Browse Category: Solar Energy

Solar Energy

Solar Energy Update: Do Your Job

Head Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots has a simple mantra for his football team.

Do Your Job.

The mantra has worked well for Belichick and the Patriots. The team has won six Super Bowl Championships this century.

With less than a month of winter left, our rooftop solar panels appear to have done their job for the 2018-2019 season.

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Solar Bank Pays Dividends as the Weather Gets Nasty

Financial Independence

The weather in our part of the country was particularly harsh during January.

We were hit by multiple major snowstorms during the month, and the temperature rarely got above freezing, and was often well below zero degrees (F).

One result of the wintry weather was a miniature glacier forming across our rooftop solar panels, which severely limited our energy production during January. Our home solar power system generated essentially no energy for a period more than two weeks during the middle of the month while the ROMT Glacier existed, and our monthly production barely topped 100 kWh – 40% worse than any other month since we went solar!

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Solar Energy Update: All Bad Things Must Come to an End

Solar Energy

Last month, I wrote about how our rooftop solar panel production had declined from prior year levels for four consecutive months, lamenting the fact we spent most of the late summer and fall using up solar energy credits we needed for this winter.

Fortunately, our streak of weaker year-over-year solar production finally ended in December, when we experienced some unseasonably warm and sunny weather.

Our solar energy production climbed by nearly 50% in December relative to the prior year period, and was up by almost 60% compared to our paltry production in November.

Not bad for the month featuring the shortest day of the year – especially since we were still able to enjoy a White Christmas!

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Winter Came Early This Year!

Solar PowerAlthough the calendar says there are still almost three weeks until the beginning of winter, the weather in our neck of the woods says otherwise. It has been cold, dark, and snowy for the better part of the past several weeks.

While it was nice to experience a “White Thanksgiving” this year, our solar energy production took a big hit in November. In fact, the monthly production from our rooftop solar panels was the lowest we’ve ever experienced, as we generated about 6% less electricity last month than we did in December of 2017.

Consequently, we needed to make our second-largest withdrawal ever from the bank of solar energy credits we build up when the weather is sunnier to keep our electric bill as low as possible.

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Our Solar Bank is Ready for the Winter!

Financial IndependenceOctober was a dark and dreary month in our part of the world, and the unpleasant weather negatively impacted our solar energy production.

For a third consecutive month, the value of the production from our rooftop solar panels was more or less equal to the cost of electricity our household used.

The optimist in me says our solar panels were doing their job by keeping our electric bill as low as it could possibly be.

But the pessimist in me is concerned our mediocre energy production in August, September, and October represents a lost opportunity to have built up more solar energy credits to keep our electric bill low this winter.

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Our Solar Production Slows As The Summer Ends

Solar PowerAfter relatively weak production from our rooftop solar panels in August, things didn’t get much better in the month of September.

While we did produce slightly more energy during September, which was a nice surprise, we also used more energy during the month.

The end result was a very small deposit into our bank of solar energy credits. Those credits will help offset our electric bill during the coming winter, when our energy production will drop precipitously, driven by the shorter days and rooftop solar panels that will likely spend a considerable amount of time buried under ice and snow!

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Mother Nature Gets Her Revenge!

Home SolarLast month, I posted about how the sunny and dry weather in July led to the most productive month ever from our home solar panels.

Apparently, Mother Nature believed I was gloating and needed to be punished, because our solar energy production fell dramatically in August.

Our rooftop solar panels produced almost 30% less energy in August than they did in July. Although our power consumption also declined, as the air conditioning didn’t have to work quite as hard as it did the month before, we still had to tap into some of the solar energy credits we’ve been saving up for next winter since April to keep our electric bill as low as possible.

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Sunny and Dry Means a Productive July!

Home SolarOur area of the country experienced unusually sunny, hot, and dry weather over the past month.

Which means that although our gardens and lawn are struggling right now, our solar energy production was off the charts!

Our rooftop solar panels delivered their most productive month ever in July, eclipsing our production from last August by a whopping 9%!

Even though our power consumption was also elevated, due to working the air conditioning harder than normal, we still ended up with a small electric bill for the month, as well as additional solar energy credits to use to reduce our energy costs next winter!

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The Real Numbers Behind Home Solar

Solar PowerWe’ve now had solar panels on the roof of our home for over a year.

Which means we finally have twelve months of data on the performance of our home solar energy system to report upon!

The results are definitely mixed.

While our electric bill is much lower than it used to be, our anticipated payback period will likely end up being longer than we initially anticipated.

I hope the information we’re sharing will help readers considering home solar power systems to make the right decisions for their individual situations.

Keep in mind, however, that the rules associated with solar vary considerably from state to state. The potential costs and benefits for you could be dramatically different from what we have experienced, so make sure to conduct your own research and perform your own due diligence before making a decision!

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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.

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