10 things you need to do before buying a PV system:
- Change to LED or CFL, especially high use fixtures, remember to check outdoor flood lights.
- Borrow a Kilo-watt meter at the library and see how much power plug loads such as dehumidifiers, electric heaters, tech & entertainment electronic wastes and put on power strips or turn off. Put the Kilo-watt meter on your frig and freezer. Older machines may use $200 but new ones $60.
- If you have an electric water tank, well or septic pump, pool/hot tub, or electric clothes dryer get a circuit meter** to find out what they are costing you.
- If you have kids that think light switches only go in one direction buy room sensors to turn off the lights automatically. Use them in closets or garages where you often forget to turn off the lights.
- 99% of homes can benefit by have an energy audit and air sealing done. Efficiency Maine has rebates to keep the cost down. Do this when you start shopping for solar and before making any DIY improvements. Efficiency Maine sometimes gives bonus rebates for additional projects done within 6 months of the audit.
- If you have a tankless coil oil boiler consider adding a tank and cold starting or using a heat pump hot water tank to make hot water.
- If your boiler is older (not modulating/condensing wall hung) consider heat pumps to handle the majority of your space heating to cut costs. Plus the extra electric load can be offset by PV panels allowing the sun to heat your home for free.
- PV panels have a 25 year warranty and 40 year life. Determine the status of your shingles. You do not want to pay to remove PV to re-roof.
- Seriously consider an electric car if you are driving more than 40 miles per day. Adding solar panels to offset charging will save a ton of money. Electric cars can be leased for $200 a month.
- Document your current energy use. Keep notes on upgrades and savings. Use this data when you go to sell your home so you can show it is more energy efficient than average and get a higher asking price.
Remember it is cheaper to reduce your use than buy more PV modules.
**Efergy.com makes a great meter than clamps on to the power lines in the CMP panel box, about $100 and we rent them for $25.