Go solar, buy renewables and save energy

Solar panels on the roof of a house

Go solar

Thousands of Yarra homes are already saving with solar. Installing solar gives you access to renewable energy while saving you money on your energy bills.

Solar will typically pay for itself through your energy bill savings in 3-5 years. You’ll continue to benefit from the energy you generate over the next 20 years.  

Is solar right for you? 

If you own your home and it’s freestanding or semi-detached with a sunny roof, it’s likely you can benefit from installing solar.

If someone is home during the day, you’ll save more because you can use solar electricity when it’s generated.

You’ll receive the feed-in-tariff for excess electricity that you export to the grid. Your electricity savings will be higher if you use energy during the day.

Look at your roof: Is there space that gets sunlight on the north, east or west facing side? Is the roof in good condition?

If your home is in under a heritage overlay, you can find out more about applying for a planning permit for solar

Rebates and financing available for solar 

You may be eligible for a state government rebate of up to $1,888 if:

  • You’re an owner-occupier with a household income less than $180,000 
  • Your home is valued at under $3 million

There are also rebates available to renters that help tenants and landlords share the benefit of solar. You can also apply for an interest-free loan up to the value of the rebate.

For smaller systems, this interest-free loan means you can install solar at little to no upfront cost.

Find out more about Solar Victoria rebates.

Choosing a solar system

A qualified solar retailer will look at your bills and your roof and recommend an appropriately sized system for your home. For many homes in Yarra, a system size of 3-4kW will be appropriate.

Solar is a major household purchase, and we recommend you always get multiple quotes before making a decision. Make sure you choose a Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer.

Look for companies with positive reviews, a long-term track record of installing solar, and offices in Australia, to assist with any warranty claims. Check the warranty terms and beware of high-pressure sales tactics.

Visit the Clean Energy Council, Consumer Affairs Victoria, or CHOICE for more information about choosing a solar system.

The Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF) provides information and advice to Yarra residents, and is currently running a Yarra solar program. For every 50kW of solar installed through this program, 1kW will be donated to a local community organisation.

Contact YEF at information@yef.org.au or 1300 866 634 or visit Yarra Energy Foundation for more information. YEF can also assist with comparing solar quotes.

Making the most of solar

Once you’ve installed solar, you can maximise your savings by switching your energy usage to when the sun is shining. Set your appliances, like washing machines, clothes dryers and dishwashers, on timers to run during the day.

When the time comes to replace your old appliances, consider switching gas appliances to electric. With solar on your roof, any electric appliances you use when the sun is shining are powered by your solar panels.

For example, switching from a gas hot water heater to an electric heat pump allows you to heat water using the solar panels on your roof.

Switch to 100% renewable energy

You can support renewable energy through the electricity you choose to buy – even if you can’t get solar on your roof. There are a few different ways to choose renewables when you buy electricity.

Webinar: Buying renewable energy and home energy efficiency

Watch our webinar featuring an expert speaker from Renew explain the ins and out of  buying renewable energy, GreenPower, carbon offset energy and household energy efficiency.

Download the webinar slide pack (5.02MB, PDF).

GreenPower

GreenPower is a federal government scheme that allows households and businesses to displace their energy usage with certified renewable energy.

Most electricity retailers offer GreenPower. You can choose to buy a percentage of your electricity as GreenPower, up to 100%.

You pay a premium for the electricity you buy through GreenPower. This premium, along with the wholesale electricity cost of the electricity you use, goes toward investment in renewable energy.

Carbon offsets

Some electricity retailers offer ‘carbon neutral’ or ‘carbon offset’ electricity. This means your power company buys carbon offsets to offset the emissions from your electricity usage.

Carbon offsets are purchased from certified sustainability projects around the world that reduce carbon emissions. Carbon offset projects include a range of projects, from tree planting and land and water management, to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

If your electricity plan is carbon neutral, you can still opt to buy GreenPower to increase investment in renewable energy in Australia.

