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Make the Switch to Solar

By Nicola Saltman, Sustainable Waverley on March 6, 2019 in Other

Mick Jarvis at his Kingsford home, Positive Charge

Did you know Australia has more solar-powered homes per capita than any other country in the world? Better still, 5,000 of them are here in the Eastern Suburbs. Winning!

Interest in solar is hardly surprising given our community’s increasing appetite to take climate action and the fact that technology prices are the lowest we’ve seen. Plus, who doesn’t love lower energy bills!

Even with all these benefits, going solar can still be a tricky purchasing decision. Let’s tackle five common curly questions…

1. How much will it cost?

On average, households install a 4-5kW solar system, costing roughly $4000-8000. Cost depends on size, type of roof, number of storeys, system components and other factors. Generally, it will pay for itself in 3-5 years, after which you’ll enjoy much smaller bills. Mark Jarvis of Kingsford noticed savings of $100-300 on his quarterly energy bills since installing solar.

2. Should I wait for batteries to fall in price before I go solar?

With all the media hype, it’s easy to think it may be better to wait for cheaper batteries. However, they are a good few years away from being economical and stalling the solar decision may mean losing out on 3-4 years of bill savings. You will also risk receiving a smaller federal government rebate as it decreases every year. A cheaper battery can be retrofitted down the track. Just make sure to request a battery-ready system.

3. I think my roof is too shady and faces the wrong direction to go solar?

North-facing roofs have been touted as optimal for solar panels but thanks to recent technology advances, systems that don’t face north only see a marginal loss (10-15 per cent) in solar production.
East-facing panels may be better if you are a big morning- time electricity user. Similarly, west-facing ones work well for afternoon use (think aircon for hot afternoons). Where shade is a factor, there are now systems that ensure optimal efficiency of panels on a partly shaded roof.

4. Do I need Council approval?

In most cases, you won’t need planning approval to install solar at home unless you live in a heritage area (particularly if the solar panels are visible from the street). Contact Council to check: Waverley Council Duty Planner on 9083 8484; Rand- wick Council on 1300 722 542.

5. How do I find a trusted solar supplier?

Firstly, make sure the supplier is an accredited installer with the Clean Energy Council. Then, it never hurts to get recommendations from friends who’ve installed a solar power system or via online forums.

To make this even easier, Council has partnered with Positive Charge to do the hard work for you with the Our Energy Future program. They have vetted local suppliers and will provide you with an obligation-free quote through their website, www.ourenergyfuture.org.au, or over the phone on 1300 339 915.

You can register for a free solar and batteries info session on Tuesday, April 2 from 6.30-8.00pm at Bronte Surf Life Saving Club by visiting solarforyourhome.eventbrite.com.au. Get solar advice on 1300 339 915 or visit ourenergyfuture.org.au.