As the current buy-back rates from energy retailers aren't as high as the price of power from the grid, it is better that you try using your solar power during the day as it is created rather than exporting it to the grid.
While most people's solar power systems are producing power between 6am and 5pm in the summer and 8am until 3pm in the winter, most of their power consumption is early in the morning or at night. On any given day, you can check out a daily production chart which shows when and how much solar power was produced. You will usually notice a bell curve which signifies that power is mostly produced in the middle of the day (see the green line below).
With a grid connect system you are free to keep your same electricity usage behaviour as before, but if you want to try and reduce the amount of power you export and aim to use the solar power when it is created, here are a few tips.
- Use timers. If you are not at home to turn on appliances during the day when solar energy is created, you might want to consider making use of timers. You can purchase inexpensive timers that you plug in or buy appliances with built in timers.
- Buy a washing machine with a delay start. You can get energy-efficient washing machines with a delay start function. You can set the washing machine to start at 1pm when your solar power system is likely to produce a lot of power.
- Get a dishwasher with a delay start. Like with your washing machine with delay start, you can set your dishwasher (with delay start) to turn on around mid-day. It is important that you avoid using it at the same time as your washing machine is set to turn on.
- Make use of a heat pump with a timer. If you are normally at work between 9am and 5pm during the week days, you should consider installing a heat pump that has a timer. You can set your heat pump to turn on at 3pm so it can consume the last solar power of the day. Your heat pump can warm your home so it is at a comfortable temperature when you return from work. You won't need to warm the house as much when you are home.
- Get energy-efficient appliances. As lights are typically used at night when the solar power system isn't producing energy, it is best to get the most energy-efficient light bulbs. Apart from lasting 25 times longer, LED lights use only 20% to 25% of the power compared to incandescent bulbs.
People tend to take hot showers either at the start of the day or the end when there is little or no solar power being produced (red line above in the graph). In order to significantly reduce the amount of power used in taking hot showers, you should consider using a low-flow shower head. The average shower head pumps out 12 liters of water per minute. However, a low-flow shower head (such as Methvens Kiri Satinjet Low Flow Showerhead) only pumps 5 liters per minute which can definitely reduce your shower bill considerably by 40%.
These are just a few tips to effectively maximize your solar power system. When you combine these ideas with your solar power system, you will have more energy independence while gaining payback faster from purchasing the system.