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What's a true up?


If you come across the term “true-up”, it usually means that you have solar or you’re looking into solar. There is a negative view of true-ups, but in reality, they can be a good thing or a bad thing, it just depends whether it’s a negative or positive true up. Even before you get solar, when your house was built your utility company installed a meter on the side of your house to measure the amount of energy you use. This meter runs forward whenever you pull any energy from the grid, but when you get solar and you start producing your own energy, the meter stops and even starts running backward because you’re depositing energy into the grid. If you’re producing more energy than you’re pulling from the grid, you get a negative true up and your utility company will pay you for that energy. If you use more energy than your panels are producing, you get a positive true-up, and your utility company will bill you for this amount when you’re a year after your “solar year” is over.


Even though negative true ups happen for different reasons, they result in the same outcome, you having to pay for the energy your utility company had to provide to you. When going solar, our consultants look at your current usage and ask you some questions to see what plans you have in the future. Are you looking to buy an electric vehicle soon? How old is your Air Conditioning unit? How cold do you run your AC in the summertime? These are some of the questions an experienced consultant will ask you to determine if your energy usage is going to change and most importantly, if you’re living as comfortably as you could be.



Let’s be honest, sometimes we set our AC to 78 degrees in the summer instead of 70 because we don’t want our bill to skyrocket (we’ll ignore PGE’s time-of-use plans [link] for now). When the consultant sits with you, they’ll explain why solar costs less than your utility company (LINK TO WHY SOLAR COSTS LESS) and that if you want to set your AC to 70 degrees instead of 78 you can, we just have to know so we can calculate how much more energy you’ll be using and can design your solar system accordingly. Even with the lights on 24/7 and setting your AC to 70 year-round, that monthly payment will cost you less than you’re currently paying to your utility company.


For most people, their final solar system design will cover 110-125% of your current usage. Even with the extra 10-25% of energy your system will produce, you will still pay less than what you’re currently paying with your utility company. Depending on your future plans, this percentage could be higher. Let’s say you’re in the process of buying an EV and you plan on charging it at home. We’d ask you how often you plan on driving it to calculate how much extra energy you’ll need. (Check out our EV calculator [link] to see how much you could be saving by going electric and charging at home).



If you have solar or you’re looking into solar, make sure the energy consultant does a thorough analysis of your energy needs. Having a true-up isn’t the end of the world but having the right solar system that’s designed correctly for your energy needs will save you a world of headaches. After all, that solar system is going to be on your roof for 25 years or more, you want it to be as reliable and customized to you as possible.

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California, USA

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