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The current economic climate has everyone wondering how they can save money and at the same time, take care of the environment. There are green electricity solutions for both home and business, some with rebates available from your State or Federal Government. Most people are aware of options such as solar hot water and solar electricity, but what are the best options for green electricity?

Solar electricity and hot water

Solar electricity

You can have solar panels installed on your property that store different amounts of power. You also have the option to run all your power from solar or use a combination of powerlines and solar.

The way in which solar panels work is by capturing the raw energy from the sun (through light and heat) and converting this into electricity through the built-in photovoltaic cells in the solar panels. The converted electricity is then used to power your home or business. The best spot for a solar panel is the roof of a structure to capture as much of the raw energy as possible during the day.

Your electricity bill can be greatly assisted by solar energy, as you receive a rebate from the electricity company if you are using both solar and powerline electricity. If you are grid-connected (using both sources of energy), your home or business will use the solar power first before the grid. State and Federal Governments also offer rebates for the installation of solar panels at different times. You should always check what’s on offer before purchasing as they do come and go. Most homes will install around 5kW to 10kW systems, and a commercial solar unit will start at around 10kW depending on the size of the building. These will provide decent amounts of energy for your home or business. For example, a good quality 5kW solar system will generate around 20kWh on a sunny day which is around the energy that an average Australian family uses per day[1]. For more information on solar panels, see our previous blog.

Solar hot water

Solar hot water heaters are similar to solar electricity panels however, they heat water rather than produce electricity. You will also need less of these panels for this function as they are easier and cheaper to install and still can take some money off your electricity bill while reducing your environmental impact. These heaters use the sun to heat a reserve of water that can later be pumped through to your shower, sink or bath. Typically a four-person household will need a 300-360 litre tank which requires two panels to ensure you have access to enough hot water[2]. Most storage tanks usually have an electric or gas booster element to ensure water stays hot on overcast or rainy days. Other than solar hot water heaters, there are also heat pump hot water systems where the storage tank is electric and works in the same way as a fridge where heat from the air is extracted and used to heat the water tank. At different times, State or Federal Governments will provide rebates for solar or heat pumps, so always check what’s available before committing to purchase.

 

Redi-Lite: choose skylights for additional lighting

Many households are guilty of leaving lights on when they leave the room or even the home for short periods of time. This simple act adds to your electricity costs and your environmental footprint, even more so if you are using light bulbs that take up more electricity. A greener solution is to install skylights in areas of your home. Skylights have grown in popularity over recent years as they provide natural light to an otherwise light-starved space. They also reduce the need for artificial light on sunny days, thus reducing electricity costs.

Voltora are licensed installers of the REDi-lite Solar Hybrid Skylight for homes or offices. This solution is particularly popular in high-density environments where other buildings can block the light. The REDi-lite Spectra system is different to traditional skylights in that it can be installed in nearly all locations. There are only a few licensed electrical contractors who can install REDi-lite in South East Queensland, and Voltora is one of them.

There is also no need to have a skylight and a separate electric light in the same room as a single 24- watt REDi-lite can do the job of both when used in conjunction with the optional Day/Night kit. The REDi-lite is simple and easy to install as there are no restrictions during installations. Another additional benefit of the REDi-lite system is that there is no added heat in summer nor loss of heat in winter. For more information about REDi-lite visit the Voltora webpage.

 

Choose Energy Rated appliances and systems

You can further reduce your energy consumption, costs and environmental footprint by talking to your licensed electrician about the best Energy Rated appliances. Appliances with a high-star rating have been popular over the recent decade as they indicate the energy they consume. While appliances with higher ratings may cost you more to purchase, they will save you on electricity costs in the long run.

Appliances with Energy Rating guarantee energy savings, which can be around $100 or more per year. They also reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, and usually will also have more longevity than cheaper non-rated appliances. A survey of Australian consumers showed that 89 per cent of Aussies preferred energy-efficient appliances over cheaper options[3]. You can find Energy Ratings on everything from fridges and washing machines, to kettles and televisions. When comparing ratings, it’s important to compare like with like, i.e. same size appliance doing the same job. You can also speak to your electrician about the best options for your house when it comes to bigger appliances such as air conditioners, heaters and pool motors. 

Install an energy monitor

If you’re not sure where the bulk of your electricity is being used, you can speak with your electrician about installing an energy monitor. An energy  monitor will help you to identify how, when and why you’re using power, as well as which appliances or lights are consuming the most power at different times of the day. Most monitors can also work with your electricity costs such as tariffs to calculate how much your usage is costing you. You can also set warnings if you exceed a set usage level in the month. There are several energy monitor options from wireless meters which require wireless energy sensors to be installed by an electrician but they don’t usually track more than 12 months of historical information. You can also set up an online energy monitor which can be accessed anywhere from the web, with more accuracy and deeper insights. They can also connect to your solar meter. An energy monitor will not only help you monitor your usage, but it will also help you minimise your electricity costs and environmental footprint through less electricity usage.

Speak with your electrician about the best options for you, and keep in mind that a qualified electrician will need to set up any monitoring systems. You should not attempt this on your own! Voltora Industries offer energy monitoring consults and installs and they are just a phone call away – 1300 799 430. 

Change your light bulbs

If you’re looking to lower your electricity costs and find even more greener options, one simple change that is often overlooked is your lighting choices. Changing your bulbs is often simple and reasonably cheap and it can provide you with a cost saving as well as a more environmentally friendly option. Lightbulbs also come with an Energy Rating, just like appliances, to help you make the best choice. Energy-efficient lightbulbs are becoming increasingly popular as they can use 25-80 per cent LESS energy than their traditional counterparts, and last 3-25 times longer.

Traditional incandescents are on their way out, with halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs becoming much more popular as green solutions and cheaper sources of light.

What’s next?

With all of the options in the market, it can be confusing to find the best green and cost-effective options for your home or business. If you’re unsure where to start, here are five simple tips to make better choices for your electricity bill AND the environment:

  1. Investigate any rebates available to you for greener solutions such as solar or Energy Rated appliances.
  2. Compare your options: Energy Rating, price, size and availability.
  3. Speak with your electrician for their advice on what works for your home or business.
  4. Do your research on smaller solutions such as light bulbs. What fittings you currently have and whether you can make a simple switch or require new fittings.
  5. Make a list of priorities from top to bottom, and price each with your electrician.

There you have it! Reducing your environmental impact AND reducing your electricity bill is possible. Your electrician is best placed to assist you in making the right choices for your home and business. For a list of the services Voltora offers, visit the services page.

[1] https://www.choice.com.au/home-improvement/energy-saving/solar/articles/how-much-solar-do-i-need

[2] https://www.choice.com.au/home-improvement/energy-saving/solar/buying-guides/solar-hot-water-systems

[3] https://www.comparethemarket.com.au/blog/household/can-energy-efficient-appliances-make-a-difference-to-your-bill

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