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Journey to Solar – Part Six, A Month to Month Comparison

We’ve been solar almost six months now and are getting great results. Once we have a full year of experience, I’ll do a complete breakdown of costs and energy generation.

But, to share some perspective, I want to demonstrate how our electric bill breaks down for the month of August – generally our highest bill of the year.

Our electric bill for August 2012 came in at a whopping $464.60, and that includes the discount we received by participating in SCE’s Summer Discount Plan.  In total, we used about 2126 kwh (kilowatt hours). Yikes!

Now, compare that to this August 2013. Our net usage from the grid was 434 kwh. Our current electric bill for August is $14.19! (Again, participating in the Summer Discount Plan generates additional savings.)

The bill for August of 2013 also includes the monthly cost of operating our electric car that we did not own last year. So, when you factor in about $150 we spent in gas last August for my husband’s car, that brings our total monthly savings to $600! In one month!

We drew 938 kwh from the grid this August, sold back 504 kwh to Southern California Edison, for a net usage of 434 kwh.

In terms of charges from SCE for solar customers, here’s how it works – when your solar panels are working during the day, your energy generation goes first, to supply electricity to your own home, and second, back to the grid. If you generate excess energy during the day beyond what you consume, you sell it back to the grid. At night (when solar panels sleep along with us), you draw your electricity from the grid.

If the amount you draw from the grid during the month is more than that you sell back, you owe SCE. If it’s the reverse, the electric company owes you.

Solar customers are placed on an annual billing cycle, where charges and credits are accumulated throughout the year, and you true up at the end of one year of solar energy generation.

So for the month of August (technically from July 22 – August 20th), we generated 1168 kwh from our solar system and drew 938 from the grid for a total usage of 2104 kwh. This is pretty close to our overall usage last year, but the difference is that 100% of our usage last year was from the grid and now the majority is coming from solar.

Of the 1168 kwh of solar energy we generated, we used 664 and sold 504 back to the grid.

Bottom line – a $14 electric bill!

So for now, I’m basking in my $600 savings for the month. Even more reason to love the sun. Keep it coming!

These babies really are a beautiful sight …


Related Posts:

Journey to Solar – Part One, Making the Decision

Journey to Solar – Part Two, Financing

Journey to Solar – Part Three, Auditing and Evaluation

Journey to Solar – Part Four, Rebates and Approvals

Journey to Solar – Part Five, Installation, Inspection and Flipping the Switch

If you have any questions at all about going solar, ask in the comments below, email me, or find me on Twitter. I want to encourage more people to take their own journey to solar, getting off the grid and saving money. Less money, less guilt. You can’t go wrong.

5 responses »

  1. Excellent explanation of your solar system. Ours was installed and complete in early July, but now we are getting the run around from SCE who say they have a tremendous backlog. My gut tells me that is baloney, and not very good baloney at that. I have heard that they are dragging their feet and have only ‘one’ inspector. That can’t be true, but I would like to know more before I go really public on this. Our solar company did a great job. The month of July and August are really making the A/C work hard, and SCE is going to get the money because they will not permit the solar system to be turned on. What are your suggestions? Todd, Temecula.

    • Hi Todd. Thank you for your question. So glad that you have already made the choice to go solar. We did not have the same problem with SCE. Ours was inspected and approved within a couple of weeks. I think it’s an issue of who is in that territory and how many inspectors they have dedicated to your area. I agree that you have waited too long – particularly with this heat wave. You could be generating a ton of energy right now and it’s very frustrating to not be able to take advantage of that due to a technicality. I would call/email them daily until you get someone out at your house. Be the squeaky wheel until someone gets out there. Also contact your solar company and see what they can do for you. They want your system turned on as soon as possible too so they should be able to help. Good luck!

  2. Hello. I’m in the process of considering solar and I find your blog very intersting.

    I’m reading through your blog now…and will probably have other questions as I go, but I’m curious about something. How you got to the $14 bill? If I’m reading correctly, your last year’s August bill was $464.60 for 2126 kwh. This comes to $.218 per kwh. You said for this August, you had to purchase a net of 434 kwh from SCE. Assuming the SCE rate did not decrease, it would seem your bill should have been around $94.

    Thanks for your time

    • Greg, the difference is because of tiered pricing. SCE charges different rates for electricity based upon your use. Basically, the more you use, the higher your rate. All of our electricity used in August of this year was in the “tier one” which is charged at a rate of $.04165 per kilowatt hour. The rates rise dramatically as you get up to tiers 4 and 5, which we always did before solar. Does that answer your question?

  3. So, no battery huh

    If you have battery what will be the cost need to add?


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