Here’s Who’s Buying Home Batteries and Why

by Anna Gretz
September 23, 2016
Home Battery

In the face of rising energy costs and power outages, homeowners are looking for ways to protect their homes, and their pocketbooks. After considering all the options, many people are taking advantage of the current government funding available, and investing in home batteries. Home batteries are a logical, calculated choice for many homes with or without rooftop solar. Here’s why more and more people are choosing to store energy with home batteries:

1) They want to future proof their home against rising energy costs and demand charges.

One look at the California “duck curve” graph, and you can see why solar alone won’t solve the problem of rising energy costs. The demand for energy later in the day, around 9 PM, is rising drastically. It’s no coincidence that this is when the power generated by solar panels drops off. This not only presents problems for the utility companies, but problems for your pocketbook as well. Peak demand hours can come with hiked up power prices, and there’s been talk that these prices may extend to the “ramping up” hours as well.

Higher rates during times of greater demand exist to encourage homes and businesses to spread out their electricity use during the day, in order to keep grid electricity demand under control, and service more reliable. Staggering the times that you use high-powered equipment and appliances, instead of using them all at the same time, is one way to lower your electricity bill. Utility companies want you to spread out the power you’re using during the day so they don’t have huge spikes in electrical demand--something that the power grid is really struggling with.

This is when home batteries really give you a leg up. Home battery owners can use stored energy (from rooftop solar, or straight from the grid) to power their household appliances, easily spreading out power demand throughout the day without having to change the schedule of their lives. Home batteries that are hooked up to solar panels also have the option of avoiding the hassle of demand charges all together by cutting ties with the power grid, and storing energy straight from the sun.

Many consumers have been taking a good look at their utility bills, and tracking this rise in rates and additional charges. Many have chosen to invest in a home battery in order to future-proof their home from rising costs and overwhelming bills. For homeowners that are considering this option, now is the perfect time to jump in, thanks to government funding.

2) They want to take advantage of the limited government funding available right now.

In order to encourage homeowners to invest in energy storage options like home batteries, the government is offering substantial funding to help out with the costs. This funding is limited, and won’t be around forever. That’s why people are taking advantage of this funding, and investing in home batteries right now.

One of these programs is the SGIP. SGIP stands for Self Generation Incentive Program, a way to motivate consumers to use alternative energy sources to generate and store their own electricity. The SGIP hails from California, where it stands as the longest running and most successful programs of its kind in the country. In short, the program pays Californians for using certain renewable energy systems, like turbines, and also pays households with energy storage systems, like home batteries. We’re not talking about a few extra pennies, either. The SGIP pays energy storage users over a dollar per watt. This means that home battery owners in California can lower their electricity bills and protect their home from a vulnerable grid… and also get paid.

The SGIP has no minimum eligibility system size. No matter how small of a renewable energy or energy storage system you’re looking at, you are eligible for money. One of the highest incentive categories is Advanced Energy Storage; technologies that convert electricity (like the electricity generated by rooftop solar) into energy, store it, then convert it back to usable electricity at a later time. The lithium-ion home battery is a common, economical example of Advanced Energy Storage. Some home batteries store energy straight from the power grid. Other home batteries store energy generated from outside, renewable sources like solar panels, giving owners the luxury of storing energy during the day when the sun’s rays are the strongest, and use that energy in the evenings when the sun goes down, and they need electricity the most. Either method is accepted under the SGIP, and eligible for compensation.

3) They are aware of the vulnerabilities of the power grid, and the continued rise in power outages.

Home battery customers have seen the 6-fold increase in power outages and read about the growing vulnerabilities of the power grid, and decided to do something about it. Home batteries offer energy security in the face of a vulnerable power grid. If the grid cuts out for a few hours (in the case of bad weather, or rolling blackouts like those proposed in California), home battery owners don’t have to worry. Their home can still be powered by the energy stored by their home battery. For those who depend on electricity to power life-essential medical machinery, or for households that use electricity to heat or cool their homes during extreme weather, this sort of energy security can be a big deal.

The weakness of the grid is the reason states like California are offering government funding in the first place. Energy storage changes the entire conversation about grid vulnerability. We don’t have to talk about prolonged power outages as a impending probability, but a situation that can be avoided altogether. Home batteries put the power back into the hands of the consumer, and back into the appliances and systems needed to sustain a high quality of life.

Households equipped with solar panels and energy storage in the form of home batteries will be protected from any utility company mishap, whether it be on a large or small scale. Home batteries allow households to power their own essential appliances like refrigerators, water pumps, and heating/cooling devices with stored electricity collected from their rooftop solar panels. The grid may be vulnerable, but the sun? Not so much.

Swell Energy has had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of homeowners about energy security. We’ve been inspired by the foresight and financial savviness of our home battery customers. These homeowners understand where energy is headed, and they’re proactive about future-proofing themselves, and their families. They’ve educated themselves about the government incentives for storage, and they know the funding levels will never be this high again.

They get it: now is the time to install a new home battery.