Solar Energy Update: Mixed Results, But In Line With Expectations

Solar EnergyAs I mentioned last month, our bank of solar energy credits for the winter ran dry in January.

Since we didn’t install solar panels on our roof until late June last year, I figured we probably wouldn’t have enough credits built up to keep our electric bill at minimal levels for the entire winter.

Unfortunately, I was right.

Next year, the situation should be better, as I expect we’ll start generating significant solar energy credits for the winter of 2018-2019 in the coming months. Our electric bill will still probably be larger than normal in March, but my hope is that by the time we get to April, a combination of longer days and (hopefully!) little or no snow on the panels will once again yield a surplus situation as far as our energy production versus usage.

But for the month of February, our results were mixed.

As expected, we generated more solar energy that we did in either December or January last month, which was positive.

We’re also well on our way to an even better solar energy generating month in March. Although our panels have been partially under snow for a good part of the winter, last week we had our best day of production since early October.

I’m sure we’ll still face ups and downs in production in the coming weeks as Old Man Winter makes his final stand, but things are clearly trending in the right direction.

Negatively, we still used much more energy than we generated in February. Because we’re all out of solar energy credits for this winter, that meant we had to pay for the entire difference between our production and our usage.

Financial IndependenceThe end result was by far the largest electric bill we’ve incurred since we had our solar panels installed last year. Our bill was still 30% lower than it was in February of last year, so the solar panels are paying dividends, but our reduction relative to the year-ago period was by far the smallest we have experienced. In most of the months since we installed solar panels our electric bill has fallen by 85-95% from the prior year.

Better energy production in March, along with lower electric usage (in part because we weren’t home for over a week while we vacationed at Walt Disney World!), means the reduction in our bill relative to 2017 is likely to be larger this month. As I mentioned earlier, I’m hopeful that by April we’ll once again be paying the minimum bill possible, which would mean we’ve already started building up solar energy credits for next winter!

For readers with solar panels, how has your energy production been this winter?

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