What Are the Basics of Net Metering Before I Switch to Solar Power?

Everything You Need to Know About Net Metering Programs Before you Go Solar

Depending on which state you live in, or in some locations, on your local utility company, net metering may represent one of the biggest incentives, one of the biggest cost offsets, for going solar. Installing solar panels on your home allows you to set up your own electric utility, just for your needs.

Net metering, however, allows you to sell the power you generate back to the grid you’re connected to, offsetting the cost of the electricity you draw from the grid when you can’t produce your own and run out of stored power. In some cases, this may even earn you money.

But of course, it’s not quite that simple. Net metering isn’t available everywhere, and net metering programs differ a bit from location to location, state to state, and utility to utility. In this post, we’ll go over the basics of net metering.

Net Metering Is a Great Incentive to Switch to Solar

Net metering, generally speaking, is a relatively simple concept. You install a power generating system on your property, generally solar, but in some locations you can generate your own power using a windmill, a water wheel, or even by geothermal and other means. Your system may include your own battery storage, or it may not.

You then hook your solar power system up to the grid with a special meter (usually a “net meter” or a “bi-directional meter”) that registers both the amount of power you pull from the grid when you need it, and the amount of surplus power you give back to the grid during periods of peak generation.

Your utility company monitors this meter and deducts the power you give back to the grid (or a portion of it) from the power you draw from the grid. This provides you with additional savings beyond the savings you get from generating your own power for free.

Net Metering Is Not Universal, However

Net metering is only available in certain locations. Many states have passed net metering programs that reward their citizens for switching to solar power, but many states have not. And in some states, net metering programs have been scaled back or eliminated under pressure from private utility companies.

Additionally, net metering programs can take on many different shapes and forms. So, understanding what’s available in your area and how likely your local net metering program is to remain in place are essential to understanding how net metering can help to offset the cost of your solar power system.

Net Metering Gives Back to the Grid and More

Well, that’s about everything you need to know about net metering in general before you take the plunge. To learn more about net metering programs available in your area, you can consult the energy department or commission for your state or your local utility.

For the best information about net metering and how your local program might offset the cost of your solar system and contribute to your solar savings over the long haul, book a consultation with your local solar professional. Your local installer, for obvious reasons, knows all of the incentives that can bring down the cost of your solar panels, including net metering.

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