October 23, 2023

Your solar power bills in the summer vs winter

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How does season impact solar panels in Australia?

The biggest factors impacting your solar panel performance and your energy bill in the winter and summer are the number of daylight hours and your household energy consumption patterns.

Let's have a look at how daylight hours and household energy usage can impact your energy bill.

How daylight hours impact solar panels and bills

Contrary to popular belief, solar panels work best in cooler temperatures with full sunlight. However, the best high-quality modules are designed to be able to sustain the hottest Aussie days when we don't get optimal weather conditions. Otherwise, your panels can deteriorate faster than an iPhone on the car dashboard on New Year's Day!

Therefore, we get the best solar panel efficiency and output in the summer when the longest day has around 14 and a half hours of daylight. This is in contrast to the winter where the shortest day has under 10 hours of daylight. This means even in ideal conditions of full sunlight, you would already be making 30% less energy in the wintertime. This drastic difference is further amplified by increased shade, overcast conditions and the direction of the sun and solar panels. This means households with smaller systems feel these effects far more with fewer solar panels to compensate for production.

How your energy usage profile impacts bills

In summer, with an extra 2-4 hours of daylight, households are often using their peak hour well before the sun has set. Compare this to winter when it turns dark very early, where we tend to keep comfort with large ducted heating systems outside daylight hours. Unfortunately, electrical-based heating consumes more energy than cooling. This can mean high energy consumption outside of the solar production window. Many are often overconfident with their consumption patterns especially coming off low bills from previous seasons.

So, what are some ways to reduce our energy bills in the winter?

Read on for the top 5 tips to see the lowest bills all year round with a Go Sunny solar system.

Top 5 tips to reduce energy bills

Go for a Bigger Solar System

The best way to make enough solar power production during low light periods is to make a lot more out of the daylight hours you get. This will provide more credits to help offset bills, and also provides the home with enough energy usage throughout the day. Larger systems with more solar panels are also able to shrink the harsh winter window by generating more power from earlier in the morning to late afternoon. This also extends the best of autumn a lot longer, and capitalists on spring earlier than a smaller system would. This makes a huge difference over twelve months.

Note: Due to SAPN restrictions, you may not be able to produce the crazy high amounts of solar energy output that a bigger system could, unrestricted in summer. But it will be the greatest allowed which is 2-4 times more excess power your average household needs. You may not even notice the difference, except for how small your bills are.

Check your Big Ticket Use

Heaters of all types (excl. wood and gas) and clothes dryers typically make up the lion’s share of winter usage spikes. Strategically using delay timers on washers or dryers to turn on during the day, can make a huge dent in remaining bills. Setting heaters to warm a house before sunset and using sleep timers on nights that aren’t ice cold can also reduce bills massively.

The good news is, with a massively reduced energy bill, you could choose to pay a little to live in luxury. Although many energy plans now have flexible low rates for use during low demand times.

If you want to learn more about load shifting and maximising savings from solar panels, you can check out our article on that here.

Person pressing buttons on a washing machine
Big-ticket items like washing machines and dryers are energy intensive.

Monitoring your Energy Habits

All our solar systems come with monitoring capabilities reported to an app on your phone or device. If set up correctly, you’ll soon have a good picture of when your solar panel system is performing at its best for that time of year. This means you can strategically align the usage of big-ticket items to better fit high-production windows. Some people even set up timers (cheap and easily available from Bunnings) to match this so they don't even need to remember to do it. If you find yourself enjoying learning more about your system’s impact, there's a lot more that you can dive deeper into.

Most larger energy providers like AGL and Origin have their own apps that can give you a breakdown of all your household usage on a day-by-day or hour-by-hour basis. This can give great insight into where the biggest inefficiencies are, or the biggest opportunities to save more in your home. For an optional extra cost, Go Sunny can even install a home kit monitoring device with your system that can show your solar panel energy production and energy usage all in one app.

Not everyone can justify spending the extra money for these options though. If you’re not getting any bills, you may not be too concerned about all the technical side. It’s up to the individual needs of the homeowners and the property.

Screenshot of solar monitoring on Origin Energy mobile app
Example of solar energy production monitoring on Origin Energy mobile app

A Balanced Energy Plan

There are over 170 different plans available on the market, with up to 6 or 7 different charges and variables within each. This can be a nightmare to wrap your head around if you’re busy with life’s normal dramas (and thrills too, we hope!). However, it is also disastrous to get completely wrong and miss out on $100s in savings.

Screenshot of energy plans from Simply Energy Solar
Energy providers like Simply Energy Solar provide specialised solar energy plans

Our team of consultants at Go Sunny are always happy to review the way you use electricity through different times and seasons, weighed up against your expected solar power generation and performance to steer you in the right direction. We can fast-track past all the confusing numbers or jargon. Rest assured, we have no affiliation with energy retailers. Therefore, we can offer up a few options that are all likely winners without any conflict of interest.

End of the day, the more we can help you save and achieve your dream outcome or experience, the better we look and the more rewarded we feel for our work.

Using Credits in Winter

It’s not uncommon for some households with the use of the aforementioned tips to exit spring and summer with bills that are actually in credit where the retailer owes them. Most people leave these credits on the account as a buffer to begin pre-paying any potential winter charges, rather than withdrawing the credits or using them towards gas. This can make for a much more even bill all year round.

That's it, my top 5 dynamite tips to stop the winter bill chill dead in its tracks!

Some tips that didn't make the list...

  • Huddle together as a family like penguins and slowly rotate to share the inside and outside equally
  • Spend 3-4 months a year living in an exotic Villa in Spain, chasing summer and skipping winter
  • Rub your hands together then point them towards a fire and say “ahhhhh”

Leave your energy retailer in the dust

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Stop paying for power. Start making your own.

Woman raising her hands