10 ways to maximise your solar savings

Whether you’re investing in solar power to save the planet or looking to save on bills, it makes sense to make the most of this renewable source of energy. Here are ten ways you can maximise your solar efficiency and minimise your dependence on grid power and its ever-increasing tariff.

1. Understand your energy usage: The best place to start is figuring out when your energy usage is at its peak. For most households, this tends to be in the early morning — while preparing for work or the day ahead — and in the evening — when the lights switch on, prep for dinner begins, the last of the chores are wrapped up and the family gathers around the TV. The lines were blurred during lockdowns owing to the Covid-19 outbreak, with many people working from home and using power through the day.
Apart from the consumption pattern through the day, it’s also important to find out which of your appliances use the most power. Some use more power than others, like dishwashers, washing machines and electric stovetops.

2. When the sun goes down, so must the appliances: The most efficient way is to try and focus as much of the consumption between sunrise and sunset, when solar energy is in constant supply. The easiest way to achieve this is to set a timer on as many appliances as possible, so they get to work during the day and draw power directly from the solar panel system.This is especially useful with heavy-duty appliances that gobble electricity, such as the washing machine and dishwasher.

3. Use one heavy appliance at a time: How much solar power you can use at a time — this is free power — is restricted by the size of your solar system installation. Using more than one heavy appliance at a time might require additional power from the grid, racking up your utility bills and generally not the most efficient use of solar power. Much as we tend to multi-task these days, it’s actually more efficient — power-wise — to wash the laundry after the dishwasher has finished its cycle, or to vacuum the house after the kitchen stove is switched off.

4. Use smart home tech: While most heavy appliances can be fitted with timers, juggling multiple devices gets much easier with smart home technology. Even when you’re not at home, you can automate the function of all connected appliances (aircon, lights, heat, water heater, washing machine, dishwasher, etc.) to an efficient schedule. This tech also allows homeowners to remotely monitor their functioning on an app on their phone.

5. Don’t leave devices on stand-by mode: Did you know that most appliances continue to consume electricity even when they are not actively in use but are still plugged in on standby? This includes TVs, computers, kitchen appliances and more. Cut down power wastage and stretch the lifespan of your appliances by switching them off at the socket or unplugging them.

6. Let the sun’s energy clean your pool: Pool pumps are the second-biggest power guzzlers in the modern home, after aircon. The cost of running a swimming pool can go upwards of $700 per year. Instead, it’s perfectly possible to employ free solar power for this purpose, by running the pool pump between 10 am and 3 pm (until 2 pm in the winter).

7. Start the aircon BEFORE you get home: Cooling is the biggest cost in most households across Australia. It might seem like a waste to switch on the aircon when the house is empty, but switching it on in the afternoon ensures that your house is cooled thoroughly before you get home, and all this cooling is achieved on solar power. Since the house is cooled properly, it is not necessary to run the aircon through the night, thereby saving too much dependence on the grid.

8. Enjoy solar power 24×7 with a battery: Without a battery, most households manage to use only about 50% of the solar power generated. Stretch this to 100% utilisation by installing a battery. This is the most energy-efficient solution for both residential and commercial solar installation. With a battery, you can be assured of continuous solar supply even after the sun goes down, allowing greater independence from grid power.  

9. Switch to electric transport and machinery: You can use your solar power for home to also fuel your transport, by opting for electric bikes or cars for daily commutes. Make maximum use of this free and renewable resource and also use it to charge electric wheelchairs for an elderly member of the family, or to power the lawnmower for the yard.

10. Maintain your solar array: Perhaps the best solar tip we can give you is to keep your solar panels clean, so they don’t lose their efficiency. Ideally, they need to be cleaned on a half-yearly to yearly basis, to ensure the panels are not obscured by dirt, bird droppings, or fallen leaves and other debris that would reduce the light the panels can absorb. Equally important is to call a professional over every two to three years for a quick service and check of the system so any problems or wear and tear can be fixed in time.

To learn more on the workings of solar power, please go through other articles on our blog. For information about the best solar deals please contact Solar NextGen, a CEC approved retailer and CEC approved installer.