Solar Savers Case Studies
Rosalie lives in a 1970s two-bedroom Brunswick West unit and has been thinking about going solar for some time. Her parents were early solar adopters so it has been on her radar for a while. She often thought, “I should get on to that..”, knowing that solar was a sound investment and the way the world was going in terms of renewable energy.
Rosalie took the plunge when she came across the Solar Savers program in the Merri-bek Council newsletter. She felt confident using a council-backed program and trusted that Merri-bek, who has a strong reputation in this space, would have done their homework.
Rosalie opted for a 7.2kW system to service her all-electric unit, making it fully powered by renewable energy during the day. Even though she is a single-person household the bigger system size meant that she could meet her daily energy demands and feed any excess back to the grid for a credit (known as a feed-in tariff).
For Rosalie, “it’s nice to feel like you’re getting something back” and she’s looking forward to an even greater return in the summer months.
Rosalie found that installing solar through Solar Savers “made it very, very easy” and her message to others is that “if you’ve got the means to do it, it’s a good investment.
All-electric unit goes solar in Merri-bek
Rosalie and her solar-powered all-electric unit
A passive house gem in Glen Eira
Allan’s unique passive house has drawn a lot of positive response from his community.
At Solar Savers, we love being a part of the home owner’s journey to installing rooftop solar. No two houses or installations are the same, and sometimes we come across a special home and unique story that we’re excited to share.
Allan and his wife, Shizuko, recently built a new home in Glen Huntly. They have wanted to make the switch to solar for a long time, both for economic and environmental reasons, and they found the best time to do this was once they’d demolished their old home and rebuilt a new passive house with a Colorbond roof.
Allan came across Solar Savers when he was on the Glen Eira Council website for other reasons. He noted that many other Councils around the state were endorsing the Solar Savers program.
“I have heard and read about solar installation in many forums, that contractors’ performance can be excellent and can be abysmal, and the fact that there was council endorsement gave me confidence that price and results would be good.”
Allan went no further and entrusted Solar Savers with the installation of his 6.4kW system.
Whilst it is currently just Allan and Shizuko living in their new home, their plan is to accommodate lodgers in the near future, specifically Japanese exchange students attending the Australian Ballet School.
Being mindful of when and how energy is used in the home can allow homeowners to make the most of their solar. For Allan and Shizuko, they tend to go to bed early and rise early, so most of their energy use is during the day. They prepare all their meals at home making use of electric appliances such as the rice cooker, microwave and electric oven. While they still have a gas cooktop their plan is to change to induction down the track.
For heating, Allan opted for a hydronic system and although this is a gas system, the passive design of the house means it captures the winter sun, retains heat well and is still an economical option.
Allan’s solar installation is relatively new and he and Shizuko “look forward to reaping the benefits as time goes on”. Further to this, the couple hope to put some of their energies into advocacy, that is, “encouraging others to go solar, and when there is opportunity start talking about regional and local solar networks and batteries.”
We thank Allan for sharing his experience with us and being part of Glen Eira Council’s emissions reduction goals.
Casey resident getting ahead of energy prices with solar!
We touched base with Casey resident, Steve, a few months after his solar installation to find out about his experience with the Solar Savers Program and how his new solar system was going.
Steve told us he’d heard about the Solar Savers Program through a post on the Casey Council Facebook page and he decided to give us a call to find out more.
Steve was looking into solar as his electricity charges were “getting so excessive and only going to continue to go up!”.
Steve was happy with the quote provided and decided not to seek any other quotes. He found that the quality of information was very good – “detailed but understandable” and the plans, equipment, specs, etc. were all there for him to review.
Steve felt he was kept in the loop throughout the solar installation process and found it to be a lot quicker than he’d originally anticipated. Steve found the only delay was with having his system connected to the grid, “but it was one of those things that couldn’t be sped up”.
We asked Steve if he had noticed any changes in those excessive energy bills and he replied, “Definitely! Well and truly halved what they were prior to installation”. Steve’s only complaint was that he’d like more sun to shine in the winter months!
Steve has also taken further steps to improve the energy efficiency and amenity of his home by installing two reverse cycle air conditioning units for heating and cooling.
We asked Steve if he would recommend solar to family and friends, and he replied, “Have done!”. And when we asked if he would recommend the Solar Savers program he said, “Definitely, it saved us a fortune and everything was done for us – that was the best part!”.
Casey resident, Steve, with his rooftop solar.
