Solar Energy Update: Why Am I Already Thinking About Next Winter?

Early RetirementOur first spring with solar power is working our very well for our wallet!

As the days have gotten longer over the past few months, we’ve started to build up a large bank of solar energy credits to keep our electricity bill low next winter. A combination of lots of sun, relatively cool weather, and no need for air conditioning have kept our power production high and our electricity consumption low.

I’m looking forward to reviewing a full year of solar data when we reach the one year mark with our solar panels in a few weeks, but as of right now, I’m still viewing our installation of a home solar energy system as a Smart Financial Decision as we continue trying to move closer to financial independence and early retirement.

Solar PowerOur electric bill in May was once again as low as it could be given the rules governing solar energy in our home state. We paid the power company almost 88% less this year than we did last year, even though our energy consumption declined by only 5%. As you can see from the chart on the left, our monthly electric bills have plunged relative to the prior year period ever since we had solar panels installed on our roof!

The larger monthly bills that we experienced over the winter of 2017-2018 weren’t driven by higher energy usage. Rather, our solar power production naturally declined during the winter because of shorter days, less direct sunlight, and ice and snow covering the panels at times. Since we didn’t have our panels installed until late June of 2017, we missed out on several months to build up solar energy credits last spring to keep our electric bill low even when production declined.

Solar EnergyFortunately, that shouldn’t be a problem next winter! Our solar energy production has been fantastic this spring. As you can see from the chart on the right, even though the calendar just turned to June, we’ve already built up more solar power credits for next winter than we had heading into last winter.

With several more months of strong energy production likely in front of us, I’m confident we’ll be heading into the winter of 2018-2019 with a lot more credits built up than we did last year. Hopefully that will mean we’ll incur minimal electric bills for the entire winter, which was our expectation when we sized our system and had it installed.

Until then, though, we’re going to try to enjoy the rest of the spring, the summer, and the fall. Although it will be interesting to see how our system performs over the course of its first full year in action, I’m not quite ready for another several months of snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures. So we’ll try to take advantage of the nice weather while we have it – which in our case involves playing in the yard with the kids and our new dog, working on the vegetable garden and berry patch, and enjoying some exercise outdoors!

What outdoor activities are you involved in now that the weather is nicer?


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