How to combine efficiency and solar energy to maximize benefits

3 min read

Going solar, weatherizing your home, and moving away from systems that use fossil fuel can reduce your energy bill. This guide provides recommendations to optimize your investments in clean energy.

Should you reduce or produce energy?

A lot of Vermonters want to decrease their energy bills. Should you start with weatherization, or start with solar?

It depends which energy bills you want to reduce. Weatherization reduces your fuel bills, making it cost less to heat your home each winter (and cool in the summer). Solar reduces your electric bills, saving you money on running your lights and appliances.

Technology that replaces fossil fuel systems, like a ductless heat pump, can help you tie both together. Once you’ve weatherized your home, it’s a great candidate for a heat pump. Bonus: they provide cooling in the summer too. Then, the energy your solar system produces won’t just be powering your lights and appliances, it’ll also heat an cool your home.

Weatherizing, adding a heat pump and going solar means you can maximize federal, state, and utility incentives. All with the added benefits of making your home more comfortable, reducing your carbon footprint, and lowering your energy bills.

Benefits of efficiency plus solar

Rooftop solar allows homes to produce their own electricity. Weatherization reduces drafts (and heat loss), and therefore heating costs. A heat pump heating and cooling system allows you to efficiently heat your home using your own rooftop solar. Below is a side by side comparison of these three types of home improvement projects.

Project Type Average Cost Low interest financing available Lowers energy bills Increases home value Supports local jobs State and/or Federal incentives available Improved indoor air quality Recommended for all home types
Weatherization $7,000  ✔
Heat Pump $5,000    ✔  
5 kW Roof top solar energy system $15,775    
Energy efficiency and solar are key to savings

How much a project will cost, and how much electricity you will generate from rooftop solar depends on;

  • your location
  • the way you install the panels
  • and the size of your system

While adding solar panels doesn’t reduce your electricity consumption, a major advantage of installing solar panels is that once your project is paid off you will have low or no electricity costs. Weatherization projects, on the other hand, reduce heat loss and energy costs immediately.

It may make sense to complete your weatherization project and heat pump installation before installing solar, so that you can be sure your system is the right size for your new electric usage. A contractor can be very helpful in thinking through what will work best for your home and your budget.

Can’t get solar on your home? In Vermont, depending on your electric utility, the electricity you buy is anywhere from 55-100% renewable today. So, improving the energy efficiency of your home through weatherization and installing a heat pump will still decrease your use of fossil fuels.

Electrify and plug into the sun

Investing in weatherization, heat pumps, and solar have become more popular and more affordable in the past decade. Homeowners are drawn to the environmental benefits and reduced energy bills. Combined, you’ll not only have a fossil fuel free home, you’ll also be more comfortable all year long.

Need help?

Many Efficiency Excellence Network contractors are also trained to evaluate the potential of installing solar and/or heat pumps for your home.