A sustainable energy transition in Maribyrnong
Peter from Yarraville went solar for environmental reasons, but has also “saved a tonne.” Peter’s main driver for installing solar was environmental sustainability, and he was originally skeptical of the economic savings. He studied electrical engineering at Uni, so was already clued up about how solar works. Despite this initial skepticism, he advised “I was proved wrong, we’ve saved a tonne going solar.”
Peter decided to get a quote through Solar Savers, because he “felt that as the provider had gone through the tender process with the councils they were more likely to be a reliable company. I also liked that the installer does commercial jobs, which gave me confidence as it shows they are in it for the long term.”
Peter had a 6kW, 18-panel system installed. He reported the installers couldn’t have done anything better. “When the installers came out, they were so professional. Four installers came out on site and I was very confident that they could complete the job safely and quickly. The panels were installed on the east and west which means they get all of the morning sun and all of the afternoon sun, which has worked out really well.”
Peter and his partner have modified their energy consumption to make the most of their system. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, they both work at home and choose to switch on most of their electricity appliances during the daytime. This has enabled them to save 55% off their bill from installing solar. Peter said he would recommend others install solar through Solar Savers without hesitation. He advised “the fact that we are generating rather than consuming, from an environmental perspective is significant.”
Going renewable made sense to Maria was inspired by her parents to live sustainably, “they passed on the importance of sustainable life and using natural resources.”
Merri-bek Resident Benefits from Council Subsidy for Rooftop Solar
Merri-bek City Council has a limited number of subsidies available to low-income residents, to help them with the up-front costs of solar.
We recently had a conversation with Merri-bek resident Maria, who received the council subsidy. Growing up in Europe, Maria had been taught the importance of sustainability by her parents. Maria had been interested in solar for a while, being “very much interested in environment protection and energy saving methods in every aspect of daily life. I constantly monitor the way I use energy, maximising energy savings when cooking, washing by choice of efficient appliances.” However, the cost of installing solar was a barrier, so she was looking for a government assisted package. Maria heard about the Merri-bek Council Subsidy initiative through local group ‘Imagine Moreland’ which encouraged her to apply through Solar Savers.
Maria really enjoyed her solar journey, “from the time I applied and spoke to Katherine from [Merri-bek] Council she just made me feel secure and her guidance was valuable. Then Anthony (the energy consultant) with his lovely, friendly approach and knowledge made it so easy. I would recommend the Solar Savers program to everyone and encourage other Councils to adopt the same initiative.
A fantastic installation process and reduced energy bills in Merri-bek
Anna had been interested in solar for a while, but knew the benefits are greatest if you use energy during the daytime. She shared with Solar Savers that she thought, “now I’m retired, I will be at home to use energy during the daytime so [solar panels] are a good idea.”
Being a single person household, Anna felt it might be too expensive. When she received a letter from Merri-bek Council notifying her about the Solar Savers program and the Council subsidy available to low-income households, this encouraged her to get a quote. Anna really enjoyed the solar installation process. With the Solar Savers process, “everything happened in stages and whoever was involved in that stage helped explain to me what to do. I thought applying for the state government rebate would be too overwhelming but everyone helping at different stages and the time in between made it easy!”
Anna is already noticing the benefits to her energy bills. “My latest bill is just as [the installers] told me: a 60% reduction in electricity cost. I’ve got ceiling fans and air-con and usually I would wait until I’m boiling to use it [but] now I can use it during the day in the summer without worrying.”
Anna provided some great feedback on her solar journey; “it’s been a great experience right from the beginning until the end of the paperwork. It’s been fantastic”.
Banyule home installs solar to reduce carbon footprint and lower utility bills
Some of Banyule resident Emily’s new solar panels. She shared with us the benefits of installing through the council backed Solar Savers program, “That was huge for us, that we could call, if we had any issues, we could call council. We knew we had that extra weight behind us if something went wrong. So that was really good.”
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Emily from Banyule, who had rooftop solar installed on her home through the Solar Savers program in April. When asked why they decided to install solar, Emily explained that “from an environmental perspective, we’ve been interested for many years … the two main reasons were environmental but also financial.” In an effort to further reduce their utility bills, the Ivanhoe family have also installed thermal curtains in their living areas and retrofitted their weatherboard home with new insulation.
Emily shared that her and her husband had spent some time researching different energy saving options, and that when it came to solar “there’s lots of advertising that goes around … I was getting confused and, my husband and I, we weren’t sure who to go with.” After reading about Solar Savers in the Banyule Banner, Emily attended a council run information session: “it answered all my questions, it was great to talk to a third party, that was independent of the people who are trying to get our money. Independent advice and it’s from the council so its credible and that was really reassuring.”
