What to Expect Your First Winter with Solar

What to Expect Your First Winter with Solar

Congratulations! You made the switch to clean, renewable energy generated right on your roof. Making the investment in rooftop solar is an incredible step towards your energy independence and environmental sustainability at home.

Depending on when you had your solar energy system installed, you’ve also been building up credits with the power company every time you send any excess power back to the grid.

Summer with solar is easy: the bill from your local utility company dwindles to zero as your panels soak up the long days of summer sun. But your first winter, if you got your solar installed later than the previous April, you might see some things that bring up some questions.

We’re here to help answer those, and give you resources to learn more about how your panels save you money. With our help, you’ll be well prepared for the adjustment period that comes with any investment, including rooftop solar. 

How Does Solar Work in the Winter?

Let’s go over some quick basics:

  • Solar panels today are incredibly efficient, and can generate enough energy to bank net metering credits through your utility provider to cover electricity you might need to pull from the grid during the winter. This efficiency also means that even during shorter winter days, your panels will still be producing a decent amount of energy, so it’s not like they’re just not working during colder months.
  • Snow and rain won’t harm your panels. The rain is basically a free way to wash your panels, which helps keep them clear of residue and debris. Snow might cover your panels and slightly reduce generating capacity, but with a professionally installed system placed at an angle, and the heat of the panels, it should melt off soon enough. The panels Purelight installs are also built to withstand over 110 lbs of snow per square foot!
  • Depending on your state-specific programs, your panels help to build up a bank of credits with your utility company that you can use during the winter if you need to. That process is called net metering, and is another way solar helps homeowners save. With colder weather, earlier evenings, and hosting holiday gatherings and family visiting, most of us see our winter electricity usage go up. Those banked credits cover the increased electricity usage that is above what your panels will generate in the winter.

Professional rooftop solar is safe and saves money


How to Make the Most of Your Panels Your First Winter

During the first winter with your solar panels, you might not notice much on your monthly bill from the utility company beyond the grid connection charge you’ve been paying all summer. That charge helps make sure you can send the excess electricity you generate in the summer to the grid and get compensated for it.

If you had your panels installed somewhere during May through September, you won’t have the same amount of banked credits your first winter.

This means you might still be seeing your electricity bill increase a little. The number one thing to do is just have patience and know that this time next winter you’ll have four or five months worth of summer electricity to pull from as you need.

However, if you’d still like to see a bit more savings immediately, there are some things you can do.

Keep up those energy saving habits!

With the freedom of solar comes the awesome bonus of being less stressed about how an extra few loads of laundry, or being less careful about not leaving lights on might impact the power bill. As our communities see more intense weather with a La Niña winter this year, most of us are tempted to crank the heat up too!

Because your system was created with past energy use habits informing the design, if your energy usage has notably increased after install, you’ll see that impact your power bill. While you can’t control the weather during the winter, you do have control over how you use energy in your home, and can make sure you still see savings by avoiding energy creep after your solar is installed.

Make sure you understand how to use your solar monitoring app to keep an eye on your solar production. If your panels are producing a ton, but you’re still getting a power bill, that’s usually a sign that your energy usage has sneakily increased.

Make sure your panels are clear of debris

Autumn is that gorgeous time of year where trees are dressed in the reds, oranges, and yellows of their autumn glory. But come winter, those leaves are brown and clogging gutters. They also might be covering parts of your panels, which will reduce how much energy your panels can produce.

No need to grab a rake or climb on the roof. Grab your everyday garden hose, put a spray nozzle on, and spray your panels to help move any stuck on leaves or pine needles. A quick rinse will get the worst offending debris off, and help keep your panels clear to soak up every last minute of sun.

This is the safest and only recommended way to clean your panels, aside from working with Purelight to find a professional.

Be Ready for Winter with Solar

During gray winter weather we all feel like spring might never come. But eventually spring comes along with more sun and the start of longer days.

By knowing what to expect during your first winter with solar, and being familiar with things like the components of your solar energy system, and what to do if a winter storm knocks out power to your home, you can still see plenty of savings, and be ready to make the most of next year’s sunny spring and summer.

If you have any questions, our Support team is available to help at 541-200-2896.

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