It’s been more than three years since we’ve paid an electric bill… and it feels every bit as good as it sounds.
Yesterday we got our bill for May. It’s amazing to look forward to getting a bill in the mail. This was our best bill yet:
No, THANK YOU for letting me use your DirectNOPay Program.
For newer readers, I wrote an article here about how and why we transitioned to solar power. Solar power worked out for us based on a confluence of three things: house orientation (facing south), state and federal subsidies, and the price of electricity in general. The last two are Rhode Island related, but it make sense for you in your state. I think the federal subsidies are still in place, but you may want to investigate this quickly. To put it mildly, I don’t think environmental causes are near the top of this administration’s priorities.
We’re currently in the “sweet spot” of solar power. In the spring, the days are long which means a lot of sun. We don’t use much electricity as we don’t need heat or (much) air conditioning. We are starting to get into air conditioning season though, which is when we’ll start drawing down on that negative balance. (Or is it drawing up, because we’re in negatives?)
I think we’ve gotten as close as a -$50 balance, but this recent -$255 bill is the biggest credit I can remember. This June has been cooler than I remember and we were on vacation for part of the month. Maybe we’ll get to -$300.
It’s funny (and weird) to feel as much pride in that number as I do. In the grand scheme of our net worth, $255 is a round off error. Don’t get me wrong, I still run around to several groceries stores to save a couple of dollars, but we’re in a financial place where the difference between $125 and $255 isn’t a big deal… unless you “earn” it in small increments as we have. (I put “earn” in quotes there, because so much of it is passive and has nothing to do our active involvement.)
The best thing about not paying for electricity is just that… eliminating expenses. And as much as I gloat about it here, it’s a little dishonest to say we aren’t paying for electricity. Solar panels are not cheap. We took out a HELOC to cover them. A reasonable person could make the very valid case that we’re just paying someone else (the bank, plus interest) each month and we did not eliminate an expense.
If you want to make that case, at some point, we’ll eliminate the expense. The timeline on that seems to change every few months, but we are making good headway. If not for some other unexpected expenses, we would probably have been down to zero a little back.
Or maybe we won’t truly ever eliminate our monthly electricity bill. We are a couple of months away from paying off both of our SUVs (they were on 5+ years of low/zero interest loans), so in another 8 years maybe we’ll look into an electric SUV. At that point the SUVs will be 13 years old. If we don’t have Uber gPods, we’d likely be looking for an electric SUV with 4-wheel drive (for New England snow), which is a bit of a tall order right now. If it becomes a reality, we’ll shift some of our transportation costs towards our electricity bill. I’m not sure how that will impact things, but we’ve got nothing but time to figure it out.
Have you looked into the cost of solar in your area? Let me know in the comments.