With electricity costs rising and climate change dominating political discussions, people are taking matters into their own hands. Motivated by energy independence, self-sufficiency and concern for the environment, an increasing number of Australian homeowners are making the switch to renewables. In 2008, just seven percent of households used solar energy to heat water. Research published last year by Roy Morgan shows that almost a quarter of Aussie households now own solar panels.
Finn Peacock, the founder of Australia’s hugely popular solar-specific website, SolarQuotes, and leading author on solar power, has recently published ‘The Good Solar Guide: 7 Steps to Tiny Bills for Australian Homeowners‘ a book that demystifies the solar industry and helps homeowners connect their homes to solar energy. The book explains how solar works and how it can lower energy bills and save people thousands of dollars, all whilst minimising their impact on the environment.
“By answering tens of thousands of questions via email, blog comments, Facebook and even the good old telephone, I’ve learned what questions Australian have when buying solar and where they often slip up,” Peacock said. “Like the Barefoot Investor simplified Personal Finances, so The Good Solar Guide will make it easy for Australians to access our country’s greatest natural resource.” The website and Finn Peacock’s blog average 600,000 page views per month, and the SolarQuotes has arranged quotes for more than 350,000 Australian homes since its launch in 2009.
Peacock is not just an online entrepreneur, he is also a Chartered Electrical Engineer, completing his studies at Cambridge University. He worked for Meridian Energy on wind farm projects and designed and installed control systems for nuclear power stations before joining CSIRO’s ‘Energy Transformed Flagship’ in 2007 to work on commercialising their solar and energy efficiency technology. The engineer also practices what he preaches at home. His solar-powered home in Adelaide boasts quarterly power bills of minus $128 per quarter. He doesn’t get a bill; instead, he receives a credit each quarter. Following the overwhelming number of questions he’s been asked about solar installation in the last decade, Peacock decided it was time to publish a definitive resource guide on the topic.
The 7 steps to tiny energy bills (according to Finn Peacock)
The seven-step process outlined in The Good Solar Guide is as follows:
Step 1. Understanding solar fundamentals first.
This is solar 101. You’ll learn the difference between solar power and solar energy, solar rebate and solar feed-in tariff; about solar panels, inverters and batteries and how your choices will affect the size of your energy bills. You’ll also learn what it means to go totally off-the-grid and whether this is something you should consider for your home.
Step 2. Conducting your own energy audit.
Performing an energy audit is essential to understanding what your energy usage and what your solar energy needs will be. In this step, you’ll learn how you can quickly and cheaply measure your energy usage (day and night), so you can work out whether solar is the right choice for you and brings the savings you’re looking for.
Step 3. Heating your household’s water with the sun.
Heating water is energy intensive and is one of the biggest energy users in a home. Learn how to cost-effectively integrate your water heating with your solar to get lower your energy bills.
Step 4. Calculating the financial return of your solar investment.
If you’re a greenie, the return on your investment probably doesn’t matter to you, but for most people, saving money is important, especially as the cost of installing home solar panels is a substantial outlay for many. In this step, Peacock provides tools so you fully understand the financial implications of solar and the savings it brings you. The book also covers payment options available in the marketplace.
Step 5. Identifying good-quality solar panel brands (and avoiding the rest)
Where there is money to be made, shady and uncaring operators soon follow. Australia is awash with low-quality solar hardwards (and very pushy salespeople). Peacock will provide you with tools on how to identify quality solar and which solar panels, inverters and batteries he recommends.
Step 6. Find local installers and get quotes.
There are some shonky solar installation companies in Australia – but this doesn’t mean all solar installers are shonky. In this chapter, Peacock guides you in finding companies that are honestly reviewed and highly rated by previous customers and how you invite them to provide you with detailed solar installation quotes.
Step 7. Post solar installation.
A good installer should adhere to current standards and guidelines when installing your solar system – but it’s your responsibility to ensure it’s done correctly. Peacock provides a post-solar install checklist to ensure all bases are covered and the simple but effective habits of solar owners who enjoy tiny energy bills.
To purchase your copy of The Good Solar Guide, click here.
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