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Use the sun to beat the heat this summer

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Ahhhh Summer…. we finally have relief from the cold dark days of winter here in Alberta. The days are longer, and we can get outside without jackets or gloves to keep us from freezing solid. But, sometimes the heat can feel overwhelming, from one extreme to the next! Many Albertans use air conditioners to keep our homes and businesses cool during these dog days of summer. All kinds of air conditioners rev up in Alberta during hot days. Portable air conditioners, mini-splits, window units, central A/C systems, and even geothermal and heat pump units, to name a few. 

Keeping your indoor space cool comes with a cost

All A/C units have one thing in common, they use electricity! This means that keeping your indoor space cool comes with a cost. Electricity costs consist of three main parts:

  • energy charges
  • fixed fees
  • delivery charges

If you’ve looked at your electricity bill lately you probably have noticed that the energy charges and fixed fees are quite low (less than ¼ the bill) while the largest cost (¾ of the bill) is delivery charges from your wire service provider (EPCOR, Fortis Alberta, Enmax to name a few). 

If this sounds familiar, consider how installing a solar PV system could help battle these high A/C electricity costs. Grid-connected solar produces electricity during daylight hours and supplies your building with electricity generated on the roof of your building. See our blog: A beginner’s guide to the anatomy of a rooftop solar installation to learn how solar works. 

Property owners who have solar and an air conditioner can cool off without feeling the financial heat of high electricity bills. The simplest reason for this is that typically air conditioning systems run during the hottest part of the day, which is also when solar PV performs best. 

When your home uses electricity during the day (like from running an A/C unit) the solar electricity generated at the same time is used in your home directly. This means that you are not buying electricity from the grid nor are you paying the delivery charges described above. Any extra solar electricity that your home cannot use is exported to the grid (through your meter) and sold to your electricity retailer for a credit.

The savings can really add up… 

  • Energy charges are typically around 7 cents per kWh
  • Delivery charges can be and additional 10 cents per kWh 

When A/C is operating and solar is producing renewable electricity the savings potential is:

If an Air Conditioner runs simultaneously with the solar PV system 7 hours per day for 30 days…  

  • 7 hours x 30 days x $0.17/kWh x 4 months of heating season = $142.80 A/C related savings 

Electricity produced by the solar PV system and not used by the A/C system is consumed by other electrical loads in your building or exported to the grid.

Electricity is exported to the grid when more solar electricity is produced than the building can use. In this case, you receive a credit for any electricity you export. The amount of the credit is equal to the Energy Charge rate (7 cents / kWh).

A typical 6 kW solar PV system could export 600 kWh per month during the summer.  

  • $0.07/kWh x 600 kWh x 4months = $168 in credit on your bill. This export credit further helps to offset the cost of running that air conditioner all summer.


Each solar PV system is unique and so is the amount of air conditioning each home uses. The fact is that if you have A/C, solar PV is a great complementary technology. It can help reduce the financial burden of A/C while also helping the environment.

If you want to know exactly how much a solar PV installation will save you on your air conditioning costs, Glean can help. We use a qualified network of solar installers to get you multiple quotes that include annual electricity, emissions and cost savings. Hit the buttons below to learn more about how Glean works or to get competing solar quotes for your home or business.