Energy Saving Guide
Solar owners guide
Discover what to do to get the most from your solar set up.
1. How to find the best electricity plan for solar
By generating much of your electricity, you’ll have smaller bills. However, that doesn’t mean that solar owners are immune from dud deals. Electricity retailers have made comparing offers a complicated science. Add solar into the mix, and there are even more variables. Here’s the critical watch out and how you can find the best deal for solar.
The biggest feed-in tariff may not be the bestMost solar households self-consume around 30%-40% of the power their system generates. So, getting a competitive feed-in tariff for the other 60-70% helps to minimise energy bills. Just make sure the whole electricity deal stacks up. Big feed-in tariff plans can look very enticing but examine the offer more closely, and you’ll see that they usually come with inflated pricing on usage and/or supply charges. We debunk the myth that the biggest is always best here. The only way to work out which plan is cheapest for you is to do the math for your energy usage and solar export.
Compare thoroughly for your usage and exportWATTever’s comprehensive electricity comparison includes all publicly listed plan and retailers to support solar owners find the cheapest deal for their situation. By comparing side-by-side, the total cost for your unique usage and solar export when applied to each deals pricing, discounts, feed-in tariffs, restrictions and conditions, you can get it right. In the end, you want a low energy cost and a retailer that offers the services that you value. You can read our full article about How to find the best electricity deal for solar with more tips and the tricks to avoid.
Time to optimise your tariffA key benefit of solar is that it generates electricity across most of the peak time of use period (generally 2-8 pm). With solar minimising the need to buy peak electricity, households then benefit from access to cheaper off-peak rates. As a consequence, moving to a Time Of Use tariff is usually a more cost-effective option.
2. Energy saving tips for solar owners
Most solar owners get better value by ‘self-consuming’ the energy generated from their PV setup than by earning a feed-in tariff. Over time feed-in tariffs are set to fall, so you’ll want to use more of your solar to avoid buying electricity from the grid. Here’s a break down on cost-saving strategies for solar owners.
Discover your ‘solar curve.’To get started, you’ll want to understand your ‘solar curve’ so you’ll know when you have power to spare. You can use the output on your solar inverter or a monitoring application that tells you how much your solar PV system is generating. Get a view across the day during winter and summer and on sunny and cloudy days. Then, using this knowledge, you can run appliances around the home to take advantage of good generation periods. For instance, a system that faces north-east is likely to have stronger production up until 1 pm before tailing off. So set appliances to run late morning. If you have a 5kW system, then on sunny days you could expect it to generate a peak output around 4kW in the middle of the day. As a result, you could power several appliances at once from solar. In contrast on a cloudy day, when a system may only generate 500W, you’ll want to spread out the use of appliances through the day. Here are three more ways to take advantage of your solar.
Aim to use more of your solar.
Guilt-free A/CYour PV system is at maximum generation during the middle of the day, so it makes sense to use it. Set the timer on your air conditioner to cool the house in summer or warm in winter during the day. This way you’ll return to an inviting home which should last into the evening, cutting the need to buy electricity when prices are high. Find extra tips in the Heating & Cooling Energy Saving Guide.
Solar can make your home more comfortable.
Solar PV for hot waterWith a rooftop PV system, you might consider installing an electrical diverter to push any excess solar to your electric or heat pump hot water unit. You’ll want to run the calculations on using off-peak or controlled load tariffs for hot water vs your feed-in tariff, and consider the level of export required. Get more ideas in the Hot Water Energy Saving Guide.
Solar PV can heat water for your home.
Get shifty with AppliancesA good place for load shifting is the laundry. The reason is, many households can be flexible around when they do laundry. By running washers and dryers during daylight hours from solar you can reduce energy costs. Dishwashers are also an ideal candidate. Many appliances have Delay Timers so you can schedule them to run during the solar window. Discover more tips in the Appliances Energy Saving Guide.
How much you do is up to youEvery solar owner is different in their willingness to match their energy use to their solar generation. Some will use power whenever without a thought. To take all the effort out of maximising your solar self-consumption, consider adding a battery in the future. Others literally won’t switch on appliances until sufficient solar is available. In this case, a solar monitoring solution will help show precisely when there is excess solar energy to use.
3. Monitoring solar
To make sure your solar system is working effectively, you’ll want to keep an eye on things. A monitoring system will let know how your set up is performing.