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A change is on the horizon

On December 31 2016, recipients of NSW Solar Bonus Scheme will cease to receive rebates for their exported solar energy. The Solar Bonus Scheme (which closed to new applications in 2011) offered 60c per kilowatt-hour or 20c/kWh, depending on the signup date. Once the scheme ends, these rates will drop significantly (to as low as low as zero), depending on your electricity retailer and the plan. Find out what this means for you here.

Now, as these state-sponsored rates come to a close, the 150,000-odd NSW solar homes receiving them are looking to make the transition as painless as possible. If you live in one of these homes, what are your options? In this article, we outline 7 ways that carbonTRACK can help you stay in control of your energy and your bills.

1. Understand what your solar is doing

Once the solar bonus scheme ends, your solar energy will be worth more when it is used directly by your household than when it is sent back into the grid.

Why?

Because if you use the solar yourself, you reduce the amount of energy you have to purchase from your energy retailer (usually for 20-27c/kWh). If you don’t use the solar energy directly, you’ll get only a small credit on your bill (at whatever rate your retailer offers – usually 4-8c/kWh).

How do know when to use more of your solar?

Firstly, you need to know how much solar energy you’re producing, and when it’s being produced. Your quarterly electricity bill won’t give you the details you need.

carbonTRACK’s app and online dashboard will give you the information on your solar that you need to take action.

Here’s what the dashboard looks like:

grph from carbonTRACK solar monitoring system

Solar energy production (yellow line) vs home energy consumption (blue line). Screenshot from the carbonTRACK portal.

 

2. Understand your energy usage in detail

Understanding how much solar energy you’re producing is only one piece of the puzzle. You also have to keep track of how much energy you use in your home throughout the day.

Most of us have only a vague awareness about the timing of our energy consumption (usually between the hours of 5 and 10pm). We don’t really understand our energy use habits. We also have no idea about which devices might be the worst energy ‘vampires’, sucking up power when we’re not even using them.

carbonTRACK helps you identify your energy usage patterns throughout the day. With these insights, you can reduce energy waste and change your behaviour. You can also set your devices to run at more opportune times – like when the sun is shining!

solar umbrella curve

3. Control your household devices automatically and remotelyFront on switching

You’re probably thinking right now, “But how can I use my solar energy during the day when I’m not even home?”

Great point! The greatest amount of solar energy is produced when the least activity is happening in the home. But, as the saying goes, where there’s a will there’s a way!

With carbonTRACK, you can put the excess solar energy to work if you’re not home and flick switches off that you’re not using. And you can do all this from your phone!

4. Solar system maintenance and damage control

Solar is an investment that needs to be functioning properly to make lots of power. But, like any system, it needs to be maintained.

Problems can arise due to a failure in part of the system (e.g. a faulty inverter). Or a nearby tree branch could grow and start casting shade on your panels. These are two of the most obvious things that can go wrong. But you would never notice something is wrong until your monthly or quarterly bill arrives.

Then there’s safety. Earth faults are a serious issue can occur in any solar system. Yet many go undetected for long periods of time. Although the newest version of Australia’s solar standard aims to fix this issue, it can still happen without you knowing in older systems installed before July 2015 (such as those installed under the Solar Bonus Scheme).

If there’s a problem, your system is under performing or there’s an earth fault, carbonTRACK will let you know. carbonTRACK sends alerts so you know immediately when something’s up and you can fix it quickly.

5. Figure out whether you need more solar

Many solar systems are 1.5kW in capacity or less – quite small by today’s standards. If your system is this size, the power you generate won’t go a long way.

Modern day solar is more affordable than ever. One option to counteract the end of the solar bonus scheme is to upsize your solar.

carbonTRACK can help you determine whether expanding your solar system is a good idea – or if you’d be better off making more effective use of the one you have.

6. Choose a battery storage system

Batteries are finally becoming an affordable option for households. Now is a great time to start considering storing the power you generate to use when the sun is down.

But you should still be careful selecting the best battery size for you. Every house is different and uses different amounts of energy.

carbonTRACK shows you how much solar you could be storing in a batteries, and how much energy you use. This information will help you to make a well-informed decision before plunging into a serious investment which may not necessarily be cost-effective.

7. All of your data and controls in one place

Would you rather have 5 different systems that do different jobs for you, or one that does it all? carbonTRACK is the easiest way for you to see your energy and control it too.

carbonTRACK is more than a simple energy management system – it can communicate with and control virtually anything in your home that can be remotely controlled, including your door lock and security system, your lights, pool pump, air-con and so much more.

Don’t wait until your next bill gives you a horrible surprise. Get carbonTRACK today.