Many homeowners and business owners a like look to solar as THE option to save energy once they receive a high energy bill. But listen here solar is not the end all be all solution. Not everyone who wants to save energy needs to resort to solar. For a normal American home 40% of energy consumption comes from a weak or poor home envelope, which includes insulation, windows and doors. With that percentage being so high it leaves a lot of opportunity for energy efficiency projects before going to solar. Many projects for properties are low in cost and easy to do. [i]
Your first step in assessing your homes energy efficiency would be to higher an energy auditor or conduct your own energy audit. Completing an energy audit will allow you to see where your property can improve. You will then have a clear picture as to see where you are losing energy, which in turn means you are losing money. If conducting an energy audit on your own make sure to visit Energy.Gov to see what is involved.
Your next step of action would be to implement those projects that are in within your means, which might be installing energy efficient appliances or even behavior modifications. Many utilities have incentives and rebates for energy upgrades for homeowners. You can find the necessary information for each utility located here: PG&E, SoCal Edison and SoCal Gas.
Once you implement energy changes wait for your next bill to arrive and see the difference in the bill from past months. I am sure that you will be saving on that bill and many more to come.
But if by chance you receive your bill and you are still not happy with the amount due you can then turn to solar. Since you have implemented energy efficiency measures, or EEMS as we like to call them, before going solar you will be able to reduce your energy needs and solar system size. With reducing both of those items you will in turn save money.
Some solar companies will even insist that homeowners complete an energy audit before going further. If you are a resident of California Go Solar California requires an energy audit be completed before installing solar.[ii] By having this information a homeowner will be more informed on what they can do to save before looking into a solar contract.
[i] “12 Ways to Increase Home Energy Efficiency Before Installing Solar Panels”, Dec., 15, 2014, http://pureenergies.com/us/how-solar-works/12-ways-to-increase-home-energy-efficiency-before-installing-solar-panels/
[ii] “Think Energy Efficiency First”, Dec., 15, 2014, http://www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov/solar_basics/efficiency.php