05/23/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Step One When Going Solar: Cut Your Energy Use!

One of the most common complaints about "going solar" is that the upfront cost is just too high. The primary reason a solar power system can be a high ticket purchase for many solar power shoppers is because of the customers' bad energy usage habits. The majority of solar power shoppers don't realize they are energy hogs until they start shopping for solar power, when they are forced to understand and analyze their electric consumption.

So how can solar power shoppers instantly get a deep discount on their solar power system? The answer is simple, "reduce then produce." Focusing on energy efficiency, and implementing lifestyle and product changes can greatly reduce the upfront cost of a solar power system. It is always more cost-effective to reduce your consumption through efficiency than it is to produce your own power.