Getting a return on your solar investment

Man looking at solar panels on a roof

Installing a solar system at home can be a significant and long-term investment. For most households and small businesses, solar is worth the upfront cost.

A woman backlit by the early morning sun
Solar woman morning sun

Solarise your usage habits

Here are a few ways to maximise your returns: 

  • Fully use what you are generating before you send any excess to the grid
  • Use appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and pool pumps during daylight – if the sun is shining they’ll typically cost nothing to use
  • If you can’t be home during daylight hours, use timers to turn on appliances
  • Install a solar storage battery
Boy pulling up window blind to let in the sunshine
Solar sunlight boy

Optimise your energy deal

Choose the best combination of an electricity reference price / Victorian Default Offer (that sits below the Government’s set price) and competitive feed-in tariff. In most case the biggest saving will usually be from reducing the electricity you buy, so focus on both the discount and the feed-in tariff.

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"How much is solar saving me?"

A solar energy bill can’t show you what you’ve saved. The only way is to compare previous non-solar bills from similar periods. Be careful not to judge the benefit of solar by the size of your feed-in credit, which usually only represents a small part of any saving. 

Sometimes a feed-in credit doesn’t appear on a first bill. This may because your smart meter hasn’t been configured for solar use. Alinta Energy can help arrange this.

Sketch diagram of how solar energy is processed in a home
Solar Diagram Sketch Graphic

A guide to the solar home

  1. Solar panels (typically on your roof), use photovoltaic solar cells to generate energy (this system is commonly referred to as Solar PV).
  2. A solar inverter converts the energy from DC to AC electricity.
  3. The electricity gets used to power your home.
  4. Excess electricity is fed into the grid which earns you a feed-in credit.
  5. If you prefer, you can store the excess electricity you’ve generated by installing a solar battery, though this will increase your set up costs.

Three things to consider before going solar

Staying long?

Solar power systems can be a long-term investment, so think twice if you’re planning on moving home in the next few years. That said, a solar power system can certainly add value to your property.

Save while the sun shines

Most people will get the fastest return on their investment by using solar power while it’s made - during daylight hours. Don’t rely on the feed-in credit to pay for your investment as it won’t be anywhere near the saving you can expect from using solar power when it’s made.

Is your home solar friendly?

The angle of your home in relation to the sun is a key factor to consider. Shade from trees or other buildings can also affect your home’s ability to generate solar power. Make sure you get lots of advice from specialist providers before taking the plunge. Also be sure to explore any eligible state and federal schemes that will subsidise your investment in solar. If you decide to install solar panels, ask your installer if you qualify for a solar subsidy and how you can arrange to receive it.

Once your system is installed

Once solar panels are installed on your home, you’ll need approval from your electricity distribution company (they own the poles and wires). The process for this approval varies between states and jurisdictions.

To ensure your meter is correctly configured and can record how much electricity you’re exporting back into the grid, we will need to arrange for a meter exchange or for the existing meter to be reconfigured.

If you need advice on this, please feel free to contact us.

Good question!

A. The excess electricity your solar system generates is exported to the grid for other customers to use. Your electricity retailer will pay you for your contribution at a rate called the feed-in tariff, which is usually calculated in cents per kWh.

A. One that combines a competitive electricity reference price / Victorian Default Offer (that sits below the Government’s set price) and a competitive feed-in tariff.

A. If you have a solar system large enough to power your home and appliances during daylight hours, you’ll reduce your electricity bill substantially. This is by far the best way to make your solar system pay for itself.

A. You should see a feed-in credit from your first bill. If it doesn’t appear, this may be because your smart meter hasn’t been configured for solar use along the way. Alinta Energy can help to look into this to get you set up correctly.

A. The only way is to compare previous non-solar bills from similar periods. Be careful not to judge the benefit of solar by the size of your feed-in credit, which usually only represents a small part of any saving.

Alinta Energy Solar Terms & Conditions

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