Solar savings on power bills

There’s a cost to installing a solar system, but it should eventually save you money.

Solar savings explained

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you could not be unaware of the policy shambles that has been the Federal Government’s energy policy over at least the last 10 years. Taking a somewhat longer perspective, and at the risk of provoking a full-blown macro-economic and philosophical barney, one could mount a persuasive case that the die was cast with the rush to privatise long-established state-owned electricity and gas authorities.

And, as many of us will recall, the justification for these hasty sell-offs of publicly owned energy generation and distribution assets was that the resulting competition between the new, private players would drive down prices while improving services. Sounds risible now. The reality has been the precise opposite. Clearly, these champions of ‘small government’ had never heard of ‘natural monopolies’ and ‘essential services’ despite the fact that first-year economics undergraduates have!

However, we all grew up with Donald Horne’s The Lucky Country and never was this sage title more apt when we consider the forces currently reshaping the Australian energy market. Even the entrenched and formidable fossil fuel industry and its powerful Canberra lobbyists have not been able to stop, or slow down, the global march of renewables technology.

Australia, having surrendered the opportunity to lead the world in the development and successful commercialisation of the new energy, has been fortunate enough to benefit from the rapidly improving efficiency and plummeting cost resulting from overseas developments. And now this rapid and continuing evolution in renewable capacity coincides with the Australian states and territories stepping into the vacuum created by the Federal Government.

The unceremonious dumping of the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), the most recent attempt by Canberra to put an energy framework in place and thus provide the certainty for businesses and investors, has seen the Morrison government admit that it has no policies in this essential sector.

And it’s against this macro context that the policies recently announced by some states and territories seek to encourage significant initiatives from individual companies.

One such company is Sunbank Solar, which has headquarters in Melbourne but services most of the country. What makes this company of such interest to YourLifeChoices members is its focus on the 50-plus demographic.

Leon Siebel, head of marketing and communications, is passionate about the opportunities for older Australians to escape (once and for all) the unprecedented, steep and sustained increases in power bills.

But he emphasises the need for a highly professional approach. He stresses that every household’s needs are different and hence the importance of the thorough preparation that long-established companies, such as Sunbank Solar, should undertake before recommending a solar system to prospective customers.

This preparation takes the form of consultation with the homeowner, careful examination of previous power bills, the number and age of the residents and even the life changes they may be prepared to make. In addition, all installations are modular, so if more solar panels are needed or a storage battery has to be installed on what Mr Siebel calls a ‘journey to zero’, these enhancements can be readily made. He describes the company’s relationship with customers as a partnership, which is perhaps best demonstrated by the follow-up in three months after the first post-installation power bill is received, and every six months thereafter.

And it would appear this close liaison with potential and existing customers produces a win-win result. Clearly, the householders benefit from the company’s more than 30 years in the industry, while the company is constantly updating its research on the evolving attitudes of Australian households to renewables.

Returning to the over-50 demographic, Mr Siebel emphasises the importance of specifying and installing only quality components, so that a payback on the investment can be expected in two to three years on a $5000 storage battery, and in five to eight years on a $7000 storage battery.

With the ‘pink batts’ debacle still fresh in our memories, it’s inevitable that opportunistic and unscrupulous installers, sensing a quick and easy dollar to be had from the combination of potential government subsidies and unsuspecting householders, will hop on the solar bandwagon.

So don’t rush in, do your homework and, above all, deal with a long-established, professional solar specialists who can refer you to their genuinely satisfied customers,

Get more solar advice here.

Have you installed solar panels? Has the experience been financially beneficial?

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    COMMENTS

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    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    10:24am
    Need to get your facts straight David.
    First is that energy policy under Labor was rock fast. Renewables were being rolled out and THEY WERE WORKING. Its only when Abbott arrived that the sabotage began. So not 10 years as you claim but 6 years!
    Second, the pink batts were successful on two fronts. They helped keep our economy running when the GFC hit and they did save energy (= electricity) use. The deaths you mention are related to the INSTALLERS but this bad government continues to blame Labor for this. That's what this lot do and why they should have zero credibility.

