Is Solar Worthwhile if You Work 9 till 5?
You may have friends or neighbours with solar. You may have even considered it for yourself, but working long hours means it doesn’t feel like a worthwhile investment with so many other things on the budget.
Sure, solar may work for your neighbour who is a stay at home parent with two young kids, air conditioning and TVs running all day, but what about the full time worker?
Doesn’t solar only suit people who use electricity during the day? Doesn’t solar mean a big lifestyle change? If you’re only home at night, isn’t energy from the sun a bad investment?
If these are your questions, we have a question for you:
“When do your appliances use the most power?“
Most modern appliances use the most power when they’re first switched on, or when they run on a set pumping or heating schedule.
Many appliances run, or can be set to run, during the sunniest parts of the day.
Here’s an example:
An air conditioner uses the most electricity when it’s first turned on and needs to cool or warm the house to a set temperature.
Setting the air conditioner to turn on an hour or two before you leave the office means the greatest energy consumption will happen during daylight hours.
By the time you get home, the air conditioner will primarily be on standby, maintaining the temperature you set.
With some small changes, someone whose family is out of the house all day will still achieve a high level of self consumption from their system.
“Self consumption is the ability to provide a percentage of your energy needs through solar instead of using the grid.“
If you have a fridge, freezer, air conditioner, pool or hot water system, solar will have a noticeable impact on your power bills, no matter what time of day you’re home.
Many electrical items use the greatest amount of power when they’re first turned on. Getting solar and changing habits in small ways can have a huge impact on your electricity bill.
You can schedule most of your electrical items to run during the day. As a bonus, you also don’t have to hear dishwashers, pool pumps and washing machines going while you’re enjoying your down time.
Some changes you can make include:
- Air Conditioners can be set to cool the house just an hour or two before you leave work.
- Pool pumps can be scheduled to turn on during daylight hours, pulling all their energy from your solar system instead of the grid.
- Most washing machines have a timer function so you can load it, set it and have it run while you’re at work and utilise your solar. Most dishwashers and dryers have timer functions, too.
- Cooking – anyone for a delicious home cooked dinner? Slow cookers are a great way to prep dinner ahead of time.
- With the help of an electrician, a hot water timer can be set up so heating is done during daylight hours, and you can enjoy your night time shower on daytime prices.
A house that has solar should ideally have night time electrical usage that consists of cooking, fridge, lighting, entertaining and air conditioning maintaining the temperatures and levels from daytime electricity use.
How Often Are You Really Home?
It may feel like you’re never home during daytime hours right now, but in reality, there’s probably someone in the house more than you realise.
If you have a partner, they may work different shifts than you, not to mention breaks for school holidays and weekends.
The average solar system lasts up to thirty years. In that time, your children may get older and may spend more time at home, you may move to a different role, or you may retire.
So How Good Can It Be?
If the studious solar consumer tries to use as many of these simple as they can, they can shift most of their power use to daytime usage. And don’t forget the excess solar you cannot use gives you a credit, helping offset your night time usage.
“A solar system isn’t just an investment for today, it’s an investment in your future.“