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Increased efficiency is a good thing, right?  If you can accomplish more with fewer resources, isn’t that a major benefit?

Yes and no.

You see, increased efficiency is a double-edged sword.  Even when talking about energy.

But first a little background.

Jevons Paradox and Solar Energy

In 1865, British economist, William Stanley Jevons, observed an interesting trend when studying his country’s coal industry.

Technological improvements in efficiency had a paradoxical effect on consumption.  As coal factories became more efficient with time, these same factories started burning more and more coal.  This is because the relative price of each unit of coal went down.  And as the price of a commodity goes down, demand for that commodity goes up.

Known as Jevons Paradox, this counterintuitive trend exists in many different industries.

For example, if you buy a fuel-efficient car, you often end up driving more.  As a result, you buy more petrol than if you had a less fuel-efficient car.

Even in the solar industry, increased efficiency can be dangerous.  Many San Diego solar customers become more relaxed about turning off lights or powering down their televisions.

After all, their monthly electricity bills are much lower.  They don’t have to worry as much about “conserving” energy since electricity is cheaper.

So that’s the bad of energy efficiency.

Now the good.

Energy Efficiency Is Still a Great Thing for San Diego Solar Customers

At Sunline Energy, we’re still strong supporters of increased efficiency.  Every time we inspect a home or business, we recommend any number of energy efficiency strategies to prospective solar customers.

Why would we do this if Jevons Paradox truly exists?

The answer is simple.

The more energy efficient your home becomes, the fewer solar panels you need to cover all of your electricity requirements.

If switching out incandescent light bulbs with CFLs or buying EnergyStar appliances can reduce your monthly consumption by 10%, then you can install 10% fewer solar panels.

This means you don’t have to spend as much money during the installation process.  It also means you enjoy shorter payback periods.

However, to make energy efficiency work in the long-term, you must continue living a responsible lifestyle.

  • You can’t leave lights on whenever you want
  • You can’t fall asleep with the TV blasting
  • When you’re not at home, turn off your AC or heater

The more energy efficient you become, the higher the ROI of your solar investment.

This is why we still push energy efficiency improvements.  In fact, we have a growing list of simple tricks and hacks.

To get the most out of your solar installation, check out these 2 articles:

And as always, if you’re ready to begin exploring your solar options, don’t hesitate to request a free consultation.