Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

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rebellovw
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Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by rebellovw » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:36 am

My wife always pays the utilities - so I thought i'd look to see what are costs are - they range from about 200 to 400 per month. I was a bit surprised.

It is the two of us - single story 1800 sq ft home built in 2001 - has insulation and dual pane windows.

Our usage is about 1700 - 2000 kWh per month. We are in northern AZ - so in the winter it gets very cold and in the summer warm as in the 90's - low 100s - very nice climate. AC is at 74 and heater in winter is usually about 68.

Seems like many of the solar benefits have been taken away (at least the power buy back) as I keep reading about - being grandfathered in if you had your setup done many years ago... There are some tax benefits. Hard to make out if it is worthwhile. I feel if I contact a solar company they will of course make it seem well worth it.

Thanks for your ideas. We are in our early 50's and will likely retire early and stay at the residence as we are quite happy with it.

btenny
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by btenny » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:03 am

We pay $100 -$150 in the winter for 2140 Sq ft in Phoenix with electric heat. We leave for the summer so I have no data for that. We paid $230 this past June for electric for may.
Good Luck.

rebellovw
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by rebellovw » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:15 am

btenny wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:03 am
We pay $100 -$150 in the winter for 2140 Sq ft in Phoenix with electric heat. We leave for the summer so I have no data for that. We paid $230 this past June for electric for may.
Good Luck.
Thanks. I'm turning into my dad because of this - "Turn that light off!" haha. I just ordered a kill-a-watt so I'm going to play with that on things we tend to keep running all the time to understand better. Our biggest culprit is our swim spa that we love and use every day.

btenny
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by btenny » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:16 am

I am caught in that APS rate mess where they want to force everyone to go to time of day power rates. I figure it will cost me maybe double as my summer bills are $50 as we turn up the temp to 85ish. But I have no way to stop my two AC-units from running at the same time or in peak periods. So I expect my summer bill to go way up. Same for the winter when both heat pump heaters will run at once in peak periods. The only cure for this is some sort of time and load controller which is very expensive. APS says they need to do this to counter the "duck curve" power demand due to all the solar panels.
Any ideas?

btenny
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by btenny » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:17 am

I am caught in that APS rate mess where they want to force everyone to go to time of day power rates. I figure it will cost me maybe double as my summer bills are $50 as we turn up the temp to 85ish. But I have no way to stop my two AC-units from running at the same time or in peak periods. So I expect my summer bill to go way up. Same for the winter when both heat pump heaters will run at once in peak periods. The only cure for this is some sort of time and load controller which is very expensive. APS says they need to do this to counter the "duck curve" power demand due to all the solar panels.
Any ideas?

btenny
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by btenny » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:24 am

Yes pools and spas are expensive . I spend $50 to $80 per month for my spa at my other place. It is heated with electric. If I turn it to 103 degrees in the winter the bill goes up to $100 or so. I bet much of your power use is for your spa. Try turning it down for a month to 80 for part of the summer...

Good luck

Valuethinker
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:36 pm

rebellovw wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:15 am
btenny wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:03 am
We pay $100 -$150 in the winter for 2140 Sq ft in Phoenix with electric heat. We leave for the summer so I have no data for that. We paid $230 this past June for electric for may.
Good Luck.
Thanks. I'm turning into my dad because of this - "Turn that light off!" haha. I just ordered a kill-a-watt so I'm going to play with that on things we tend to keep running all the time to understand better. Our biggest culprit is our swim spa that we love and use every day.
It is almost certainly your spa pool - don't know what can be done about that.

The other usual suspects include: cable set top boxes & plasma screen TVs (instant on feature); old fridges (more than 20 years old, say-- really pre 1992); lightbulbs that haven't been converted to LED/ CFL eg halogen spots; things like pool pumps. Sometimes you can do something about it, sometimes you cannot.

clutchied
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by clutchied » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:44 pm

solar almost always makes sense in the southwest Unites States.

Your bill is pretty high generally. Have you checked your sun hours? Most of the time you can get away with a smaller cheaper system due to your location because it produces more than expected.

rebellovw
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by rebellovw » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:44 pm

btenny wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:24 am
Yes pools and spas are expensive . I spend $50 to $80 per month for my spa at my other place. It is heated with electric. If I turn it to 103 degrees in the winter the bill goes up to $100 or so. I bet much of your power use is for your spa. Try turning it down for a month to 80 for part of the summer...

