In NSW, customers who have missed out on the earlier Solar Bonus Scheme (which paid $0.60/kWh for all power generated) will be best using a net meter.
Depending on your energy provider, you will only receive between $0.00 and $0.20/kWh for any power that you do not use and export to the grid. In many other States you may receive $0.20/kWh for exported power, which is less than you pay for any power consumed, about $0.30/kWh.
If you are net metering, you can obtain maximum benefit from your solar system by shifting your power usage to sunlight hours as much as possible. This will save you about $0.30/kWh off your power bill for any power used.
The brighter the sun, the more solar power system produces. On a sunny day a 1.5kW solar system will produce around 1000W between 10am and 2pm. A few hundred Watts should also be produced during sunlight hours outside of this peak period.
The general idea is to run as many of your electrical loads during the day and large loads should be run during peak sun hours. Large loads include air conditioners, electric heaters, coolers, ovens and stoves, pool pumps, vacuum cleaners, iron, power tools, dishwashers and clothes dryers.
The fridge and freezer is a fairly small load (200 – 300W), however, in summer it can be running 50% of the time. If you want to cool down a carton of drinks or freeze some items, put them in the frig/freezer around 9 to 10am. You don't want to run the fig/freezer flat out overnight! Another tip to save power is to keep your fridge full rather than half empty. This helps to retain the ‘cool' when you open the door.
Generally speaking, electric ovens and hotplates use a lot of power eg 1000 – 2000 Watts per element and 2500 – 4000 Watts for the oven, so try and use these during peak sun hours. So bake your cake around midday if possible! Slow cookers (crock pots) only use about 300 Watts – so cooking that roast in a slow cooker can save you perhaps as much as $1 to $3.00 a meal. Cooking that roast slowly in a large electric oven doesn't give you this saving because the large Wattage element is either on or off. Rice cookers and bread makers also only use 300 – 450 Watts so this is an economical way to cook these foods. Large ovens are expensive to purchase and are often a waste of ‘power and space', being originally designed with a large family in mind. Having a new kitchen designed, or renovating? Consider i) getting a much smaller counter top oven that has a 15 – 20 litre glass ‘bowl' as the oven, with the element in the lid. These use only 1200 Watts and they are large enough for a 2 – 3 kilo chicken or roast. or ii) An electric frypan. These use approx 1800 Watts depending on the model, with a larger capacity for a roast and veggies for a family. Both of these options are well under the initial cost of a conventional oven.
If you are using an air conditioner, it might pay to cool down the house between noon and 3pm, particularly if the house is well insulated.
If you tend not to be home during the working week, buy yourself a couple of timers for appliances that do not have a built in timer. The dishwasher, washing machine, bread maker and slow cooker are ideal appliances to turn on during the day.
- run as many loads as you can during sunlight daylight hours
- run large loads (say over 800W) around midday
- where possible, eliminate large loads (say over 1200W)
Smarter Energy Use leads us all to Smarter Energy Savings.