We probably get more questions about batteries than any other technology outside of solar. After all, there are some very marketing-savvy companies out there who would have you believe that by simply adding a svelte, stylishly-white box to your laundry room wall, you can unplug from the grid and live happily ever after totally power bill free.
While the promise of batteries and energy storage is very real, and the technology is evolving quickly, the reality today for the majority of AZ homeowners is usually somewhat more complex. Efficiency of your structure, your appliances AND your lifestyle is the key to making batteries work.
While far from being a comprehensive exploration of the subject, here’s our list of the top four things to consider before adding energy storage to your home.
1. The less power you use, the fewer batteries you need to buy: This one is a little obvious, I admit, but people are often unaware of the many things they can do to save money on electricity before adding batteries or even solar. And the best part is, when these things are done, your home is better able to maximize your solar and/or battery investment down the road! For example, make sure all your insulation is newer and properly applied. Consider adding energy efficient windows and doors, and perhaps most importantly, convert your high demand appliances to energy efficient versions. In Arizona that means AC systems, pool pumps, hot water heaters and electric clothes dryers. Any reputable consultant will suggest these things before attempting to sell you a battery system.
2. Behavior is key: If you want to be able to use any appliance you want, as much as you want, and at any time of the day without consideration, you are probably not the ideal battery customer. Even today’s best energy storage technologies are limited by capacity and recharge times. Engaging and being aware of how much energy you are using at any given time, and making behavior choices as needed, is the path to a happy battery experience. Sure, you can just add more batteries, but at some point, the cost of absolute freedom will be way higher than simply staying connected to the grid for nighttime power. It’s a personal choice and the cost of entry is different for everyone.
3. Build it right from the beginning: If you are considering a new-build, that’s the best time to think about optimizing for solar and energy storage. Of the 1.8 million homes in the valley, most were built decades ago using old technology and traditional “build it fast” materials. Simply retrofitting these structures to reduce consumption will have limited effect. On the other hand, homes holistically designed to work with our extreme climate, and consume far less energy, offer a much simpler path to energy independence. Net-Zero builders like Arizona-based VALI Homes are constructing desert-optimized houses that sip energy compared to a home built in the 50’s, 70’s or even the 90’s. In fact, VALI claims that their homes require about one quarter of the power of more traditional houses of similar size. In short, if you build it right, off-grid is within a short reach.
4. Consider an emergency backup system: Short of going fully off-grid, many people opt for a smaller and simpler battery backup system that powers just their critical power loads. You can select exactly which appliances are connected, such as a critical medical device, or you can power an isolated “safe” room. Whatever path you take, powering just your most vital loads is a great way to reduce costs while achieving peace of mind. And if you combine these systems with solar, you have a daytime recharge that will keep your important appliances running indefinitely during an outage.
And don't forget, if you’re an APS customer, now is the time to lock-in today's better rates for the next 20 years before the upcoming ACC vote changes everything! Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and a member of our team will be in touch shortly!