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The feed-in tariffs have dropped – is solar still worth it?

A feed in tariff is the rate you get paid for sending electricity to the grid. It appears as a credit on your electricity bill, paid to you by your electricity retailer. An example is shown below.

Electricity bill showing feed-in tariff

Typically, you can expect to receive between 6 cents to 18 cents per kWh but the exact rate will differ depending on your electricity retailer and location. You can see which retailer offers the best feed-in tariffs from the Australian Government’s Energy Made Easy website.

High feed-in tariffs used to be necessary because solar was so expensive. But because the costs of solar have dropped, they’re no longer needed. Even with low feed-in tariffs, today the typical household will recoup the investment between 3 to 7 years.

Regardless, it’s good practice to run your appliances throughout the day when your system is generating electricity. If you’re not at home during the day, here are three simple ways you can do this.

Most appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines  come with a time delay function. This allows you to load the appliance in the morning, but then set it to run during the day when your solar panels are generating electricity.

If you use an air conditioner or another type of electric heating or cooling, use a timer to set it to run during the day before you get home from work. You’ll then come home to a pre-cooled or pre-heated home and won’t need to run the air conditioner in the evening, when you need to buy power from the grid.

If you have a hot water heat pump, set it to run during the day when your solar panels are generating free electricity. If you have a gas hot water or an electric storage system that runs during off peak hours, upgrade to a hot water heat pump when your hot water system fails. Because heat pumps use very little power and run off electricity, you can set them to run during the day when your solar panels are generating free electricity. Read more about heat pumps.