A Guide To Maximizing Solar Panel Energy Savings in Oregon & Washington

Metal Roof Solar Panels

Installing rooftop solar panels isn’t just good for the environment. They are also an excellent way to virtually eliminate electricity bills in the Pacific Northwest. However, we have learned from years of experience in the solar power industry that there are many dos and don’ts when maximizing solar panel savings in Oregon & Washington. Read on to learn our expert tips on getting the most benefit from solar panels on your home. 

Importance of Optimizing Solar Energy Savings for Homeowners

Maximizing your solar energy system’s efficiency reduces your reliance on fossil fuels while minimizing your power bill savings. You can take numerous steps when installing your system that reduces the time it takes for your solar system to pay for itself through energy bill savings. Whether you use Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, Puget Sound Energy, or an electric coop, there are certain steps you can take to boost your solar panel energy savings for decades. 

Solar Power Potential in Oregon & Washington

Oregon and Washington have significant solar power potential despite their reputation for cloudy weather. Both states receive ample sunlight, especially during the summer when the air conditioning systems are cranking, and power bills can soar.

While cloud cover may sometimes reduce solar irradiance, advancements in solar technology, such as high-efficiency solar panels, help maximize your solar panel energy savings even under overcast conditions. The Pacific Northwest’s long daylight hours in the summer also contribute to favorable solar energy production.

Solar Irradiance and Weather Patterns in Oregon & Washington

Oregon’s climate varies significantly from west to east. The western region, including Salem, Portland, and Eugene, has milder temperatures and more precipitation. The eastern region, which includes Bend and Pendleton, enjoys drier conditions and more sunshine. 

Similarly, Washington’s weather varies between the coast, including Seattle and Tacoma, to the drier inland areas, with the eastern part, such as Spokane and Yakima. Despite occasional cloud cover, both states still receive enough solar irradiance to make solar energy a viable and valuable renewable energy option for homeowners and businesses.

Factors Influencing Solar Energy Production in the Pacific Northwest

Many factors can boost solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation and, therefore, solar panel energy savings when installing a rooftop solar panel system. The solar system designers at Smart Solar Energy take these into account to customize the ideal solar system for your home. The first step in installing solar panels is to contact the Smart Solar Energy Team.

Choosing the Right Solar Panel System In Oregon & Washington

There are ways to boost the solar panel savings from your system so you get the most from your solar investment. It’s critical to consider these factors. 

Proper Solar PV System Sizing

Ideal sizing is key to designing the ideal solar panel system for your home in Oregon and Washington. By accurately assessing your home energy needs and available space for a solar installation, you can ensure that your system is optimized for maximum energy production and efficiency. 

If you undersize your solar system, you miss potential solar energy savings. But, if you oversize your PV system, you will get more solar credits than you can use on your power bills. Proper sizing ensures that your solar PV system meets your home energy goals while maximizing your return on investment and solar panel energy savings.

It’s also helpful to consider whether your energy needs will change shortly. For example, will you buy an electric vehicle soon and want to charge it at home? Are you planning to convert your stove or water heater from gas to electric? Are you installing heat pumps for home heating and cooling? If so, accounting for these changes is critical to maximizing your solar panel savings. 

Selecting the Best Solar Panels & Inverters for the Pacific Northwest

When considering PV panels and solar inverters for your home in the Pacific Northwest, it’s essential to prioritize components designed to thrive in our climate. Choose high-efficiency solar panels, especially if roof space is limited. Look for solar inverters equipped with advanced technology to maximize clean energy production. By selecting the best-suited panels and inverters for the Pacific Northwest, you can confidently invest in a solar energy solution that delivers reliable solar electricity production and significant energy savings for years to come.

Maximizing Solar Energy Production

Before you install your solar panels, it’s critical to consider how to get the most solar electricity generation from your system to boost your solar panel energy savings. Proper planning can boost your return on investment and your carbon footprint.

Solar Panel Orientation & Tilt Angle For Greater Solar Panel Energy Savings

Optimizing your solar panel orientation and tilt angle is crucial for maximizing solar power output in Oregon and Washington. Since these regions experience varying sunlight angles throughout the year, adjusting your panels to face the direction of the sun’s path can significantly boost energy production. 

Typically, south-facing panels receive the most sunlight, making them ideal for maximizing solar energy savings. However, adjusting panel tilt angles to around 30 to 40 degrees in the Pacific Northwest can help capture more sunlight, especially during winter when the sun sits lower in the sky. By fine-tuning your solar panel orientation and tilt angle to suit the local climate, you can ensure optimal energy generation and maximize solar savings on your electricity bills.

Tree Trimming

Mitigating Shading on Solar Panels

When maximizing solar panel energy savings in Oregon and Washington, mitigating shading on your solar modules is essential. Identify any potential sources of shade, such as nearby trees, buildings, or structures, that could obstruct sunlight and reduce panel efficiency. Although there are many benefits to having beautiful Douglas Firs, Western Red Cedars, and Sitka Spruce on your property, they can cast shade on your PV panels. 

In Oregon and Washington, planting trees on the north side of your home is ideal to avoid shading your solar panels. By planting trees to the north, you ensure they won’t cast shadows on your solar panels, maximizing their exposure to sunlight throughout the day. By carefully planning the placement of trees around your property, you can optimize solar panel energy savings and performance in the Pacific Northwest.