Now a couple of months in the future, Emily explains how she has changed small aspects of her daily life, to make the most out of their solar: “we’ve changed the time of when we put things on … from the data that we’ve seen, were generating fairly good amounts from 11:00 am onwards, so I’m trying to put the dishwasher on around lunch time and the washing machine a little bit later as well.” Emily also mentioned that she has started cooking more with her slow cooker, “it runs off electricity, so I do the cooking during the day, it means I’m not using the gas at night”, although she’s not sure how long this new cooking style will last!
Long term solar planning with Chris from Yarra Ranges
As is the case with many households installing solar though the Solar Savers program, when speaking with Chris from the Yarra Ranges recently, he explained to us that his family decided to install solar “mainly to reduce the carbon footprint of the household and save a bit of money … we’ve been here 20 years, but it’s just been too expensive.” Chris wanted to make the best decision for his home, so along with receiving a quote through Solar Savers, he “also compared with a couple of other companies as well”, finally deciding to proceed with Solar Savers because “I wanted to be able to go back to the company in 10 years’ time, to talk about an upgrade, talk about improving the system … I just wanted to know that they’d still be around, a lot of companies come and go in this industry.”
Chris also discussed with us his long terms plans to help make the most out of his new rooftop solar, “what we want to do, is to move everything onto electric, and then try and run things during the day to maximise the value of the solar we are generating. We also bought a reverse cycle air-conditioner, had it installed at the same time.” These larger changes, such as converting to electric heating and cooling, can make a big difference to utility bills. Chris predicted that by shifting more of their energy usage to electric, his savings would increase even further. “If we can eliminate gas by changing across to electric appliances, then we are going to save another 3,4,5 hundred dollars per year, from not having the gas service at all. So that’s the plan.”
The reassurance from Solar Savers’ installer on the longevity of their company was a key deciding factor for Chris. When it came time to have his system installed, Chris described the installation as “quick and efficient … done really well, no dramas at all”.
Luise first heard about Solar Savers through an advertisement in the Glen Eira News. Luise thought this was a great opportunity, knowing that there was a “partnership” between Solar Savers and her local council.
Harnessing natural resources in Glen Eira
Glen Eira resident, Luise, has been interested in powering her home by solar for many years but was put off by the costs and uncertainty in the industry’s early days. Fast-forward to 2020, and Luise’s interest in ‘harnessing natural resources’ has been realised as she recently installed rooftop solar through the Solar Savers program. For Luise, the benefits of the Solar Savers program were clear: ‘all of those difficult decisions, [Solar Savers had] already thought about, so I didn’t need to think about them as well’. With so much information online, on the tv and in the newspapers, it can be difficult to navigate the world of solar and decide what’s best for your home. Luise explained to us ‘knowing that people with more expertise than me had been thinking about these things’ made the process and decision to install solar easy. On top of this, the partnership between her local council and Solar Savers gave her further reassurance.
Along with installing solar, minimising waste and sharing resources was important to Luise, who recently started mulching food waste to use on her garden, and is involved in Glen Eira Food Swaps. To see what other sustainability initiatives your council is involved in, visit their website and look for the environment or sustainability tab!
Diamond Creek family install rooftop solar through the Solar Savers program.
When Nillumbik family of four considered installing solar 4-5 years ago, the technology available meant that shading caused by the beautiful surrounding trees would significantly decrease the productivity of their panels. Also, at that time, the family weren’t often home during the daytime, and so for them, the benefits didn’t stack up. Fast forward 5 years, mum and dad now work a few days per week from home and new technology means that some shading won’t impact the productivity of their whole system.
“Environmental concerns, wanting to impact our footprint, also wanting to save money” were the main reasons this family wanted to install solar. They are currently waiting for their first electricity bill since installing in February, however, based on predictions that they will be saving approximately $1,000 on electricity bills per year, “it makes perfect sense”. Solar Savers will be doing a before and after comparison of their bills soon, so stay tuned! When reflecting on their experience with Solar Savers, the family commented that “It was good to go through something that you could tell was approved, and councils had given it their stamp of approval”. When doing their own research on the products used by eko energy, they found that “all the warranties were legit[imate], better than what I was reading was the bare minimum of what you should expect. When they ticked all those boxes, I was like yes, it’s a good deal.”
Diamond Creek home with recently installed rooftop solar. Homeowner explained, “It was good to go through something that you could tell was approved, and councils had given it their stamp of approval as well. I feel like I was safely handed over to the installers, eko energy.”