Solar power, the most widely consumed renewable energy, boasts a host of benefits for both the environment and your home.
An increasing number of Australian households are turning to renewable energies to create more eco-friendly homes. Solar power – the most widely consumed renewable energy – boasts a host of benefits for both the environment and your home. And, by pairing your solar energy unit with a battery storage system, you can strive for carbon neutrality while reaping the financial rewards of self-sufficiency.
Completely carbon-neutral, solar is one of the cleanest sources of energy and is an extremely effective means of creating a more sustainable home. Even relatively small solar units can potentially decrease your emissions by two or three tons per year. In Australia, solar power’s potential is compounded by our climate.
As the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) noted, “Australia has the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world.”
This abundance of solar radiation available in Australia makes it not only an incredibly viable means of creating eco-friendly homes but also makes it an effective way for Australian homeowners to combat increasing energy prices.
Often the installation costs for solar panels inhibit homeowners’ willingness and ability to purchase them. The good news is that these costs have fallen quite significantly over recent years, allowing photovoltaic systems to become a dominant feature of modern home design. The ubiquity of domestic solar can also be attributed to the long-term savings promised by withdrawing from traditional electricity.
Electricity prices across Australia are increasing quite rapidly due to several economic factors including, ironically, the rise of domestic solar power. As more and more modular homes opt for renewable energy over fossil-fuel-powered energy, electricity companies are forced to meet their distribution costs by raising prices. And as electricity becomes increasingly financially burdensome for households, the advantages of installing solar become more pronounced.
Switch to LED
Lighting now accounts for up to 15 per cent of the average household electricity bill, and most homes could cut that cost by at least half by switching to low-energy LED lighting.
“It’s so much more energy-efficient than old-style downlights and incandescent light bulbs,” says David Bare, NSW executive director of the Housing Industry Association.
In addition, modern dimmers, which cut the supply on and off rapidly at hundreds of times a second, reduce the amount of power reaching the bulb. This prolongs the life of the bulb and cuts the overall amount of energy being used, too.
An investment in solar power can immunise your home against future energy price rises. Although installation can seem expensive, depending on the size of the unit you choose, you can significantly reduce or even nullify your future electricity bills. The more electricity prices increase, the sooner an investment in solar will pay off. In this way, solar energy is one of the most affordable and financially stable methods of powering your home.
Solar power should be viewed as a long-term investment, whereby the price of your unit’s installation will be made back in utility bill savings over the course of future years. The longevity of your unit is therefore important to your projected savings. Fortunately, solar units are a low-maintenance technology. Photovoltaic systems operate by converting solar light and heat into energy and work without any moving parts. This makes them extremely reliable, requiring little or no maintenance and boasting potential life-spans of several decades.
In addition to the ample future savings promised by solar energy, you can offset the purchase costs of eligible units under the Australian government’s Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme. Not all units are included in the scheme, so if you’re relying on this rebate, be sure to do some research first.
Additionally, once you’ve begun generating your own solar energy, you can sell any excess power you create back to the grid through feed-in tariffs. The rates for feed-in tariffs are relatively low so it is worth considering storing rather than selling your excess power if possible.
Do your homework and think ahead
Before purchasing any solar system, it’s important to do your homework and think ahead.
For those looking to install solar and a battery storage system for the first time, the best place to start is by monitoring your home energy usage. To work efficiently each system must be sized to suit the individual household’s circumstances.
Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – because often, unfortunately, cheap is nasty.
If you’re planning on investing in your first photovoltaic system but don’t intend on buying a battery storage unit just yet, at least consider whether your chosen solar system has battery-storage capabilities. That way, as electricity prices rise and battery prices fall, you have the option of adding a storage unit to your current solar system in the future.