Good luck
Valuethinker wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:36 pm
It is almost certainly your spa pool - don't know what can be done about that.

The other usual suspects include: cable set top boxes & plasma screen TVs (instant on feature); old fridges (more than 20 years old, say-- really pre 1992); lightbulbs that haven't been converted to LED/ CFL eg halogen spots; things like pool pumps. Sometimes you can do something about it, sometimes you cannot.
Thanks gang. Yes - I have mostly LEDs everywhere. The spa is a definite keeper. I'm going to play with the killowatt to see how things I leave on (AVR, BD player etc, my monster PC called HAL that runs 24X7) eat up power.

Assuming 350-400 is a fact of life with our house and comforts - does a solar system make sense? I do have a free estimate contractor coming out tomorrow - I'm sure they will say anything to sell a system. I just wonder how much they are off in their guesstimates/swags. I'll report back after that encounter.

Thanks!

rebellovw
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by rebellovw » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:52 pm

clutchied wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:44 pm
solar almost always makes sense in the southwest Unites States.

Your bill is pretty high generally. Have you checked your sun hours? Most of the time you can get away with a smaller cheaper system due to your location because it produces more than expected.
Thanks - I'll have to check that - I'm pretty sure we are in a good location for panels.

clutchied
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by clutchied » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:12 pm

rebellovw wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:52 pm
clutchied wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:44 pm
solar almost always makes sense in the southwest Unites States.

Your bill is pretty high generally. Have you checked your sun hours? Most of the time you can get away with a smaller cheaper system due to your location because it produces more than expected.
Thanks - I'll have to check that - I'm pretty sure we are in a good location for panels.
https://www.google.com/get/sunroof#p=0

http://pvwatts.nrel.gov/index.php

engineer1969
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by engineer1969 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:22 pm

I did the math for a modestly sized home (1200 sq ft) in the mid-atlantic. If it were not for the government incentives it would not be worth it financially. With the incentives, it seemed to be be almost revenue neutral if you considered having to replace the array every 18 years. 18 yrs was the guidance at the time I investigated it.

There may be indirect issues related to insurance and rescue services when you have an array on your roof. I'd be sure to check that out. I was told at the time by a coworker who has several rental properties that a firefighter would not enter a burning home with a solar array on the roof. This is likely a local policy.

Slacker
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Slacker » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:53 pm

We live near Phoenix and working from home running treadmills about 3-4 hrs / day each, have to have the AC set to 79 (some days 78), and cook 80% of our meals at home with electric stove/oven. 2800sq ft home with a two-story great room built in 2006 and we also have a pool. We are paying about $350-$390 in the summer months (all LED lights) and around $60 per month in the winter (natural gas heat, but we have never run the heater - just isn't needed in the Phoenix area so our natural gas bill is about $30/month in the winter running the water heater and $15/month in the summer as just paying for connection fee because I turn it all the way down to vacation mode during the hottest two months).

The only thing we can do to control our cooling costs is keep the upstairs AC off when working downstairs and keep the downstairs AC off while sleeping upstairs at night.

Slacker
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Slacker » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:58 pm

engineer1969 wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:22 pm
I did the math for a modestly sized home (1200 sq ft) in the mid-atlantic. If it were not for the government incentives it would not be worth it financially. With the incentives, it seemed to be be almost revenue neutral if you considered having to replace the array every 18 years. 18 yrs was the guidance at the time I investigated it.

There may be indirect issues related to insurance and rescue services when you have an array on your roof. I'd be sure to check that out. I was told at the time by a coworker who has several rental properties that a firefighter would not enter a burning home with a solar array on the roof. This is likely a local policy.
I think inverters may fail in that time, but panels (without physical damage) will likely last 25 years minimum with slight degradation in power output over the life. Our panels have a 20yr warranty with a 25yr warranty on "output power" meeting at least 95% of the original rating (I'd have to dig up the paperwork to get the exact information but that is basically what we received). Inverters on the other hand may have a 10yr warranty (or 15, I can't remember exactly). This is all on a house in Colorado. Some of the oldest running panels are still showing around 98% of output after 30 years.

https://cleantechnica.com/2011/12/27/so ... -20-years/

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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by bloom2708 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:59 pm

We had a big desktop computer with twin fans back in the day. It by itself used $15/month checked with a kill-o-watt.

