Got rooftop solar and wondering what next? While it would be ideal for us all to be able to afford battery storage straight up, they are still very costly for the average household. It would be pretty amazing if some of our state or federal leaders could see their way clear to a rebate or tax deduction on domestic energy storage, but I’ll keep that for another blog. This one is about what you can do today for free to start to maximise your savings with your solar. And it’s all about timing.
If you do not have any form of storage on your domestic solar system – whether that be in the form of batteries or a device like a power diverter – then there’s a fair chance that you are exporting your excess electricity back into the grid, and perhaps being paid a Feed In Tariff (FiT) .
While the rate of FiT’s vary, let’s just say for argument’s sake it’s 10c per kW you are receiving. Sounds good huh? The solar panels are ticking away all day selling beautiful green, home-grown energy back to the grid.
UNTIL. Boom, it’s 6pm. You’ve arrived home from work, collected the kids on the way. The sun’s going down, the panels are slowing down. You turn on the air con, start dinner, pop a load of washing on, the kids are having a bit of screen time – whoa, peak energy load coming up, and the energy is not coming from your panels because it’s nearly sunset, it’s coming from your retailer (kerching) – and costing you 20 – 30c/kW or maybe more – but at least 2 or 3 times what you sold your power for during the day.
Well any mum with a brain is going to say ‘I ain’t buying those tomatoes!’
Here’s what you do. Learn to love your timer. Do a quick whip around your large electric appliances like the oven, slow cooker, air conditioner, panel heaters washing machine, dryer, dishwasher. Most of them will have a timer device that allows you to set the start and finish times for that load of dishes, or for that casserole to cook, or that load of clothes to wash.
Learn how the timer works and use it to use the 10c /kW energy while your panels are generating power. This spreads your energy use out during the day and optimises the energy your panels are generating, at the same time biting into the profits the energy retailer is making out of you! So, when you load the washing machine, set the timer so that the machine runs during daylight hours – say from 10am – 4pm, depending on the season and where you live. Same deal with the dishwasher, dryer, oven or slow cooker.
This is called load shifting, and mostly it’s behaviour change.( I don’t need to tell mums how to do behaviour change!). It takes a few days to get into a new pattern, but it means a lot of the energy you are using is costing you far less. Having said that I know you can’t load shift kids, but hey I find the oven timer pretty handy when it comes to screen time limits.