Net Metering in Ontario: How to Make the Most of It

Dean Emerick

January 14, 2023

If you live in Ontario and want to save money on your energy bill, then you need to know about net metering. Net metering is a process that allows households with renewable energy systems to connect directly to the electrical grid, generating their own electricity and offsetting the cost of purchasing generated power from the utility. By understanding how net metering works, learning what energy technology is right for your home, and taking advantage of financial incentives available in Ontario, families can make an investment that will pay off year after year, all while doing something good for the planet. Read on to learn more!

What is a net metering program?

Net metering is a program commonly used in Ontario that allows customers who generate their own power from a renewable energy source to ‘offset’ the amount of electricity they use and pay for.

By allowing users to measure the balance between electricity exported and imported to the utility grid, net metering programs incentivize households to generate their own electricity while still being connected to utility companies.

For example, when a customer exports more energy than they import, they get credited on their bills which can reduce or buy out their total utility costs. This program is helping shift our communities towards sustainable solutions as well as creating more resilient and affordable energy systems, making it easier for us all and generations to come.

How to get started with net metering in Ontario?

Getting started with net metering in Ontario is an easy and invaluable process; it allows you to make use of a clean or renewable resource to generate electricity, support green initiatives, and save money too. In order to get things rolling, you’ll want to check with your local utility provider. They will be able to give you more information about the programs they offer that involve net metering.

From there, you may be prompted to fill out additional application forms or information requests so they can determine the best course of action for your home or business. Once approved and set up have been completed, your system will be checked and ready to go!

Your electricity grid company will check your meter each month. Every kilowatt-hour of excess power generated by the solar system will be credited to your account for future use, meaning those credits (up to one year!) can be used when electricity consumption is greater than the amount of solar energy produced.

The entire process of setting up the net metering system often doesn’t take more than a few days. Net metering may seem technical on the surface, but if you follow these steps carefully, it will be a piece of cake!

What are the eligibility criteria for net metering in Ontario?

Net metering in Ontario, Canada, is a great way to benefit from one’s excess generation of electricity. It is also an excellent option if you are looking for a financially wise long-term investment.

To be eligible for net metering in Ontario, your energy system must use renewable sources, like solar, water, wind power, or bioenergy. It must have a single-meter installation that’s connected to an electrical utility's distribution system.

Moreover, the size of the generating system should not exceed the load typically required by the premise or a maximum of 500 kW. For rooftop residential solar, this is often limited to 10 kW, but it depends on the utility. 

Additionally, in order to get approved, the net metering systems must adhere to rigorous technical, safety, and inspection standards of the distribution grid company.

Is net energy metering worth it?

Net energy metering is a great option for those considering investing in a solar power system. This enables users to track their energy usage, allowing them to reduce their reliance on the grid.

By offsetting their consumed electricity with the excess generated power, homeowners can actually benefit from reduced electricity bills. It's definitely worth looking into, especially given that it leads to long-term money savings while also helping the environment.

What are the advantages of net metering?

  • Net metering allows households to produce and use their own renewable energy while contributing it to the main grid during peak consumption times. This can provide good value for surplus energy produced.
  • Not only is net metering extremely simple, requiring no action after initial installation, but it can also help to power several homes with just one solar system.
  • By utilizing net metering, households are able to reduce their dependence on traditional fossil fuels and protect the environment from the emissions caused by burning them. Natural resources are also conserved as less energy is wasted overall.
  • Net metering can provide economic advantages too. By producing their own electricity, individuals can save money on utility bills and receive incentives from local government schemes such as feed-in-tariffs for generating renewable energy.
  • Finally, net metering allows homeowners to have more control over their energy supply and become more self-sufficient by having a renewable energy generator of their own.

What are the disadvantages of net metering?

  • Net metering can be an expensive solution in the short term since it requires large up-front investments, such as the installation of solar panels and other related equipment.
  • In many areas, net metering rules limit how much excess electricity customers can produce or how much of their generated electricity goes back into the grid, which can make it difficult for them to maximize profits from their renewable energy production.
  • The amount of money a customer earns from selling excess power back to the power company will depend on fluctuations in the marketplace, making it difficult for them to predict their return on investment. Additionally, net metering incentives and regulations vary from province to province, so customers may not be able to take advantage of certain incentives depending on where they live.
  • Net metering also requires ongoing maintenance and repairs to increase efficiency and maintain peak performance levels which can add additional costs to already high up-front investments.