It was finicky about going to sleep and would wake up for updates and those fans were going.

I think where you are with your bills, you are the case where solar does make the most sense. If you could save $100, $150 or more per month, that lowers the payback period for a system.

Worth checking out and getting some quotes and details.
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Point
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Point » Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:03 pm

At $350/month for our electric bill in Santa Barbara we found that solar was a great investment 3 years ago. The key was to purchase, not lease. It will pay for itself in less than 4 years.

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wjo
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by wjo » Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:16 pm

I installed solar panels a few years ago - but then sold my house. But was happy with my investment in solar.

After incentives, I figured I was making about a 4%+ return on my investment. Of course, this is all after tax money, which is the best kind. If power prices go up, savings would increase. Investing in Solar is a bit of a hedge against increasing utility bills.

The biggest thing about solar is the need to replace the inverters - mine had a 10 yr lifespan, if I recall correctly. The panels can have 25-50 year warranties.

With the advent of good batteries - perhaps from an electric car - the opportunity for solar + batteries to provide power during outages is very attractive from a risk perspective.

In a sunny climate, I'd definitely consider solar for both a hedge against rising costs and some insurance against power outages.

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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Crimsontide » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:10 pm

Yes your bill is a little high. Not high enough to justify solar though, pay back time is way too long in my opinion( without generous government subsidies). Set your AC to 78-79, that'll make a huge difference. Check out this website for more easy and aggressive ways to cut your electric bill. http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/

mrb09
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by mrb09 » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:18 pm

If you have tiered pricing (say you pay more after 1000 kWh a month), putting in solar to drop you down to a lower tier can be a pretty good deal. Here in California, we were in tier 3 in the summer for a/c (tier 3 is pretty expensive) and solar brought us down to tier 1. We're on a net meter plan, so we over produce in spring and fall and under produce in the summer (too much a/c) and winter (not enough sun), and we square up once a year.

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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by unclescrooge » Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:35 am

rebellovw wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:44 pm

Assuming 350-400 is a fact of life with our house and comforts - does a solar system make sense? I do have a free estimate contractor coming out tomorrow - I'm sure they will say anything to sell a system. I just wonder how much they are off in their guesstimates/swags. I'll report back after that encounter.

Thanks!
Most probably you will benefit from solar.

So long as you have a roof that faces south, or west, and no trees blocking the sun you should be fine. And also, roof that isn't extremely steep.

Cruise
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Cruise » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:41 am

Whether dollar will work for you is a simple calculus. With govt tax incentives, our $42,000 system only cost us about $14500 after the write off. Given our $275/mo average electric bill, we figured a 4.5 year payback. That time has passed, and we are enjoying our "free" air conditioning set at 72 degrees.

Hope the math adds up in your case.

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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:02 am

If you don't have net metering, can you install a smaller system to just reduce your bills, sizing it just to be sure you're always using all of the energy produced?
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Angelus359
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Angelus359 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:28 am

You use 18 times as much electricity as me...
Jeez

I use about 230kwh per month, with ac all summer and gas heat all winter in Illinois

My highest gas bill ever was 70.

My highest electric bill ever was 55
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Watty
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Watty » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:42 am

rebellovw wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:15 am
Our biggest culprit is our swim spa that we love and use every day.
Could that be converted to use natural gas for heating it?

A solar water heater for it would also be an option to look at even if it would just supplement the normal heating system.

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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:22 am

Angelus359 wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:28 am
You use 18 times as much electricity as me...
Jeez

I use about 230kwh per month, with ac all summer and gas heat all winter in Illinois

My highest gas bill ever was 70.

My highest electric bill ever was 55
I'm wondering how you use so little electricity. I expect the climate in Mass, where I am is similar. I have central air so like Phoenix, summer is my big usage months. 2800 sq foot house with central air and we use right around 2000 during summer months and 600 winters. Oil heat and water. Electric kitchen. Summer, we keep ac at 72-73.
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rebellovw
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by rebellovw » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:37 am

unclescrooge wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:35 am

Most probably you will benefit from solar.

