Friday, August 12th, 2011 10:54 amAs published in Pomerado News (http://www.pomeradonews.com/2011/08/10/energy-efficiency-and-solar-combine-for-maximum-savings-and-consumer-benefits/) and Ramona Sentinel (http://www.ramonasentinel.com/2011/08/10/energy-efficiency-and-solar-combine-for-maximum-savings-and-consumer-benefits/)
Energy efficiency and solar combine for maximum savings and consumer benefits
By Jose Luis Contreras
Heightened energy costs and scorching temperatures are sending end-of-summer electricity bills through the roof; and as the season draws to a close, consumers across the nation are searching for ways to cut costs in the years to come. Some may opt to simply suffer the heat without air conditioning; others will choose to install a solar system to reduce electricity costs. But when it comes to balancing comfort and consumer savings, industry experts recommend combining cost-effective energy efficiency measures with smaller solar systems – a solution that not only saves money, but also costs consumers far less in the long run.
Electricity bills have skyrocketed in recent months – and unfortunately, San Diego is no exception to the trend. The average electricity consumption rate for a single family detached home in San Diego County is about 675 kWh per month. In June of 1999, that meant an electric bill of $71 – but now, thanks to rising costs, that same consumption will result in an electric bill of $150. The increase corresponds to an average annual increase of 6.4% — meaning that, in twelve years’ time, consumers can expect to pay $315 in electricity costs for every 675 kWh used.
For many San Diego homeowners, solar power systems have provided at least some relief from astronomical electricity costs. While the systems require an upfront investment, most solar panels come with a substantial warranty and will produce electricity for up to 40 years at practically no operating cost. The savings on electric bills from a solar power system will cover the investment in 6-8 years for most homeowners, leaving them with free electricity for another 20-30 years. (For example, a homeowner with a $150 average electricity bill today can either buy a solar power system for $17,500 — after state and federal incentives — or pay $150,000 over the next 30 years to SDG&E for the same amount of electricity). Recent statistics from the California Solar Initiative reflect the draw of such savings: over the last five years, more than 8,000 homeowners in San Diego have installed solar power systems – and according to the Los Angeles Times, attractive financing options that allow homeowners to install solar with little or no money down are helping boost that number with each passing year.
Save more with an expert energy audit – right here in San Diego
While solar power systems yield moderate savings, the combination of solar power and energy efficiency results in even greater gains for budget-wise consumers. According to the Wall Street Journal, energy advocates have been trying for several years now to shift both government and consumer focus from solar production to efficient consumption. These advocates maintain that, with a greater emphasis on basic adjustments like insulation, duct sealing and LED bulbs, consumers can drastically cut the amount of energy wasted on heating, cooling and lighting. All it takes is a custom energy audit to figure out the right efficiency improvements; and as a result, San Diego homeowners can invest 10-40% less than what is needed to install an average solar system into energy efficiency measures and smaller-scale solar installation – a switch that ultimately offers the consumer maximum energy and financial savings for the long haul.
Efficiency alterations may sound daunting: after all, every home uses energy differently and there are no generic solutions that are cost effective for everyone. But with the help of an expert energy auditor, homeowners can identify the optimal solution that combines the right energy efficiency measures and solar power system size. At Solare Energy, our certified energy auditors conduct free home assessments to determine the ideal combination of solar power and energy efficiency for each home. Established in 1989, we are one of the largest installers of solar and energy efficiency systems in San Diego. To find out more about our services, visit us online: www.solareenergy.com.