Conserving Hot Water Gives A Better Return Than Any Diverter, Relay, Or Heat Pump Hot Water System

shower of money

In all the excitement that is solar hot water, simple efficiency often gets forgotten.

I’ve been writing a lot about hot water lately and how to use the energy of the sun to get it.  In fact, I’ve been concentrating on it so much I’ve neglected my other duties and gotten into hot water as a result.  Mind you, this may have all been part of my cunning plan, as I do enjoy a hot spa.  And if it is heated by people’s hot tears of rage and frustration over my failure to do as I have promised, well that’s just me being energy efficient.

Because that’s the kind of guy I am — efficient. [Read more…]

Solar Air Conditioning Vs. Heat Reflective Paint

heat reflective paint vs solar

If your house is getting too hot should you invest in heat reflective paint or solar panels?

It can get bloody hot in summer thanks to the sun blazing down on our roofs and making them hot enough to not only fry an egg, but some bacon as well.

This post is about stopping the summer sun heating your roof, turning your home into a metaphorical oven. [Read more…]

Does Battery Storage Help Or Hurt The Environment?

an eco-warrior dreaming about a powerwall

If you want to save the environment and have limited funds, then buying batteries should not be a priority.

Millions of Australians have installed rooftop solar to help the environment and save money.

Many are hoping home battery storage will soon let them do the same.

The cost of home energy storage is falling rapidly and it may not be long before it pays for itself.  But at its current price it will not save money, even under favourable circumstances, when used on-grid.  Despite this, there have been hundreds, or possibly thousands, of people who have installed home battery systems because they want to help the environment.

Have these people  made a horrible mistake? [Read more…]

Do solar panels increase house value? 85 percent of Aussies think so


for sale sign and solar panels

A recent study shows that solar really does increase the value of your home.

Australians overwhelmingly believe solar panels increase house value, according to joint research carried out earlier this year by Origin Energy and and their optimism is backed by a number of surveys.

The Origin/RealEstate research found that 85 percent of respondents believe that having solar panels adds value to the home. Having a PV system rated the highest, leading energy efficient appliances, solar hot water and water tanks.

“This research demonstrates that solar panels could provide a real boost for homeowners if they decide to sell,” said Phil Craig, Executive General Manager of Corporate Affairs at Origin Energy. “Origin want to encourage Australians to start recognising their empty roof space could be an asset,” he added.

REA Group Chief Product Officer Henry Ruiz described having solar panels as “… a valuable investment” for homeowners.

[Read more…]

Could Solar Roadways Provide a Worthwhile Energy Path?

Scott Brusaw and the small American town of Sandpoint, Idaho have come together to form a potentially-revolutionary way to collect solar power. Using Scott’s design and know-how, Sandpoint will be the first town to use its roadways to collect solar power! A 20-year veteran of electrical engineering, Brusaw found that heated glass not only could collect solar energy but could still support even double the weight our roadways are currently designed for.

For a full article on this story, click here: Solar Roadways could produce over three times the electricity we use in the United States

How to find the most efficient solar water heater

an evacuated tube solar hot water system

Is the evac tube system really more efficient than the flat plate system you have been quoted? Here’s how to find out…

When you are looking to buy a solar hot water system for for home, one of the most important things to check (apart from the price) is the efficiency of your Solar Hot Water System. The more efficient your system is, the better it will be at converting the sun’s heat to piping hot water, which means you will use your gas or electric boost less.

But with thousands of models of solar water heaters on the Aussie market, from flat plate or evacuated tube, to heat pumps it can be difficult to know how to find the most efficient solar water heater. Especially when each sales person says their technology / model is the most efficient! They can’t all be right…

[Read more…]

RIP Ukki 1921-2012 (The most sustainable bloke I knew)

Ukki and Me in Finland

My Grandad (Ukki) and me in May 2011

This blog post is a tribute to my Finnish Grandad: Alvi Juppi (AKA Ukki) who died last month just short of his 91st birthday in Jormua, somewhere close to the Arctic Circle in Northern Finland.

What on earth has it got to do with Solar Power?

Glad you asked! [Read more…]

How you can save $2,000 when going Solar

Thinking of buying a solar power system to kill your electricity bill?

Then this one simple action could shave a whole kW off the size of solar system that you need to buy to get that magical zero dollar electricity bill.

[Read more…]

Construction on Mildura solar system begins but what can taxpayers expect?

Solar Farm
 photo credit: mcmees24

The announcement last month from R&D company Silex Systems that construction on Australia’s largest solar power station at Mildura, VIC, has begun gladdens the heart. And the hip pocket nerve. After all Victorian and federal taxpayers are helping to fund this venture to the tune of around $120 million.

[Read more…]

Don’t Install Solar…Until You’ve Read This

I had a cracking couple of days at Narnu farm, 1hr south of Adelaide, a coupla weeks ago.

We go there with the kids who love it. It’s a hobby farm where the kids can feed the animals and go horse riding and all that good stuff.

As soon as you drive in, you can’t help but notice their 2kW Solar System made up of about 30 60W Kaneka Solar Panels on the roof of the office building.

So is this blog post going to be singing the owners’ praises for getting solar and doing their bit for the planet?

Short answer: no.

Being the grumpy old contrarian that I am, I’ve got 2 big problems with this particular install.

Here’s the first error with this install:

This photo of the solar system (see the panels on the roof on mounting frames) was taken at 10:30 in the morning. Can you spot the problem?

Solar panel shading

The tree on the right is casting a bloody huge shadow across almost all the panels! Ouch!

That’s bad. However my real problem with the install is this:

They have made zero attempt at energy efficiency before or after installing solar.

It is about five times cheaper to perform energy efficiency than it is to install solar to save the same amount of electricity.

So, although solar is a wonderful thing, you should always do everything you can to maximise the energy efficiency of your home or business first.

Here are some examples of really bad energy wastage that could have been addressed with minimal time or investment:

1) They are still using incandescent bulbs! Check out the photo – I haven’t seen these old things in years.

an energy shocker

I counted about 16 of these energy guzzling devices of satan. Let’s do some really simple sums:

Assume each one is on for 4 hours per night (a conservative assumption – I saw lots of them left on all day).

The amount of energy they will consume in 1 year is: 60W x 4 hours x 365 = 87.6kwh per year per bulb = 1401.6kwh per year total.

A CFL bulb will use about one tenth of the electricity of the incandescents, so they are wasting about 1250kWh per year, for the sake of spending about $60 on new bulbs.

That energy that is being wasted is probably close to the amount of electricity generated by 1kW of solar panels – half of their solar system!

Next: Check out the fridges…

They have at least 6 of these antiques.

A modern fridge of a similar size can be had for about $500 and will use a quarter of the electricity!

So for about $3,000 they could be saving about 3000kWh per year. That combined with the bulbs should easily give them energy savings greater than the output of their entire solar system (which probably cost them about $20,000 when they bought it).

Other shockers which should have been replaced are the antique window rattler Air Conditioners and the electric storage hot water systems. The latter is especially crazy for accommodation that is most likely empty for many weeks a year, because you get hot water whether the place if fully occupied or not.

The moral of the story is: Yes – solar is fantastic. But before you get that solar system at least do the most basic energy efficiency measures: i.e. bulbs, appliances, hot water, draft sealing, window shading… Otherwise you are getting a much bigger system than you really need.

A good solar installer will talk you through all this before selling you a system.

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