Customized for customers of
Not your utility provider?
What makes CutMyBill better than other solar cost and savings calculators for Berkeley customers?
There are three key reasons that our Berkeley solar cost and bill savings calculator is far better than any other solar calculator or solar estimate website on the net for Berkeley customers;
- Firstly, whilst most solar panels calculators are really good at forecasting the electricity production you can get from installing solar panels for your home (because they all rely on the pwatts.nrel.gov solar production data) most of them just use a single generic state wide unit cost for electricity in their calculations. Our Berkeley solar cost and bill savings calculator actually uses our database of each of the available Berkeley electric rates plans to use more specific electricity cost data. Therefore we can generate much more accurate solar savings analysis.
- The second reason is that we use DOE (Department of Energy) electricity usage patterns for the Berkeley service territory, and some very basic questions we ask you about your home to estimate how you use power over the course of a day and the seasons of the year. This allows us to accurately forecast solar savings where time of use electricity plans are available to you. We estimate your electricity usage for each hour of the year and then overlay the known production of solar panels in your area for each hour of the year. Without this level of detail solar panel cost and savings calculators on are inaccurate; and
- Lastly, before we even consider solar savings, we look for any savings that can be achieved simply by swapping to a cheaper available Berkeley rate plan. Our software looks for any available Berkeley rates plan that works our cheaper for your estimated usage pattern. Generally speaking savings from swapping to a cheaper Berkeley rates plan are only available to those who have larger monthly electric bills but given it only takes a phone call to achieve these savings it is by far the quickest and easiest bill cutting option where it is possible.
Start your savings estimateCalculate
Will installing a solar power system or swapping rate plans save me the most on my monthly Berkeley payment?
There are almost always far greater cost savings to be obtained from installing solar panels than swapping rates plans but this doesn't mean possible savings from swapping rate plans should be ignored. The other reason we search for your cheapest rate plan is that to forecast total possible savings you could get on your bill you need to take into account both savings that may be available from swapping to the cheapest rate plan and also savings that come from swapping your generation source for some of your power usage to your own solar power.
Compare savings from swapping rate plans to solar savingsCalculate
How accurate is the CutMyBill estimate of my power usage pattern?
The CutMyBill electricity usage profile estimator is a key part of the technology of why CutMyBill can forecast solar and bill swapping savings so accurately without requiring you to enter your kilowatt hour electricity usage for each month of the year or to upload 12 months worth of power bills.
The way we do this is we use electricity use profiles collected by the Department of Energy for each building type at each weather station across the Berkeley service territory. Some of the characteristics of your home such as your average monthly power spend and the square footage of your home are used to refine this analysis.
This gives a fairly accurate estimate but it is not an exact estimate. The best way to get an exact estimate of your solar savings and whether or not there are possible savings from swapping rate plans is to speak to one of your local solar companies. Whilst solar companies are experts in solar they also become experts in knowing the cheapest rate plans (both before and after solar) from their local utility companies.
Estimate my power usage pattern over a day and over the seasons of the yearCalculate
Three best ways to cut your Berkeley electric bill
Did you know you can cut your home's energy bill by using flashlights instead of overhead lights? Did you know you can cut your energy bill by doing a home energy audit each hour?
Yes, those are silly questions. Fortunately, you don't need to sacrifice comfort to cut your energy bill by 20% or more. And it could be quick and easy to do.
We hope this article helps you make a solid game plan to cut your BEC energy bill. If you haven't already, we suggest you first read our article on how your energy bill works.
Introducing the Peters family
To illustrate ideas, we'll show numbers based on typical energy usage for a single-family home in Summerville, SC (the most populous city in BEC's territory).
Meet our typical family from Summerville: the Peters family. If you look closely at their picture, you'll see that the dad is also reading this article. The mom and daughter are saving energy by just pretending their tablets are on.
Let's see how the Peters family cut their energy bill by 7%, or $9 per month.
Is it worth using less energy?
