As summer heat comes on, it makes sense to explore ways to save money on high bills to run your air conditioning. In Virginia, air conditioning can account for up to 70% of your summer electric bill, so cutting your AC costs is the best thing you can do to save money on electricity this summer.
The place to start is with energy efficiency. The average Virginia homeowner can reduce their need for AC while still keeping their home comfortable. Following a few simple tips like using fans creatively along with AC, keeping curtains closed during the day and programming your thermostat properly can save $100 or more over the summer.
Then, if your summer AC bills are still high, the next place to look is going solar at home.
Save Up to $800 Per Year on Air Conditioning
How much can solar save you on AC over the summer?
If you have enough solar to cover your average annual electricity usage, the answer is that solar can save you 100% of the money you’d pay on air conditioning.
Some of our customers have zeroed out the electricity portion of their utility bills. For example, since he got solar, our customer Mark Rathke in Bridgewater doesn’t need to buy electricity from his local electric coop anymore. The 24 panels on his roof cover all his family’s electricity demand. So, all that Mark pays on his utility bill every month is a nominal charge to stay connected to the grid — just $15.
So, if you follow Mark’s example and get enough solar to cover your home’s usage, how much money can you save?
Let’s run the numbers and see.
For an average sized home of 2500 square feet, air conditioning can raise your electric bill by $50-$200 per month during the three warmest summer months.
Added up over those three months, an average Virginia homeowner could be paying an extra $150-$600 for the summer. Then, if you consider that you may also need to run the AC sometimes in both the spring and fall — especially if Virginia gets one of those fall heat waves that can spill over from September into October — it’s safe to add on another $50-$200 for the whole air-conditioning season.
That will put your annual total for air conditioning in the range of $200-$800 for the year. Over a 20-year period, that can add up to at least $4,000 and as much as $16,000.
So, that’s how much the average Virginia home can save on AC by going solar.
And that’s not counting the rest of the electricity your home uses over the year, from refrigeration to lighting to heating. Over the whole year, solar can save the average Virginia homeowner anywhere from about $1,200 to $3,000 annually. Over a 20-year period, that’s a low of $24,000 and a high of $60,000.
Smaller homes and newer homes that are more energy efficient will generally save less, while larger homes or older, leakier homes that cost more to cool can save more money. In some cases, much more.
2 Main Barriers to Going Solar…Now Gone
In the past, the challenge has always been having enough money to cover the upfront cost of getting solar installed. Just five years ago, in Virginia, a homeowner would have needed $20,000 or more to get enough solar to cover their needs.
The good news is that, today, it’s much easier to get started with solar in Virginia.
First, solar is much cheaper than just five years ago. Since then, the cost of getting a home solar system has come down in Virginia by 25% or more.
Second, you don’t have to pay that cost upfront anymore. In fact, attractive financing can help you get solar for no money down. A solar installer can help with a solar loan at a competitive rate. Or, if you qualify for a home equity line of credit (HELOC) from your bank, you might be able to get an even lower interest rate.
That’s how Mark Rathke, our customer in Bridgewater, got his solar system for no money down. Since the rate on his loan is low, his monthly payments are lower than what he’s saving on this electric bill. And once his loan is paid off, he’ll still be making his own solar power at home for another 20 years or more — but he won’t have any monthly payment at all.
Except for the $15 he has to pay every month to stay connected to the grid.
Of course every household is different and so your mileage may vary. Would you like to see if your home qualifies for solar, and if so, how much you could save on air conditioning this summer?
Then sign up for Main Street Solar’s free quote and home solar assessment. We’ll come by any home or business from far southwestern Virginia to Roanoke and Lynchburg to Charlottesville and Harrisonburg.
— Andrew Brenner, Main Street Solar