If you’re like me you installed a battery storage system to preserve in solid form all that Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in your freezer during a blackout. My wife, on the other hand, just wanted to save money. Her financial priority is ultimately what is driving the demand for battery backup installations.
A battery backup system can save your a thousand dollars or more on your annual electric bill — in addition to keeping your lights on during the next blackout. These battery storage savings result from time-shifting your electricity usage: you can draw power from the grid when rates are inexpensive (generally at night) and sell power back when rates are expensive (generally in the late afternoon and evening). Or as my stockbroker says, buy low and sell high.
Ordinary rooftop solar systems are automatic and passive. The sun comes up, the solar panels generate power, and you sell your excess power back to the grid. With solar, there are no settings to change to maximize your savings.
Battery systems require a bit more active management. The savings from your battery backup system depend on your electric rates, weather, time of the year, your peak power consumption, and when you run your appliances. Consider the operation of your battery like a game: playing to win means you can get your utility bill as low as possible — even negative!
Here are five ways you can maximize the savings from your battery backup system:
1. Program large appliances to run only during off-peak electric rate times
2. Try to get your battery fully charged at the start of peak electric rate times
3. Vary your backup reserve based on the seasons and weather
4. Shed large loads during a blackout
5. Consider alternate electric rates
For maximum savings it’s important to understand the distinctions between the energy stored in your battery (measured in kilowatt-hours), and the maximum power your system can deliver during a blackout (measured in watts). Please tune into this week’s Energy Show for a deep dive into the best ways to operate and manage your battery storage system.