    Solar systems vary in cost. Cheap China comes with significant risk. More expensive systems take longer to pay back. Batteries? Forget those until they get larger and cheaper. Coming.
    Anonymous
    16th Oct 2018
    3:14pm
    you mean the wasteful energy policy under labor that is still costing the taxpayer billions

    Solar is not cost effective unless subsisdised by the government. Its just robbing Peter to Pay Mick
    Nika
    16th Oct 2018
    3:37pm
    Totally agree Mick. Untrained installers were the problem with the batts and the Companies that failed them should have paid for the deaths. I have German panels and haven't paid a bill since 2011. When we move I will get them again with a battery. Abbott did a lot of damage he sabotaged the NBN too.
    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    5:20pm
    I chose the LG panels in preference to the German ones Nika but both are good.

    I sort of have to smile when I see the government sponsored troll above trying to talk down solar. I have it and today produced 53 kWh. Pretty good for a Spring day. Imagine what summer holds in store. The payback period is going to be well under 10 years and would have been half that had I not opted for a quality system which should last 2-3 decades.

    Government subsidies? What do you call new coal fired power stations troll?
    Rae
    17th Oct 2018
    8:51am
    MICK I object very strongly now to any use of tax dollars to build anything for the private sector. It is not the job of taxpayers to supply funds that private business can borrow from banks. Far too much lately of this privatisation of tax money.

    Now taxpayers subsidising each other seems okay. The pink bats have helped to insulate buildings.

    No tax dollars should be used to subsidise profit taking businesses.
    GoldenOldie
    16th Oct 2018
    10:28am
    Sounds like an ad for Sunbank Solar!
    Old Geezer
    16th Oct 2018
    10:31am
    I haven't priced solar panels of late but I do know that many places have already reached their peak in the number of solar panels the electricity grid can handle. It wont be long before people will be restricted in what they can export into the grid or even if they can have solar panels installed.

    I did however price a battery recently as I wanted to not have to run my generator in power outages. The battery system has a life span of 10 years but the payback period was 37.5 years. Even at half that payback period I will be still using my generator.
    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    10:51am
    You are correct on this one but you forget that when batteries arrive people will not be exporting excess energy back to the grid. It'll be going to their battery and when batteries become large enough they won't need the grid at all. Why do you think the current corrupt government wants to kill the renewable energy industry and why do you think the media NEVER advertises how well the South Australian batter project is going, complete with a pay back period of 3 years and the fact that the batteries have helped iron out feedback problems?
    Change of subject?????
    Old Geezer
    16th Oct 2018
    11:05am
    Mick I have also heard that SA generators are running just as much as they did before that battery went in as well so it can't be that good.
    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    11:21am
    You have heard wrong. The system survived a very hot summer without shutting down and the grid is much more stable because high PV generation usually coincides with high demand. It has been a win/win....and so so cheap!
    Old Geezer
    16th Oct 2018
    11:56am
    No all it did was add a bit extra power but people used more than usual so the diesel generators ran just as much. It is not cheap either.
    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    3:58pm
    Complete rubbish OG. You know it worked like a dream but because you post for this government you habe to protect the coal industry even when it means deceiving readers. That's despicable conduct. I'll bet my house against yours on this. Wanna play?
    Paddington
    16th Oct 2018
    5:12pm
    OG, you really do not understand how this works lol! You are arguing on behalf of the coal industry. Another climate change denier as well!
    There are a lot of jobs in renewables which is another plus!
    Start with quality solar panels. Have sufficient to cover your needs. The more people who have renewables the quicker we can phase out coal.
    We have solar panels that are quality German ones. No electricity charge in summer!
    We would like a battery but cannot afford yet.
    A change to renewables is necessary and hopefully Australia will get there.
    The NEG probably cost a PM his job. Shame!
    JoJo
    16th Oct 2018
    11:05am
    We live "out bushO in far north Qld and have had stand-alone solar for over 30 years...-
    no back-up . We run general household items - nothing too big and watch usage during prolonged wet season dull weather.
    Thoroughly recommend solar - and we don't get power outages like town.
    pedro the swift
    16th Oct 2018
    11:06am
    I held off solar till I realised my power bills were getting way to high. Installed a 3kW system about a year ago and have had huge reductions in power cost. I wasn't concerned about feed in tariff but just wanted to reduce my grid use. I now note that I have actually generated more solar KWhrs than I use from the grid. So far my bills have varied from $9.00 to $88 per quarter. Battery still too dear to install.
    But watch out when a lot of people start using battery, then they will pay a charge a fee just for having power lines in front of your house, like water.
    Old Geezer
    16th Oct 2018
    11:13am
    It is already happening in that some companies are now not allowing your bills to go below the standing charges.
    Rae
    17th Oct 2018
    8:55am
    I don't understand how foreign Corporations and Foreign Governments are allowed to do this to Australian consumers. Isn't the idea of a Government to protect the people from shonky rip off merchants?
    pedro the swift
    16th Oct 2018
    11:14am
    While solar and batteries may be ok for domestic users and small businesses they can NEVER replace base load generation like coal or better still nuclear for an first world industrial nation. Anyone want to be on a electric train when the sun or the wind stops. How big a set of battery will you need to run all those for a fair while? How many batteries would you install for a large manufacturing plant to keep running 24/7. Haven't heard any answers from the green advocates that make any sense yet!
    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    11:24am
    They can and they will in time. Queensland and South Australia are already producing more than 25% from renewables and if every house had a PV system and batteries (coming) then you would not get away with such a BS statement.
    Next you'll be back on to pink batts.
    Old Geezer
    16th Oct 2018
    11:59am
    I got my pink batts for the price of freighting them here when it all went bust. Government paid out on warehouses full of them and told then to do what they liked with them. A mate contacted me and asked if I wanted some and said they would send down a truck full if I paid the freight.
    Nika
    16th Oct 2018
    3:04pm
    The desalination plant in SA runs on solar and is cost neutral so small and large company uses can run on solar.
    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    3:59pm
    Good contribution Nika. OG, as usual, is trying to change the subject to avoid the facts.
    Robson
    16th Oct 2018
    11:26am
    This article is disgraceful false advertising. Two of the links on the daily email suggest that it will help calculate costs/return on investment in solar. In fact it’s nothing but a shameless plug for a company which would get you a feature on MediaWatch if you were a TV station or a newspaper.
    Janus
    16th Oct 2018
    11:41am
    I agree that you really need to look closely at what your spending.
    Here in Tasmania, where winter days are short and the summer is not as intense, unsubsidised Solar does not work economically, and subsidised solar only works environmentally if you have the right location - north, facing the right direction, and you chop out all of the trees (as some people have done!!).