Consider pruning or adjusting the placement of panels to minimize shading throughout the day. At Smart Solar Energy, we use shading analysis tools to determine the best panel placement and configuration on your property. Our solar designers are skilled in mitigating the impacts of shading on solar panels so you get the most value from your system. 

Solar Energy Storage in Oregon & Washington

Installing batteries can increase your solar panel energy savings in the Pacific Northwest, but the exact savings vary depending on the capacity of your battery, your electricity rate plan, and when your home consumes power. Also, homeowners in Oregon may be eligible for a battery rebate from the state. 

How Batteries Increase Solar Panel Energy Savings

Solar energy storage batteries provide backup power during grid outages, ensuring uninterrupted electricity supply and reducing reliance on traditional utility sources. Investing in solar batteries allows you to maximize your energy bill savings and gain greater control over your energy usage in the Pacific Northwest.

Batteries can also help increase your solar panel energy bill savings in Oregon and Washington. By storing excess solar energy generated during the day, batteries allow you to use that energy during peak demand times or at night when solar production is low. 

Solar batteries reduce your reliance on grid electricity during higher rate periods, lowering your energy bills. This is especially true if you have a time-of-use (TOU) electricity rate plan with your electric company. 

Paying a bill

Utilities with TOU Rates in Oregon & Washington

TOU electricity rate plans are designed to encourage homeowners to shift their energy usage to off-peak hours when electricity costs are lower. With TOU plans, you’ll pay different rates for electricity depending on the time of day. Typically, rates are higher during peak demand periods, such as weekday evenings, and lower during off-peak times, like nights and weekends. 

Many utility providers in Oregon and Washington offer TOU billing, although participation is optional, and availability depends on your specific utility provider and service plan. With a TOU rate plan and a solar battery, you can maximize your solar panel energy savings by storing energy during off-peak hours when electricity rates are lower and using that stored energy during peak hours when rates are higher. By doing so, you can minimize the amount of electricity you need to purchase at the higher peak rates, ultimately reducing your overall energy bills. 

As of spring 2024, these are the companies offering TOU power plans. However, these programs are subject to change, and it’s important to verify this information before installing a solar battery. 

TOU Rate Plans in Oregon:

  1. Emerald Peoples Utility District (EPUD): Offers an Off Peak Advantage plan with varying rates between winter and summer months and by time of day on weekdays.
  2. Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB): Encourages customers to conserve power during peak demand, although it doesn’t currently offer TOU rates for electricity.
  3. Idaho Power: Provides TOU rate plans with on-peak, mid-peak, and off-peak rates for residential customers using over 800 kWh of electricity.
  4. Pacific Power: Offers a TOU rate plan with on-peak and off-peak electricity rates.
  5. Portland General Electric (PGE): Supplies electricity to over a million customers and provides TOU rates with three tiers – on-peak, mid-peak, and off-peak electric rates.

TOU Rate Plans in Washington:

  1. Pacific Power: Offers TOU plans with on-peak and off-peak electricity rates.
  2. Puget Sound Energy (PSE): Launched a TOU pilot program and allows a limited number of households to enroll. Peak electricity rates are usually from 7 am to 10 am and 5 to 8 pm on weekdays.

Taking Advantage of Solar Incentives in Oregon & Washington

Solar energy incentive programs in the Pacific Northwest can reduce the cost of going solar. These programs can significantly decrease the time it takes for your solar panel energy savings to pay for installing a system.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

The Federal Solar Tax Credit, also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), offers homeowners in Oregon and Washington a financial incentive for installing solar PV systems. Homeowners who install solar systems in 2024 can benefit from a tax credit that covers 30% of the total cost of a solar panel system. 

Oregon Solar Rebates

The Oregon Solar + Storage Rebate Program is excellent for Oregonians because it lowers the upfront cost of going solar. This program provides rebates for both solar electric systems and paired energy storage systems for residential customers and low-income service providers in Oregon. The rebates are issued to approved contractors, including Smart Solar Energy, who then pass on the savings to their customers. Homeowners in Portland, Salem, Bend, and beyond can receive up to $5,000 for their solar electric system and up to $2,500 for an energy storage system through this program.

Solar System Maintenance to Boost Solar Panel Energy Savings

There are ongoing ways to increase your energy bill savings after installing your system, and Smart Solar Energy makes this easy. 

Solar monitoring portal

Regular Maintenance & Monitoring

All the systems we install at Smart Solar Energy have solar energy monitoring systems. A solar monitoring system is a tool that allows homeowners to track and analyze the performance of their solar energy system in real-time using a web portal or mobile app. By providing data on energy production, system efficiency, and potential issues, solar monitoring systems help you optimize your solar investment and ensure your system is running effectively.

We believe in proactively addressing solar maintenance issues so they don’t impact your overall solar energy output. All the systems we install include a 25-year labor and service warranty, solar panel warranty, and power production guarantee. This ensures you get the most value from your solar investment at no additional cost. 

Smart Solar Savings Reduce Energy Bills

Solar panels have skyrocketed in popularity in Oregon and Washington because of how much they can reduce electricity bills and greenhouse gas emissions. However, it is critical to consider numerous factors to optimize solar panel energy savings, including selecting quality solar equipment and proper solar panel placement.

Smart Solar Energy makes it easy to harness the power of sunlight on your property. Contact us today to get started.

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