Have you ever considered solar energy for your home, but wonder whether it will really pay off in the long run. You're not alone!
Power costs won’t fall, so it's you who must make the change to see a difference. While an energy-efficient lifestyle helps, it’s not an easy adjustment for young, growing families. The next best option for many, then, is solar.
While solar used to be costly, the lower costs of batteries and panels, combined with the various ways it can pay you back, end up making it a realistic choice for today’s homeowners. The panels generate free energy from the sun, making you less reliant on the grid and bringing down costs, but solar helps you save in other ways, too.
Here are three big ones.
Selling back to the grid and battery storage
A solar power system can actually create a small income for you.
Most residential solar installations are connected to the electricity grid, allowing you to tap into the grid at night or on cloudy days for uninterrupted power. However, if you don’t use all the solar energy you produce, the excess is stored in the grid. Under a ‘buyback tariff’ arrangement, the extra solar energy can be sold to your local utility.
Here are the typical buyback rates, as of May 2018, for NZ energy retailers:
- Meridian: 8 cents per kWh + GST
- Contact: 8 cents per kWh, excluding GST
- Mercury: 8 cents per kWh, or 12 cents per kWh for newly supplied solar customers starting a 3-year contract
- Genesis: 8 cents per kWh, excluding GST
- Ecotricity: 7-8 cents per kWh + GST
- PS Power: 16 cents per kWh excluding GST for the first 50kWh exported each fortnight, 8 cents per kWh excluding GST thereafter
- Trustpower: 7 cents per kWh + GST (or negotiated peer-to-peer rates)
For additional savings, you could also invest in a solar battery. This way, you store the extra solar power for your own later usage, rather than feeding it into the grid. While you won’t earn buyback income this way, a battery is a good way to be less dependent on the grid and possibly see bigger savings as a result.
Increase seasonal savings on power costs
With a few adjustments at home, a solar energy system can make for lower-cost heating and hot water in the winter, and a lower energy bill during the summer.
In the summer, you can do a few things differently to increase your energy efficiency at home. For example, you can run your highest-drain devices, like washing machines or ovens during peak sunlight hours, to maximise the ratio of solar power production to solar usage. This way you’ll maximise your solar energy usage.
In the winter months, you’ll need extra heat, which can be costly. For lower power bills, you could integrate your solar installation with your home heating system. This way, solar will both provide electricity and supply your heat and hot water during the cold season.
Add value to your home with a solar installation
If you invest in solar, it won’t just benefit your family now. It will enhance the lifestyle of your home’s future owners: a fact that will only help when you sell.
The evidence is growing that solar power can raise a home’s value. An American study (one that’s easily applicable to New Zealand real estate) showed that between the years 2003 and 2010, solar installations in California added about US$20,000 to home values.
As Kiwis get smarter about sustainable energy, solar panels are becoming an important point of difference in homess. A home running on solar - which represents a lifetime of big savings with eco-friendly energy - is quite attractive compared to a home without it.
Solar power: Helping homeowners save in many ways
Saving on monthly electricity bills is great, but saving even more is better. If you’re burdened with high bills and worried whether solar will help, the facts are clear: it can keep seasonal costs low, help bring in a small income and even increase your home’s value.
If you’re building a new home, it’s particularly important to consider solar from the start, because...
- You can employ passive solar design so your home takes full advantage of solar.
- You can help encourage a high resale value for your home.
- By installing solar early, you can start saving and seeing an ROI from day one.
At the end of the day, solar makes sense for a healthier New Zealand and for your wallet, in more ways than one!