According to a study conducted by the Pecan Street Research Institute, solar panel systems can cut residential electricity demand by 58 percent during peak summer hours. The report used original data from a previous trial of residential solar use from a group of homes selected in Austin, Texas. Researchers measured the amount of generated energy that was used inside of the home as opposed to what was sent back to the grid.
The study also focuses on the direction that the rooftop solar panels faced. Half had south facing arrays, while a quarter faced west and the remaining 25 percent had a combination of south- and west-facing panels. According to the analysis, west-facing systems have cut peak summer demand by 65 percent while those that faced south reduced demand by 54 percent. While panes that face west may be advantageous during the summer, the study's authors also noted that when it comes to total annual energy production solar panels that face south are a better option.
"Residential solar systems have understandably raised concerns about their impact on electric reliability," said the report's lead author, Pecan Street CEO Brewster McCracken, in a press release. "These findings suggest that rooftop solar systems can produce large summer peak reductions that benefit utilities and customers alike without requiring customers to change their behavior or sacrifice comfort."
McCracken also suggested that utilities that offer rebates to customers who have solar panel systems offer higher monetary incentives for those with west-facing arrangements, at least in the summer months.
Installing solar panels is one of the many ways to improve home energy efficiency. Before engaging in any major construction projects, though, be sure to schedule an appointment with a home inspection company.