How to Lower Your Electric Bill with Solar Panels

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Families today are using a lot more electricity than their parents and grandparents did 40 or more years ago. Take the dryer, for instance. While the technology has existed since the 1940s, for a long time a clothesline and the sun were the only dryer technology used in most homes. Today, it's as common as a refrigerator, but it's certainly not as energy efficient. In fact, USA Today reports that American consumers annually waste as much as $4 billion to power their dryers. But that doesn't mean we're going to abandon them for the sake of saving money. A better alternative is finding a cheaper energy source.

Solar Power

The technology to convert solar power into an energy source that can supplement and eventually replace fossil fuels has existed for a while, but it's only in the last decade that the cost has dropped to the point of being a viable option for many consumers. The average price for a professional installation of rooftop solar panels, after rebates and tax credits, is around $10,000 for a 5 kilowatt-hour system.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average monthly energy use for consumers in 2013 was 909 kwh at an average cost of $110. A 5kwh system generating power for four hours a day will produce 600 kwh of energy a month, which can greatly reduce your energy bill. However, depending on the season and your location, a solar panel system may produce energy for more than four hours while larger systems will offer even greater output.

Your electricity consumption, which can be found on your utility bill, will determine what size system is best for you and the company you hire for the installation will help you make the right choice. They'll also guide you through the process of connecting the panel system to the city's electricity grid to ensure your home still has electricity when the panels aren't producing as well as provide a place to route any excess energy generated by the panels that your home isn't using.

Start Small with a Solar Water Heater

If you're not ready to make the big leap toward a full rooftop system but still wish to utilize solar power to save on utility costs, a solar water heater is a great place to start with an average price of $2,500. According to Energy.gov, an Energy Star-certified solar water heater costs homeowners an average of $275 annually versus $525 for non-solar models offering standard efficiency. When hiring a company for installation, be sure to inquire about their experience both with installation and maintenance as solar water heaters require minor maintenance every three to five years.

Ready to lower your electric bill? Connect with a qualified solar installer in your area.