What is the difference between net metering and gross metering?

Net metering is when you install energy-producing devices like solar panels, and the energy produced feeds into the grid at a 1:1 ratio. This means if you produce 5 kilowatts of energy, for example, your meter will reflect a decrease of 5 kilowatts from that used by your home.

Gross metering is like its namesake; all of the excess energy generated through renewable sources goes directly into the power grid, regardless of how much energy your home is using. This exported energy is purchased from you and you purchase the power you need from the grid. The price of exported energy is often lower than the cost of the electricity you consume in this scheme, reducing potential payback compared to net-metering. 

This can be great for environmental advocates who want to contribute to green initiatives but who may not have an especially high on-site consumption!

Which is best net metering or gross metering?

Gross metering is a method that allows you to offset your electricity costs by producing your own energy from renewable sources and exporting all the energy you produce to the grid. Under this system, you will have a separate meter for tracking your additional generation and the energy you consume. This cost you are paid for the energy you export is often lower than what you pay for the energy you use. 

This is why net metering is usually the preferred method. It lets customers generate their own clean energy but with the same meter, meaning any excess electricity generated is sent back to the grid and credited at standard retail rates. These credits are used to offset future electricity bills when generation is lower (often in the winter months when sunlight hours are less). The main benefit of net metering is the price of electricity whether credited or bought is the same, maximizing payoff. It is possible to pay $0 in electricity over the course of a year with a net metering agreement. 

Ultimately, each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and it depends on individual needs to choose the right one; net metering may be preferable if you're looking to reduce energy costs, while gross metering could be ideal if you don't mind making a monetary contribution towards green energy initiatives.

How many solar panels do you need for net metering in Ontario?

The exact number of panels you need depends on your energy usage and roof space; however, the average home requires between 5-10kW, which is around 14-24 solar panels, plus additional equipment.

How much excess energy can you sell back to the utility company?

Solar net metering allows households in Ontario to earn a credit on their electric bill for the energy produced for a system up to 10 kW in most cases. Furthermore, any unused credit can be stored for up to 12 months and used at a later date. Utilizing this option is a great way for Ontarians to save money and give back to their local community.

What happens if you don't sell the excess electricity?

If you don't sell the excess electricity generated by your solar energy system back to the electricity provider, the extra energy will literally just dissipate into thin air. That means the money spent on the investment won't be used to its fullest potential and could ultimately cost you in the long run. For that reason, it is suggested that you opt for a net metering program that offers an abundance of advantages.


Net metering is a system that allows you to sell excess energy back to the grid. This can be advantageous for those who want to help contribute towards renewable energy initiatives while reducing their overall electricity costs. However, it’s important to do your research and explore available options before making any decisions, as customers may not be able to take advantage of certain programs due to certain restrictions and regulations. Ultimately, net metering is an excellent way to reduce energy costs while helping the environment.


What household appliances use more electricity?

Appliances like dishwashers, clothes dryers, and microwaves can be big electricity users in a household. In Ontario, any appliance between 9 amps and 20 amps will use a lot of power. To put it into perspective, 10 amps of 220 volts is the equivalent of 2200 watts! Think about the energy needed to run your computer, television or vacuum cleaner; you'll see why appliances like these strain the power grid significantly.

Being mindful of which appliances use more electricity and unplugging them when they're not needed can go a long way towards preventing energy waste.

How much are solar panels in Ontario?

Solar panels cost in Ontario vary significantly, depending on the size and quality of the panel. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $2.34 to $2.59 per watt installed.

Who is an electricity retailer?

An electricity retailer is a licensed energy company in Ontario that buys and sells electricity on the open market, giving their customers competitive rates and flexible payment terms. Through their competitive rates and services, they help residential, small business, and large industrial customers reduce their energy costs.

How does a bi-directional meter work?

A bi-directional meter measures energy in both directions, making it ideal for your net metering program in Ontario. It allows households to monitor both consumed and transferred electricity.