So long as you have a roof that faces south, or west, and no trees blocking the sun you should be fine. And also, roof that isn't extremely steep.
Thanks - Our house is a long single story rectangle - with a very slight slope roof (very simple) - which should be good - our house runs N-S with the sun rising over our backyard and setting in our front. We are on a slope - sloping east and have huge elm trees in front that could affect the front portion.

I think in all we are ok - but I'll see what the guy says that is coming out today. According to that google estimate - we get about 2000 sun hours per year (if I remember correctly.)

rebellovw
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by rebellovw » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:40 am

Watty wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:42 am
rebellovw wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:15 am
Our biggest culprit is our swim spa that we love and use every day.
Could that be converted to use natural gas for heating it?

A solar water heater for it would also be an option to look at even if it would just supplement the normal heating system.
Nope - it is a self contained unit. It is very well insulated (nice heavy tight fitting top) and fairly efficient and only a couple years old.

Here are some pictures of our pride and joy: My wife swims each morning while I chill with the jets - I keep it at 93 - I'll try 92 - but it will be getting seriously cold over the winter months we get down to just a few degrees in December.

We do have some nice shade via the trees - but I think our roof will do just fine with Solar. We will see what they guy says.

https://imgur.com/a/k3IL6

Thanks!

rebellovw
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by rebellovw » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:44 am

Angelus359 wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:28 am
You use 18 times as much electricity as me...
Jeez

I use about 230kwh per month, with ac all summer and gas heat all winter in Illinois

My highest gas bill ever was 70.

My highest electric bill ever was 55
I'm not sure how you get by with so little - I have the AC at 74 - which is a huge culprit - but I work from home and find that fairly tolerable. How big is your house and what is your AC set to - and what is the outside temp? Ours is 1900 - outside temp is usually 80s to 90s - sometimes maybe 100 - but not for long. We are in Prescott AZ.

rebellovw
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by rebellovw » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:51 am

bloom2708 wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:59 pm
We had a big desktop computer with twin fans back in the day. It by itself used $15/month checked with a kill-o-watt.

It was finicky about going to sleep and would wake up for updates and those fans were going.

I think where you are with your bills, you are the case where solar does make the most sense. If you could save $100, $150 or more per month, that lowers the payback period for a system.

Worth checking out and getting some quotes and details.
Yeah - HAL is a monster - I'll test it with the kilowatt and a few other items like my stereo and HT. Thanks
Point wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:03 pm
At $350/month for our electric bill in Santa Barbara we found that solar was a great investment 3 years ago. The key was to purchase, not lease. It will pay for itself in less than 4 years.
Thanks - yeah I would have to purchase instead of leasing.
wjo wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:16 pm
I installed solar panels a few years ago - but then sold my house. But was happy with my investment in solar.

After incentives, I figured I was making about a 4%+ return on my investment. Of course, this is all after tax money, which is the best kind. If power prices go up, savings would increase. Investing in Solar is a bit of a hedge against increasing utility bills.

The biggest thing about solar is the need to replace the inverters - mine had a 10 yr lifespan, if I recall correctly. The panels can have 25-50 year warranties.

With the advent of good batteries - perhaps from an electric car - the opportunity for solar + batteries to provide power during outages is very attractive from a risk perspective.

In a sunny climate, I'd definitely consider solar for both a hedge against rising costs and some insurance against power outages.
Thanks - great to hear.
Crimsontide wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:10 pm
Yes your bill is a little high. Not high enough to justify solar though, pay back time is way too long in my opinion( without generous government subsidies). Set your AC to 78-79, that'll make a huge difference. Check out this website for more easy and aggressive ways to cut your electric bill. http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/
Thanks - yep - I'll need to see if it really works out. I may save some cash but is it really worth breaking into savings to do this.


Cruise wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:41 am
Whether dollar will work for you is a simple calculus. With govt tax incentives, our $42,000 system only cost us about $14500 after the write off. Given our $275/mo average electric bill, we figured a 4.5 year payback. That time has passed, and we are enjoying our "free" air conditioning set at 72 degrees.

Hope the math adds up in your case.
Yep - I'm hoping for something similar.

