How mum of five saved thousands a year on her electricity bills
Heating and cooling the family home, running multiple fridges and the endless loads of laundry that come with having a large family saw the power bills for her family’s five-acre property on Sydney’s outskirts climb to an eye-watering $2100 a quarter in 2021.
“We just thought, we’ve got seven people in our family and our electricity bills are through the roof,” Ponting told 9news.com.au.
“There’s at least two to three people home every day – the lights are on every day, the TV is on, we’re always cooking.”
Despite their high usage and increasing electricity prices, since installing solar panels the family have seen their bills plummet.
“Since moving in here, we pay $200 a month, so that’s $600 a quarter – the difference is huge,” Ponting said.
While a portion of these savings likely comes from the reduced costs that come with running a smaller property, Ponting attributes the majority of this $6000-a-year saving to their 10kW solar system.
The Pontings even manage to earn back around $90 a month from their feed-in tariff – the fee electricity companies pay you for sending your excess solar energy back into the electricity network to be used by others.
This means they have probably already earned back their initial $4500 outlay for installing the solar panels on their rooftop in just over 18 months.
And the Pontings are far from alone.
Even before the recent electricity price rises were foreshadowed, Australia had one of the highest rooftop solar uptakes in the world, with a rapid rise in the last six years.
The demand is such that Ponting says many of her neighbours are now having to wait for months as solar installers in their area are overwhelmed.
And with electricity prices set to jump again from today – by between 21 and 25 per cent for states who are part of the National Energy Market (NEM) – the cost savings of solar panels continue to grow.
Dr Mike Roberts is the director of the Australian PV Institute, a not-for-profit backed by the Australian government to help encourage the uptake of solar technologies.
According to their calculations, the average Australian family of four living in a standalone house will see their bills jump this year by between $383 (in south-east Queensland) and $621 (in South Australia).
But installing solar panels would shave between $1134 and $1822 off their annual bill.
This means they’ll be paying off the costs of installation in between three and six years.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer for a lot of people and these new price increases will take (the payback period) down even more,” Roberts said.
The institute has developed a tool called SunSPOT which Australian homeowners can use to work out whether solar panels will save them money – and how much.
The tool uses individualised information about the family’s size, current electricity bill, location of their home, the slope of the roof, the time of day they use the most power and other details to calculate how much money solar would shave off their bill.
It then informs you how long it would take to make your money back on the cost of solar panels (known as the “payback period”), based on the cost of either a standard or a premium installation.
However, many state governments provide subsidies or support, such as low-interest or even interest-free loans.
In NSW, low-income earners can get a 3.5kW system installed for free.
What solar could save an average household in each state
The following data is calculated using the SunSPOT tool based on an average household energy consumption of 15kW per day for a family of four living in a single-storey standalone house in each state’s capital city outside of the CBD.
The installation costs and savings of solar panels are based on a 6.5kW solar system.
It’s worth keeping in mind that these are averages – each individual household’s electricity costs and savings will vary based on the level and timing of their energy consumption, the cost of their solar system and the amount of sunlight their property receives.
New South Wales
A family of four living in a house in suburban Sydney currently pays an average of $2111 each year on power, but the latest tariff increases will see that jump to $2562.
Installing solar panels would potentially see this family’s new annual bill reduced to $1038 – that’s 14 per cent more off their bill than they would have saved prior to the tariff increase.
Under this scenario, it would take them 4.3 years to have made their money back on the cost of a mid-range solar installation.
Solar panels generally come with a 10-year warranty and have an expected lifespan of 20 years, meaning all savings after that initial 4.3-year payback period is extra money in their pocket.
Residents in Victoria are facing the stiffest increase in their power bills, with an average tariff rise of just over 25 per cent.
There, a similar family of four residing in suburban Melbourne would have previously paid $1845 on their power bills each year but will now be looking at a $2259 bill.
Solar panels should save this hypothetical family $1134, effectively slashing their bill in half – compared to a saving of $1007 pre-price rise.
This means it will take this family six years to pay off the cost of installing solar panels, down from 6.7 years pre-price hike.
Residents in Brisbane and its surrounds are set to see their power bills rise an average of 21 per cent from today.
That means an average family living in a house in suburban Brisbane will see their power bills jump from $1821 to $2,203.
A 6.5kW solar system would on average bring that bill down to $916, saving them $153 more than before the price hikes.
This gives them a payback period for their solar panels of 5.5 years – compared to a previous payback period of 6.3 years.
South Australians have the highest power bills in the country.
In Adelaide, our “average” family of four living in a standalone home is set to fork out a whopping $3299 a year on electricity – up from $2678 pre-July 1.
But big bills also mean big potential savings.
Solar panels would scrap $1822 off this bill – $245 a year more than before the price hikes.
This brings this family’s payback period for solar down from four years to just 3.5 years.
The information provided on this website is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information on this website you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.