The Florida Sun is Free! How You Can Use It to Save on Your Energy Bills
By Leo Cannyn, PMP, P.E., ENV SP
Principal Project Manager
Beryl Project Engineering
Florida energy bills are some of the highest in the nation, and with another rate increase expected this year, business owners and residents are bracing for the most challenging year on record when it comes to budgeting their electric usage. Additionally, as utilities continue to struggle with market demand and the rising cost of natural gas, it is expected that Florida’s top three service providers will continue to seek the Public Service Commission’s support for increasing rates again later in the year. As costs increase, energy users may look for other options.
The good news is that we live in Florida. Not much can beat our nationally-recognized beaches and sunshine. On average, our state enjoys 230 sunny days a year, more than enough to make solar power an intelligent choice for businesses and homeowners. So why not tap into one of Florida’s best resources and take advantage of what solar power offers?
Control Your Electric Bill
Switching to solar energy can help you keep extra cash in your pocket each month while also reducing your carbon footprint. Of course, the savings can vary considerably by location, product, installation, and other variables. However, solar panels and a backup battery can offer freedom from electric companies and their costly bills.
Before calculating the long-term savings, also consider the upfront costs. A small solar energy system can range from $5,000 to $7,500, while larger projects can run upwards of $50,000. Solar systems have a long life, though, and, if properly installed and maintained, can last up to 30 years before losing efficiency.
How much can you save? A lot, but it depends on how you choose to use solar. Several factors can help you calculate the potential savings for your home or business.
Grid Prices: Electricity prices from Florida’s utility companies vary and, as previously mentioned, have only increased over the years. To better understand your local grid costs, look at your bill to determine calculations.
Type of System Installed: The number of panels and their efficiency will affect how much you will save on purchasing energy from the grid. Depending on your goals for the solar system you choose, a smaller installation could offset some of your costs, whereas a robust system could power your entire home or business and cover all costs.
The Size of Your Family or Business: Our energy habits significantly impact our monthly bill. Are you a family of two or a family of six? How many loads of laundry do you do in a month? How many hours a day or days a week is your business open? Do you run the air conditioner all day with the front doors open to welcome visitors? It comes down to the more power you use, the more solar energy you will need to produce to offset the installation cost and avoid paying for additional power from the grid.
Net Metering: Consumers who have solar installed and have unused energy can now give it back to the power grid. Solar systems with batteries allow the owners to reserve the energy until they need it. Net metering allows the solar owner to share their excess energy with the community. You are not likely to get paid with this option; however, your electric meter will run in reverse when you are sending electricity back to the grid, resulting in lower—or possibly non-existent—electric bills.
If you’re interested in harnessing the power of solar, finding the right engineering team who understands the Florida Building Code is critical. Your new solar panels need to be designed to take into account both Wind Speed Loading and Energy Production. Additionally, solar panel systems can be costly. Ensure that your installation team utilizes the latest modeling software to determine the best configuration for your home or business, and maximize the energy returns on your investment.