Saturday, August 28, 2010

Solar installations giving home owners a disappointing average saving of $200 a year on electricity bills.

I noticed this article from the online version of the local paper where seven neighbours compared the savings of their solar installations over the past twelve months.

In particular this comment interested me.

"The data, collected over the past 12 months, showed an average saving of $200 a year on electricity bills."

I also thought this comment about going solar was interesting.

"Templestowe resident Ron Gaudion said that while he found that the savings were "disappointing" and "below predictions", the decision to install a solar power system, which cost around $1800 after the Federal Government rebate, was not about making money."

Over the last few months I've reviewed both solar and basic energy reduction strategies. Whilst the local government offer was a bulk offer for $1,800 to install solar, the common figure quoted in the press is around $2,990. Local residents are finding the payback is around nine years and if others pay the dearer price, they may find the payback to be closer to 15 years. What also has to be kept in mind is the government is chipping in an amount I suspect to be around $7,000 of our taxpayers money to benefit the few who thought they'd save a lot of money. I personally don’t believe others should have to pay for my choice to install solar, so I prefer to pay for it myself.

On the other hand basic energy reduction strategies cost very little to implement. For example I've purchased a foot switch and a remote controlled power board for under $100 in total. I also purchased low energy lights (whilst on special) rather than having taxpayers pick up the cost of around $10 per light using the governments scheme. The benefit is I also ended up with the lights I wanted rather than the one size fits all approach. In addition I purchased a basic device which showed me the wattage a device was using for around $40, so I could make informed decisions.

The savings I'm seeing are around $150-$170 a quarter which means I paid off the devices in the first quarter and have been saving money ever since. No taxpayers money. No solar panels detracting from the look and potentially the value of my home. Just a bit of investigation and then some simple changes in habits.

I continue to look for ways to utilise solar panels without other taxpayers having to pick up the tab. It is quite hard however as I'm finding it difficult to get a payback of under 7-10 years and that's just for the solar panels. But of course that doesn’t include any form of grant.

For those who are interested solar and energy reduction techniques, I've created an Energy Cost Calculator which will enable you to work out how much a device is costing you. The calculator plus the energy meter is what I used to reduce my energy usage.

Kelvin Eldridge

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