You can also choose to offset your own carbon emissions, from your electricity usage or from your entire carbon footprint.

Although they are more costly, offsets backed by an independent standard such as the Gold Standard must meet certain criteria to ensure they deliver the intended impact.

Where does your energy come from?

Your choice of electricity retailer has an impact on the demand for renewable energy. All of our energy comes from the same centralised pool of electricity in the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Electricity retailers may own electricity generation assets, or have contracts to buy electricity from generators – and these could be fossil fuel plants or renewable energy. You can choose a power company that’s committed to increasing their renewable energy supply.

The 2018 Green Electricity Guide provides additional information to help you compare electricity retailers; however the information may not reflect recent changes or include newer electricity retailers. 

Yarra Council is powered by 100% renewables

All Council operations, our buildings, street lights and electric vehicles, are powered by 100% renewable energy. In an Australian first, we joined with other local governments, cultural institutions, universities and corporations to collectively purchase renewable energy from a new windfarm in regional Victoria, through the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project.

Find out more about how Council has switched to 100% renewable energy and reduced its energy usage.

Save energy

Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, live in a house or an apartment, are a resident or business owner, saving energy is something we all can do to respond to the climate emergency – and save on our energy bills.

Save without spending

There are lots of things you can do to save energy that don’t cost anything:

  • Turn off appliances at the switch when you’re not using them. Turn off lights and heaters when you’re not using the room. Keep your thermostat set at 26 degrees or higher in summer and 18-20 degrees in winter. Every degree can add 10% to your heating costs in winter. Heating costs can make up as much as 30-40% of your energy bill. 
  • Switch to LED light globes. You could save 80% on your lighting costs.
  • Wash clothes in cold water and hang them up to dry. Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they’re full.
  • Set your fridge at 4-5 degrees, and your freezer at minus 15 to minus 18 degrees. If you have a second fridge or freezer, switch it off when you don’t need it.
  • Use fans instead of air conditioning to cool your house when practical.
  • Use curtains or blinds to keep the indoor temperature comfortable. During a heatwave, close the curtains during the day to keep the heat out, and open windows at night to cool down your home. In winter, open the curtains during the day to let the sun warm the room naturally and close curtains at night to keep the heat in.
  • Close doors to avoid heating and cooling rooms that are not in use.
  • Seal up any gaps around doors and windows, to keep the indoor temperature comfortable. Up to 25% of winter heat loss is due to draughts.
  • Save energy in the kitchen: Only boil the kettle with as much water as you need. Use a smaller appliance where possible – the microwave uses less energy than the oven, and the toaster uses less than the grill.

Improve your home’s energy efficiency and save more

To save even more, consider improving your home’s energy efficiency:

  • Upgrade your appliances to a more energy efficient model
  • The state government’s Victorian Energy Upgrades program provides discounted energy saving products including lighting, heating, insulation, hot water and appliances. Households can save an average of $110 a year on energy bills by upgrading energy-guzzling appliances through this program
  • Insulate your ceiling. Ceiling insulation can save you up to 20% on heating and cooling costs. For even better thermal comfort, insulate your walls and floors as well. Fully insulating your home can reduce your heating and cooling costs by 50%
  • Improve your window treatments. Windows can be a source of significant heat loss during winter. If you are replacing your windows, consider double glazing.
  • Close-fitting curtains or blinds, combined with pelmets covering the top of the window, can help reduce winter heat. There are also less expensive glazing films available that can be installed and removed easily, and can be as effective in reducing winter heat loss as double glazing. External awnings or blinds significantly reduce heat gain during summer.
  • Look at the stars. Choose energy efficient appliances when you need to replace old appliances. Look for a higher star rating to save energy and reduce running costs.

You can find more information on saving energy through the Victorian Energy Saver website or Sustainability Victoria

Visit Green it Yourself for tutorials and information on simple DIY ways to improve energy efficiency and save energy around your home.

Do you run a business in Yarra?

Find out more about running a sustainable business.