my first power bill after solar (call the paramedics)

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Re: my first power bill after solar (call the paramedics)

Postby kaddy » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:45 am

Hi there,

I am expecting delivery today of my energy monitor. I do have an old fridge and chest freezer. Perhaps they are the culprits, though I cant imagine them using $500 extra per quarter in power.

They say that we are probably going to get a long hot summer, maybe then we will see a difference in solar production, but of course then you have the trade off. Airconditioning!!

My energy supplier said a lot of people who have solar have had a rather large bill this quarter due to the long cold winter and not so many sunny days. Whether that is correct I do not know.

Cant wait to see what is slurping up my electricity. Hope I find something.

Will let you know

Cheers

Kerri
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Re: my first power bill after solar (call the paramedics)

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:22 am

Hot weather is the enemy of PV solar, your panels output about 0.5% less for every degree warmer the calls are, so the actual rate of production in hot weather (in kilowatts) is lower than in cooler weather, but the hours of sunshine are longer, so you end up with more kilowatt hours (kWh)

kaddy wrote:My energy supplier said a lot of people who have solar have had a rather large bill this quarter due to the long cold winter and not so many sunny days. Whether that is correct I do not know.


Unless they are charging you for not producing electricity, that's just wrong! If you had a long cloudy winter, then it has an effect on everybody, not just those with PV solar, and certainly cant account for an increase like you saw.

Anyway, it seems July-Aug-Sep were actually very close to average as far as golar radiation goes at Camden: http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weat ... num=068192
(set it to kWh/m^2 for a more meaningful number)
so the weather didn't cause PV output to be much different to what would be expected on average.

I guess start monitoring the fridges and freezers first and see how much of your total use they make up. You should keep a log of your daily totals on the meter while trying to track down the guzzlers too, and maybe make notes of running time of big energy users like AC, electric stove, dishwasher etc.
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Re: my first power bill after solar (call the paramedics)

Postby Russell Moore » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:21 pm

Really big users of power are things that :1) heat, 2) cool, and 3) pump.

We are a household of 2 adults, 1 teenager, and 1 child. Our average power use per day is 9kWh.

We have no aircon', no pool, and no electric heaters. All our lights are compact fluros, we use a gas stove, & an electric oven. We use a small TV, and one fridge, & one computer that we can't seem to get the kids off! We also have a solar hot water system that is close to 30 years old. Our house was designed and built from the ground up to conserve energy, and it is rarely is too hot or cold.

We have a 5kW solar panel system and were lucky enough to get onto the 60c gross feed in tariff (NSW) before it was removed. Come 2017 we will be stuck with whatever we can get from the energy companies, as you are now. In fact I am surprised that people are still installing solar panels in NSW now that the energy companies pay such a low feed in tariff.

As others have said all you can do is to use as much electricity between 10am and 2pm. Set your pool pump to work then, and if possible timers to run your dishwasher, washing machine etc.
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Re: my first power bill after solar (call the paramedics)

Postby kaddy » Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:11 am

Hi Thanks for your reply

9kwh per day!!! to die for. We are getting up to 50kwh per day. I really have no idea why.

We have ducted air which we use for heating and cooling . We like to put it on to take the chill or the heat off the house so use it only for a few hours when needed. Will definately be keeping an eye on that as well from now on. We have a large plasma TV which will not be left on if nobody really interested and it is just back ground noise. The swimming pool filter is left on for 2 hours a day instead of recommended 8 hours. I have a large fridge and a second fridge and chest freezer. We have gas hot water and gas cooking with an electric oven. Dishwasher used twice a week. We are forever turning off all of our downlights when not in use and usually just have a lamp on at night. We have tried to be electricity aware but nothing seems to be working at this stage.

My gas bill is only around $200 a quarter but put that on top of $1200 (or $1450 without solar) and this is a massive amount of power for 2 people who are not always at home.

Have bought an electricity monitor which I am leaving on one of my fridges for 24 hours to see if I can find anything. Will do the chest freezer next.

Dont know what else to check after that. Most things we own are fairly new and should be energywise.


Our house is only 2 years old so had all of the basix requirements as now required by law. Insulation in the walls and the roof. We chose light coloured tiles and bricks to help reflect heat in summer and try to stay cool without resorting to air. We have fans in the bedroom which is all we use in Summer during the night.

Will keep you posted if I find anything alarming!! :o
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Re: my first power bill after solar (call the paramedics)

Postby Chooktopia » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:38 am

Without reading all the responses yet, here's my advice:

If you are buying electricity at 25 cents and selling at 5 cents, you should try to only use what you produce rather than sell it, and minimise what you buy.

At night you should have only 2 appliances on: the fridge and the freezer. These are also big culprits in high energy bills as older ones are very inefficient. Our baseload with just these two things on is 30w per hour - negligible.

Everything else is on timers. Our reptiles - the biggest energy users in the house - are programmed to come on at 9am and off at 4pm, so they use only solar electricity. We have retrofit their enclosures to hold the heat with black slate for thermal mass, draft proofing etc.

