Is solar energy worth the cost in Calgary?
Updated: Jan 5
Climate change awareness is on the rise worldwide, so more Canadians are prioritizing eco-friendly living. Solar energy is a popular eco-friendly consideration for Calgary homeowners, but does it make sense in our climate? And is solar energy worth the cost in Calgary?
5 Advantages of Solar Energy for Your Home in Calgary
Why would a Calgary homeowner use solar energy? Here are 5 key reasons why solar power is worth considering.
Solar energy is better for the environment than conventional energy that relies on fossil fuels.
2. Money Savings
Solar energy can save you up to 100% on electric energy charges if your system is set up with net metering. Currently, Calgary solar energy users get net billing, which provides compensation for excess energy production by solar panels. Savings with a net billing system are less than with a net metering model, but you still enjoy significant savings over time.
3. Property Value
Solar energy can increase the property value and help you sell your home faster.
4. Low Maintenance
Solar panels typically last between 20-25 years with minimal maintenance - just some cleaning throughout the year.
Solar energy doesn’t require any moving parts. This makes it completely silent unlike other energy sources such as wind power.
Does Calgary have Solar energy doesn’t require any moving parts. This makes it completely silent unlike other energy sources such as wind power enough sun for residential solar energy?
Canada’s distance from the equator often leads people to question the viability of solar energy. Calgary has long winters with a lot of snow, so can solar energy actually work to power a home in this city?
Of all the Canadian provinces, Alberta ranks second (behind Saskatchewan in first) for average yearly sunlight hours (approximately 1,276 hours of sunlight per year). In Calgary, potential solar irradiance is an average of 1,292 kWh per year.
So the answer is ‘yes’. Calgary has enough sun for residential solar energy.
Is the cost of solar energy in Calgary worth it for homeowners?
While solar energy can save you a lot of money in the long run, there is usually a large upfront cost. Is it worth the expense in Calgary?
How does a solar energy system for your home work?
Before we get into the cost analysis, let’s review how a residential solar energy system works.
Solar modules attached to the roof of your home absorb energy from the sun and convert it into clean electricity. If your system has more energy than you need, the excess is sent back to the grid for others to use. Your bi-directional meter measures the amount of solar energy you use and export.
The ideal energy target is to reach “net zero”. This means that your household consumes the same amount of solar energy that you export.
Any solar energy system requires a backup in case of a power outage.
● Off-grid systems are completely separate from your local utility supplier and use batteries to store power.
● On-grid systems are more common in Calgary and generate electricity that passes through the local electricity grid. This type of system does not require batteries, but you may end up incurring electricity charges when your system needs more than it’s producing.
● Hybrid systems are the best of both worlds - you store energy in your battery bank and continue to export excess energy to the local grid.
The average Alberta household consumes 7,200 kWh per year. To generate this amount of energy in Calgary, you would need a solar energy system that’s between 5.5 and 6 kWh in size.
How does solar energy for your home affect your energy bill?
Alberta has higher energy prices than most other provinces. This means that solar energy will save you more than in other provinces. There’s greater motivation to switch to solar than in a place where energy prices are lower.
All Calgary homeowners pay fixed fees like distribution charges, access fees, and delivery charges, even if you use solar energy. The only way to completely eliminate energy costs is to go off the grid. While this is possible in Alberta, the high cost of battery power usually eliminates this as an option.
Alberta’s net billing program is different from any other province. Your meter measures the energy you use and the energy you produce. Homeowners are compensated for the excess energy, however this compensation is typically less than the cost of electricity.
That said, Alberta’s Micro-generation Regulation is an advantage for Calgary homeowners switching to solar power because it saves you the cost of an interconnection study or a bi-directional meter - sometimes over $1,000!
Does solar energy make sense for Calgary homeowners?
Alberta is ranked the #3 Canadian province for residential solar energy because of lower installation costs, high sunlight levels, and rebates. But does solar energy make sense for Calgary homeowners? The answer depends on various factors, such as:
● How much energy your household consumes
● How much you currently spend on energy
● The size of solar energy system you need and have space for
● The quality of the equipment you use
● The complexity of the system and its installation
There is an initial cost for installing a solar energy system in your home. You will definitely recoup that cost over time, but the question is ‘when?’ It typically takes between 12-15 years of solar energy savings to make up for the initial cost, so if you plan to stay in your home longer than that, it’s definitely worth the investment.
Note: the cost of solar energy systems is decreasing every year, so the time it takes to recoup your initial costs will continue to drop, too.
If you plan to sell your home before that, it may still be worthwhile because a solar energy system can significantly increase your home’s resale value. And, of course, you can rest assured that you’re significantly reducing your carbon footprint by reducing your reliance on fossil fuels to power your home.
Solar Energy-Ready Homes in Calgary
Melcom Homes is Calgary’s eco-friendly home builder. We build solar energy-ready homes, designed for energy efficiency and innovation. To find out more about sustainable homes and residential solar energy in Calgary, contact us today.