Allowing homeowners to independently generate their own electricity is just one of the many benefits modern solar panels provide. As more and more homeowners discover the independence that solar provides, questions like “will solar take me off the grid?” or “will solar eliminate my energy bill?” become more common. The answers? It depends.
One of the first and most important factors to consider prior to purchasing solar panels is how much of your electricity use you’ll be able to offset with solar. Known as your energy offset, this figure is essential in calculating the energy savings and return-on-investment that solar panels can provide.
What is my energy offset? How can I increase it?
Your electricity usage offset (or energy offset) is the amount of electricity a home generates in a year relative to the total amount of electricity used in a home for that year. For example, if a home’s solar panels generate 80,000 kWh of electricity in a year and the home consumes 100,000 kWh, the home would have an 80% energy offset.
A home with 100% energy offset generates the same amount of electricity that it uses in a year. This is also known as a “net-zero” building. There are a few methods through which a customer can increase their energy offset, starting with installing solar panels.
- Solar panels
- Energy efficiency
- Backup batteries or generators
It’s important to understand that offsetting 100% of your energy is not the same as being “off-grid.” Off-grid means being completely disconnected from any outside power sources. In fact, most examples of homes that offset 100% of their energy do so without being off-grid. In some cases (such as our recent case study), energy-efficient homes with net metering can reach 100% energy offset without a large number of solar panels.
Why does my energy offset matter?
The more energy a home is able to offset with solar means a higher level of energy independence. With more energy independence, a homeowner becomes less vulnerable to fluctuating utility rates, grid outages, and severe weather events.
Electricity from the grid is also typically generated by a mix of coal, natural gas, and nuclear. This means that by choosing to independently produce your own energy with solar panels you can offset tons of harmful emissions that would otherwise be released into the environment.
I’m interested in solar. How can I find out my home’s potential energy offset?
The best way to accurately calculate your potential energy offset is to speak with a solar professional. Our experienced consultants can calculate your potential energy offset by assessing your energy bill, roof size, and budget.