Thanks everyone!

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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by squirm » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:58 am

Your usage if high, what is your rate? Don't get solar to offset resistive heat such as electric furnace or water heater. If your paying under about 15c/kwh the numbers won't work out.

Sounds like you need to do an energy audit.
Solar is great for high electric costs areas like southern ca or pge.

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Imperabo
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Imperabo » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:12 am

AC could easily be your biggest electric cost. In your climate you can get an evaporative (swamp) cooler and drop you cooling cost to almost nothing. I have about the same summers where I live and I figure I pay about $150 per year for cooling.

rebellovw
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by rebellovw » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:40 pm

Ok - quick update after consultant came by.

Company: PurSolaraz
Product - panels - made in Canada - supposedly exceeds specs - I can't recall the name.
They use Micro Invertors - cost more - but better than String according to consultant - at least better warranty.

Anyhow - he will take all the data that APS provides and do some analysis to come up with a proposal.

Some immediate considerations (really 1):
- My roof is original composite shingle - house is 2001 - when we bought in 2011 - the home inspector said roof looked fine - just a loose single here and there - still plenty of life. If they include a new roof in the project - then I could get some tax benefit from that - but man that will really increase the price substantially. Would you bite the bullet and install a new roof? Or would you move forward and install panels on 18 year old roof?

I guess it comes down to how much total and how much tax relief is provided.

Thanks,

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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by stoptothink » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:54 pm

rebellovw wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:44 am
Angelus359 wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:28 am
You use 18 times as much electricity as me...
Jeez

I use about 230kwh per month, with ac all summer and gas heat all winter in Illinois

My highest gas bill ever was 70.

My highest electric bill ever was 55
I'm not sure how you get by with so little - I have the AC at 74 - which is a huge culprit - but I work from home and find that fairly tolerable. How big is your house and what is your AC set to - and what is the outside temp? Ours is 1900 - outside temp is usually 80s to 90s - sometimes maybe 100 - but not for long. We are in Prescott AZ.
Our usage is significantly less than Angelus' in Utah. Most months our combined heat/electricity is <$30 (having only 1500 sqft. is obviously a big factor). Use of heat/ac absolutely dwarfs everything else when it comes to utilities. You'd be shocked what a few degrees difference on the thermostat means to usage. In the warmer months we stay outside except to sleep. In the winter, turn down the thermostat and throw on some sweats and a hoody.

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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:27 pm

rebellovw wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:40 pm
Ok - quick update after consultant came by.

Company: PurSolaraz
Product - panels - made in Canada - supposedly exceeds specs - I can't recall the name.
They use Micro Invertors - cost more - but better than String according to consultant - at least better warranty.

Anyhow - he will take all the data that APS provides and do some analysis to come up with a proposal.

Some immediate considerations (really 1):
- My roof is original composite shingle - house is 2001 - when we bought in 2011 - the home inspector said roof looked fine - just a loose single here and there - still plenty of life. If they include a new roof in the project - then I could get some tax benefit from that - but man that will really increase the price substantially. Would you bite the bullet and install a new roof? Or would you move forward and install panels on 18 year old roof?

I guess it comes down to how much total and how much tax relief is provided.

Thanks,
Difficult to size the system until you know what composes your electricity consumption, and whether you can do anything about that.

it's almost always better to conserve first.

An oversize system you have to sell power back to the grid (you probably will do that already with a solar array, in day time except at periods of your peak usage). That may give you much lower returns.

2000 sunshine hours*, btw, sounds about right. Northern Italy (which is north of you in latitude, and has rainy grey winters) it is about 1600 I believe.


* sorry was that 2000 kwhr pa per peak kw? That sounds a bit high, in that in London UK (51 degrees N) I am about 850. I'd have to compare hours of sunshine.

rebellovw
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by rebellovw » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:53 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:27 pm

Difficult to size the system until you know what composes your electricity consumption, and whether you can do anything about that.

it's almost always better to conserve first.

An oversize system you have to sell power back to the grid (you probably will do that already with a solar array, in day time except at periods of your peak usage). That may give you much lower returns.

2000 sunshine hours*, btw, sounds about right. Northern Italy (which is north of you in latitude, and has rainy grey winters) it is about 1600 I believe.


