February Solar Electric Bill

by Ben N on March 7, 2021

Watch the Video!

How much did electricity cost me this month when I have solar panels? And how long do they take to cover their own cost? Find out in this video!

What does this month’s electric bill come to? February is a dark month. We still have many days of solid gray clouds, although not as much as we did in January. I was also running a fair amount of electric heat, including during a stretch of weather that was -20℉ at night.

A big jump up in electric use from the same month last year.

We ended up using 1,191 kWh of electricity. That’s about a third more than the average U.S. home, but about DOUBLE what we typically use! Thankfully, all the electric heat use was during off-peak electric cost at $0.06/kWh, while what little sun we had was during peak rate times valued at $0.20. Our actual bill came to only $47.46. We already had a credit with the power company of $194.33, so our payment just came out of that. That still leaves us with a credit of $146.87!

Existing credit easily covers our bill this month.

So far, the economic value of electricity we have produced is worth about $3,598. The cost of the solar system, after incentives, was right around $6,500. Dividing the two gives us .5536. Or, in other words, the solar array is 55% of the way to paying for itself. We commissioned the system in June 2017. Since we produce more power in summer than in winter, we can NOT use the number of months the system has been in use to estimate the simple economic Return On Investment. We need to calculate it based on complete solar years. I’ll run some complete numbers once we get to June. So far, my estimates typically work out to 6.5 to 7 years ROI.

Keep in mind that’s a SIMPLE ECONOMIC ROI. It does NOT include factors such as how I also have to pay sales tax during part of the year nor does it include that I would otherwise have to pay income tax to earn the money to just pay an electric bill.

Solar + Electric Cars = LOVE! (And Savings!)

Other things to consider are my savings with electric cars. I can’t DIRECTLY include those savings with the solar, as I COULD simply have an electric car and NOT a home solar system. However, for those with grid-tie solar who earn a lesser credit on “over-produced” solar energy, adding a plug-in car can INCREASE the value of the electricity from their solar system and thus reduce the time of ROI. No matter how you calculate it, solar is a win.

Until Next Time, Stay Charged-Up!
-Ben Nelson

PS: A few time lately, people have been asking about getting a check from my Utility. Frankly, just being able to bank my credits is every bit as good as getting a payment, and it saves paperwork! There was never any mention of “payouts” in my agreement and one limitation with my utility is that they don’t want you to build an array larger than what would provide for your annual energy use. I’m “gaming the system” by making use of the Time Of Day plan to export high-value electricity during the day, and using low-value electricity at night. I’m still a net USER of electricity, but I’m coming out ahead on the cost. There are utilities that will write a check if you are ahead at the anniversary of your system commission date. For me, that would be in June. Mine is a small, local utility. Frankly, I’m far more concerned about a policy change due to me getting “too good of a deal” than getting a check for a couple hundred dollars!

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