Save electricity and make more from net feed in tariffs
While all power generated by a solar household under a gross solar feed
in tariff program attracts a premium payment for each kilowatt-hour, net feed in tariffs only pay on electricity generated by a solar
power system surplus to your use that is exported to the mains grid.
By cutting your electricity consumption and changing your usage patterns, you
can maximize the amount of power you return to the mains grid and make more
money from your grid connected solar
power system! Even if you're covered under a gross feed in tariff program,
each kilowatt hour you don't use is more money in your pocket!
Here's a bunch of handy tips to help you make the most from net feed in
tariff arrangements while doing good for the planet.
Shop around electricity retailers
While there is mandated minimum that must be paid in states offering feed
in tariffs, some retailers offer higher payments or different conditions
that may be better suited to you, so be sure to shop around for the best deal
for your situation.
Shift your electricity usage patterns
As electricity consumed during peak hours is often far more expensive than
during off peak, consider changing some of your consumption habits. For example,
do your washing loads at night and confine electric air conditioning and heating to pre-dawn
and post dusk as much as possible.
While this doesn't save electricity, it helps maximize the amount of electricity
exported to the grid by your solar power system during the day time and also
your financial return.
Heating and air conditioning
- If you're using electric heating and air-conditioning and your home isn't
properly insulated; this is something you should attend to as soon as
possible as heating and cooling are incredibly energy intensive
applications. You'll be amazed how much you can save (and therefore earn) by
ensuring gaps around windows and doors are sealed up and your home is properly
insulated. Also consider the use of blackout curtains as windows are major
point of heat loss during winter and heat gain over summer.
- Ceiling fans aren't just good for summer, but for winter too - if you
install a ceiling fan with a reversible direction function. During winter,
set it to spin the opposite way it does over summer, which will push heat
- Roof turbines (whirlygigs) can dramatically decrease the temperature of
your roof space during summer, which in turn will decrease the temperature
of the rooms below, particularly if your roof isn't insulated. Even over
winter they are of benefit as they reduce moisture in the roof area which
can affect the performance of insulation.
- Keep the doors shut to rooms that don't require heating or cooling
- Experiment with your air conditioning and heating thermostat. By dropping
the temperature a little over winter and raising it similarly over the
summer, your family may not even notice - and you'll save a stack of
- A well maintained heating and cooling system will help ensure maximum
efficiency, so ensure yours is serviced regularly.
As with heating and cooling your home, the heating of water is also a very
energy intensive process.
- Consider a heater blanket if you have an electric hot water system - these
are very cheap to buy.
- All exposed pipes should be covered in insulation lagging to help minimise
- Enforce a showering time limit in the home - the use of timers can help
encourage shorter showers.
- If you are considering replacing your hot water system, consider a solar
hot water system or heat
rebates are available when switching from an electric hot water system!
- Line drying is preferable to electric clothes dryers, but when you have
occasion to use them, make sure the lint filter is free of build-up and
there is plenty of air circulation generally around the dryer. Open a window
if possible while using the dryer to allow humidity to escape as this will
help your clothes to dry faster.
- If you use currently use hot water in your washing machine, consider
switching to cold. Today's detergents are very effective and a cold water
wash will likely be all you need for most loads. Some washing machines also
offer eco-options that use less water and shorter cycle times, so experiment
with those settings also.
- When using a clothes dryer, the energy used by a faster or longer washing
machine spin cycle should more than offset the energy used by the dryer for
what would be otherwise damper clothing.
- When using an electric stovetop, use orrectly sized cookware. A pot or
pan that doesn't entirely cover the element will result in major heat waste,
which means your food will take longer to cook and more electricity will be
- Keeping a lid on pots and pans will help build up heat faster - and keep
- When boiling water for cooking, it's more efficient to use your kettle or
microwave instead of on an electric stovetop hot plate.
- If you have a microwave and a stove, use your microwave for cooking
wherever possible as it will use anywhere from a third to a half of the
electricity consumed by a stove.
- By ensuring your electric oven light is working and the glass panel is
always clean, you won't need to open the oven to check on your food. Each
time you open an oven a great deal of heat is lost which extends cooking
time and electricity usage.
- When cooking with an electric stove or oven; you can switch it off just
before your food is done as there will be enough residual heat to complete
- When boiling the kettle for a cuppa, only add as much water as you need in
- Ensure the seal of your refrigerator is in good condition as even small
imperfections and gaps can affect electricity consumption. Your fridge
should also be located out of direct sunlight in an area with good air
circulation all round. The coils at the back of old fridges should be dusted
regularly, which will also help with performance.
- Regularly defrosting your fridge and freezer will also help to conserve
electricity. Adjust the settings of your appliances to match the season.
You'll find in winter you can set your fridge and freezer to a much higher
- Just because a kitchen appliance isn't in use it doesn't mean it's not
consuming power; so it's a good idea to switch appliances off at the wall
rather than just on the appliance when you're finished using them.
- Only use lighting when you need it and remember to switch off lights when
you leave a room.
- If you're still using old incandescent globes; make the switch to CFL's or
LED lighting, which require much less electricity to operate. Most of the
energy used by an incandescent globe is converted into heat rather than
light, so in summer they can also add to your air conditioning costs.
- Instead of lighting a whole room, just light areas that need it - this is
called task-based lighting
- For garden lighting, switch to solar lamps - these are now very cheap to
purchase and are extremely easy to set up as they require no wiring. Each
light has an internal battery.
- Instead of having security lights on all night, use sensor lights that
will only switch on when someone is in the immediate vicinity.
- Switching from a desktop computer to a notebook can save over 50% of your
computing related electricity consumption.
- As with other appliances, turn off your computer at the wall when not in
use or recharging as this will eliminate standby power consumption.
- Experiment with your computer's power saving options.
- Set your screen brightness as low as possible without it straining your
eyes. The brighter the screen is, the more power it consumes.
- If you use a screen saver, set it to just a blank screen. Animated screen
savers are processor intensive, which consumes more electricity.
- While only small, households tend to accumulate many gadgets such as cell
phones. These are usually appliances that can be charged at night time when
electricity is cheaper.
- Once a phone, handheld or other portable device is charged, it
continues to draw power while plugged in at the socket. Make sure it's
switched off at the wall when charging is complete to minimise standby
electricity consumption; also known as phantom power load.
An important point - as you replace your appliances, pay special attention to
energy ratings and consumption. Also consider each purchase carefully - do you
really need the item? We often fill our lives with power sucking gadgets and
gizmos we don't really need.
When replacing power hungry appliances with more energy efficient equipment;
if the old appliance is still working perfectly, don't send it to landfill. Sell
it, trade it in or give it to a charity that may be able to use it or who will
sell it to someone else who may not be able to afford a new energy efficient
appliance. You could even consider repurposing it - for example, old fridges
make excellent storage units for a shed! Also check with your local council for
Aside from making more money from net feed
in tariffs by being more efficient in your electricity use, by minimising
your mains grid consumption, you'll also be helping to further reduce
Australia's greenhouse gas emissions!