Like many Australians, my wife Manuela and I have become more conscious of the energy we use at home.
In October 2017 I organised a community meeting, where local experts spoke about ways to lower your energy bills and make greater use of renewable energy.
What I learned prompted me to think about solar for our family home in Roseville.
After some research – solarquotes. com.au and solarchoice.net.au are two good websites which helped us find a reputable supplier – we ordered a 5 kilowatt (kW) system.
With the rebate available under our government’s Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) it cost a bit over $5,000 – half what it would have cost just a few years ago.
So far our system averages 26 kilowatt hours (kWh) a day; we use about 10 kWh in our home and 16 kWh is exported to the grid. Of course it won’t produce as much in winter; but on these numbers the system replaces nearly 40 per cent of the energy we used to draw from the grid.
The process has made us much better informed about the energy we use.
Once you have the panels, you can ask your electricity retailer to install a smart meter – which records how much energy you are drawing from, and feeding into, the grid. You can track this, together with the energy the panels are generating, online.
This makes it easy to see how you could use energy more efficiently. For example, if you set appliances like the dishwasher or dryer to operate during the day, they can draw on the solar panels and not the grid.
Two Government websites are also useful: energymadeeasy.gov.au lets you compare deals from various energy retailers; energyrating.gov.au tells you how much energy different appliances use.
From these sites I learned that a heat pump dryer is about twice as energy-efficient as a conventional dryer. Over the Christmas break we replaced our old dryer with a heat pump dryer. It costs a bit more up front – but the life time cost is substantially lower.
As renewables become an ever larger share of our energy system, there are big changes being made by governments and energy companies.
But as our family’s experience shows, there is plenty that we can all do in our own homes as well.
Last year the number of Australian homes with solar panels reached two million – and I’m pleased to say that now includes one more house in Roseville!
Paul Fletcher is Federal MP for Bradfield and Minister for Families and Social Services