Reaching for Net-Zero

With all the sunny days in April, we reached a milestone with our Solar PV Awning.  We moved being net-consumers of electricity to being net-producers for the year (first four months).

Chart generated by SunWatch Meter from SunBug Solar LLC

In April our solar awning produced a whopping 733 kWh of electricity, only July 2011 was higher for the 17 months we’ve had the solar awning operational.  Since we only consumed 455 kWh in April, we had a net production credit of 278 kWh.  What excites me even more is that at the end of April, we had produced more electricity than we had consumed during the first four months of the year. 

  •  1,984 kWh of clean-renewable solar energy produced
  • (1,937 kWh) of electricity consumed through end of April 2012
  •  47 kWh Net-Production of electricity (about 3 days consumption)

I strive to be a net-contributor to society and I want to do that for our planet as well.  I would love to have a Net-Zero energy home and even go greener and actually produce more clean-renewable energy than we consume.  So, how did we do for April?

In addition to electricity, we also use natural gas for heating, cooking and domestic hot water in our home.  In April, we consumed 39 therms of natural gas.  We had standard blown-in insulation added to our house about 2 years ago, which results in much lower than average natural gas usage.  For more details and instructions on how to calculate total energy consumption or production, see my previous posts on Site vs. Source Energy and Why You Should Care and What is Your Home MPG?

Our Home Energy Usage for April 2012
Energy Consumed converted to kBTU
Electricity (47 kWh) (1,650 kBTU)
Natural Gas 39 therms  3,900 kBTU
Net NA  1,250 kBTU

So, even with all the sunshine in April and using Source Energy conversions we were not Net-Zero, but very close.  To truly reach my goal of being energy net-positive, we also need to look beyond our home and include the vehicles that we drive and other forms of energy consumption like those in the products we consume.  To put that in perspective, in April we consumed about 60 gallons of gasoline which is equivalent to 6,840 kBTU, so about half of our families energy consumption is in transportation.  We can’t wait for someone to release a plug-in hybrid minivan.

We are extremely excited by the performance of our solar awning and love it.  Without the solar awning, our home would have consumed 6,600 kBTU of energy in April.

Set stretch goals for yourself, celebrate your accomplishments, both big and small and keep greening your life everyday.

Happy Greening!

What is your stretch goal for yourself?  Share your dreams in the comments below.  Who knows, one of our readers may have some good insight on achieving it.

solar PV awning
Going for Solar Series

To learn more about residential solar installations, check out our series Going for Solar, which details every step from dreaming about installing solar, through picking a contractor and the steps in construction.  We provide information and advice for every step of the way, as well as different approaches such as paying for it yourself versus leasing a system.  Don’t miss the steps on how much money we saved during our first year of usage!

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