I try to not turn on the dishwasher or washing machine until I leave for work - that way they are using solar too. The dishwasher (although new and 'energy effficient') is a huge energy guzzler.

The other culprits I've found around the house is our gas ducted heating - when on uses almost a kWh each hour, and when on standby (eg off at the wall) still draws about 80 watts! So up into the roof and installing a "future switch" has knocked that on the head. Now I just flick the future switch to turn the heater on and off.

The vacuum and carpet shampooer I try to use only during the day when I'm producing solar. Of course you produce more in summer than you do in winter as the sun is higher in the sky (therefore less shade from nearby buildings and trees) and for longer, so you need to be super dilligent in winter to keep your bill down.

If you have a plasma TV it's worth putting a power meter on it for a few days - I've done an energy audit where a home entertainment setup (subwoofer etc) along with the plasma, was using up 9kWh a day!!!
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Re: my first power bill after solar (call the paramedics)

Postby Chooktopia » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:52 am

Kaddy I just read also that you have downlights, so here's a little excercise:

a) how many of them are there?
b) how many watts are the globes (halogen is probably 50watts)
c) how many hours a day are they on?

a x b x c = extra energy use that you probably havent accounted for. 20 x 50watts x 3 hours = 3000watts or 3kWh extra a day. 40 lights? 6kWh extra a day.

The person who made downlights 'trendy' should have to pay everyone's energy bills as punishment.

Not only are they energy intensive (unless you've switched to efficient LED globes which are 3 to 10 watts/globe), you lose all your winter heating up through what is essentially holes in the ceiling! Especially with halogens, as they get so hot, and heat rises, they suck the heat out of your living area into the roof cavity even faster!

You can get downlight covers that are heat rated that help reduce that.

Also grape vines or something deciduous along your northern and western walls and windows is great to reduce heating and cooling as it allows warm sun in in winter and shades you from the sun in summer - improving the thermal mass of your home.
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Re: my first power bill after solar (call the paramedics)

Postby sparkycoffs » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:17 pm

I am assuming a lot here but you have stated you have ducted air and this could be a system of around 5kW. In other words 5kW/h consumed for every hour it is on. Ten hours a day would be your 50 units per day. My first place to look would be at the name plate on the compressor or your air conditioning installers invoice. Then you could plan the use and so control you consumption for that appliance.

I would also look at the meter you have because you should be able to elect to have a 'time of use' tariff. Where we live, in NSW, you could have your pool pump on at night and start washing machines and dishwasher at 6am (until 7am) and you will be charged at off peak rates. You may also have the off peak from 10pm Friday night until around 7am Monday morning. This means that the entire house will be on off peak, all weekend, for every weekend. There is a trade off as the pricing is a little more expensive but it is worth a phone call.

I also agree with Chooktopia, those downlights are an electricity glutton.
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Re: my first power bill after solar (call the paramedics)

Postby Tim D » Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:32 pm

My neighbour installed solar and his bills went up. Turns out that incorrect wiring meant he was being charged for the power he generated. This may be your situation as you could be producing 15 kWh per day, which could make the difference between your new and old bills. Maybe get someone competent to check the installation. Wiring errors seem to be common. Good Luck.
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Re: my first power bill after solar (call the paramedics)

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:18 pm

Tim D wrote:...incorrect wiring meant he was being charged for the power he generated. This may be your situation ...


Given that Kerri has been paid for over 500kWh of exported energy, it is hard to see how this could be the case for her installation, surely that error means any export is impossible. I'd be looking for energy guzzlers before spending money on a less likely explanation.
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Re: my first power bill after solar (call the paramedics)

Postby kaddy » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:06 am

Hi everyone

Thanks so much for going to the trouble of giving me advice.

We do have 15 downlights (I dont know what the builder was thinking!) We only use the 2 in the kitchen whilst preparing our evening meal. We also have 3 on in our dining room which are promptly turned off when we finish. They are halogen so I will gradually start replacing them with led. I believe they are quite expensive so will start with the five that we use most evenings.

Have a 50" plasma so will be monitoring that along with the fridges and freezer. Used to have our pool filter come on at 7.00am -9.00am. Have now reset it to come on at 10.00am-12.00)

We dont have any trees or buildings shadowing our solar. The panels are in a prime position on our roof, so any sun we will get without fail.

At night we have our plasma TV on plus our fridges and freezer. One lamp in the lounge.

Is it really worth turning everything off at the power points. Is there much to be saved?

Will speak to my hubby and see if he knows what a future switch is for our electric air con.

As far as our energy retailer is concerned we are on a single rate solar. We get the first 19.178KWH/day at 22.8338 c/KWH and the Peak balance at 25.2791 c/KWH.

There is no off peak available to us.

We then receive the princley sum of 5.500 c/KWH which saved me a whole $28.80 on my power bill. Wow :roll:
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