E31: Advice on going solar!

More and more people are going solar to cut their energy bills and to do their bit to reduce harmful greenhouse gases.

But installing solar panels on your roof is a big initial investment so you want to get it right.

Elliott Rosen, from the Clean Energy Council, the peak body for the renewable energy sector in Australia, has sound advice for people considering getting solar panels installed.

Make sure your solar provider is approved by the Clean Energy Council. This means they have to abide by a code of conduct, use accredited installers and provide best practice warranty terms. Get several quotes to compare prices and installation details. You should be given a site specific design, itemised costs, full terms and conditions of sale, including rebate details. As usual, cheaper is not always better.

Before you start you need to understand your energy usage to help you choose the right size system.

If you produce more energy than you use, your electricity retailer will pay you a rate to feed back into the grid, but this tariff is reducing. This is called the feed-in tariff.

A better strategy might be to make the most of your system in daylight hours to cut your energy bills, for example using your washing machine and dishwasher.

A battery may be a solution to store your energy for use overnight, but batteries are still costly so purchasing one now may not be cost effective. Prices of batteries are falling, so you can add to your system down the track by making sure your equipment is battery ready.

Almost all Australians can get a rebate, the Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC’s). The amount will depend on the size of your solar system.

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