The tips you need to make the most of your solar this Winter

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Using the heater 

Working from home? Follow our tips to make the most of your solar during Winter

 

There’s no denying winter has arrived and given many of us are staying home during the day our heaters are likely to be used a lot more than usual – generating a fair degree of energy bill angst!

Here are our tips on how to make the most of your Solar Analytics dashboard to stay on top of your energy use this winter. 

1. Max out your solar self consumption

Fortunately we know that spending time at home means we get to self consume a lot more of our free solar meaning more glorious savings for solar owners. However, available sunshine in June in most cities south of Sydney is about ⅓ of that in December, and that means ⅓ less free solar to use on electric heating and appliances. 

 

Compare solar production time and amounts (kWh) on your dashboard on a sunny day in June with a full yellow solar production curve, to a similar sunny day in December last year. You’ll see the difference.* 

Case study – Comparison of daily solar production for a system on a house in Marcoola, QLD, in June and December

 

Note the reduced solar production for this system in Marcoola, QLD in winter on June 2nd  when  production is only 24.3kWh for the day, but on December 21 in summer it was 32.9kWh.

 


June 2, 2020  – 24.3kWh produced

December 21, 2019 – 36.8kWh produced

Looking at the graph showing solar production across the months we can see the seasonal dip in May, June, July and August.

(*Keep in mind, however, that we found that bushfire smoke was significantly lowering solar production in December 2019 and January 2020 in affected areas on some days.) 

Load shifting is a lot easier when you are at home. The graphs above show that this household has successfully shifted the bulk of their energy consumption to use as much of their free solar energy as possible.  

Charge your EV or electric bike, vacuum the house, run the pool pump, dry your hair, iron the clothes and run the appliances during your bountiful solar-producing hours. If you have a smaller system, spread their use across the day and watch the consumption so you don’t end up using grid energy unnecessarily.

Note: If you have a very high solar feed-in-tariff (higher than your electricity usage rates), you may wish to use less solar in your home and export as much as possible to save more money.

 

2. Use Solar Analytics to understand your heating load

 

Heating is usually about 40% of a household’s energy costs, but now we’re at home during the day it is likely to be more.

If your air conditioner is used for heating and it is monitored separately, you can easily see the impact of heating on your consumption. The dashboard below for a house in Sydney clearly shows the impact of the air conditioning on consumption, with all the other consumption fields deselected.

 

If you have a choice of heating appliances (be it electric oil, underfloor, radiant, fan, ceramic, convection, split system or the newer infrared heaters) you can compare which one is drawing the most energy by plugging them in one at a time and using the Live Monitor widget on your dashboard to measure and compare the energy consumption of each.

The Live Monitor widget

 

Clicking the widget brings up the Live Monitor graph which shows total generation and total consumption for the last 60 minutes. If possible, turn off other appliances on that circuit, click on the widget, and watch the hike in consumption when you turn on the heater. Note how many extra kWh it draws.

Or you can simply look at your Consumption page and identify the energy usage spikes for each appliance. Over an hour or more, a heater with a thermostat will cycle up and down and look like a bumpy line, while one without (such as a radiant heater) will just draw continuously at a steady rate.

Case study – Is the Dyson Pure Hot blow heater more efficient than the air conditioner

 

Solar Analytics Associate Director - Products Lisa Beeren wanted to find out if her Dyson Pure Hot blow heater was more efficient at heating than her air conditioner. 

She ran them both separately for 20 minutes and checked the energy consumption for each on her Dashboard. See the image below.

It was clear they used the same amount of energy but the air conditioner was much more effective at heating the living space quickly.

Lisa concluded: “So now we will use the air-con more because we know the energy usage is not as high as we thought it would be – and the Dyson will go back into the cupboard.”

Stay safe and let us know how you’re using your Solar Analytics Dashboard to save more and live comfortably through winter in the comments below.