how does net metering work

Net Metering: Everything You Need to Know Before Going Solar

In Solar by Matty ByloosLeave a Comment

An Energy-Efficient Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Solar Panels

What Exactly Is Net Metering?

Net Metering, sometimes called Net Energy Metering, is a billing system in which homeowners with solar panels can share unused energy with their local utility grid and save money. When homeowners are producing more energy than they are using, they can sign up for net metering to transfer this extra energy into the collective grid.

Like the name implies, Net Metering takes into account the Net amount of energy being used. So, the utility company calculates the amount of excess energy being outputted by the homeowner against the amount of grid energy being used by the homeowner in order to get the net energy for each month. This helps to save on costs by weighing contributed energy against consumed energy.

residential solar panels

How Net Metering Works

Solar energy production is completely reliant upon, you guessed it, the sun. In Winter months or the rainy seasons, a homeowner is less likely to be producing enough solar energy to completely power their home. Alternatively, in the summer months, with more sunshine and less energy spent on heating the house, a homeowner may be producing more solar energy than their house needs to stay powered.

Net Metering allows homeowners to shift their unused energy to the grid when they have a surplus of energy and to draw from the grid when they have an energy deficit.  From a financial perspective, the utility bill will equal the net amount of energy used from the grid, as explained in the previous paragraphs.

For those of you interested in the more technical aspects of net metering, we break it down in the following paragraph. For those of you who aren’t interested, feel free to skip ahead.

First, the solar panels are used to harness energy from the sun. This energy is then routed through an inverter (which directs the DC or AC current) and into your home electrical panel. The home electrical panel can then send the harnessed energy in several different directions. The energy may be immediately put to use in the house or, for the purpose of net metering, it will be sent to the utility grid after being registered in the utility meter. When a system is producing more energy than you are using, the meter may go negative to represent that flow out of your system and into the grid.

Why Net Metering Can Be Beneficial

For the more community minded of us, net metering is great because it directly helps your neighbors and your community. By putting more energy into the grid, you are conserving energy and putting less strain on the power systems, thereby allowing the power grid to operate more smoothly and sustainably.

By generating energy at home, you are not only helping your local community be more energy efficient, but you can also save money! By crediting a home’s outputted energy against the energy used from the grid, the monthly utility bill will be lower. In time, these savings can end up paying for the solar panel.

Solar Batteries and Net Metering

So what’s the point of staying connected to the grid if you’re producing your own solar energy? One of the main reasons to stay on the grid is so that you can gain economic value for your unused energy, without having to invest in a solar battery for energy storage.

Solar batteries can be expensive, and offloading your excess energy onto the grid circumvents the need for a personal battery. Plus, during the colder months, if your system hasn’t independently generated enough energy, having access to the grid can mean the difference between heating your home and staying cold.

However, solar batteries are actually a better choice in the case of natural disasters or widespread power outages. Having a personal solar battery means that you can keep your own electricity up and running even if the grid fails. Without having a solar battery, if the grid system fails, your solar energy system will also shut down. A personal battery is also a good option in the case of homes far away from the power lines.

electrical grid infrastructure

When Will My Solar Energy Pay Itself Off?

Many factors must be taken into account to know how long it will take for your solar investment to break even. Considering the size of the solar system, the average amount of energy consumed by your household, and additional costs like installation and taxing, you can start to get closer to that number. Using an online Solar Calculator, you can have some of the heavy arithmetic done for you. The average time for pay off is between 5 to 9 years.

How to Apply for Net Metering

To register for net metering, you must first coordinate with your utilities group. Net Metering is supported in several of the United States (but not all), with policies varying state to state. To access specific policies and find out if you qualify, visit this website for the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Contribute Excess Energy to Make The Whole System Better

If you’re still debating if solar is the right option for you, know that solar is a good option for the world. It can reduce our carbon footprint and help us to harness existing energy in our environment without harmful processing or destruction. By increasing our use of solar and other renewable energies, we can help the environment and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

By sharing your excess solar energy with the grid, you can contribute to overall smoother functioning of the whole power system. You are simultaneously contributing to your community, saving energy, and saving money. Get the most out of your solar system. For a sustainable and energy efficient way to run your solar system, net metering is a great option.

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