5 tips to maximise your solar savings
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You've taken the plunge and invested in a solar system - congratulations! Now to make the most out of your solar and really save on your electricity bill, here are a few important things you'll want to consider:
1. Cover your roof with solar ($1,300+ in savings)
The first tip is to cover as much of your roof with solar panels as possible—in fact, the more solar panels you have, the more you save!
So why is bigger better? There are a few reasons…
First, the demand for solar panels increases every year. The average household solar panel installation was 4kW back in 2013. Recently that number has increased to over 8kW! It’s more than doubled, and keeps on increasing every year!
Imagine this: the year is 2013 and you just installed your 4kW solar system, which was the average at the time. In just six years, the average doubled to 8kW, meaning your system might not be big enough for electric vehicles and other electrical appliances.
It also makes sense to take advantage of solar rebates provided by state governments in Australia. The incentive is there for people to install larger solar systems. There are even rebates for existing systems to be upgraded!
Second, if your goal is to get to a near-zero electricity bill, you can’t just base it on average electricity usage; you have to think of those cold winter months when solar production is at its lowest and energy usage is at its highest. A large system will allow you to offset those bigger energy variations.
Using this solar calculator, we've calculated that upgrading from a 6.6kW to an 8kW system adds an additional $233 in savings in the first year alone. If you get an even bigger 10kW system, that's an additional $1,294 in savings!
Third and most importantly, is to plan for the future. What happens when you get an EV, batteries, and fully electrify your household?
If you’re worried about spending too much money on solar panels, don't be! Solar panels are always growing in popularity. In fact, data shows Australia’s solar output will double in five years as more panels are installed. If you want to save money on your electricity bill and reduce your carbon footprint over time, invest in solar today.
2. Electrify everything (and save up to $1,900 per year)
In a report by the Climate Council, they found that households can save up to $1,900 per year just by switching from gas to electric.
The main reason is the extreme price increase for gas. In the last year, the wholesale price of gas has almost tripled, meaning common appliances such as gas heaters, stovetops, and hot water systems (read more about how to reduce your hot water bill) are more expensive to run than their electric counterparts.
If you take into account vehicle fuel, you could be saving as much as $5,400 per year by 2030 for having a fully electrified household! As of today, the average Australian household uses 102kWh of energy per day from appliances and vehicles. The number goes down to just 37kWh when you go fully electric. That is a massive 63% in energy savings.
Once you have a highly efficient household, you may also have additional solar power to export. Understanding feed-in tariffs and finding the right electricity plan will also play a significant role in savings.
3. Switch to a better electricity plan (to save an additional $400 per year)
You might be surprised at how much money you can save by simply choosing a better plan. Our analysis of Solar Analytics users estimates that on average, solar owners can save an additional $400 a year by switching to a better plan.
Plans are confusing, and change all the time. That’s why we developed a free plan comparison tool to help you quickly identify the best plans on the market, based on your typical energy usage profile. First, you need to learn about your own energy plan. Do you have a variable rate plan or a fixed rate plan? The type of plan that’s right for you will depend on a number of factors.
- How much electricity are you producing with your solar panels?
- How much electricity is your household consuming?
- How much electricity do you import and export back to the grid?
These factors play an integral role in choosing the right electricity plan! What works for others may not work for you, so we recommend doing your research and comparing energy plans before making the change. In fact, our head of Business Development, Nigel Morris, saved almost $800 a year by switching plans.
The Plan Optimiser that comes with a Solar Analytics subscription will take the guesswork out of finding the ideal plan for your home. It provides you with personalised recommendations based on your current plan, energy usage and production, using your actual data. It will calculate exactly how much you could save by switching so you can make an informed decision.
Once you’re on the best energy plan, the next point covers a simple concept that will help you save more.
4. Load shifting (use the solar you produce to save $330 on electricity)
When switching to solar, it’s important for households to consider switching habits and making sure to use as much of the solar power they produce during the day. That’s because the feed-in tariff you're paid for exporting your own power to the grid is generally less than the cost of buying electricity from the grid, in which case you’re leaving savings on the table.
To get around this problem, we recommend getting familiar with what's known as 'load shifting’. This means that you should look to ‘shift ’your big energy loads to when you produce the most electricity from your solar. Over time, this can save you hundreds on electricity bills.
According to research by Solar Analytics, people who load shift just 30% of their consumption managed to save $82 per quarter on electricity bills. That’s almost $330 per year just by load shifting!
The most basic way to utilise load shifting is by using power-hungry appliances during the day when your solar production is at its peak: pool pump, washing machines, dishwashers, electric vehicles, you name it. You want to use your solar energy to power those appliances and buy less electricity from the grid.
A monitoring software like Solar Analytics will allow you to monitor your solar production and optimise your energy consumption and electricity usage. You’ll be able to see your production and consumption patterns in a user-friendly dashboard. The goal is simple: try and match as much of the purple with the yellow curve. Are you ready?
Some of you can’t do this because you’re away during the day or can’t schedule your appliances. Here’s what you can do:
- If you’re on variable rate plans, wait until the peak period passes to use your appliances. This means using the dishwasher and charging your EV overnight.
- Set the air conditioner to run just before you get home from work in the summer
- Install a timer so your pool pump and filter only run during the day
Here’s a bonus tip - many dishwashers and washing machines have a ‘delay start’ feature that allows you to time it just when you need it to. Our advice is to set the timer before you leave for work, so they’ll run during daylight hours, when solar production is at its highest.
If you’re serious about load shifting, there is one more thing you should consider: installing a battery.
5. Consider a battery (and save $1,000 per year)
Last but not least, consider getting a battery.
Now we get it, getting a battery is a serious investment and it will take a decent amount of time before you start to see savings. Even if you don't have a lot of excess energy to store, it might be worth adding a battery anyway - it’s an investment that could help you out in the long run.
The most common reason for getting a battery is because you have some kind of electric-powered device that you need to use after sundown or on stormy days. A few examples are using hot water, pool pumps, or charging electric cars. You can also use the battery itself as backup power during blackouts. If you're still highly dependent on energy from the grid, this is one step closer to energy freedom! With a battery, you’ll have the confidence that electricity is always available to you, without using generators. Isn’t it great to be the house that’s lit up when your neighbours are using candles!
So how much will installing a battery save you? The simple answer is $1,000 per year...after ten years. That's right, you'll see your savings a decade after installing the battery. Let us explain.
- The most common household battery size is around 10kWh - 14kWh.
- Batteries cost on average $1,000 per kWh, meaning households typically invest $10,000 - $14,000 in one.
- The average household saves around $1,000 annually on a 10kWh battery system.
Therefore, although you're looking at $1,000 in savings per year, it will take approximately ten years to get a return on your battery investment.
Keep in mind that these numbers are relevant today, but they may change with the rising price of electricity. As explained by Nigel Morris in this article, the higher prices go, the more you save, and thus the faster you’ll get your return!
If you are interested in getting a battery, you need to make sure you’ve got the right one. It’s a long-term investment that you want to get right. Check out the analysis our team shared to help you answer this question. And of course, if you’ve chosen to get a Solar Analytics subscription, you can always use our battery calculator!
In summary, here are the things you should do to maximise savings:
- Install more solar panels - the more the better.
- Switch to electricity. From water heaters to cars, turn them electric!
- Find a better energy plan for your household
- Start load shifting
- Invest in a battery
Every action you take from this list will create an impact on your savings. Sign up for Solar Analytics’ free 30-day trial and make those savings today!