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Solar in the city

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By Bessie Hassan | Money expert at finder.com.au

With the introduction of new technology, solar power has become a more affordable energy option for many people. For city dwellers, it’s now easier than ever to get solar panels installed on your roof, making it the perfect time to cut down on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint while you’re at it.

How can solar power save me money?
Solar panels allow you to generate your own electricity. As a result, you can save a lot of money on your power bills. You can also make the most of renewable energy incentives by claiming renewable energy certificates for every megawatt hour of energy you generate. These certificates can then be sold for cash or used as rebates with energy companies.

Also, if you’re generating more energy than you need, you can sell your unused solar electricity back to the grid at a rate decided on by your retailer. It may not be much, but with the rising cost of electricity, at least you’re making something.

When will my solar panels start saving me money?
Provided that the sun’s still shining, your solar panels will eventually begin to generate you savings that are greater than the initial cost. When exactly you reach this break-even point, otherwise known as “solar payback time”, will depend on four things:

  • The cost of installation
  • Your household’s energy usage
  • The size of your solar power system
  • The weather

With more panels, you’ll be able to generate more electricity and pay off your original investment quicker. However, the more panels you have installed, the more expensive the initial cost will be.

For many houses in the city, it may be more realistic to install a smaller system. In this case, cutting down on your energy usage might be the best way to break even faster.

3 factors to consider before you install solar panels

1. What can you afford?

Installing solar panels can be expensive. You’re not just paying for the installation but also for additional items such as fuse boxes and electricity metres that interact with the power grid. These extras can definitely add up. Make sure you do your research and compare different solar panel providers to keep costs down.

You’ll also want to figure out how much you can afford to spend on a solar power system and do your best to stay within this budget. Start saving well in advance. You could even try putting aside a certain portion of your money every time you get your paycheck. That way, you won’t have to see your balance take a huge dive all at once when you decide to purchase.

2. What direction should your panels face?

As a rule of thumb, and depending on where you live, your panels should face north so that you can make the most of the sunlight throughout the day. However, you shouldn’t have to worry about this too much because your solar energy installer should be able to help you choose the best direction to ensure maximum surface area coverage.

3. How should you maintain your solar power system?

Your solar power system won’t require a lot of attention but it will need a little maintenance here and there. You will need to know how to follow safety procedures and how to monitor the system. Your panels will also need to be cleaned occasionally to make sure they’re working effectively. And finally, even for people in the city, make sure that no trees are getting in the way and shading your solar panels from the sunlight.

With the bright and constant sunlight we get here in Australia, generating your own electricity is easy and can be beneficial for anyone. Nowadays, installing a solar power system is a very simple process for any type of home. Despite the initial costs, you can be certain that you’ll reap the benefits of generating your own solar power in no time.

Bessie Hassan is the money expert at finder.com.au, the site that compares virtually everything.

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