Getting the most out of solar

Now that you’ve installed solar, you can make the most of it by using more of the energy you produce, getting the best price for the energy you send to the grid, and using less energy overall.

You can see exactly how much energy you’re sending to the grid, as well as how much electricity you’re using at different times of day, through your electricity distributor’s online portal.

Your electricity distributor owns and manages the poles and wires that make up the electricity grid.

The distributor for your area depends on your location, and is different to your electricity retailer. You can't choose your distributor. Most of Yarra is within the Citipower distribution network, while parts of Alphington and Fairfield are in the Jemena distribution network. 

Get the best feed-in-tariff

The feed-in-tariff, a credit your electricity retailer pays you for your exported energy, has changed over time. While the minimum feed-in-tariff is set each year by the Essential Services Commission, some electricity retailers offer more than the minimum amount.

Some households may not be able to export energy to the grid. Your local electricity distributor will tell you shortly before or after your solar system is installed whether your system is permitted to export energy.  If your system is permitted to export energy, look at your bill or contact your electricity retailer to find out what feed-in-tariff you receive. Ask them if there is a plan with a higher feed-in-tariff available, or consider switching to a retailer with a higher feed-in-tariff.

Be sure to consider the cost of buying electricity also, as a higher feed-in-tariff may not be the best value for you if it also comes with a higher cost per kilowatt hour of electricity, or a higher daily supply charge. Visit the Victorian Energy Compare website to compare electricity offers based on your household’s circumstances and energy bills.

For more information on the current minimum feed-in-tariff, visit the Victorian State Government website. 

Switch to using energy during the day

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.

If you’re not home during the day and you have electric heating and cooling, consider pre-heating or cooling your home in the late afternoon while the sun is shining.

Then turn off, or turn down, the heater or air conditioning when the sun goes down. Making sure your home is properly insulated and draught proofed will help even more with keeping the indoor temperature stable and comfortable.

Switch off gas

When the time comes to replace your old appliances, consider switching gas appliances to electric. Many Victorian homes have gas heating, gas hot water systems, or gas cooking appliances.

With solar on your roof, any electric appliances you use when the sun is shining are powered by your solar. For example, switching from a gas hot water heater to electric allows you to heat water using the solar on your roof.

2018 Renew (Alternative Technology Association) report found that for any home with only one appliance still on gas, it makes financial sense to switch to all-electric. Many Victorian homes will be financially better off going all-electric even if they need to switch two appliances.

Find out about creating an all-electric home.

Solar Victoria rebate

If you haven’t already received another Solar Victoria rebate, you could be eligible for a rebate of up to $1000 to replace your old hot water heater with an approved type of electric or solar hot water systems. Visit Solar Victoria to find out about solar hot water rebates.

If you completely switch off gas and you have a battery, your all-electric home may be able to be completely powered by solar. Even without a battery, switching that last appliance away from gas could save you hundreds each year in gas connection fees.

Improve your energy efficiency

Using less energy will save you money on your bills and reduce your carbon footprint. Combine this with shifting your energy usage to daytime, and the solar you produce will account for a higher percentage of what you use.

Heating and cooling make up the biggest portion of most households’ bills. Installing insulation, draught proofing, and improving your window treatments are all things you can do to keep the indoor temperature comfortable and reduce how much you need to use your heating and cooling.

Find out how to use less energy at home.

Sustainability Victoria also has lots of information about saving energy at home.

Consider a battery

Has your usage changed since you first installed solar? If you’ve switched off gas for example, you may have higher electricity bills instead of gas bills.

With a big enough solar system combined with a battery, you can use your solar at night and reduce your electricity bills further.