Optimising Savings through Energy Consumption Tracking
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Installing a solar system is the fastest and simplest way to reduce how much electricity you buy, almost 3.5 million Aussies¹ have proven that! Once you have solar, however, the key to maximising your savings is understanding how and when you use, generate and sell energy.
This is why tracking your energy consumption is important. Read on for our top tips to make the most of your solar with energy management and monitoring.
Where is all my energy going?
A favourite saying is “What gets measured gets managed”. This simple quote eloquently describes the value of monitoring, well, anything. Imagine a car without a fuel gauge. A shop without a till. Time without a clock. You can still drive and shop and time still passes, but it is data and measurement that provide insight and context into what it means. It’s the same reason that monitoring solar production and energy consumption is essential.
The Impact of Monitoring Energy Usage on Your Home
Once you start monitoring your energy consumption, you may be in for a few surprises!
Teenagers who leave heaters on, air conditioners that use vast amounts of energy and are programmed incorrectly, and even issues like leaking hot water systems (read more about how to reduce your hot water bill) have been found using consumption monitoring.
Understanding when and how you use energy puts the power back in your hands. It allows you to become aware of the energy habits in your household so that you can make changes where and when it matters. You’ll be amazed at what’s using energy in your home!
Understanding How Much Energy You Consume: A Key to Energy Costs & Savings
Whether you have solar or not, one of the best things you can do to save money is to keep an eye on your energy consumption patterns. You don’t need to obsess over it but checking in occasionally can make a huge difference.
If you don't have solar, some retailers can provide data or apps to help you understand when and how much energy is being used, check with them if they can get you up and running. You can also buy quite affordable plug-in meters to measure individual appliances.
If you do have solar, then read on for how to save more by measuring consumption.
Benefits of consumption measurement
One of the best features of consumption monitoring is that there are a bunch of benefits that will help you in the future.
For example, ever wondered when the right time is to add a battery to your solar? The key is to know how much excess solar energy you have to charge the battery (you sure don’t want to buy it!). A consumption meter will show you this and advanced apps like Solar Analytics even have a one-click calculator to show you the perfect battery size and savings estimates!
Transitioning from Flat to Time-of-Use Energy Plans and Adapting to Change with Consumption Monitoring
Another benefit is that sometimes you can save more by moving from a flat energy plan to a time-of-use energy plan - but you’ll need to see when you are using energy to know that.
Lastly, nothing stays the same! A great benefit of consumption monitoring is that as lifestyles change or appliances start to fail (both are inevitable!) you’ll be able to see it and make adjustments.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an energy nerd to unravel this anymore because solar software like Solar Analytics has made the task simple.
Solar and consumption monitoring
The case for ensuring that consumption monitoring is included in solar systems is clear.
If you are getting solar
If you are considering getting solar installed you have a wonderful opportunity to include consumption monitoring in your system, which is by far the cheapest and simplest solution and also means it is supported as part of your system. Every solar company can provide this as a service - if you get a quote from a solar company who won’t or can’t - choose another company!
If you already have solar
How to check if you have access to your energy consumption
If you’re lucky and a bright spark, you may already have consumption monitoring available in an app from your solar installer. You can check directly in your inverter app if you know how to access it and follow these simple steps:
1. Log into your inverter portal or app
2. Scroll to the live inverter reading section (where you can see how much energy you are currently producing)
3. If you see non-zero readings for grid energy or household consumption, you have a consumption meter! See Fronius, Sungrow and Goodwe examples below.
4. If you cannot find a live energy flow section with readings for grid or household energy then you do not have a consumption meter connected. See examples without a consumption meter below.
Alternatively, you may be able to add a consumption meter to manage your system. This will depend on your inverter type and we recommend you speak with your solar installer first because they know your system the best, especially if you have a battery or an export limited site.
Accessing consumption data with Solar Analytics
If you are based in Victoria in the Citipower or Powercor regions and have solar but no consumption meter, you may also be able to get consumption data via a new service from Solar Analytics called Integrated+. In simple terms, we can collect solar data from your inverter and consumption data from your retail meter (in eligible cases) and it can all be done remotely. Request a free trial here.
Once you have solar installed, to make the most of the electricity your system produces, understanding your home energy consumption will allow you to shift your energy loads so that energy-hungry appliances can run when your system is generating the most electricity (usually between 10am-2pm). Typical households consume the most energy in the mornings and evenings, which is outside the optimum window of power generation for your solar panels.
Maximising Solar Savings: Shifting Energy Usage for Optimal Efficiency
While some energy usage is fixed, meaning it's only able to be used while someone is home, such as your TV or hair dryer, other appliances can be run while you’re not home. If you can set appliances such as your pool filter, heat pump or dishwasher to run during the middle of the day instead of in the evening, you can significantly reduce the amount of electricity you buy from the grid, instead relying more heavily on your solar power (which is free!).
An example of a household that has shifted a significant amount of their energy usage to optimise their solar energy. Yellow is the electricity produced by the solar system, and purple is the total amount of electricity used throughout the day.
Switching your gas hot water (or even your car) to electricity is another big step you can take once you’ve got a handle on your energy consumption and have optimised your solar energy usage.
Switches you can make:
- Gas has got to go - switching to a modern electric stove and heat pump for hot water is more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Gas is neither cheap nor effective anymore - and with solar, you can easily power these appliances from the sun.
- Ditch that diesel - swapping to an electric car can save you thousands of dollars each year in petrol and maintenance costs (right now electric vehicles (EVs) make economic sense if you travel more than 25,000km per year, and their prices are falling rapidly). Smart software allows you to charge them only from your solar system too, avoiding the need to buy energy on most sunny days.
The Solar Analytics difference
Using an app like Solar Analytics will help you unlock even more savings (on average an additional $500 pa). Our smart app provides everything you need in a user-friendly dashboard to put the power back in your hands. On top of the energy-saving tips mentioned above, you’ll be able to:
- Calculate your savings - you’ll be able to see how much your solar system has saved you over its lifespan, as well as track your earnings from exporting electricity to the grid.
- Anticipate your next electricity bill - a breakdown of your electricity bill (including electricity bought, fees, charges and solar feed-in credit each month) will help you stay in the know about your electricity costs. This means you won’t have any nasty surprises when you get your next bill.
- Find the best electricity plan - the Plan Optimiser tool uses your real energy consumption data to recommend energy plans that will put the most money back in your pocket. Not only will Plan Optimiser compare energy plans for you, it tells you exactly how much money you could save each quarter by switching.
- Know when to get a battery - the battery calculator lets you know when it's the right time to invest in a battery and which size is right for your home based on your excess solar production and energy usage patterns.
What to take away
Solar, solar, solar! The first and most effective way to lower your electricity bills is to switch to solar. If you already have solar panels on your roof, make the most of them!
Start tracking your energy usage and monitoring your solar system so that you can be aware of the real time energy usage in your household habits of energy consumption. Lastly, implement energy-conscious changes in your home for lower electricity bills and happier homes!
- Cover your roof with solar
- Make sure to track your energy consumption
- Shift your energy loads to make the most of your solar
- Electrify everything
- Unlock more savings with Solar Analytics