    You heard right - it does NOT repay the energy gained, in terms of energy spent, in most cases here in Tasmania. the consultant's want to sell you a product, but make sure you ask if it is environmentally sensible to put solar in (ie not just the subsidised dollars). Most of them will lie, or simply don't know or care.

    PS it does work in many of the hotter sunnier locations; just not everywhere.
    ozrog
    16th Oct 2018
    1:35pm
    So why does it work so well in Germany. I'm sure the have less sunny days than Tasmania.
    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    4:01pm
    Janus - there is a lot more to this. You need to look at things like orientation and north facing surfaces to maximise your solar capture. Do you even have solar on your roof?
    MarkAdel
    16th Oct 2018
    1:12pm
    I got a 1.5 kw system 6 years ago and haven’t paid an electricity bill since. That was when the SA Govt was paying double the feed in tariff. I’m still $250 in front. I purchased it to save money, not to save the planet (I’m a skeptic). Spring is when you make the most money. Plenty of sunshine (not so much at the moment) and not too hot. Performance decreases when it’s above 35 degrees. One of the best things I have done.
    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    4:02pm
    We started with a system around that but I cannot ever say we had no bills. The only thing I can say is that the system was first class and is still purring away today. Never had any problems, touch wood.
    Chris B T
    16th Oct 2018
    1:14pm
    When connected to electricity grid, you pay GST on Power you Buy.
    When you have excess power and export Power to Grid they pay you a Tariff and charge you GST.
    Even though it isn't that much you are paying GST on Buying and Selling.
    I would have thought you pay GST One Way Only.
    [;-(
    ozrog
    16th Oct 2018
    1:40pm
    Ours says on the bill not subject to gst so i don't know where you got your info from on feed in.
    Chris B T
    16th Oct 2018
    2:14pm
    On My AGL bill has a charge for GST on Buying and Selling.
    It isn't much but collectively it would add up.
    There are only 2 providers where I live, it is the devil you know.
    Nika
    16th Oct 2018
    3:21pm
    I'm with AGL and pay GST on the bill that I would have if not for the solar. My last bill was $2 but the GST was $68.
    ozrog
    16th Oct 2018
    1:45pm
    Solar is good both for the environment and your hip pocket.
    Old Geezer
    16th Oct 2018
    2:30pm
    Pity abut the infrastructure cost to harvest it and the disposal cost of said infrastructure when it no longer works.
    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    4:06pm
    You must be a half wit OG. What does a coal fired power generator cost? The ones your employer keeps wanting to build with taxpayer money.
    The South Australian government system which has been such an unmitigated success will be repaid in 3 years. The batteries are guaranteed for at least 10 years. Coal doesn't even come close.
    That's why OG keeps trying to bag renewable energy. You can run but you can't hide.

