Saturday, June 03, 2006

Solar System is On

We got our photovoltaic system turned on this week. The guys at Meridian Energy Systems had gotten it installed and hooked up before the Cool Homes Tour but it required the City to inspect it and then come out and provide the appropriate meters before it could be turned on for real.

They came out and installed the meters on Tuesday, which of course was the darkest, cloudiest day so far this spring. Wednesday was too, but Thursday and Friday were nice bright days. So far we've collected 24 kilowatt hours (kWh) and returned two to the City.

Our energy usage for May was a total of just over 1000 kWh (which is the average household usage for the City of Austin), or an average of 37 kWh per day. Our PVs should produce about 9 or 10 kWhs per day this time of year, so it looks like we're on track to produce about 1/4 to 1/3 of what we need from the PV system. This should make our electric bill less than $100.00 per month, which is pretty good for a 2500 sq ft house in this climate.

At that rate that represents about a 13-year payback on the cost of the system, which isn't too bad. Of course, if electric rates go up, the payback is faster.

Also, just having system on our house reduces the chances of a neighborhood power outage due to excess demand. The solar guy said that having just 100 houses like ours in a city the size of Austin can mean the difference between blackouts and no blackouts during peak usage times.

Now I'm just waiting for the plugin hybrids so we can put PVs on the garage and have solar-powered cars....


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