As technology advances and our homes continue to get smarter and more efficient, people often wonder what they can do to further improve their efficiency, save more money, and make the planet greener and less fossil-fuel dependent. While switching to solar is the first step, many Californians are looking to take things a step further.
The answer: home energy storage. Storage has rapidly become one of the next big things in home energy technology, and the interest is already out there. In fact, research has shown that nearly three out of every four people shopping for home solar are also interested in some form of home energy storage. And while roughly one out of every five actually winds up purchasing a battery system with their solar panels today, that trend could change soon.
What Do Batteries Do?
Everyone knows what batteries are for: they store energy produced now for when you need it later. Solar batteries do just that: take the energy your panels produce know and store it for when you need it later. Let’s look at it this way: your panels produce far more energy than you’ll actually need during the day, which means much of what you produce is probably going to be sent back to the grid for a credit. Then, when the sun goes down and your panels stop producing, you’ll rely on the energy from the public grid to keep the lights on at home.
However, with a battery storage system, the power you produce but don’t use during the day will be stored and then used at night, thus allowing you to keep your dependency on the grid to an absolute minimum. In fact, during high-production days some solar customers don’t even need to switch over to the public grid at all!
Let’s look at an example, provided by Solar Power Rocks. Let’s say that before switching over to solar, you have a monthly energy consumption of 900 kilowatt hours, which at 14 cents per kWh, coms to a bill of $126 (a pretty average number for an American household).
Assuming you have a 6-kW solar energy system running alongside a battery storage solution, you’ll save $52.50 in energy by using energy from your solar panels at home. However, when you add in the extra $52.50 in savings from using 375 kilowatt hours stored in your solar batteries, your final bill will come out to just $21. That’s a savings of well over $100 per month. Who wouldn’t want to cut their energy bill down by roughly 80 percent? With solar energy storage batteries, you can.
Is Solar Right for Me?
However, solar storage isn’t right for everyone. For starters, unless you are entirely disconnected from the public utility grid, your lights will still turn off in the event of a power outage. This is mandatory under electrical codes to ensure safety of the grid itself as well as anybody working on it. Just because you have a solar energy battery doesn’t mean you’re immune from outages. Likewise, with California’s friendly net metering laws, some people may actually save more by selling their unused energy back to the grid than they would by storing it for later. It’s important to talk to a Southern California solar energy expert to figure out if a battery backup system right for you.
Storage Installation Incentives
Should you choose to install a battery backup system in your home, California offers a number of incentives to encourage this investment. The Self Generation Incentive Program takes money directly off the cost of your home energy storage solution. This program provided a direct dollar-per-watt-hour rebate value based on the size of the energy system you install. As of May 2018, SDG&E customers were eligible for a $0.30/watt-hour rebate, while PG&E and SCE customers were eligible for $0.40/WH rebate. However, it’s important to move quickly: these rebates are being snapped up and the program may not last much longer!