MAINTAINING A HOME
Should I get solar panels?
Many Australian households feel the crunch when it comes to energy bills. Although there are a lot of thrifty ways to lower your electricity use, many people turn to solar energy as a way to enjoy their current standard of living without continually breaking the bank.
That being said, there’s still a lot of confusion around solar panels. If you’re considering installing them at your home, it’s important to understand whether or not they could work for you.
What to know before buying solar panels
You’ll get the most benefit from your solar power during the day, when the sun is shining. That means using electrical appliances when it’s still daylight is likely to cut your energy bill the most.
But what about properties where no one is home until after work or on the weekends? If most of your electricity use occurs at night, then solar power might not have as high an impact for you. However, if it’s possible for you to switch some of your most energy-sapping habits to the daylight – such as using pool pumps, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers when you’re not there, potentially on a timer – it could still be possible to see some real savings.
Solar panels come in all different sizes, and the system you need will depend on your electricity usage. There are many calculators online that you can use to determine the size you’ll need, but as a rough guide:
- Small homes (1-2 people): 1.5kW system
- Medium homes (2-3 people): 3kW system
- Large homes (4 people): 5kW system
The larger the system that you install, the more space you’ll need on your roof to house it. Even the smallest system (1.5kW) will need approximately 10m2 of uninhibited space. For 3kW systems you’ll need up to 20m2, and for 5kW systems that number increases to around 32m2.
Although there are federal incentives to installing solar power that apply to homes nation-wide, feed-in tariffs are still managed state by state. That means you may be eligible for government subsidies on solar based on where you live. You may want to research your state or territory’s laws to determine how much you could benefit.
Your municipality may also charge utility fees for connecting a solar power system. And, finally, certain locations in Australia see more sunshine than others. So, for example, if you’re living in the sunshine state Queensland, you may see more of an advantage to solar power than if your home is in Tasmania.
Speaking of sunshine, is your home in the best position to see as much sun as possible? Partial shade isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be, so don’t worry if your roof isn’t fully bathed in sunlight at all times. With that being said, if your roof is completely shaded for most of the day, your solar panels might not work as effectively.
Current electricity usage
The main benefit of solar power is offsetting the amount of power you use off the grid during the day. So if you’re not using much power off the grid to begin with, you’re less likely to see radical savings.
Generally, if your bills are under $250 per quarter, you’ll probably only save around $100 per quarter. That’s still a saving, of course, but the benefit isn’t as substantial as a household with higher bills.
Most households take 3-5 years to pay off their solar power system. That means that if you’re planning on moving soon, or completing renovations in the coming years, it might be worth holding off.
It’s usually recommended that people plan to stay in their home for at least 3 years after installing solar panels, longer if they want to get the greatest possible benefit.
Most of the time, you aren’t able to install solar panels if you have a shared roof. For example, if you have a townhouse or apartment, it can be an extra hurdle to get permission.
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Things you should know
This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.
Comparison Rate Warning specific to this offer:
##The comparison rate is based on $150,000 and over 25 years. WARNING: This comparison rate applies only to the example given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan.
^^Discounted rate is only available for new Personal/Owner Occupied or Investment loans taken out as part of the Suncorp Bank Green Upgrades Equity Home Loan Offer. Existing lending ≥$150,000 and new equity lending between $10,000-$25,000 and borrowings ≤80% of the security property value (LVR) inclusive of lenders mortgage insurance (if applicable), with Principal and Interest repayments. The discounted rate (currently 5.82% p.a) is calculated by subtracting a discount of 2.83% from the Standard Back to Basics Variable Rate (currently 8.65% p.a.) for Owner Occupied Loans, or by subtracting a discount of 3.25% from the Standard Back to Basics Variable Rate (currently 9.07% p.a.) for Investment Loans. Rates and discounts are subject to change and may be varied if the loan purpose or repayment type is changed. Pre-approvals excluded. The discounted rate is available on eligible loans applied for from 17 November 2023 until 29 February 2024 unless withdrawn earlier.
A rate that is variable and is subject to change over the loan term.
A comparison rate is a rate that indicates the true cost of a loan. This rate incorporates certain fees and charges that are applicable for the chosen product. For more information about the comparison rate and the comparison rate warning, please refer to the things you should know section of this page.