What is Net Metering & How Will it Affect Me?

July 16 2020

Net metering answers one of the most popular questions asked by those considering home solar - how will I power my home when my panels aren’t producing electricity?

Residential home using net energy metering

Solar panels don’t generate much electricity on cloudy days, and they don’t generate any electricity at night. Regardless, this doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck in the dark. Net metering offers a simple solution.

What is net metering? Simply put, it is a solar incentive. Solar net metering allows homeowners to store excess energy in the electric grid for later use. This prepares you for times when your panels produce less electricity than you need.

Understanding the facets of net metering programs will make the switch to solar easy. Connecting your system to the grid offers plenty of benefits.

Let’s go over the basics of these programs and how they can help you save money in the long run.

How Does Net Metering Work?

So, what is net metering and how does it work? Solar panels produce the most electricity during the sunniest part of the day, which is typically in the early afternoon. On the other hand, they don’t produce any electricity at night.

This doesn’t align well with usage times. Most homeowners use the most electricity in the early morning or at night. In fact, a large majority of homeowners aren’t even home in the early afternoon.

So, what happens to all that excess energy? That’s where solar net metering comes in.

What is net metering and how does it work

What is net metering? When a home “connected to the grid”, it can use net metering to switch back and forth between energy sources.

Any excess energy that your panels produce gets sent to your utility’s electric grid. When this happens, your meter will run in reverse, providing a credit on your utility bill for the electricity given to the grid.

If you need electricity but your panels aren’t producing, you can draw it from your utility automatically, the way you did before you had solar panels. When you get your utility bill at the end of the month, you’ll see a credit based on the amount of energy you stored in the grid. This credit will go towards any utility electricity you used.

Net metering programs like this help homeowners balance out their production and usage. The credits you receive for excess energy will help balance out the cost of using the utility’s electricity. Often, these instances will even out, allowing you to keep your electricity bill at $0.

If, however, you produce less electricity than you use, you’ll need to pay the difference to your utility company. Net energy metering ensures that you’ll always have electricity when you need it.

Can Net Metering Save Me Money?

Net energy metering allows homeowners to receive credits for excess solar energy. These credits are billed at the utility’s typical rate. That means you’ll never lose money on the energy you produce. Think of it as charging up a battery for later use.

Homeowners can save thousands of dollars in electricity costs by using a net metering program. Imagine all the money and energy you’d waste if you could only use solar energy at the exact moment it was produced.

While energy storage systems are increasing in popularity, they don’t offer all the benefits of net energy metering. Off-grid solar systems are significantly more expensive. They also need a large battery bank to cover energy needs when your panels can’t produce enough to cover usage. In addition, solar batteries need lots of maintenance.

On top of that, off-grid systems require much more tracking and energy conservation. For these systems, homeowners use a charge controller and monitoring equipment to keep track of their own energy supply. When they run out, they’re out. Off-grid users can’t use net metering to seamlessly transition to energy from the grid.

For these reasons, net energy metering is a much more user-friendly option.

Do I Have Access to a Net Metering Program?

Net metering is available in the majority of states. In some areas, programs are available through certain utilities but are not mandatory state-wide.

Find an inclusive list of the solar policies and incentives in each state here. Check to see if solar net metering is offered near you.

You can also talk to your local solar installation company to get a better idea of how to take advantage of the solar incentives in your area. Not sure which solar installation company to choose? Greenlife Solar can help.

Simply enter your address and we’ll match you with quality solar installers you can trust. Then, compare each of your options and choose an installation company with confidence.

Take advantage of all the benefits solar net metering has to offer. Find a solar installer in minutes with Greenlife Solar.

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