Solar Power Facts: Will solar power zero out your electric bill? The answer is maybe, a solar system can significantly reduce your electric bill, but there are no guarantees. Most utility companies add non-bypassable charges to your electric bill. You may still get a bill for these charges even if you use less power than you consume. The effect that solar power will have on your bill depends on several different factors. Understanding what effect solar has on your electric bill is important when you are deciding whether to go solar. There’s lots more to know, such as how you’ll pay for it and how solar will affect the value of your home. Here are the 10 most important things to know about going solar.
Solar Power Facts: Will Solar Power Zero Out your Electric Bill?
Probably not. Your utility company may charge fees on your bill that are not covered by your solar system’s production. There are two other factors that can affect how much money you save by going solar.
First, will you use more or less power than your solar provider has agreed to provide? When you sign a contract to go solar, the solar power company agrees annually to provide you with a certain amount of power. The actual amount of power your system will vary by season. During the summer, it will produce the most electricity. During the winter, it will provide less. If you use more power than your system provides in any given month, you’re likely going to owe the power company at the end of the month.
Second, if your electricity is billed using Time-of-Use (ToU) rates. Then the time of day that you use electricity will also affect your bill. For example, in San Diego, most homes are on ToU rates. The most expensive power is sold between 4 PM and 9 PM. In the summer, SDG&E will charge $ 0.45 during peak hours, and they will pay homeowners $ 0.21 during off-peak hours during the day when their systems are producing power. Because of this, if you are subject to TOU rates, you’ll need to minimize the amount of power you use between 4 PM and 9 PM. If you use lots of power between 4 PM and 9 PM, you’ll most definitely get a bill at the end of the month.
Takeaway: To reduce the chance that you’ll get an electric bill at the end of the month, be sure to use less than the power that your system produces. If you live in an area served with ToU billing, minimize your electric use during peak hours.
What’s the Difference Between a Solar Dealer and a Solar Installer?
The difference between a solar dealer and a solar installer is a lot like the difference between an insurance broker and an insurance company.
The solar dealer is like the insurance broker. They may sell policies from one or more insurance companies, but they don’t service the policy, the insurance company does that. The insurance agent sells you an insurance policy contract that is between the insurance company and you. A solar dealer sells you a contract to install and maintain a solar system. That contract is issued by the solar installer. It is a contract between you and them to install a certain amount of solar power at your home.
The solar installer is like the insurance company. They don’t sell you your system, just like the insurance company doesn’t sell you your insurance policy. The solar installer provides a contract for installing solar at your home to the solar dealer. That dealer then sells you the contract, which is between you and the solar installer. The dealer sells you a contract to build a certain size of a system. The installer then builds that system.
Takeaway: Your solar power dealer sells you a contract that you sign with your solar installer to install and operate your system.
Does Freedom Forever’s Production Guarantee Ensure you’ll Save Money By Going Solar?
No company guarantees you’ll save money by going solar. Freedom Forever guarantees the amount of power your solar system will generate each year for the first 25 years you own your system. It’s impossible to guarantee you’ll save a certain amount of money by going solar your actual savings will be affected by:
- How much power your solar installer builds your system to provide
- How much power you use in any given month
- If you are on ToU rates, when you use power affects your savings too.
Read your contract when you go solar carefully. It may guarantee how much power your system will generate. It won’t guarantee how much you’ll save by selling that power to your utility company
Takeaway: No company guarantees that you’ll save money by going solar. Freedom Forever guarantees the amount of power your system will generate for 25 years
Am I Eligible for the Federal Solar Tax Credit?
Everyone is eligible for the Federal solar tax credit. The question is, do you earn enough money to benefit from it? You only receive a Federal tax credit if you pay Federal taxes. The amount you are eligible to receive is up to 26% of what you paid for your solar system up to the total amount you are paying in federal income tax. For example, if at the end of the year, the total federal taxes for the year is $500 that’s all you’ll get from the tax credit for that year. You can continue to deduct the remaining credit for up to five more years.
