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What to look out for when shopping around for solar feed-in tariffs

What to look out for when shopping around for solar feed-in tariffs

How do you get the best deal for your solar feed-in tariff?  And how do you avoid signing up for an electricity deal that charges you over the odds?

A recent ABC report found that, on average, Australian households can save around $200 annually off their electricity bill just by spending 15 minutes or so checking the market each year.

Sticking with your existing electricity retailer is a sure-fire way to spend more than you need on electricity.

Don’t let that happen!

Take control over your electricity costs and find the electricity retailer gives you the best deal and rewards you fairly for your solar exports.

Reviewing electricity deals is worth doing especially if you live a state where there’s a highly competitive electricity market – that’s Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Queensland.  If you live in WA, Tassie, the NT or the ACT, the choice is more limited.

On this blog:

  • Know your energy consumption profile
  • When a high solar feed-in tariff is a good idea – and when it’s not
  • Where to look for the best electricity offers
  • Energy fact sheets. Why you should read them
  • Electricity deals: what to watch out for
  • Why the solar feed-in tariff isn’t the main game anymore

 

  1. Know your energy consumption profile

Before checking out deals from electricity retailers, you need to know how much grid electricity you use and at what times of day.

A great way to get this information is to request a free energy monitor from SolarRun (available to Victorian households).  Otherwise, check out the monitoring app that comes with your solar panel system, or give us a call.

What you need to know:

  • how much solar electricity you are exporting to the grid
  • whether there are ways you can use more daytime solar electricity instead of exporting it (that’s where the biggest bill savings are to be had)
  • how much electricity you are buying from the grid, and at what times

 

  1. When a high solar feed-in tariff is a good idea – and when it’s not

There are always trades-offs when it comes to electricity deals. A high solar feed-in tariff may mean higher charges on other parts of your bill. Likewise, a low solar feed-in tariff may mean you are charged less for general electricity usage.

That’s why understanding when a high solar feed-in tariff might work out for you – and when a lower feed-in tariff might be better.

Higher solar feed-in tariffs are worth considering if:

Lower solar feed-in tariffs are worth considering if:

  • You use most of your solar electricity during the day
  • You have a smaller solar system (less than 6.6kW)
  • You have a solar battery storage system
  • You are compensated for the low solar feed-in with low charges for grid electricity usage and a lower daily supply charge

 

  1. Where to look for the best electricity offers

It’s always worth going to your existing electricity retailer and asking them for a better offer.

According to the ABC report, “All retailers have very cheap deals. So, for people who are strongly not inclined to jump online, or can’t jump online, the simplest thing to do is to ring your retailer … and say to your retailer, ‘I want to know if you have a cheaper deal for me’.”

All retailers have a ‘standing offer’ or market offer which is their standard rates before any discounts. If you’re on this type of electricity deal, you will be paying more than you should – so just by calling your retailer you’ll be able to switch to a better deal.

If you reckon it’s worth your time to spend around 15 minutes to save a couple of hundred dollars a year off your electricity bill, the best place to go is one of the government energy comparison websites.

Australian Government Website – Energy Made Easy

  • Covers NSW, QLD, South Australia, Tasmania, ACT
  • Covers every plan from every electricity retailer

Victorian Government Website – Vic Energy Compare

  • For households and businesses in Victoria
  • Special search category for ‘Solar Savings’

 

  1. Energy fact sheets. Why you should read them

When you search for electricity deals, you’ll get a summary from each retailer which shows the highlights of their deal.  This is generally all the good stuff.  What they don’t highlight is the not-so-good aspects, like exit fees and any catches in the contract.

That’s why downloading the energy fact sheet for any deal you’re interested in is important. Every deal will have an energy fact sheet which specifies all aspects of the electricity arrangement you’d be signing up for.  Nothing is hidden.

  1. Electricity deals: what to watch out for

When reviewing energy fact sheets, the key items to check are:

  • Overall estimated electricity cost
    • This is the estimated annual cost of electricity you’d incur
  • Solar feed-in tariff
    • This can range from 0 cents to around 20 cents per kilowatt hour
    • The average is around 7 cents per kilowatt hour
    • Watch out for any catches – like a higher feed-in for a certain number of kilowatt hours, dropping to a much lower feed-in for any additional exports
  • Daily supply charge
    • This is one of the biggest components of most people’s electricity bills
    • It can range from around 80 cents per day to $1.30 or more
    • You are charged this amount every day, regardless of how much electricity you use
  • General usage / peak consumption rate
    • This is the other main component of most people’s electricity bills
    • Usage rates can range from 16 cents per kilowatt hour up to 40 cents
    • Check whether the rate a single rate tariff; or whether it’s a peak / off-peak rate
    • Check whether it’s a consistent rate, regardless of how much power you use – or whether the rate changes when you exceed a certain number of kilowatt hours
    • Check if there’s a controlled load rate; this can be useful if you want a lower rate for powering appliances on a specific circuit (such as your underfloor heating)
  • Fixed contract term
    • These are to be avoided at all costs if you want flexibility.
  • Card payment fees
    • Some retailer charge card payment fees; other don’t.
  • Exit fees
    • If there’s an exit fee in the small print, this should be a red flag.
  • Pay on time discount
    • Nice, but not necessary if the general usage rate and supply charge are competitive.
  • Any other conditions
    • Are they offering you a good deal on the proviso that you buy something else from them? Beware of the carrot of super low-cost electricity in return for the purchase of another product or service. There’s probably a catch somewhere.

Finally, you may want to check out their green credentials.  After all, you’ve invested in clean renewable energy.  Shouldn’t your electricity retailer be doing the same?

 

  1. Why the solar feed-in tariff isn’t the main game anymore

Feed-in rates aren’t what they used to be. Despite that, most households are achieving a payback on solar of three to five years.  The reason is because the cost of grid electricity is high and what you get paid for solar exports is typically a lot less.  So the best way to save money on your electricity bills when you have solar is to use as much of your solar electricity during the daytime as possible.

There are lots of ways to do this, even if you aren’t home that much during the day.

Whether it’s energy efficient hot water heat pumps, reverse cycle air conditioning units which can be controlled remotely, smart appliances, battery storage, EV charging – the possibilities are huge and growing all the time.

Get in touch

At SolarRun, we’re all about helping you make the most of your solar energy. As well as installing solar panel systems, we supply and install energy efficient electrical appliances such as heat pump hot water systems, free energy monitoring systems, battery storage, reverse cycle air conditioning units, pool pumps and more.

Make the most of your solar.  Get in touch with us today!

 

 

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