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Approaching one year on our personal Solar – net metering for all?

We’ve had our home PV Solar installation going for close to a year. It is amazing the rethinking that goes on the house when 1) you move to net metering and 2) you look at your usage data.

The move to net metering was required for the solar installation. Like move home owners who put in PV Solar, it is a kick to watch the feed into the grid vs pulling from the grid. But then something kicks in. A new behavior dialog starts. How much more can be feed into the grid? This is when the in-depth look into how we use power really starts in the house. Sure, you see these commercials and talks about how people are being mindful of their power usage. But reality 101 of behavior is that you need reinforcement.  You need to see, touch, and be reminded to keep the behavior actualized. For us, it was the combination of the monthly net metering analysis from PG&E and the data we get from our system (see below). We get the usage per time of day from PG&E. That let us know which time of the day we should be consuming energy that is offset while conserving energy which is being pulled from the grid. For our systems there are some counter intuitive usage patterns. We set our dishwasher to go of ~10:00 a.m. every day. That sets of the dishwasher’s consumption to be during hours where we’re producing power. The same goes for laundry – doing that when the kids get back from school (~4 pm). This is not the normal communicated wisdom, but it does minimize the power we pull from the grid.

This sort of counter intuitive example is based on a behavioral reinforcement net metering provides. It raises the question of who not more net metering? What would happen if an entire city moved to net metering, got usage data, and provided the monthly reinforcement needed to change behavior.

My hypotheses is that we would see interesting and dramatic consumption changes, efficiency efforts, and actualization of the practices which are advocated to have people conserve.  I also think that any shift to net metering on a wide scale would be opposed by the power companies. The actualization of behavior changes would mean a loss of revenue for them.

This article was posted on Thursday, September 10th, 2009 at 12:16 pm You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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