Energy saving needs to be part of a homeowner’s lifestyle in order to be effective. There are things you can do to improve the efficiency of your home which will allow you to take better advantage of the energy you do create.
Solar arrays are generally designed based upon the energy one uses. This means that if you do get solar installed, it’s designed with the idea that it will generate most of your energy needs. However, one of the most common issues in the residential solar market is that some homeowners change their energy usage behavior after going solar and they consume more electricity. As a result, their electric bill will sometimes bounce back to what it used to be before going solar.
If you take steps to become more energy efficient, you won’t feel as guilty on those days when you do consume more energy than usual. More importantly, your electric bill won’t be such a shock!
Monitor Your Solar Array – This is a must for any solar owner! You’ll be able to monitor your array’s productivity, how much energy you are using, your savings and a plethora of other data. Click here to learn more about solar monitoring software.
Register with Texas Smart Metering – Then login and see how much energy you are actually using. Here are their FAQs for more information.
Consider Annual Maintenance – Though solar panels and inverters come with their warranties and solar arrays are generally easy to maintain, they are still appliances and from time to time, things can go wrong. Also, the dust/film that can settle on the surface of solar panels can reduce productivity no matter how bright the sun is. Regular maintenance will alert you to issues and head off potential down time. Click here to learn more.
Improve the Insulation in Your Home – Are you losing heat in the winter and A/C in the summer?
Check Your Roof – How old is it? What condition is it in? The newer roofing materials are more energy efficient, as well as, sturdier during inclement weather.
Consider Replacing Your Windows – If your home still has single pane windows, you can bet you’re losing energy. Consider double pane windows which come in energy efficient ratings; buy what you can afford. Don’t forget to caulk around the edges. Also, you can get South and West facing windows tinted. You might also consider light blocking shades and/or curtains. These help retain heat in the winter, as well.
Use LEDs – The price of LEDs has decreased dramatically during these past few years! Learn more.. Don’t forget around your house! You can get solar/LED combinations to decorate your walkways and yard with.
Look for Energy Efficient Appliances – More specifically, look for the Energy Star appliances.
Don’t Overuse Appliances – Again, unplug them when not in use, install timers, don’t leave things running unnecessarily and install motion sensors for the lights in every room.. they’ll turn off after several minutes of non-activity in a room. Note: A 100 watt incandescent light bulb, if left on 24/365, will cost you around $140.00 per year! You can also wash your clothes in cold water and plan to do all your laundry at once, adding wet clothes to an already hot dryer which reduces the energy required to heat it back up when you only wash a load here and there. And don’t forget to keep the freezer full.. less energy is lost this way.
Schedule Energy Efficiency Audit – Call your electric provider for information.
Plant Shady Landscaping – Especially on the South and West sides of your home, but not where they’ll create shade on your solar array. You can also plant shrubs and trees to serve as a wind break.
Install a Programmable Thermostat – This will better regulate the temperature in your home while also allowing you to conserve energy. The bonus is that some even come with apps for your phone so you can set the A/C or heat to kick on just before you leave work in the afternoon.
Switch off Gadgets When Not In Use – Many still “draw” energy when not in use. Unplug the rarely used items. You can even set timers to plug them into to ensure they shut off at desired times. If you are going away on vacation, you can even unplug the TV, stereo and other things so they aren’t drawing electricity unnecessarily.
Set Water Heater to Warm Setting – 120-130 degrees is ideal. Also, insulate your pipes!
Consider Energy Harvesting (i.e. install a battery) – This will let you store the excess energy you’ve created during the day. You can then use it at night or when it’s rainy. Axium Solar has relationships with battery vendors, so we can easily retrofit something for you. Click here to learn more.
Live Smaller – More and more, people are choosing to live in smaller homes. Not only are they more energy efficient and self sustaining, there is less to clean and maintain! Of course, it is your prerogative if you choose to live in a 7,000 square foot castle, but for obvious reasons, a smaller home uses less energy. Still, even large homes can be improved with small energy efficiency steps!
Consider Adding More Solar Panels – If, after an energy audit (or by your regularly logging in to your monitoring software), you find that you are using more energy than you did prior to installing your array and you’ve done everything else you can and/or are willing to become more energy efficient, then it might be time to add more solar.
Check Your Rates – Navigate to Power to Choose and see if you can get a better rate on your electric bill.
You don’t have to do everything at once. Start by learning what your monthly energy consumption is and if you have solar already installed, take advantage of solar monitoring so you know what your energy production is. Then reach out to your utility company for an energy audit. From there, make a list of things you can do to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Check one thing off your list each month or so and plan ahead for the bigger changes. Before long, you will be quite energy efficient. In the long term, you’ll save more money, be more efficient and your home’s value may increase, too!