Can You Be on the Grid -- and off the Grid?
Grid-connected residential solar power systems are plugged into the power grid that your utility companies operate. This means that when it's overcast for days on end, you can draw power from your utility company. It also means that when your system is providing more power than you need, you can sell it back to the power company -- yeah!
Creating a positive environmental impact by reducing your home's energy demands doesn't stop with its envelope, however. There are some even easier, less expensive ways to keep your house cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter. Keeping your blinds or curtains drawn to prevent direct sunlight from streaming through your windows can help keep your home cool. Blinds and curtains also help prevent cold air from entering through your windows in the winter.
Another way to use less energy is by simply keeping your home a bit cooler in the winter and slightly warmer in the summer. The recommended thermostat settings during winter and summer vary depending on where you live, but the EPA suggests that you set your thermostat to a difference of 7 degrees when you leave your house and 4 degrees when you sleep. These kinds of small, mindful changes can make a difference over time.