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1. Make sure you understand your utility company.

As New Brunswickers, we know the power of nature. We also know that, for our customers, saving money and being environmentally responsible is important. That’s why Énergie NB Power created their Net Metering program.

The Énergie NB Power Net Metering program provides customers with the option to connect their own environmentally sustainable generation unit to Énergie NB Power’s distribution system. The program allows customers to generate their own electricity to offset their consumption, while still remaining connected to Énergie NB Power’s distribution system – so they can meet their electricity demands when their generation unit cannot.

In order to qualify for the program, the generation units must:

  • meet Énergie NB Power technical requirements
  • not exceed 100 kW
  • come from renewable energy sources compatible with Environment Canada’s Environmental Choice Program ( EcoLogo TM) standards such as alternative use, biogas, biomass, solar, small hydro or wind
  • use approved equipment – certified by an organization recognized in the Province of New Brunswick
  • have an Electrical Wiring Permit from a licensed electrician, and inspection and approval by the New Brunswick Department of Public Safety, Technical Inspection Services prior to connection

Note:  For off-grid or stand-alone projects, contact New Brunswick Department of Public Safety, Technical Inspection Services.

A special type of meter or “net meter” is installed to replace your existing meter. This meter provides readings for both your electricity consumption from Énergie NB Power, and the excess electricity you send back to their distribution system. They bill you for the difference or ‘net’ amount of electricity used. Credits cannot be carried forward beyond March of each year. At that time, any remaining credit not used will be reduced to zero.

A Net Metering Agreement must be signed prior to the installation of the net meter.
Contact Énergie NB Power’s program to enrol into their program

2. Get an accurate idea of the amount of energy your home uses each month.

A growing family will face growing energy needs, but if you are childless or have college-age kids ready to leave the nest, you can expect your energy costs to go down, and stay down. Replacing incandescent bulbs and making other energy-saving changes and upgrades can lower your costs even further.  Get a solar installer to calculate your planned electricity demands, not your actual, current usage.

3. South Facing Roof Area or Bust? No.

Ideally, of course, solar systems should be on the southwest-facing area of your roof. Positioning the panels to face west or south will work, and even southeast, east and north-northwest may give acceptable results, too.

4. Will Solar Add to Property Tax

Before adding a solar system should check with Service New Brunswick (SNB) to determine if solar will cause a reassessment of your property. Reassessments are typically trigged by room additions or other construction that increases the square footage of the structure.

5. Cover Your Solar Investment

Before any installation, contact your homeowner’s insurance company and have your policy amended. You could face an increase on your property insurance, but protecting your home and system from theft, fires or other damage is critical.

6. Learn Your Solar Warranties

Learn about the solar system warranties that are offered.  There may be different manufacturer warranties for the panels and for the inverters. The solar installers should also offer a warranty on the quality of their work, which means guaranteeing they made no holes in your roof likely to lead to leaks for a specified period, from two to 10 years, normally.

7. How Long do Solar Panels Last

Many factors affect the amount of time a solar panel will last. There are panels currently in use that were produced over 40 years ago that are still generating energy. Solar panels generally don’t require a lot of maintenance, but again, that depends on where you live, as well as how and where the panels are installed. Proper maintenance can influence both the effectiveness of the panels in addition to their longevity. For example, maintenance is required to ensure that your panels aren’t shaded by trees (or overgrown limbs), leaf or other debris, dirt or dust. Even a small amount of shade has a large impact on the efficiency of solar panels. Panels operate most efficiently when they receive direct sunlight. Areas affected by high winds in particular will require regular cleaning of solar panels. Dust from gravel, dirt roadways, fields, sand, and pollen can all need to be removed. Smog in the city can also settle on your solar panels blocking valuable sunrays from making energy for you. Wiping down panels on a regular basis will help improve their effectiveness. Winter brings a completely new set of issues with solar panels. Snow will block the panels’ ability to generate energy, and the removal of snow is important if you want maximum energy efficiency. This can be dangerous especially if you have a sloped roof, making it more difficult to clean. A lifespan of 25 years for solar panels is reasonable. Regular maintenance (and repairs, if needed) can help to extend the lifespan of the panels.

8. Will Panels Harm my Roof?

The panels should not harm your roof if properly installed.  They may even protect the areas located directly beneath them from the ravages of weather, light, and heat. You may even find that the room(s) of your home directly beneath the panel installations will remain cooler in summer and warmer in winter, regardless of the other insulation. You can save heating and cooling costs when you install your panels wisely. Proper home preparation, and choosing the right installer will go a long way to ensuring a job done right.

9. Your Roof Type Can Impact Cost

The kind of roof you have makes a big difference in installation costs. It will definitely be costlier to install solar panels on Spanish tile or shake than on plain old asphalt shingle roofs. Both tile and shake are far more brittle than asphalt shingles, so additional time-intensive care is needed to ensure that any attachment points penetrating the roof are completely and properly sealed.  Always get quotes from as many solar companies as possible before you commit to a solar panel system. You may find that pricing is similar, so you will have to base your final decision on other things, including reputation, the amount of help you get, and so forth. Conserve energy first then decide how to augment your home with solar power.  Learning how to conserve is free, but you have to take the time to study up a bit.  After you have conserved all the energy you can, you can take the next steps in determining how best to install a solar system. You will be starting from your “real” energy level (your “new, improved and reduced” one) and you can be certain of getting the right answers and making the right investments.

10. Solar Batteries

Don’t worry about batteries unless you are building a self-contained home or living compound. If you stay “on the grid” in a populated area, you will continue to get power at night from the local utility, just as you are doing today.