How to increase your solar self-consumption

How to increase your solar self-consumption

Using more of your self-generated solar electricity during the day is the key to lower electricity bills and a faster payback on your solar panels system.

The more you consume of your own solar electricity, the less you need to buy from the grid.  This is where you get the biggest savings with solar.

Why?

It’s because using your own solar electricity doesn’t cost you anything, whereas grid power costs around 27-30 cents per kilowatt hour (the Aussie average).

What’s more – strange as it may sound – forget about trying to export lots of your solar power to the grid. With current solar feed-in tariffs around 7 cents per kilowatt hour, it’s not worrying too much about.  It’s certainly not the way to get the lowest possible electricity bills!

The smart approach  is to use as much of your solar power as possible during the daytime – when it’s being generated – and minimise the amount you export to the grid. The result will be a higher solar self-consumption ratio and, most importantly, lower electricity bills.

What solar self-consumption rate should you be aiming for

Ideally, you should be looking to achieve a solar self-consumption ratio of at least 50 per cent assuming you have a well-designed, high quality solar power system. That’s where choosing a reputable Clean Energy Solar Retailer who installs only the best quality solar panels systems is important.

Then, by implementing the steps recommended below, you should be able to increase your solar self-consumption rate to 60 per cent or more.

If you decide to go ‘all out’ and invest in battery storage, you should be able to get to 100% solar self-consumption and be virtually grid independent.  This will result in near zero electricity bills or even a credit from your electricity retailer!

Best ways to increase solar self-consumption

Here’s twelve ways you can maximise your solar self-consumption and slash your electricity bills.  We start with the basics, then move onto some easy wins – and finish with bigger ticket items that can get you all the way to 100% solar self-consumption.

  1. Get a well-designed solar system that matches your energy usage

The first step is to get a solar panels system that’s facing the direction [link to solar post on this topic] (i.e. north, east, west) that will generate power when you most need it.

Whilst north facing solar panels will – in most cases – maximise your solar energy production, this may not get you the highest solar self-consumption rate.

That’s because your household may use more electricity at the beginning of the day and later in the afternoon. If that’s the case, then an east-facing solar array combined with a west-facing array would result in a higher solar self-consumption rate.

If you’ve already got solar installed, then understanding the times of day when the solar panels generate the most electricity is important – which bring us to the next point…

  1. Use a solar monitoring app

Having data on when your solar system is producing power – and how much power – is key to increasing solar self-consumption.

All modern solar inverters come with a solar monitoring app.  You can use this app on your smart phone or laptop to get real-time information on solar generation as well as historical data. This will show you the times of day when your solar system is generating the most power.  Your goal is to use electricity at those time – in other words matching solar generation with solar consumption.

A word of warning…. Not all solar monitoring apps give you the full picture.  What you really need is graphs showing your solar consumption data alongside your solar generation data.  That’s where the best solar power monitoring systems add more value – and can save thousands off your electricity bills over lifetime of your solar system.

We recommend Solar Analytics as the smart solar monitoring that should sit alongside every solar power system. It’s a third-party add-on tool designed by an Australian software company – and it’s your ticket to improving your solar self-consumption rate and a lot more besides.

  1. Know your electricity tariff

Flat rate or time of use (peak, off-peak, shoulder) – what tariff are you on?  Understanding your tariff is important as you’ll want to minimise your use of grid electricity at those times when you’ve charged the most.

  1. Know the best times to use electricity

As a result of following steps 1-3, you’ll know best times of day to use electricity to maximise solar self-consumption and avoid high electricity prices.  This will be different for every household and depend on:

  • your solar panel design
  • your household lifestyle/energy usage
  • your electricity tariff.

Once you’ve got this information, you’re in a great position to take action to drive down your electricity bills with better use of your solar energy.

  1. Use timers to shift more of your electricity use to daytime

If you’re out and about during the day, consider using timers on appliances so they run when your solar system is producing energy. Some advanced heating and cooling systems have a feature allowing you to activate the system remotely with an app. This can be great if you’re at work during the daytime and want to return to a nice cool home in the early evening, that’s cost you nothing in electricity!

  1. Charge your devices during the day

Lots of people plug in their devices before they go to bed, so they’re fully charged by morning. But doing this can add hundreds of dollars to your electricity.

It’s more cost-effective to charge your devices when you get home (assuming it’s still daylight) or in the morning before you head out.  Invest in fast chargers if necessary – you’ll find they’re worth their weight in gold.

  1. Make sure your devices are not on standby mode

It’s surprising how much power is used if you leave your devices in standby mode.  Where possible switch off laptops, TVs, video games and electronics that you aren’t using for any extended period.

  1. Switch off your aircon, heating etc at night

On heatwave nights, having the aircon running all night is a godsend.  But for most of the year when the weather is more temperate, it’s worth putting your heating and cooling on a timer.  That way you can go to sleep with the heating or cooling on, and it will automatically turn off in an hour or so when you’re fast asleep.

  1. Improve the energy efficiency of your home

If you haven’t done so already, getting your home fully insulated is one of the most cost-effective ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home.  Heating and cooling can account for up to 50 per cent of your power bill.  If you’ve got a home that’s well insulated, your home will be more comfortable and cost less to run.

  1. Gradually move your home to all-electric

An efficient all-electric home is the best way to reduce your total energy costs and maximise the potential of your solar power system. In the medium to long term, moving off gas to efficient all-electric hot water, heating and cooking will save you thousands of dollars in energy costs.

  1. Install a solar panel battery storage system

With solar battery storage, your excess solar power is stored in a battery for use when the sun goes down and on cloudy days.  This means you can use your battery to power your home through the night, reducing your reliance on grid power.  If the solar and battery system is sized correctly, this can result in 100 per cent energy self-sufficiency.

  1. Purchase an electric car

With fuel costs skyrocketing, many people are considering purchasing an electric vehicle at some point in the next 5-10 years. Both state and federal governments are starting to put in place financial incentives to make electric vehicle purchase more affordable, as well as investing in charging infrastructure.

For solar owners, having an electric vehicle means that, with the right set-up, you can charge your car with the electricity generated by your solar panels system.

And why stop at an electric car?  Why not get an electric bike as well for those short trips into town?

Summing up

Each step you take towards increasing solar self-consumption will help reduce your electricity bills and reliance on the electricity grid.  Start slowly, implementing the changes one by one.  Over time you’ll see the results with lower power bills and a more energy efficient home.

At Solar Run, designing solar and battery systems that maximise solar self-consumption and electricity bill savings is what we do! We’ll work with you to understand your electricity usage – both today and in the future.  We’ll design the best solar panels system to meet your needs and fit your budget.  Get in touch if you’d like a quote!

 

 

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