* sorry was that 2000 kwhr pa per peak kw? That sounds a bit high, in that in London UK (51 degrees N) I am about 850. I'd have to compare hours of sunshine.
Yeah - we have @2000 sun hours per year according to google based on address.

Monthly avgs:
As far as my usage - avg kWh usage for last 12 months was 1659
Avg Peak is: 393 and off peak avg is 1280
Avg cost is: 260.48 (which doesn't seem bad now that I think about it - not sure bad enough to take out a $40K chunk out of my savings!)

I'll definitely look into conserving first.

Thanks!

Cruise
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Cruise » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:26 am

rebellovw wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:40 pm
Ok - quick update after consultant came by.

Company: PurSolaraz
Product - panels - made in Canada - supposedly exceeds specs - I can't recall the name.
They use Micro Invertors - cost more - but better than String according to consultant - at least better warranty.

Anyhow - he will take all the data that APS provides and do some analysis to come up with a proposal.

Some immediate considerations (really 1):
- My roof is original composite shingle - house is 2001 - when we bought in 2011 - the home inspector said roof looked fine - just a loose single here and there - still plenty of life. If they include a new roof in the project - then I could get some tax benefit from that - but man that will really increase the price substantially. Would you bite the bullet and install a new roof? Or would you move forward and install panels on 18 year old roof?

I guess it comes down to how much total and how much tax relief is provided.

Thanks,
Couple of thoughts:

1. Before I installed my PV, I knew that my 20-year old shingles should be replaced, so that is what I did.

2. I would think that your "consultant," i.e., salesperson, would offer options for your consideration. For example, mine said that I could pay less if I used less efficient panels, but put more panels on my roof. Some might have considered a good option, but I did not want more holes in my roof.

3. I had the estimates from two solar companies. I went with the more expensive proposal from the more expensive company because it seemed the prudent thing to do.

Good luck with your decision.

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Sandtrap
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Location: Hawaii😀 Northern AZ.😳

Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:51 am

rebellovw wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:36 am
My wife always pays the utilities - so I thought i'd look to see what are costs are - they range from about 200 to 400 per month. I was a bit surprised.

It is the two of us - single story 1800 sq ft home built in 2001 - has insulation and dual pane windows.

Our usage is about 1700 - 2000 kWh per month. We are in northern AZ - so in the winter it gets very cold and in the summer warm as in the 90's - low 100s - very nice climate. AC is at 74 and heater in winter is usually about 68.

Seems like many of the solar benefits have been taken away (at least the power buy back) as I keep reading about - being grandfathered in if you had your setup done many years ago... There are some tax benefits. Hard to make out if it is worthwhile. I feel if I contact a solar company they will of course make it seem well worth it.

Thanks for your ideas. We are in our early 50's and will likely retire early and stay at the residence as we are quite happy with it.
Also in Northern Arizona.
We also pay between 2-400/mo for electricity.
4000 sf home, 3 story. Stucco, thick walls, etc. But we also have gas, one furnace/ac unit on each floor. The gas bill is highest in the winter. $$$$ We keep the thermostat at about the same as you do.

We also looked into solar but feel that the cost prorated for a grid/tie system to supply our power need for such a large house, plus barn, etc, would not be worth it in the long run. Perhaps if we were younger and not senior retirees.

Most of our neighbors have very large solar systems (high end neighborhood) and it does keep the electric bill way down. Some are on the roof, some are systems on the ground because they are so large.
Perhaps we would consider solar electric more seriously if our house was not setup for gas (heat, hot water, dryer, etc).

I hope this helps a bit. Every home and personal needs are different.

RETerp
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by RETerp » Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:37 pm

I'm going through this analysis right now. In northeast San Diego county area. Get the following info.....your total kWh used and total cost of electricity last year, or better yet, in the most recent 12 months. Decide if you want to cover 100% of your annual usage, or a smaller % if you don't have sufficient roof space OR your baseline or Tier 1 electricity is really cheap. This tells the solar company what size system to install. I found that most of the quotes I've received have been pretty similarly sized. That tells me they are making similar analyses on how the direction and angle of my roof as well as potential shading from trees and cloud cover will reduce my actual production from the theoretical Maximum that the panels could produce. That's reassuring that they aren't gaming me. I think the analysis today comes down to:
* What will be your after tax cost of buying the system? Let's say you go for a 100% system.
* Divide this after tax credit purchase price by your most recent 12 month's elect cost (which after solar should be more or less zero)
* This will determine your payback period. Obviously, quicker is better.

