Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Is solar power for you?

This is a guest post from Australian Solar Quotes, a one stop solar information source to learn the basics about solar panel technology and solar energy.

It's safe to say that with electricity costs hitting the roof, seemingly with no end in sight, there's been a question on our minds: Is solar power right for me? There’s so much attention on renewable energy and reducing our carbon footprint, and it may seem like everyone's doing it, but in actual fact, it's not always the right solution. There are a number of factors you need to take into account in order to figure out if solar power is right for you.

Is there enough sun in your area?

Every state is different, and each area within a state is different! The amount of sunlight obviously differs between areas. Even in QLD, the Sunshine State, there are areas that believe it or not, don't have as much sun as other parts. However, it’s aptly named the Sunshine State because it really does get more sun on average than other states. NSW was pretty pitiful in terms of how much sun they got over the last two years - they had more overcast days than sunny ones. Therefore, residents of NSW may be poor candidates for solar energy. Certain areas of VIC may also not be quite suited to solar power. Other states like WA and SA have sunlight stats that are more evenly spread, so they’re moderately good candidates for solar power. Enough said.

Does your state offer you an incentive?

Depending on which state you live in, there may be some incentives for you to switch to solar. The Australian Government for a time did provide a rebate of up $8,000 for installation of solar panels on homes. This has since been replaced by another program, The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (STCs). Basically, if you purchase an eligible solar power or solar hot water system, you’re entitled to a number of STCs (credits) depending on the size of your system and where you’re located. Each city has different STCs – for example, if you’re in Brisbane, you’ll get 31, if you’re in Melbourne 26.6 and so forth. These credits can be put towards the cost of the system, meaning you have a reduced up-front cost! You can find more info on the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator website.

Are you already practicing energy-efficient living?

It’s no secret that going solar is expensive. In order to truly benefit from a renewable energy system, you should already be trying to reduce your consumption. A clever way to remember to save is L.A.W – Lights, Appliances and Waste. A lot of these measures should be carried out already, but many of us still don’t – not because we’re being silly, but sometimes, it just doesn’t occur to us! The more you save on energy, the smaller the system you’ll have to install, which means lower upfront costs!

You should already have switched either partially or wholly to CFL bulbs. They only use 20 per cent of electricity that their incandescent cousins do. Heavy-duty appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and dryers should be run when they’re full. When you purchase big appliances, it’s worth forking out the extra dollars for those with more energy-efficient stars (if you can afford to, that is). And by now, your whole family wastes less by becoming accustomed to turning off lights and appliances when they’re not in use.

Sustainable living is an investment. It’s an investment for yourselves and the environment as a whole. As long as you’ve researched and asked all the questions under the sun (no pun intended) that you can think of, only you will know if it’s right for you! For more advice, visit