How Does Solar Work in New Hampshire?
It may not seem it in the midst of a winter storm, but New Hampshire actually receives quite an incredible amount of solar energy each year – in fact, a full 33% more sunshine than Germany, a world leader in solar energy adoption. Our climate may be cold, but cold is actually good for solar panels. In the brisk but sunny fall and spring, solar panels in New Hampshire will produce a disproportionately high amount of power, helping to make up for any power loss due to solar panels being covered in snow.
New Hampshirites going solar have a few options, the most popular is a grid-tied solar electric array. ‘Grid-tied’ means that the system will connect to the public utility grid, providing reliable backup power for when there is insufficient sun to power your home, such as at night or on cloudy days. Conversely, a grid-tied system also sells excess power to the grid, meaning, when it is sunny and your system is producing more solar power than you can use, you’ll send the power back to the public grid, powering your neighbor’s house and earning you a credit. The solar credits you earn can be used against future power consumption from the grid.
Most of the systems we design will meet close to 100% of a home’s needs in a given year. In the summer, you will tend to produce more power than you need and you will earn a credit. In the winter, you will tend to need more power than you produce and so you’ll consume those solar credits. At the end of the year, you should be at or close to zero credits in the solar bank, a situation we call ‘net zero’ (not to be confused with ‘off-grid,’ which means not using the utility grid at all!).
So, why go solar in New Hampshire?
There are so many reasons to transition to solar power (we explore in great detail the top ten reasons here). However, we'll keep it brief:
- Solar Is An Abundant ResourceMaine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts’s solar resource is a full 33% greater than Germany, a world leader in solar. And it's not going anywhere.
- Solar Lowers your Energy Costs & Locks in your Electricity Rate for YearsEven with a big initial investment, going solar reduces your electric bill, saving you money for years to come and keeps you safe from spiking electric costs.
- Solar Is a Strong Investment & Adds Value to Your Home or BusinessConsidering significantly reduced equipment costs and reliable performance, the average return on investment of solar energy ranges from 8% to 12% per year.
- Solar Does it All: Heat & Cool Your Home and be Stored for Backup PowerA lower electric bill is just the beginning. Thanks to continued innovation, solar can be stored in batteries, heat and cool your space, and even power your car.
- Solar is an Environmental Solution to Humanity's Biggest ProblemArguably the most important reason for going solar: ensuring a livable future for our kids and grandkids. The costs of the climate crisis are real and daunting, and solar is the most promising technology for transitioning to a clean energy economy.
What New Hampshire Solar Incentives are Available?
In addition to a top net-metering program, New Hampshire offers a series of solar incentives and tax credits for homeowners looking to save money on their electric bill by transitioning to a clean energy home. Through the state’s Residential Renewable Electrical Generation Rebate Program, qualifying residents can receive rebates for their PV systems. You can receive $0.20 per watt up to $1,000 or half the cost of your solar systems.
Tax credits and exemptions are also available, including the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) of 30%. New Hampshire also offers a financing program for low-income households through their Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
What is Net-Metering?
When the sun is shining, your solar system is generating clean solar energy, which is used in real time to power your lights, refrigerator, TV, etc. Any excess energy produced goes out to the electric grid, where it’s used to power other homes in your neighborhood. With net-metering, the utility provides credits to the homeowner for that exported energy, which the homeowner can then use during times of low production (i.e. nighttime). Typically in New Hampshire, most homes over-produce during the summer, so you will stock up on credits that you can then use during the winter when the days are shorter.
Customers who net meter have a special meter which measures the difference between the electricity provided by the local utility or competitive energy supplier and the electricity produced by an on-site renewable energy source. The meter registers the flow of electricity in both directions: from your local utility or competitive energy supplier to your home and from your renewable energy source back out to the utility distribution system. The net amount is used to calculate your monthly electric bill. In New Hampshire, residential net metered projects are credited 100% of energy supply and transmission charges, but only 25% of distribution charges.
How do I pay for my solar project?
You can either pay for the project upfront, or take out a solar loan. Similar to any other home-related loan, solar loans enable a homeowner to finance a home solar project by borrowing money from a lender. Unlike leasing (covered below), a solar loan grants you ownership of an asset (solar panels) that provide you with significant long-term savings, even as you pay off the loan. Solar loans also grant you access to several financial incentives, such as the 30% federal tax credit and RECs. With certain loan options you can actually swap out your monthly electric bill for a loan payment, enabling you to go solar at no upfront cost.