#1: Read up!
There is a wealth of information online to help you learn more about going solar. A few of our favourite resources for brushing up on your solar and energy efficiency knowledge include:
- Solar panels buying guide - CHOICE website
- Consumer Guide to Buying Household Solar Panels - Clean Energy Council website
- Alternative Technology Association – Solar Electricity Booklet
- Consumer Affairs Victoria – Solar Energy
- The Energy Freedom Home (Book)
If you're curious about how solar PV sytems actually work, we recommend reading this article from One Step Off The Grid.
#2. Learn to calculate the size of the solar system you need
A good solar company such as Solargain will do this properly for you, but it's also a good exercise to figure it out yourself. Here's a great guide on how to! Make sure you take into account whether you think your electricity use will go up or down in the future because of new electric appliances, more family members living in the home, etc.
#3. Don't forget about energy efficiency
The more efficient your household is, the better, regardless of where your energy coming from. A great first step is replacing old halogen light bulbs with efficient LED ones. Check out our energy efficiency tips here.
#4. Get off Gas
To maximise the use of the solar energy you are generating, and to further reduce your bills, consider switching older gas appliances to electric. In particular, you should look at your hot water and heating systems which use most of the energy in your home. Think about switching your hot water system to an efficient heat pump or solar electric. Reverse cycle split system air conditioners are the most efficient systems for both heating and cooling your home’s rooms with electricity produced by the power of the sun.
#5. Get the most out of your solar PV system by adjusting your habits
With a solar PV system you are producing your own energy during the daytime. To maximise your self-sufficiency you want to be using your precious solar energy as much as possible, instead of paying for electricity from the grid. This means turning on electric appliances during the daytime when your system is generating, which may mean changing a few of your habits. The more electricity you use from your solar system, the more you will save, and the faster you will pay off your investment!
#6. Make sure that solar is right for you
Quality solar PV systems are very affordable these days, but they are still not for everyone. If you are never home during the day, travel a lot, or have extremely low electricity use, then solar might not be the right fit for you. The best candidates for solar are people who want to reduce their electricity bills and have some flexibility to use their electric appliances during daylight hours such as families with young children and a parent at home, home office workers, retirees, and shift workers. If you aren’t at home during weekdays, consider how much of your electricity use you can shift to weekend daylight hours.
Take the next step
Claire Havens manages our Residential Solar Program. Feel free to contact her with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org