Net Metering in Maryland Can Reduce Your Electric Bill
It’s every homeowner’s dream: the numbers on your power meter flying backwards instead of continuing their ever-forward march. Your monthly bill dropping to a fraction of its original amount, all with the same level of comfort in your home and no inconvenience to you. It may seem too good to be true, but for homes with net metering, this dream is a reality.
What Is Net Metering?
On a normal home, energy flows only one way: It comes from the power plant, through the grid, and into the home. On a home with solar panels or another type of alternative power, though, the energy can flow both ways. When the home uses more energy than it produces, it draws from the power company’s grid just as a normal home does, and the homeowner pays the power company for however many kilowatt hours they use.
However, when the home’s solar panel or other system produces more power than the home needs, that excess energy flows in the opposite direction: Out of the house and into the company’s power grid, literally turning the home’s meter backwards. The homeowner’s net consumption from the power company is reduced, and therefore the monthly bill is lowered.
What Are the Benefits of Net Metering?
For many people, net metering provides the perfect halfway point between traditional energy usage and going completely “off the grid.” While the main benefit of net metering is obvious, namely saving money on your power bills, it certainly isn’t the only one. In fact, net metering offers many advantages over traditional power consumption and can even provide additional convenience for alternative systems. For example, many solar panel systems depend upon battery storage systems or generators to provide energy when the panels can’t produce sufficient energy. With a grid-tied system, the power company itself serves as your storage system, since the excess energy that would normally be put into batteries is instead sent back through their lines, and you can then use that same amount again without any net cost to you. In Maryland, power companies will usually keep your credit for up to a year, allowing you to “store” energy produced by your panels during the summer for use during the darker winter days.
Net metering also takes pressure off of the main power grid, which can help during times of peak demand and subsequently keep costs lower for all homes. Plus, it’s important to remember that alternative energy systems are more environmentally friendly than most sources of power in the U.S., and by using them, you are protecting the environment as well as conserving natural resources.
How to Take Advantage of Net Metering
Perhaps the most popular option for homeowners looking to gain the benefits of net metering is a solar panel system. In Maryland, we may not get as much sun as Florida or California, but it’s still plenty bright enough to support solar panels and keep your meter turning backwards year round. Other options include wind turbines and geothermal heating and cooling systems.
Regardless of which alternative energy system you choose, the fact remains that net metering provides an economic opportunity to lower your energy costs year-round without the need for costly storage systems.