I want to introduce you to the concept "reducing before producing". It is more cost effective to reduce one’s energy consumption before considering solar. Solar is a great way of stabilizing energy costs and achieving energy independence, but should be the final step, not the first step.
Let me give you a case study: In 2003, I had solar electric panels installed on the roof of my house in Santa Rosa. Fortunately I ran out of roof space before I ran out of PG&E bill. My system originally offset about 60% of my old PG&E bill. Through energy efficiency measures that I have implemented since I installed the solar panels, my offset is now about 95%. In other words, I have the right size solar system for my needs. If I had a larger roof, I surely would have had more solar electric panels installed 7 years ago, only to find out that I would have spent too much money on solar.
Don’t let this happen to you! Before installing solar electricity, get an energy audit done and find out where your home or business can make improvements to reduce your load (envelope sealing, insulation, duct sealing, plug loads, lighting, HVAC/appliance improvements, to name a few). Then look at solar. You will find that you will need fewer solar panels, and energy efficiency improvements also address the health and comfort of your living/working space. Clean energy is comprehensive. Be sure to explore all of your options and remember that you can accomplish these measures with no out of pocket expense through the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program.
Going Solar Adds Value and "Green Cachet" to Your Home