Everything You Need to Know About Self-Consumption

Self-consumption is becoming increasingly important as more homeowners install solar panels and home batteries. It involves producing and using your own electricity directly at your home or business. As net metering policies evolve, embracing self-consumption still ensures you maximize your solar savings.

If you’re powering your home with solar energy, we’ll break down everything you need to know about self-consumption.

What is Self-Consumption?

Self-consumption means using the electricity generated by your solar panels directly. When you have a solar panel system, the energy it produces in real-time powers appliances and devices in your home. Alternatively, through net metering policies, excess power can be sent back to the electric grid in exchange for credits from your utility company. You can then use when your panels aren’t producing electricity to save, like at night, during outages or during peak hours.

During daylight hours, your solar panels power your appliances directly. If they generate more electricity than you need at that time, you can either send this extra power to the grid, where it earns you credits through net metering, or store it in a home battery. This stored power can be used later to ensure you use the electricity your panels produce instead of drawing from the grid.

Using your solar energy directly or storing it for later use maximizes the value of your generated power, especially as net metering returns become less favorable. In many places, net metering no longer offers a one-to-one credit for the electricity you provide to the grid, which means you could get less value from the your system’s energy production.

How Does Self-Consumption Work?

If you have a solar panel system installed, there are several ways to utilize the electricity it produces:

Direct Usage

The simplest form of self-consumption happens when the electricity generated by your solar panels is used immediately. During daylight hours, as your panels convert sunlight into energy (measured in kilowatt-hours), this electricity can flow directly to power appliances and devices in your home.


Net Metering

In many places across the United States, solar power systems are connected to the grid through policies like net metering. This system allows you to send any excess electricity your panels produce back to the grid. In return, you receive credits from your utility company, which can offset your future electricity bills. 


For example, if your panels produce more power than you need during the day, this surplus is sent to the grid, and you get credits that can be used to draw power from the grid or when your panels aren’t producing electricity, like at night or on cloudy days.


Battery Storage

Another effective way to enhance self-consumption is installing a home battery, or battery storage system. Batteries store the excess energy produced by your solar panels that isn’t immediately used. This stored power can then be used at any time, particularly during power outages or during peak electricity rate periods when drawing power from the grid can be more expensive. Home batteries are becoming increasingly popular as they also support energy flow management, allowing homeowners to maintain energy supply without relying on the grid.

Why is Self-Consumption Important?

Most residential solar energy systems are connected to the grid, relying on net metering to balance out the electricity exchanged with the grid. Traditional net metering has often provided full credit for each kilowatt-hour sent to the grid, making solar systems financially beneficial. However, with new net metering policies reducing the value of this exchanged electricity, like California’s Net Metering 3.0 which cuts the return rate by about 75%, self-consumption strategies have become more critical.

By using the electricity as it’s produced, or storing it for your own use, you prevent these losses and maximize your solar investment. This strategy is especially valuable in areas where net metering policies are less favorable, ensuring that every kilowatt-hour produced is used to its fullest potential, either by powering your home directly or by reducing future energy purchases from the grid.

For electric vehicle owners, self-consumption can be particularly beneficial. That’s because you can charge your vehicle directly from your solar panels or stored battery power and significantly reduce your energy costs and carbon footprint.

How Can You Increase Your Self-Consumption?

For homeowners with solar panel systems, maximizing self-consumption is crucial for optimizing energy savings, especially in regions where one-to-one net metering is phased out or may change in the future. There are several effective strategies to enhance your self-consumption, with each contributing to greater energy independence and efficiency:

  1. Adjust Your Electricity Consumption Habits

The most straightforward method to boost self-consumption involves changing how and when you use your electricity. Since solar panels generate power mostly during daylight hours, plan high-energy activities, like laundry or dishwashing, for these peak production times. This ensures that more of the electricity you use is drawn directly from your panels, reducing your reliance on the grid. 

Conversely, minimizing energy usage at night—when your panels are inactive—can significantly decrease the electricity you need to import from the grid, enhancing your energy savings and reducing your utility bill.

  1. Install a Home Battery System

Integrating a home battery system with your solar panels can dramatically increase your self-consumption by storing excess electricity produced during the day. This stored energy can then be used in the evenings or during peak rate times, which provides you with a constant energy supply and maintains the value of the electricity generated by your panels. 

With a home battery, you effectively create a personal energy reserve that can be tapped into as needed, avoiding the less favorable economics of current net metering policies. This setup is ideal for maintaining backup power during outages and further reducing your dependency on traditional electric utilities.

  1. Upgrade to a Smart Electrical Panel

For homeowners who want to take their energy management to the next level, upgrading to a smart electrical panel is an excellent choice. Smart panels, like the Span Smart Panel or the Schneider Square D Energy Center, work with your solar system and home battery to optimize energy usage based on production and need. 

These advanced systems can automate energy consumption, prioritizing solar power over grid electricity and reducing usage when solar production is low. This enables precise control over when and how energy is used throughout your home, ensuring your solar generation covers as much of your energy demand as possible.

Start Your Clean Energy Journey with Solar Technologies

Self-consumption supports both sustainable energy usage and provides substantial financial benefits over the short term and long term. By utilizing systems that allow you to consume the energy you produce immediately or store it for future use, you’ll have greater control over your energy consumption and spend less on your electricity bills. 

If you’re ready to transform how you power your home and increase your savings with solar and battery backup, contact us today for a free customized quote.

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