sun shining on power lines

If you’ve got solar panels, you’ve probably wondered how to get the most savings out of them.

To understand this, you must know how you should be using your solar. The best way to use your solar will vary depending on a range of factors, the biggest of which is the rates of your electricity provider.

You are paid for the electricity you export and charged for what you use, but each state and energy companies have different rates. As of today, many states don’t make it mandatory for energy companies to pay you for the excess electricity you give back to the grid.

The rates are set individually by energy companies, and are usually just enough to stay competitive (generally at around 6c per kilowatt hours, a quarter of what you generally pay for electricity).

If you are unsure of where you sit for your state and electricity company, check out this Solar Choice article here. For each payback rate, there is a way to get more from your solar panels.

1. If you have a low solar buy-back (5c – 15c)

This is where you want to maximise your daytime electricity use. In the case of a low buy back, it makes the most sense to use the electricity you generate instead of paying for it when the sun’s not up. This means if you pay 30c for your electricity and sell for 6c, you’ll save on 24c or 80% of your electricity rate for using that amount of solar.

You should adjust your usage so that it’s more spread out during the day like the graph below. This means you are drawing more power from your panels than from the grid.

Your energy usage

Energy usage chart

How to use power during the day

Many of us aren’t home during the day. With technologies like carbonTRACK and smart plugs, you can start using your power when you’re not at home.

To spread out your energy use, simply turn on high demand appliances such as the dryer, dishwasher or  water water system during the day time when your is generating power.

carbonTRACK can connect with the household’s electricity system. Heavy demand appliances like the hot water (which uses up to 1/3 of your entire electricity) or pool pump systems can be automated. Schedules can be set, so they turn on when the sun is out and be ready to use when you’re home.

You can also use our smart plugs to automate smaller appliances such as the dryer to turn on during the day.

If you already have a carbonTRACK unit but not sure how to automate your home, check out this video tutorial or contact us below.

2. If you have a high solar buy-back (30c +)

If you are fortunate enough to have buy-back rate higher than what you pay for electricity, make sure to use as little electricity as possible during the day. This lets the generated electricity feed back into the grid so you can take advantage of the high buy-back rate.

How to save power during the day

Apart from the obvious, such as turning off appliances, make sure to check for ones with standby mode as standby power can make up for 10% of your electricity use. You can use carbonTRACK to set large loads like hot water to turn on overnight, during the early mornings or evenings only, so you use outside the solar window.

Smart plugs can also be automated to automatically switch off appliances during the day and turn the back on at night so that you avoid the solar window.

3. If you have an intermediate solar buy-back (15c – 30c)

If your solar buy-back rate lies in this range, then it is probably similar to your electricity rates that you pay for. Here, you have a choice of using it or selling it back to the grid.

We still recommend maximising self-consumption, as it lets you utilise your solar investment and rely more on clean energy. See above ‘if you have a low buy back rate’ for ideas on how to use your solar power during the day.

It’s time you started making the most of your solar! So find out what your rates are and see if you can make some changes that will have a positive impact on your electricity bill and the environment.

Find out how more about carbonTRACK today.

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