The first day of summer is June 20, bringing with it a season of outdoor barbecues, long lazy afternoons and lots of sunshine. But as the temperatures increase, we know homeowners turn up their air conditioners to stay cool and comfortable and that leads to an unfortunate result: high electric bills.
Avoiding this seasonal financial squeeze isn’t always as simple as trying to use less electricity. U.S. residential electric rates are expected to be 2.4 percent higher this year than last year.1 So depending on where you live and how well you’ve learned to conserve electricity — with upgrades such as LED lightbulbs and energy efficient appliances — this year you may still pay more to your utility company.
So how can you keep your home and budget comfortable in summer? A SunPower® home solar system is a solution that can enable you to generate your own clean, renewable energy to power your home during the heat of summer and all year long.
Here’s what a few of our customers told us in a Q&A about going solar to help reduce high summer electric bills. The savings experienced by the customers in the segments below represent individual experiences and may not represent the average customer’s cost savings. Electricity cost savings will vary.2
Keeping Cool in the California Desert with Solar
Rick M., Palm Springs, California
In the heat of the California desert, Rick makes the sun work to keep his beautiful modern home an oasis of cool temperatures.
Q: When did you go solar and why?
My system went online in November 2014. I decided to go solar after I moved from Washington, D.C., to California and got my first electric bill for $650. I couldn’t believe it. As a retiree, I couldn’t afford bills like that. I was in sticker shock, and I knew I had to do something. I live out in the desert where we get about 360 days of sun, with summertime temperatures rising above 110 degrees, so why not use the sun to cool my home? (By about 2019) I should recoup the cost of the system.
Q: What time of year do you save the most on energy costs?
When the temperatures are lower during January through April, my solar system is producing more energy than I’m using. The extra energy goes into the grid, and I get a credit on my bill. In the summer, I’m using a bit more energy than I’m generating, so it all evens out.
Q: How big is your house?
My home is 2,500 square feet and spans two stories. Usually, it’s just me and Roxy (my Chiweenie rescue), but I also have a casita (for guests) over the garage. Because not all of my home needs to be cooled all of the time, my house has three cooling zones, and I can control the temperature in each of the zones. When I met with my solar contractor, we worked through how much kilowatt capacity I’d need for my entire home and came up with a system with 30 rooftop panels.
Q: Do you have a wireless or programmable thermostat?
Yes, I installed Honeywell wifi-enabled thermostats. When I’m traveling I can control the temperature wherever I’m at. I can keep it comfy for Roxy and the pet sitter, and I can turn the AC on from the airport, so it’s nice and cool when I come home. My thermostats also connect to Amazon Echo, so I can tell Alexa to raise or lower the temperature!
Q: What do you do with your summer utility bill savings?
I love to travel, so my savings helps me go on trips. Last month, I was with my family in Cancun.
This post originally appeared on the SunPower Resources Blog.
2Customer savings vary depending upon a number of factors including (but not limited to) the following: equipment used, system size, system orientation and shading, insolation available, applicability utility rates and rate structure, as well as customer’s eligibility for rebates, incentives, and net-metering or similar programs (the availability of which may differ for each customer).
3Tax credits subject to change. SunPower does not warrant, guarantee or otherwise advise its partners or customers about specific tax outcomes. Consult your tax advisor regarding the solar tax credit and how it applies to your specific circumstances. Please visit the dsireusa.org website for detailed solar policy information.