding your household energy consumption
- Business of Solar,Responsible Earth
Are you having trouble managing electricity consumption in your household? If so, you're not alone. A report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration found almost one-third of Americans (31 percent) reported some degree of difficulty in paying their power bills in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available as of November 2017. Smaller numbers admitted to foregoing other necessities to pay for these expenses (over 20 percent) or getting disconnection notices (14 percent).
Such situations are not purely products of overuse, since electricity is quite expensive in some jurisdictions and bills can skyrocket thanks to unpredictable demand charges. However, there is often some low-hanging fruit to be picked. Minimizing power expenses is a critical step in getting the best possible return on investment (ROI) from any solar photovoltaic (PV) panel project and the accompanying solar financing. While solar is a renewable energy source, the installation itself might not save you much money if you don't control consumption levels.
The easiest ways to curb household energy use prior to installing solar panels
A house doesn't need a big holiday light display to consume enormous amounts of power. Some of the most common energy drain "vampires" are inconspicuous and may include:
The U.S. Department of Energy has extensively documented the power draw of devices such as laptops, modems, set-top boxes and TVs when they are in standby mode, i.e. plugged in but not turned on. The amount can be as much as 45 watts for some pieces of equipment. There is significant variation across brands, but the total extra monthly electricity cost can be up to $30, according to The Balance. Accordingly, it's a good idea to unplug them or connect them to a power strip that can easily be flicked off.
Mainstream light bulb technology has advanced significantly in recent decades. If possible, use LED bulbs because they require less power and last longer than traditional incandescent ones. The Consumer Federation of America estimated that LED bulbs can cost as little as $17.25 in electricity over a decade, compared to more than $76 apiece for incandescents and halogens. These savings more than offset the higher initial cost.
Keeping your home warm can raise your energy bill during winter months. Alternatives such as passive solar design can provide some relief by enabling the house to take advantage of sunlight at minimal cost. Properly oriented windows, sufficient thermal mass (e.g., brick, stone, tile etc.) and efficient distribution mechanisms (like fans or darker colors) can boost solar benefits around the house.
Solar PV panels: The next step in an energy-efficient home
With solar PV panels, you can extend the energy savings initiated by efficient electronics, lights and heating. The primary cost of solar PV panel implementation is upfront, and it should be recouped over a long timeline; this ROI is easier to attain if a residence is already optimized for energy efficiency.
Over a 20-year time span, a 5-kilowatt residential solar system can trim as much as $30,000 of energy expenses assuming ownership and 84 percent of demand being met by solar panels, according to EnergySage. That figure more than makes up for the initial costs of the infrastructure.
Investing in high-quality solar PV panels, with feasible solar financing options, is an important step in getting any solar project off to a good start. Trina Solar is a proven and experienced manufacturer of a broad range of solar power solutions for residential customers. We are here to help you ensure sustainable and efficient energy in your home.
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