“What happens when your solar panels produce more energy than you need?” This is a fairly common question from new and potential customers. Your panel system needs to be capable of producing enough energy to power your home in its entirety, and even give you some room to expand and grow. Since your panels will always produce at their maximum ability at all times, it stands to reason that your panels will produce quite a bit of extra power that you won’t use. What happens to this power?
The answer lies in California’s solar-friendly legislation and renewable energy policies: the net metering program. Let’s take a closer look at “net metering” and discuss both what it is and how it helps you as a homeowner save even more on your utility bills while also making life just a little better for everyone.
Net metering is the practice that allows you to take the power that your solar energy system produces but you don’t need and sell it back to the grid. This not only makes the power draw on public electrical infrastructure easier, but ensures that the power you’re producing is used by someone who needs it at the time. In exchange, your public utility company then pays you back for that energy by applying a credit to your account.
Your electric meter is what keeps track of how much electricity you use in your home. As you draw power from the grid, your meter spins forward, tracking the kilowatt hours you consume. A net metering meter is capable of spinning both forward and backward, spinning back when your panels are adequately powering your home and you’re selling the power back to the grid. When you add up the amount of energy you’ve used and subtract the amount you’ve sold back, you get a net usage total for the month, hence the name “net metering.”
California’s net metering policies are some of the friendliest in the country. Legislation on the books requires that energy companies pay their customers for the energy sent back to the grid at the same retail rate they sell it for. In other words, if you produce the same amount of energy that you consume, then you would have a utility bill of zero at the end of the month.
What can you expect by taking advantage of this program for your own solar energy system? That’s different for each customer, but here’s how a pretty average house utilizes net metering. Your panels produce the majority of their energy during the middle of the day. During the hours where the sun is at its highest, your panels are working hard and producing near their maximum capacity. However, most people aren’t home during these hours of the day due to work, school, or other business. As such, pretty much only mandatory appliances are left on during these hours, so your home actually uses very little of the energy it’s producing. These are the hours of the day in which you’re going to see the majority of your energy credits added to your account.
Then, once the sun starts to go down and your panels stop producing enough energy to power your home, you’ll start needing to rely more on the public energy grid for your power. At this point your meter will start spinning forward again. Generally, this is no more than just a few hours of every day, as once you head off to bed your energy consumption will decline back to a minimal level.
Depending on how much energy you consume in an average day, you could see anywhere from a really small electric account balance at the end of your billing cycle or you could even see a credit applied to your account. Credits roll over into the following month, and are usually sent to you in the form of a check at the end of a year cycle!Want to learn more about net metering and other solar energy system benefits? Call SunPower® by Energy Plus Solar at (805) 468-4864 to request more information from our Simi Valley solar installers!
20+ Years of Industry Experience
Proudly Representing SunPower™ in Simi Valley
Local & Highly-Trained Solar Experts
Free Solar Quotes Available
Efficient, Solution-Driven Technicians
Well Known for Our Attention to Detail
Keep more money in your pockets with clean, efficient solar energy. Weigh the costs with our helpful saving calculator. Explore Your Options