Ever wondered if it’s possible to get your electricity bill down to zero with solar? Well here’s a screenshot from the Origin Energy “My Usage” portal that was recently sent to us by Amanda, a solar homeowner on Sydney’s Northern Beaches:
Amanda’s bill isn’t just zero, Origin are actually paying her to be connected to the grid – in 2019, in Sydney, in the winter! And that’s with an off the shelf 7.5kW system and not a battery in sight.
If you have solar on your roof and are dreaming of zero bills (or better!) read on to learn the strategy Amanda is using, and how you can use it too.
Why you don’t already have a $0 bill
Most solar homes use the majority of their energy in the early morning and early evening when their solar is not generating at its peak. They therefore rely on receiving feed in tariffs (solar credits) for the majority of the benefit from their systems.
This is a strategy that is now yielding poor returns in most states. For example, since the Premium Solar Feed-in Tariff was closed to new applicants the regulated feed in tariff in Victoria has dropped from 60c/kWh in 2011 to just 12c/kWh today, while average electricity prices have risen to around 35c/kWh.
This now means that for every kWh of solar energy a household in Victoria exports to the grid during the day they have to buy it back again at three times the price in the evening — likely adding hundreds of dollars to their annual energy bill.
Fortunately, there is another way for solar households to ensure they are gaining the maximum possible benefits from the panels on their roof — simply by consuming as much of their solar energy as possible at the time it is generated.
In theory it’s a simple strategy, just schedule usage of optional, non-time sensitive appliances (dishwashers, pool pumps, white goods, water heaters, etc) to run during the day rather than the evening. Even most heating and cooling systems can be run on a timer, allowing homes to be pre-heated and pre-cooled on solar power before their occupants arrive home for the evening. No need for a “smart thermostat”, a standard dumb thermostat with a timer will do.
Like Amanda, some solar homes using this solar shifting strategy can even offset so much of their grid energy with solar power that their feed in credits start to exceed their charges for grid energy – resulting in a situation where their energy retailer pays them a refund every month!
However, while simple in principle many find that implementing such a “solar shifting” strategy can be tricky in practice. The challenge is that electricity is invisible, so it can be hard to know how much energy different appliances require to run and at what times there is sufficient solar output to run them. Get the balance wrong and it may not be apparent until the next quarterly energy bill arrives — by which time hundreds of dollars in potential savings may have been lost.
This need to make energy visible for solar homes is what drove us to create Powerpal. With the help of the EnergyLab and the support of the NSW and Victorian Governments we have developed a super-weapon to help solar homes maximise their solar returns.
It’s a small device which connects to your existing utility electricity meter and relays real-time grid energy consumption information to an app on your mobile phone. This turns the solar shifting strategy into a real-world augmented reality game, a bit like Pokemon go for solar but with real cash rewards. The aim of the game is to use the real-time feedback from the app to minimise the amount of energy you purchase from the grid by shifting your appliance usage to match your rooftop solar output.
It turns solar shifting from a chore to a fun activity the whole family can join. It works particularly well for households who often have someone at home to schedule their appliance usage (such as young families and retirees) but even those who leave the house for work each day can potentially achieve fantastic results with a few simple electric timers ($9 from Bunnings).
So if you were thinking that a battery was the next step on your solar journey, take a moment to consider if that $10,000 investment is the wisest move. Solar shifting costs nothing to try and can deliver some amazing results!
*** Special Offer — Get a Powerpal for your home for FREE! ***
We are super excited to share that Powerpal is now accredited under the Victorian Government’s Energy Upgrades program. This means if you live in Victoria you may be eligible to receive a Powerpal for free – including professional installation by an Essential Services Commission registered installer at no cost to you!
So if you’d like to try solar shifting and want some help to get started simply visit www.powerpal.net to claim you free Powerpal today.
If you’d like more information on how Powerpal works, how it connects to your electricity meter and how it helps you to maximise your solar benefits check out the FAQ at support.powerpal.net or drop us an email at email@example.com with any questions and we’d be happy to help.