If you live in Australia and you’re thinking of installing solar panels in your home, now is a great time to do it.
On July 1 this year, government subsidies for solar panels will be reduced by around $1000 ozzie dollars, so savvy energy-savers are racing to get the best price on a system.
“We are seeing a real surge in home-owners buying solar panels before July 1 and my advice is, if you are thinking of having solar panels installed, you’re best off doing it sooner rather than later,” says Australian Solar Energy Society chief executive John Grimes.
“You can install an average solar panel system with a 1.5kW capacity for under $3000 after rebates. And with electricity bills set to double by 2015, the investment could be worth every cent. Homeowners can reduce or completely eliminate their electricity bills, depending on the size of the solar panel they install.”
A solar panel attaches to your roof and converts the energy in sunlight into electricity to power household appliances.
Anything that runs on electricity – from your lighting to your kettle to your TV – can be powered by your solar panels.
The size of the panel you install depends on three things: your budget, your roof size and your household electricity useage.
Consumer watchdog Choice advises homeowners to consider these points before investing in a solar panel system:
1 CONSIDER DIRECTIONS
Check to see whether your roof faces the right direction (ideally north) to gain full-capacity power.
2 CHECK WITH COUNCIL
Find out if you need approval prior to installation in your local government area.
3 MAKE CALCULATIONS
Assess the amount of electricity your family currently uses.
4 LOOK AT OTHER OPTIONS
Consider whether you could reduce your energy consumption by installing energy-efficient products such as shower heads, or by making simple changes such as turning off appliances after use or using the dishwasher only when full.
5 DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Choose a reputable product and an accredited installer.
Mick Harris, technical specialist with the Alternative Technology Association, warns that the booming solar energy industry has attracted many “bad players” who are preying on consumers.
“People need to do their research before they buy,” he says.
“Consumers also need to remember that the cheapest product is not always the best.”
For detailed consumer information, visit the Clean Energy Council website at www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au and download their Consumer Guide
MAKING SURE YOU GET THINGS RIGHT
THERE are a few ways to check whether you are choosing a reputable manufacturer and installer:
* Do your research. Enter “solar complaints” into an online search engine. Refine your search by also entering the company name you are considering.
* Don’t choose the cheapest product simply because it’s cheap.
* Avoid anyone who is reluctant to come to your house for an on-site quote.
* Avoid a company with high-pressure sales tactics.
* Visit a reliable solar-energy website forum, such as the Alternative Technology Association’s website (www.ata.org.au), to gauge consumer experiences
ABSA 1300 889 438, absa.net.au
Clarendon 136 393, clarendon.com.au
Landcom 9841 8600, landcom.com.au
EASY WAYS TO SAVE ENERGY
Being more energy efficient at home is good for the environment and also saves money. Our purchasing decisions can have a big effect on the amount of energy we use. How can you save energy? Here are some easy steps:
* Buying a refrigerator with a 3.5 star rating means you could use as much as 55 per cent less energy compared to one with a minimum star rating.
* Switching off a computer screen when you are away from your desk means it uses 80 per cent less energy.
* Appliances left on standby while not being used can account for up to 10 per cent of your power bills. Over the course of a year, a microwave may use more energy to power its digital clocks than heating meals. Switching these appliances off gives you an instant saving.
* You can also find out how energy- and water- efficient your house is compared to others and explore simple ways to reduce your energy and water bills with the NABERS rating system.
Information provided by WWF-Australia, wwf.org.au
1 degree 1degree.com.au
The Energy Rating Scheme is a mandatory national labelling scheme for refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers and airconditioners
The energy rating label has two main features:
* The star rating gives a quick comparative assessment of the model’s energy efficiency.
* The comparative energy consumption provides an estimate of the annual energy consumption of the appliance based on the tested energy consumption and information about the typical use of the appliance in the home. Airconditioners show the power consumption of the appliance (kW or kWh/hour).
Energy Rating Scheme
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