Solar Energy for the Win!

These two charts show how tumultuous and increasingly expensive our ride has been over the past 2 years, from Pennsylvania’s increasing reliance on fracked methane gas for both heating and electricity, even though we’re sitting right on top of one of the biggest gas formations in the world: the Marcellus Shale.

These charts show the “compare to” prices from our monthly utility bills in 2021 and 2022.

Solar Energy in Pennsylvania

Once again, I’ll share our personal experiences with how much rooftop solar has benefitted us, over the past 4-1/2 years.

We had 315kWh of rooftop solar energy production during the first 3 weeks of February. With our average daily use of 25kWh per day last month, that’s enough electricity to fulfill 12 days out of the past 21

Not bad for a February in Pennsylvania, especially with all the cloudy days!

Low utility bills

Our electric utility bills totaled $212.14 for 2022.

From May 2022 through January 2023, no bill was over $7 or $8

Having used up our remaining 2022 net metering credits, our electric bill went up from $6 in January to $103 in February 2023. 

If net metering is available in your state, and provided by your electric utility, it allows you to “bank” excess production for credits in months with lower solar energy production. 

Fueling the EV and heat pump too!

It’s important to note that the $212 we paid for grid electricity in 2022 included fully fueling our Chevy Bolt EV for 7,100 miles (that would have been a $1,000 expense for gasoline in a 27 mpg ICE vehicle) and operating our heat pump.

The heat pump is currently set to heat the house when it’s over 40-degrees F outside, in addition to providing more economical air conditioning than our former central AC unit, during summer months. 

Our MERV 15 heat pump can be set as low as 30-degrees, but there are higher priced, more efficient models, that will heat well below Zero. Many systems are now eligible for US federal tax credits. 

The place where solar really shines is during hot summer months, when solar energy production is at its peak. 

30,000 kWh already

Since our first 11 solar panels were installed in mid-2018, along with an additional 18 solar panels in mid-2020 (photo above), our 29 solar panels have produced 30,000 kWh of electricity (30 MWh). Using my previous figure of 25kWh average home usage per day last month, that would be enough to fully offset 1,200 days out of about 1,700 days, or 71% of our home usage. 

The solar panels came with a 25-year production guarantee, so over the next 20 years our solar production is forecast to drop about half-a-percent per year, for a total of 10%. In other words, after 25 years, the solar panels should still produce 87% of what they did originally.

One point that’s often overlooked when talking electric vehicles vs. traditional gasoline-powered vehicles is how much more energy-efficient EV’s are.

Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC)

If you own your own solar energy system, you can register in some states to sell your SRECs through a broker like  

One SREC = 1,000 kWh of solar energy production. SRECs are currently trading at $46 on the Pennsylvania market.

If we trade another 9 SRECs as we did in 2022, that will net us nearly $400 after sales commissions.

Home backup battery

Our Tesla Powerwall 2 recently saved us from a neighborhood power outage, when an automobile took out a nearby utility pole. 

Due to the current high cost of home back-up batteries, and ongoing advances in battery research, I would suggest most homeowners go with solar panels first, with the option to add a backup battery (or batteries) later. 

Make mine sunny side up! Bob