Takeaway: You are eligible for the Federal tax credit, but how much money you actually get from it depends on how much you paying Federal taxes.
You should contact a qualified tax expert and consult with them. Neither Freedom Forever’s family of independent authorized dealers nor Freedom Forever itself can give you tax advice. A qualified tax professional will understand your situation and be able to give you the most relevant advice.
How Does the Freedom Forever 25 Year Production Guarantee Work?
Freedom Forever guarantees that your solar system will generate the amount of power we promise it will for 25 years. If it ever breaks or produces less power than we promised in a calendar year, we’ll fix the problem and reimburse you for any power it didn’t produce if the failure was our fault. Freedom Forever is the only solar power company that guarantees the amount of power your system will produce for 25 years on a purchase contract.
Takeaway: Freedom Forever guarantees the amount of power your system will generate for 25 years. Subject to the terms and conditions of your agreement.
When I Move, Can I Take My Solar System With Me?
No. Your solar system is designed custom to fit your home and energy needs. Before any solar system can be connected to the grid and operated, it must be inspected by the local authority having jurisdiction. Utility companies are unlikely to allow you to operate a solar system that you moved from a different home. If you sell your home, you’ll need to find a buyer who wants your system.
Takeaway: You would have to go through inspection all over again if you wanted to move your solar system from one house to another. The utility company is likely to not let you reuse all the parts of your old system.
How Long Does it Take to Install Solar on a Home?
Installing a solar system doesn’t take very long, our average install time in California is 21 days. But after your system is installed, it must be inspected by your local utility company before you are allowed to turn it on. That inspection can take weeks. Your solar system installation company has no power over when your utility company decides they are going to inspect your new system
Takeaway: It doesn’t take long to install a solar system, but getting that system inspected can take weeks.
If you buy your solar system then yes, it will add value to your home. How much it adds will depend on the size of your system and even the neighborhood your home is located in. In general, larger systems add more value to a home. Homes in areas where neighborhoods are more pro-environment often gain the most value by going solar. In general, going solar adds about $1.85 in value to a home for every dollar you spend on solar.
If you lease your solar system or get it through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), it will not add value to your home. In fact, leased solar or PPA systems can make it harder to sell your home. You’d have to find a buyer that was willing to take over your lease or PPA.
Takeaway: Buying a solar system adds value to your home. Leased and systems obtained through PPAs don’t add value to your home.
Can you Buy a Solar System that Makes More Power Than you Need?
Most of the time, yes, but it depends on how much overage your local utility company will allow. For example, San Diego Gas and Electric will allow you to generate 115% of the power you normally use. In fact, it’s a good idea to ‘max out’ so you have enough power to meet possible future energy needs. Your best bet for finding out how much extra power you would be allowed to generate is to consult with a solar power dealer.
Takeaway: Most of the time you are allowed to generate excess power. But how much extra depends on how much your utility company will allow.
Are Solar Home Batteries a Good Idea?
Solar home batteries can make sense if you live in an area where residents are billed using ToU rates. The idea behind batteries is that they will store energy during the day or when energy is cheapest from the grid. That energy is then used to power your home during peak rates when energy is most expensive. This typically means your house will be powered by your batteries during the evening hours when many utilities charge their highest rates. Battery-powered systems can also be configured to provide power to selected circuits during outages. If you live in California, you may be eligible for the state’s Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). That program pays up to $400 per kilowatt-hour of installed battery capacity.
Takeaway: Home batteries make sense if you are served by a utility that charges ToU rates.
Can I Be Affected By Utility Rate Changes After Going Solar?
Yes. Utilities can and frequently do change how much they charge for power, how much they pay for power, and what fixed costs are passed on to ratepayers. If you use power from the utility company after you go solar, you are subject to the rates they charge you.
Takeaway: You are still subject to utility rates after you go solar.
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