So, you’ve been thinking about solar for a while now. Your electricity bills are creeping up and up, and it's looking like a pretty reasonable way to reduce your bills. For those asking themselves “should I go solar?”, the cost of solar installation has fallen every year.
But how do you know now’s the best time to go solar? Should you wait to see whether solar panel prices drop even more? Before making your decision, consider these 3 important facts about solar today.
You must first consider that solar’s not a new thing anymore. At the end of 2015, there were over 1.15 million small scale solar power systems installed in Australia (Clean Energy Council) and thousands will get solar panels for their home over the summer. As solar adoption has risen, the cost of solar has continued to drop (see graph).
The cost and adoption of solar over time (via Bloomberg Markets).
Now, also remember that every year you delay your solar decision is another year that you miss out on the financial benefits your solar energy system provides (this is called your opportunity cost).
In fact, your potential savings in upfront costs could be outweighed by solar’s financial benefits had you acted sooner. If you wait to go solar, you’re stuck paying your utility electricity bill every month, which is an increasingly expensive proposition. Which bring us to our second important fact…
Solar panels will put you in a good position for some serious savings. In some cases, solar power could eradicate your electric bill entirely (after recouping the installation, system, and maintenance costs).
In other cases the solar panels will simply cut your utility bill by between 10% and 50% (Solar panels are not generating energy during the night, so you’ll still need to depend on your local utility company unless you get solar batteries to store excess power).
How much you pay for the system and how your home is set up will factor into how much you can save. The Alternative Technology Association with Choice has put this table together so you can get an idea of how long it might take (note that the table is from 2013 and payback periods should be seen as estimates).
Payback times by state/ territory (via Choice).
Technology can shorten this payback time even more. carbonTRACK users have found that with carbonTRACK they can save even more on their electricity bills, and their payback time on their solar panels is even shorter.
Solar panels used to be just something you had on your roof that helped your bills a little and made you feel good about doing your bit for the environment.
Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since then, and now if you have solar you can use systems like carbonTRACK to monitor how much solar you are producing and when.
With this information you can use more of the solar power you generate throughout the day (for e.g. washing clothes and powering your hot water system).
You can lower the amount of solar you export for a few cents, and reduce the amount of energy you use in the evenings when your solar panels aren’t producing power. This way, you reduce your bills by maximising your solar.
Moreover, technologies like carbonTRACK give solar home owners the security of knowing that your panels are working well.
There have been some horror stories come out of the solar industry. One springs to mind where someone with solar had the panels for 6 months and didn’t realise that they weren’t connected.
There’s no time like the present…
In 1931, Thomas Edison said, “I’d put my money on the Sun and Solar Energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we can tackle that.” Edison was a pretty smart guy, and we think he’s on the mark.
(Thomas Edison Quote, Via Political Memes)
So, whether or not a solar power system makes sense for you, it’s a good time to check out your options. Most of us already probably think of solar power as a sound idea: Capture abundant and free sunlight and turn it into energy. You’ll save on our electric bills and waste fewer natural resources at the same time. Everyone wins.