Friday, January 6, 2017

Not to Be Smug...

So it's been over two years since getting solar panels installed on our house by SolarCity and I have a little data to determine the savings benefit.

The panels were installed in August of 2014, though they didn't get fired up until Septmber due to Xcel dragging their feet. In 2013, my Xcel expenses for the year totaled $1,192. In 2014, the total (Xcel plus Solar City) went to $1,117, or a decrease of 6.3%. Considering the panels were installed for just over 4 months I think that's decent. For 2015, my energy bills totaled $931, or a decrease of 16.6% from the year before. Even better is comparing 2013 to 2015, since they were the last full year with no solar and the first full year with solar. That difference is a whopping 21.8%! And that's just with an evaporative cooling system in our home - I was told that if you have central A/C you could see even greater savings.

Our energy bills went up some in 2016, and I'm attributing that to the Nissan Leaf I bought in December of 2015. It's a fully electric vehicle, and I plug in about every other night into a regular outlet to fully charge the car. For 2016, my energy bills were $1133, the highest total during the four years of data. HOWEVER, when you add in the gas I did NOT buy, I cut my total energy expenses by 47% over 2013! That's quite a feat since I've had my busiest year driving clients around in 2016.

I've heard arguments against replacing gas powered vehicles with electric ones, primarily that the car still uses quite a bit of energy to manufacture, and that the battery life will make the car obsolete quicker than a gas model. I can appreciate those arguments, which is partly why we waited until we needed a new car to make the change. Our old car, a 1995 Ford Taurus, was donated to the Make a Wish Foundation (they'll take anything!). As for the batteries, I am hoping that my support of the industry will help hasten battery improvements by the time mine die.

In addition to the personal savings, it's fun to drive. It is responsive and accelerates quickly, and has a much better stereo than the last car (which still had a tape deck), though it doesn't do as well on the snow and ice. But, as Dennis says, the best thing is when you get to say, "I run my car on the sun!"

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