Conservation Corner – November 2022

Can I reduce my electric bill with solar?

Heater? Insulation? Windows? Solar? Which should I do first?

Solar energy is growing rapidly and being promoted heavily in Washington state, so let’s start with solar.

A properly sized solar-energy system can dramatically reduce one part of your bill, the single line item where the amount of electricity, shown as “kWh Charge” is multiplied by the rate. If you are using solar energy, or are interested in solar, we can provide an estimate of what your bills might look like with a solar-energy system, based on your billing history.

The proper size solar-energy system for you should match your usage as closely as possible, and your usage can be reduced by making your home or office more efficient, which will in turn help save you money if you decide to install solar. If your house is poorly insulated and drafty, if your windows and doors are old and inefficient, or if your HVAC system has problems and wastes electricity, then it is likely you are using more energy than you should.

If you suspect you have these problems, we suggest that you hold off on installing a solar-energy system until you’ve addressed these issues, or you will probably pay too much for that system.

A suggested course of action is:

  • Talk with an independent energy efficiency professional (not a solar or other salesperson) and have a complete home audit done. There are two local non-profit agencies that may be able to provide this service. We don’t do full energy audits but can talk through your situation and refer you to someone who does if that fits your needs.
  • Discuss the findings and ask about what grants, programs or rebates might be available to reduce the costs to you.
  • Check our website or ask us what you need to get Columbia REA rebates so that you can get the maximum benefit.
  • Once you know that you’ve eliminated the energy wasters, and you know your usage is at a new reduced level, then get the solar energy system sized for your exact needs and at a lower cost.

Following a holistic approach to find the best balance of upgrades to save precious energy and possibly utilizing a properly sized solar system works best.

We understand this is a lot to absorb, but we have resources to help if you choose this path. Please check our webpage, look under the “Renewable Energy” and “Rebate offers” sections for links and other great resources. Feel free to call as well.

Charlie DeSalvo, Energy Efficiency Specialist

If you have any questions about energy efficiency, email Charlie DeSalvo or call (509) 526-4041.