You see that quarterly energy bill in the mailbox and groan because you know it’s going to take a fairly big whack out of the household savings. And no wonder we all get a little despondent – the average household electricity bill in Queensland now amounts to over $1500 a year!
That’s why it’s important to look at other options and it’s also why, as of last year, over 32% of Queensland homes now rely on solar panels for their electricity needs. Here are some of the benefits of solar energy in your home.
#1 It’s better for the environment
One of the fantastic benefits of using solar power systems is that they are kinder to the environment. This is because electricity is sourced from sunlight rather than burning fossil fuels. Sunlight is a renewable energy source, which means we will never run out of it, and solar power doesn’t pollute the environment. This plays a huge role in reducing the number of harmful toxins that are released into the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels, on the other hand, causes greenhouse gas emissions that unfortunately are a big part of global warming.
#2 It helps with your power bills
One of the biggest issues with using traditional grid electricity is the unpredictability of energy bills, and annual energy costs can often soar into the thousands of dollars. With solar electricity, you are obtaining power directly from your solar panels, so most people start to see cost savings after their initial installation expenses have been recouped.
The most common form of solar power system is the photovoltaic (PV) system. These systems work by producing electricity via a ‘solar array’ whereby sunlight that hits the solar panels is converted into DC electricity, which is fed into an inverter. The inverter converts the DC electricity into AC electricity, which is suitable for household use.
Most solar energy systems in Australia are connected to the grid, and in these ‘grid feed’ systems your solar system will supply your home first and only feed electricity into the grid if there is surplus electricity. If your system doesn’t produce enough electricity to power your property, any excess will be drawn from the grid. Therefore, if your system is sized correct, most power will be consumed which offsets what you would have previously purchased from the grid.
If you install a battery storage system along with your solar power system, you are able to ‘stockpile’ power from your solar PV system to draw on at night or when there is additional demand for electricity. However, these can be expensive so it’s worth doing the math upfront in terms of whether it’s a good investment.
Not only does every household have different consumption patterns, each state also has different conditions in terms of the economics of batteries. Making a long-term assessment and working out your ‘payback period’ can help you work out your system’s efficiency before you invest. Your payback period is basically the total cost of your solar and battery system divided by the annual savings on your power bills. If the payback period is longer than the warranty period of the battery you have purchased, then it might be worth considering a battery-ready solar photovoltaic (PV) system instead.
#3 It adds value to your home
Many prospective buyers look for existing features in a home that can lead to cost savings and often solar power is one of them. Which may mean that you can increase the sale price of your home if you are willing to install a solar power system before you put it on the market.
If you’re thinking of refinancing to pay for a solar power system, bear in mind that you may end up over-capitalising on your investment if you’re not planning to sell your home for a few years. It takes time to recoup the installation costs through your energy bill savings, and because solar technology is continually being updated, a system you install now may be considered inefficient when it comes time to sell.
The price of solar energy solutions are also expected to keep falling over the next five to ten years, so buyers may also not be willing to pay more for a solar-powered home now when they can buy a cheaper more technologically advanced system in the future.
#4 It offers a reliable power source
One of the great benefits of solar energy is that it offers a reliable power source because of that fact that electricity generated is sourced from the sun. Unlike other sources, nobody has a monopoly over sunlight – it is free to all and easy for anyone to harvest with solar panels. This grants users an independent power source, and because of its consistency, allows you to plan on how you use and store power.
#5 It grants feed-in tariffs
Solar feed-in tariffs are rates paid for electricity that’s fed back into the electricity grid from your solar panels. Once your solar PV system is connected to the grid, you may have the option of exporting and selling unused power back to your electricity retailer. This allows you to potentially make money from your investment and in turn reduce your own energy costs.
Australia currently has no national program, however, there are state run schemes and the arrangements differ for each. While you don’t actually receive cash from your exported solar electricity, you can receive credits on your electricity bills.
In Queensland, the rate is currently 6 to 17 cents per unit or kWh, depending on your electricity retailer. While this may not seem like much, the value of solar should be placed in the savings generated by the amount of electricity you’re displacing from the grid, not from the feed-in tariff you can potentially receive.
Consumers should shop around for electricity retailers who are solar-friendly if they’re considering accessing feed-in tariffs to ensure they won’t be penalised in other ways once they have a system installed. Some retailers also offer additional incentives over and above the legislated amount where it exists.
Considering the switch to solar energy? Contact the experts at Peak Voltage today on (07) 3272 7325.