Before you size the renewable energy system for your home, invest in as many negawatts as possible.
What is a negawatt?
Negawatt power is a term coined and then promoted by Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute. It means investing in energy efficiencies to reduce electrical consumption rather than investing in additional generation of electricity.
Lovins theory was that we can actually support the growth of the electric supply by improving the efficiencies of homes, businesses, lifestyles, and electrical appliances rather then constructing a new power plant. We create an effective or "virtual’ power plant by saving energy rather than actually building more plants to supply additional electricity. Lovins called this reduction in electrical demand through energy efficiency, or through using electricity at non-peak times, a "negawatt", a term he first saw as a typographical error for "megawatt."
Austin followed this theory when faced with constructing another power plant. Now Austin is a leader in energy efficiency and solar energy. If it worked there, it can certainly work elsewhere, including the electricity you produce on your own rooftop.
If you make your home more energy efficient, you are producing negawatts. If you or your family make lifestyle changes to lower your electrical consumption, you are producing negawatts. When you produce enough negawatts, you can buy fewer solar panels to cover your electrical generation needs.