In my case, I'm getting quotes where the payback is between 4.5 and 6.5 years. And of course after that, your solar system will be "paying you an annual dividend" of your current annual cost against your cost of the system...for me, about 20%. I'm going to do it.

A good site that I found is called energysage.com

Here is an article about your State Utility Commission vs your electrical utility companies regarding the tug of war whereby utility companies are trying to limit how much their revenue decreases and how much they have to pay or credit you for energy you provide to them.

http://www.utilitydive.com/news/the-lur ... ri/433555/

Angelus359
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Angelus359 » Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:49 am

stoptothink wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:54 pm
rebellovw wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:44 am
Angelus359 wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:28 am
You use 18 times as much electricity as me...
Jeez

I use about 230kwh per month, with ac all summer and gas heat all winter in Illinois

My highest gas bill ever was 70.

My highest electric bill ever was 55
I'm not sure how you get by with so little - I have the AC at 74 - which is a huge culprit - but I work from home and find that fairly tolerable. How big is your house and what is your AC set to - and what is the outside temp? Ours is 1900 - outside temp is usually 80s to 90s - sometimes maybe 100 - but not for long. We are in Prescott AZ.
Our usage is significantly less than Angelus' in Utah. Most months our combined heat/electricity is <$30 (having only 1500 sqft. is obviously a big factor). Use of heat/ac absolutely dwarfs everything else when it comes to utilities. You'd be shocked what a few degrees difference on the thermostat means to usage. In the warmer months we stay outside except to sleep. In the winter, turn down the thermostat and throw on some sweats and a hoody.
I keep my home around 75 in the summer, or 77 when I'm not home
In the winter, it's 75 when I'm home, and 68 when I'm not home

I have issues staying warm, so these temps work for me.


I have a condo. 1100 sqft. Me and my girlfriend own it together.
I had my furnace motor replaced with an ECM model. Bought the motor for 175, and then had a comed electric rebate of 125$ dropping it to 50$.
Repair guy did it for free during a cleaning because he removes the motor to clean it anyways. He's also my friends dad and wanted to see what the process was for the rbamd of motor I asked about, so he can sell them.

I replaced a 550w model at 25% efficiency with an 85% efficient model. Mars azure digimotor

My clamp ammeter reads it at about 150w
My ac is 17 years old.
My furnace is about the same, sans the motor upgrade.
My wall insulation doesn't exist.
My ceiling insulation is 6 inches thinner than code (code requires 1 foot)
My 65 inch TV is a 2017 model
My computer is all 2016 parts
We have a PlayStation 4 slim for her games (slim is the power efficient model)
Netflix is done off the tv, so no additional box
We don't have a cablebox for tv so no phantom drain there
100% of our lighting except for microwave, oven, and dryer is led
Our appliances are gas
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Sandtrap
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Location: Hawaii😀 Northern AZ.😳

Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:29 am

btenny wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:17 am
I am caught in that APS rate mess where they want to force everyone to go to time of day power rates. I figure it will cost me maybe double as my summer bills are $50 as we turn up the temp to 85ish. But I have no way to stop my two AC-units from running at the same time or in peak periods. So I expect my summer bill to go way up. Same for the winter when both heat pump heaters will run at once in peak periods. The only cure for this is some sort of time and load controller which is very expensive. APS says they need to do this to counter the "duck curve" power demand due to all the solar panels.
Any ideas?
+1 on APS rates.
I'm glad we're farther north (15+degrees cooler) and have gas to offset costs.
Still pondering solar, though. 4000+ sf w/3 stories so it would be pricey.

pindevil
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Re: Wondering if solar is worth it - does my utility bill seem high? (Arizona)

Post by pindevil » Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:48 am

The APS plan you have can really affect your bill. I have the combined advantage plan and I use a load controller.

Last month I used 4,814 kWh.
637 kWh on peak.
4177 kWh off peak.

$487 total cost.

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