Improving your energy efficiency is often the first and most effective step towards reducing both your electricity bill and carbon footprint. Simple and low cost modifications can make a significant impact to your energy bill
How can you reduce your energy usage?
Methods to Optimise Your Energy Usage
• Converting incandescent or halogen lights to LED units • Offsetting the time of usage for power intensive appliances - eg. Run a “Delayed Start” cycle on dishwashers so they run while you are at work, when electricity prices are lower • Upgrade your ageing appliances - eg. Fridges, TV’s, and desktop computers that are 10+ years old use significantly more power than modern equivalents • Ensure your air conditioner is not over working - If it is set up correctly, 20°C to 24°C should an be adequate temperature control range year round, whether heating or cooling. Setting your air conditioner to 16°C in summer is giving it a “false target” that it is unlikely to reach, and it will use excessive power in doing so.
If you’ve made the decision to invest in your own renewable energy generation, it’s important to understand the application of energy efficiency measures. If your home or business is running inefficiently, a larger renewable system will be required to run it. Similarly, if your efficiency measures deteriorate after installing a renewable system, its level of performance and expected life cycle will be reduced.
For these reasons, it is important to employ effective energy efficiency strategies which are able to be maintained long term. In doing so, you will be able to run an appropriate renewable system without the need for oversizing, you will achieve lower running costs for electricity, your renewable equipment will maintain a higher level of performance and the expected service life will increase, and you will be reducing your carbon footprint through reduced emissions.
Due to the low price of feed-in tariffs, and the higher cost of electricity prices, the best way to gain value from your renewable installation is to actively “self-consume”. This means, you should consume as much of your own renewable electricity as possible, minimising the amount that is sent back to the grid. This will maximise the savings you make on electricity bills, and will allow your system to pay itself off faster.
Most energy retailers will provide a tiered pricing model, meaning you pay more for electricity when it is in high demand, and will pay less when it is in low demand. If your whole family are night shift workers this may work in your favour, but for the vast majority of us, it means we are paying more for electricity during the times we need it the most.
• Peak periods are generally 7am-9am, and 5pm-8pm • Shoulder periods are generally 9am-5pm, and 8pm-10pm
For solar arrays, your system will only be producing energy during daylight hours. If you or your family are commonly home during the day, it will be easy to run your appliances while the sun is up. If you or your family are usually at work during the day, maximising your self-consumption can be a little trickier, but is not impossible. Many modern appliances feature “delayed start” timers, which simply have a delay before they start working. Load the dishwasher or washing machine in the morning, put a delayed start timer on, and your washing will be done in the peak hours of sun light, using the energy produced by your own solar array.
If you are a heavier energy user, particularly during the peak and shoulder periods, you may want to consider the use of a battery bank, to help offset your use of grid energy. “Peak tariff offsetting” uses your solar energy to charge a battery bank during hours of sunlight. When the sun goes down and peak or shoulder rates are still in play, your batteries supply power to your appliances using the energy they received from the sun, maximising your self-consumption. This process repeats itself each day, minimising your reliance on grid power during the expensive peak and shoulder periods.