We won't rally behind former President Jimmy Carter and tell you to put on a sweater and turn down the thermostat. We'd rather not see our breath in the living room. But it's probably worth taking 5 minutes to consider whether energy is wasted in your home (in other words, is energy used that doesn't improve your family's well-being).
The Peters family children have been politely asked to turn off lights when leaving rooms about 17 trillion times. They're generally respectful, but for whatever reason this one doesn't stick. How much money would the Peters family save if the children always turned off their lights?
Three 30-watt lights get left on in empty rooms 2 hours per day on average. That's 5.5 kilowatt-hours per month (3 x 30 x 2 x 30.4) — which costs 75¢. Is it worth continuing the effort (or trying a smart-home solution)? Nope. The parents will let this one go for now.
What about energy efficiency?
There might be one or more basic energy-efficiency investments you can make that'd cut your energy bill while not reducing comfort or adding day-to-day complexity.
The Peters family got a new refrigerator a decade ago, and plugged in their previous 1990s-era fridge in the garage (for those three sports drinks). Refrigerator efficiency has come a long way since the 1990s. In fact, their garage fridge uses over twice as much energy as their new Energy Star fridge. It'll cost them $11 per month to run it.
Should they replace the old garage fridge with a basic $500 Energy Star fridge? They'd save $11 per month on their energy bill, but the related financing payment would be $9.55 per month ($500 borrowed, 5-year term, 5.5% interest). Their net benefit in the first month would be $1.45. With the financing cost, the new fridge would pay for itself in 4 years (followed by years or decades of pure bill savings).
The Peters family decided they don't need even a second fridge. That's a $11 monthly bill reduction!
The Peters family's game plan so far
The Peters family has felt the pain of high energy bills for years. Thanks to this article (we have no shame), they're now ready to take control and cut it. Sounds like fun!
Their current average monthly bill is $119. After unplugging the garage fridge (and scheduling a recycling-center pick up time), their new monthly bill is $111. They cut their bill by 7%.
They'll happily take the $9 of extra cash, but they were hoping to save more than that. That's when little Suzy got a bright idea. "Hey Mom and Dad, what about solar energy?"
Yeah Suzy, what about solar energy?
"Hmm…it's probably too expensive." The Peters family wanted to at least consider it, so they connected with a few local solar installation companies through Cut My Bill. They were happy to hear that solar energy is affordable — in fact, it's less than half the cost it was just ten years ago.
They learned that 17 solar panels would fit nicely on the sunniest part of their roof (at 250 watts per panel, that's a 4.25 kW system). Their solar system would bring their average monthly energy usage from 790 kWh down to 245 kWh. And it'd bring their monthly BEC energy bill from $111 down to $73.
A federal tax credit would cover 30% of the solar system's cost.
Alas, solar energy isn't a slam-dunk investment under BEC (at least not for the Peters family). Including the payment on a home-equity loan used to purchase the solar system, the Peters family would be paying an extra $16 for energy in the first month. In other words, their post-solar utility bill + the solar loan payment would be 14% higher than their utility bill with just the other changes.
The solar system would save them more as energy rates go up. Meanwhile, their loan payment would stay the same over the 20-year loan term. The solar investment wouldn't become cash positive until its 21st year.
In the interest of helping out the planet, increasing their property's value, and paying BEC less, the Peters family still went solar.
How much can you save by swapping your Berkeley rate planCalculate
Peters family conclusion
Overall, the Peters family will pay an extra $7.28 per month to experience the joy of powering their home with sunshine…and the satisfaction of paying BEC $47 less per month.
The Peters family is feeling good. Here they are monitoring their real-time solar production and utility energy usage.
Your game plan
We hope this article helped you decide whether to take action on your home's energy bill and environmental footprint. We wish you the best with your upcoming power moves (pun intended).
Click HERE to see how much you can save by and installing solar panels. The Cut My Bill calculator is free and easy.
Find more about Berkeley Electric Cooperative electric rate plans.