Solar & your energy bill
HOW THEY WORK TOGETHER
Installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system is an efficient way to convert the sun’s energy into electricity to power your home or business. However, what many people don’t realize is that systems connected to Manitoba Hydro’s grid will continue to receive an electricity bill— it’ll just be less than before as you’ll be purchasing less energy from Manitoba Hydro. You’ll also be able to sell excess electricity generated from your solar PV system to Manitoba Hydro and receive a credit on your energy bill.
HOW SOLAR WORKS WITH YOUR ENERGY BILL
Grid-connected solar PV systems work by transferring energy between your home or business and the grid, depending on when electricity is being produced and used. If you aren’t using all the electricity produced by your system throughout the day, Manitoba Hydro will draw that unused electricity into their grid. Alternatively, if you’re using electricity in the evening when your solar PV system isn’t producing electricity, you’ll be drawing electricity from Manitoba Hydro’s grid.
When you sell unused electricity from your system back to Manitoba Hydro, you’ll be credited for your electricity. This means you can see credits on your energy bill for the excess energy you’ve sold to Manitoba Hydro. This concept is known as net billing. Go to their website to learn more about net billing.
WHAT AFFECTS YOUR ENERGY BILL
There are some factors that can affect the amount of your energy bill. This includes the size of your system, the weather (season, time of day, and cloud cover or shading) and your consumption of the electricity your solar PV system is generating.
- Size of your system:
The size of your system will determine how much energy is produced for your home or business. The bigger the system, the more energy it’ll produce. We recommend sizing your solar PV system appropriately to avoid exceeding the annual electricity usage of your home or business. This means that the amount of electricity your solar PV system produces should be comparable to the amount of electricity your home or business uses. If your system is too small, you’ll need to draw more electricity from the grid, while if your system is too big, the excess energy that you’re not using will be drawn into the grid.
As the weather varies throughout the year, so will the amount of electricity produced from your solar PV system. Some months may be sunnier than average, while others may have more clouds, fog, or snow. Because your system works by converting energy from the sun’s rays, it’s unable to produce electricity 24 hours a day, such as when the sun is down. During these times, you’ll need to access power from Manitoba Hydro’s grid to power your home or business, which will be reflected on your energy bill.
- When you use the energy produced by your system:
The reason the timing of your energy use impacts your energy bill is because you pay more to buy electricity from Manitoba Hydro than you’ll receive when selling electricity back to them. Solar energy is produced throughout the day from when the sun rises to when the sun sets. However, every day has a period during which the most electricity is produced; this is known as the peak generation period. These peak generation periods vary throughout the year and seasons. Making the most of your solar PV system typically requires using most of your electricity during these peak generation periods.
On average, early afternoon is the best time to use devices that consume a large amount of energy, such as your dishwasher, clothes dryer, or pool heater. Using energy during your system’s peak generation period will help you maximize your dollar savings and avoid exporting electricity back to the grid.
Installing a solar system allows your home or business to produce its own electricity. It’s important to understand that grid-connected systems will still draw electricity from Manitoba Hydro’s grid during the times when you’re still consuming electricity but your system isn’t producing any (or enough) electricity. You’ll still receive a monthly energy bill when you have a solar PV system, however you can expect it to be less than before as you won’t be using as much electricity from Manitoba Hydro.
LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION?
Check out the rest of the articles in our solar series.