How To Maximise Electricity Bill Savings With Solar Power

If you’ve installed solar panels – congratulations! Here’s what Finn advises you do next to make the most of your solar power system so you’ll end up with the lowest possible electricity bills.


Here is a graph taken from the monitoring system on my house, the beautiful yellow curve, that’s my solar power system.

It’s a nice day. It’s not cloudy in the morning. The solar generation rises, it peaks at midday and then it drops off as the sun goes down. The jagged line under the big yellow area, that’s my house’s consumption. You can see it’s not steady. It goes up and down as washing machines switch on, stuff switches off and as you can see, I’ve tried to squeeze all that electricity usage into what I call the solar window.

When the solar generation is more than my house’s usage, we’re generating more solar electricity than we need. I’m exporting the yellow area to the grid and I’m earning a feed in tariff where the house consumption is in the solar window. I’m getting that electricity for free because I’m not paying for my solar energy – once I’ve paid off my solar power system of course.

Outside the solar window, you’ll see the jagged line is colored in red. That’s where it’s dark. I’m not getting any solar energy. So I’m buying all that electricity from the grid and I’m paying about 36 cents in South Australia right now to buy electricity from the grid. When I export it into the grid, because I’ve got surplus solar electricity, I earn about 16 cents. So obviously it’s more valuable to me by 20 cents to self-consume the solar energy than it is to export it. So, what I’ve done here quite successfully is I’ve squeezed most of my usage into the solar window.

We have really strong electricity retailer competition across the whole of Australia – apart from unfortunately WA, Tasmania and rural Queensland – you will earn a different amount for your feed-in tariff quite dramatically by retailers and different usage rates, again, quite dramatically by retailers.

Beware Of The Highest Solar Feed-In Tariff

But the secret is balancing the usage tariff with the feed in tariff. Some retailers will give you a really good feed in tariff and absolutely hammer you on usage tariffs. Some retailers will give you really quite cheap usage tariffs but give you a shithouse feed in tariff. So you’ve got to find the balance. And that depends on how much electricity you export and how much you import. And here, everyone is unique.

Finding The Best Electricity Retailer

So here’s how you find the best retailer based on your imports and exports. You wait at least one quarter after you’ve got your solar panels.  You have your first electricity bill at least, that shows you how much you exported to the grid and how much you imported from the grid. You go to this tool on my website. There you can enter these amounts into the tool and it will simply rank the retailers based on who would have given you the lowest bill.

It’s the best way I know of finding the retailer that’s going to give you the lowest electricity bill with solar. Most people don’t do this and they’re probably paying hundreds of dollars a quarter more than they have to just because they haven’t compared retailers.

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About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. Hi Finn,

    Can you please update your energy calculator tool at to include the Essential Energy daily supply charges (DSC) for postcode 2324. At the moment the tool interprets 2324 as an Ausgrid region – I live in Tea Gardens NSW which is an Essential Energy region with much higher DSC than Ausgrid.

  2. How about the older installations with gross meters. How is the process and cost of changing meters.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      You can contact your electricity retailer and request a meter change and they may install a smart meter. If they offer to do this for free I suggest getting that in writing as people have been billed for it after being told it will be free.

      As most solar systems with net meters are small and old you may wish to upgrade to a new, large solar system. That is something that will require a meter change.

  3. Thanks for the Electricity savings blog.

    Now Post Code 3165 Melbourne

    I have just had my best day since installing Solar in June this year.. Cut over and feed in was early July. I have just had success with AGL and the Vic Gov to reinstate my 17.5% Pensioner Electricity discount (for users who consume over $2,890pa electricity.).. (:-)) The way my solar system is going (no batteries) I shouldn’t have to reapply next year.

    The end result, with my 38% pay on time discount, my imported charge works out to be 16.39c/unit and my Feed in is 12.00c/unit.

    I have monthly billing set so that I can monitor each month. A couple of weeks last week, up to 5-30pm each day, I was an electricity generator..

    Great result for a 10kw system (LG 335 black panels and Enphase inverters ) with 28 panels East and 3 panels North It was generating Solar from 6-30am to 5-30pm today with a peak of 7.49kw

    Looking forward to more sunshine…

    • To add to my earlier post.. For Australians……

      Looking at Return on Investment (ROI) and money in the bank for a Pensioner.

      Funds on our Bonus Savers are 2.01%, announced today, and lower on Term Deposits . Because the 10kw Solar was a non capital expense I increased our part pension, and the fortnightly payment for a couple is equivalent to 7% ROI.

      But this link from National Seniors

      needs to be read by Pensioners because it claims that if you generate so much Solar and receive the money it could be seen by Centrelink as income. Also, if it’s a balance where your feed-in $$ never exceeds the total imported $$ and Supply they suggest you always receive your feed-in tariff as a credit on your bill.

      That’s what I’m doing with AGL in Victoria.

      It would be great to be in the situation where our systems are that efficient.. without batteries.

  4. Richard Kirby says

    Do you have a recommendation for the monitoring solution to advise on usage? I have a SolarEdge inverter with 6.6kW of solar but i cannot see reports of my usage, only my generation.

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