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Solar panels make financial sense
By Tammy Barton

Save on power costsWhen my husband and I built a new house last year, we decided to invest in solar panels and we’re glad that we did. We have three adults and three kids living under our roof and despite the new house being bigger and having a swimming pool, our electricity bills are lower than they were at our old place.

Our return-on-investment will be five to six years and we’re happy with that. This is our “forever” home, or at least until the kids leave (which is a day far away given that with our youngest is still in nappies!)

In terms of power consumption, the house is now self-sufficient during the day. The panels on the roof absorb daytime solar energy and an inverter turns it into power that runs our lights and appliances. The excess power we generate feeds into the grid, for which we receive a modest feed-in tariff.

Our system comes with an easy to use, dashboard-style app that shows how much power our solar panels produce at different parts of the day and, as a result, some of our habits around the house have changed. For example, I used to turn the dishwasher on after dinner or do a load of washing in the evening, whereas now I use the timer function to start the dishwasher and washing machine during the middle of the day when our solar panels are producing the greatest amount of power. When considering solar, it’s a good idea to think about choosing a solar provider that offers solar monitoring. AGL includes Solar Command monitoring with all of their systems.

After the sun goes down, the panels stop producing energy and my husband, who’s addicted to the AGL Energy app (it shows how much power we use on an hour-by-hour basis), likes reminding us that our family’s energy demands are highest between 6pm and bedtime. These are the hours that correspond with peak demand on the electricity grid.

So, it’s really exciting that energy storage systems are also becoming a genuine option for households. An energy storage system allows any excess solar energy generated during the day to be stored in batteries and later drawn down for night-time use — perfect for the majority of households who, like mine, do most their power consumption after sunset.

If you’re interested in solar panels but put off by the upfront investment, it could be worth looking at AGL’s solar Smart Plan. AGL will supply and install a solar system to your house for no upfront cost. The way it works is you pay for the daytime energy the system produces at a discounted rate.

The most important thing when shopping for solar is to compare deals among proven, trustworthy suppliers like AGL who use only quality products and skilled installers, and who can fully tailor a solar solution that matches your power needs and budget. Another advantage of trusted suppliers is that you can be confident they’ll be around to honour any warranties. You can contact AGL solar by phoning 1300 377 118 or via their website:

Energy-saving tips for people with solar panels:

  • Run your appliances during the day when your solar panels are at peak production
  • Buying new appliances? Look for those with the highest energy efficiency ratings and a delayed start/timer function.
  • Arrange to clean your solar panels annually to keep them operating at their maximum
  • Trim trees to ensure there are no shadows on the panels
  • Replace incandescent lights with high efficiency CFL and/or LED lighting
  • Turn off appliances at the wall if they don’t need to be in standby mode

Written in cooperation with AGL.

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