A good news story: A local tale of energy efficiency in action

It is good to see the local Southern Otway Sustainable (SOS) group offering a public Forum on home energy efficiency on 19 May. Readers may interested in my own experience of what a difference some energy efficiency actions can produce.

A year ago I installed 4.2 kW of solar through the SOS bulk buy solar program. With the Victorian Government’s rebate ($2,225) and no-interest loan ($2,225 paid back over 4 years) to help with the up-front costs, I was only out of pocket $2,490 up front - that was do-able.

I was aware though, that to make the most of my solar system I needed to be more energy efficient around home as well. The previous winter I installed new blinds with thermal lining and tried to stop up as many gaps around doors to reduce heat loss in winter. This had the immediate effect of enabling me to turn the reverse-cycle heating down to 21-22 degrees, rather than running it at 24-25 deg.

When I first started interrogating my solar and energy usage data through the Mondo UBI data logger (which came with my solar system), I sure learnt a lot. I could see what, and when, my greatest energy usage was as well as when I generated the most solar.

For example, the data graph clearly showed that my electric hot water service was still a huge guzzler of power!! I luckily have a good friend who’d done a lot of comparative research, so I decided to install a heat pump hot water service to replace my old clunker. A Victorian government rebate on offer helped finance this change over. The new unit also has a timer which enabled me to set it to heat water during the day at the peak solar generation period.Now, that’s when I noticed a huge difference in my bills. Without going into heaps of detail I can tell you I have paid $950 less for electricity for the 12 months since I installed my solar panels and heat pump hot water (in September 2020) compared to the previous year.

I like to do as much as I can to reduce my energy use and waste, and save water for environmental reasons; and I also don’t mind saying I like reducing my bills!! And I really enjoy being in more control of my power usage. Whilst I’ve made both big and small changes and changed some consumer behaviours, I know I can do more. But what will give both me and the environment the best bang for my bucks is the question? I’m hoping to start an extension/renovation in the coming months so I’m definitely keen to find out what else I can do to ensure I will be as energy efficient as possible before I start.

Julie Harris,

Apollo Bay

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