    16th Oct 2018
    3:21pm
    Maybe one day renewables and clean energy will be cheaper than traditional sources

    Maybe in 20 years
    In the meantime taxpayer coughs up for higher prices due to the higher cost of power generation by renewables

    Blame labor and the greens - we got this due to their false propaganda and political agenda
    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    4:08pm
    They're already cheaper! The rest of the lie you tell is amazing because the vast majority of the cost you mention has nothing to do with 'cost'. The very few dollars coughed up are exactly that and make up a minuscule proportion of the cost of energy. But of curse you know that OG.
    Paddington
    16th Oct 2018
    5:16pm
    Mick is right. Oldbaid is wrong!
    Oldbaid and OG are arguing with no basis or evidence.
    The naysayers are holding back Australia when third world countries are more advanced in their understanding of the urgency of the need to address climate change.
    Jenny
    16th Oct 2018
    4:35pm
    At present all of the output from our solar panels goes into the grid. The rate we receive is equal to the price of the power we must buy from the power company . But we have been warned that the units they buy from our system will drop from 28 cents to 8 cents in the new year. We had done well in summer, but in winter it is a different situation, with much less daylight and cold temperatures. In order to keep our panels relevant we will have to invest in a battery which will cost over $12000 installed. I can't see us recouping that in our lifetime, but we will probably go ahead.
    Anonymous
    16th Oct 2018
    4:42pm
    Yes the batteries will take you 30 plus years to recover costs

    The SA Tesla batteries are a joke , no one crunched the numbers . A political stunt by the SA government
    Let the silly voters in SA live with their idiotic decision to vote labor time and time again.

    No wonder the state is an economic basket case
    MICK
    16th Oct 2018
    5:15pm
    What a lying turd you are olbaid.

    You know full well none of the above is even partly true.

    The SA Tesla batteries ARE WORKING GREAT. That's why the right wing media NEVER report and why Weatherill was shown the door. The truth is that the battery bank has one third paid for itself in the first year of operation and that they STABILISED the grid through one of the hottest summers just past on record. PROVE ME WRONG!!!!!
    MD
    17th Oct 2018
    8:30am
    Mick, I'm not at all sure that I (or anyone else for that matter) could possibly "PROVE (YOU) WRONG!!!" saints forbid, this site would be so much the poorer...wouldn't it ?

    The SA battery set-up maybe (questionably) "WORKING GREAT" but I'm sure that were you to broaden your research horizon then in the overall scheme of matters energy - baseload/generation/standby - the battery contribution would barely illuminate Chifleys' 'Light on the hill' and probably more effectively akin to a 'candle in the wind', speaking of which, may be a good thing for the plethora of that states' turbines although the "one third paid" cost is yet borne by the consumer...and isn't 'cost', in any form whatever, the relevant subject?

    "Leon Siebel, head of marketing and communications, is passionate about the opportunities for older Australians to escape (once and for all) the unprecedented, steep and sustained increases in power bills."
    Well he would be "passionate" wouldn't he...DU-OHH ! Perhaps Mr Siebels' Company is so "passionate" they would be prepared to guarantee a fixed term/price supply of both their unit AND the associated service/supply charges ? I'm sure he would - as long as gubbermint continues to fund the ridiculous subsidies that to date have cost consumers/taxpayers billions.

    Nuclear may yet prove to be the way to go and to all the Nimby's that immediately put the shutters up at any mention of things nuclear, then I'd suggest they too - along with you Mick - need to broaden their research horizon.
    Bruce
    16th Oct 2018
    9:39pm
    Solar is great. But. Its subsidised by those who cant afford the upfront fee. Electricity generation is all state owned. So blaming the federal govt. Of either party is wrong. Except that the fed. Subsidises renewables.now that solar is a proven thing. All subsidies should be dropped. And electrucity prices would plummet. Also. Its a givt service.so. we are charged GST illegally. Which is why the state govts of that time. Crsated the wholesale and retail sectors. Both types of govt are wrong.


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