Date December 17, 2014 Alexandra Cain SMH
Nicola Oldridge hasn’t had to pay an energy bill in more than 18 months. In fact, when Money spoke to her, she was $90 in credit to her energy supplier.
“We had solar panels put in two years ago and we’ve been in credit for most of that time. Within three years, we expect to have made the money back we spent on installing the solar system,” she says, adding that it cost her $7000 to put in the system.
She has also made a number of other adjustments around her home in Langwarrin in Victoria to help reduce her energy costs. For instance, she put LED globes in her down lights. “It cost me $300, but I won’t need to change the globes for the next 20 years.”
Oldridge is one of Graeme Ambrose’s clients and she has also switched to using a convection oven, rarely uses her drier and has blocked up gaps that caused drafts. “We also got rid of the beer fridge,” she says.
But Oldridge points out she gets a better deal from her energy retailer compared with those who are installing solar now. “We get 35 cents per kilowatt hour [for energy produced by her solar system fed back into the grid]. But people installing a system now only get a feed-in tariff of 8 cents a kilowatt hour,” she says.
“I understand the power companies have to make money, but people who are trying to help the environment and reduce energy use should be properly rewarded for it.”
Another solar convert, Keith Armstrong, wanted to explore ways to reduce his energy bill as he was nearing retirement and conscious of trying to manage his energy costs in a world of constant price rises.
“I had some friends who had installed solar and they told me how much they were saving, so I decided to go down that track. I was also attracted to the idea of using clean energy,” he says.
By happenstance, he was door knocked by a solar energy company and got an initial quote, which he followed up with four other quotes to make sure he had a firm grasp of the market.
“We were initially going to install a small system, but then we realised energy prices are only going to keep rising, so we went with a large system,” explains Armstrong, who chose United Solar Energy to install his solar system.
Because his house faces north-west, he invested in a split system, with six panels on the northern side and 10 on the western side.
Armstrong only installed the system in March this year, and has not had a bill yet, so he’s not sure how much it will save him. But he’s checked the meter and his electricity consumption is down by 50 per cent.
“I don’t think this will result in a 50 per cent reduction in my energy bill, but in summer I would expect to feed back into the energy grid.”
Top tips to reduce your energy bills
• Turn off your second fridge
• Use LED instead of halogen lights
• Install insulation
• Switch to solar energy
• Put another layer of clothes on
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/money/saving/how-to-keep-your-energy-bills-low-20141212-1263ls.html#ixzz3MCnVt3qr