Adapting your home’s solar energy usage for autumn

If you’re looking to be more energy efficient this autumn, a good place to start is adding solar panels to your home. It’s been suggested that autumn is the best season for solar energy generation.

The summer heat can actually have an adverse effect on your solar panel causing solar cells to work inefficiently at times (although this would ultimately depend on your location and the local climate). Autumn has bright sunny days without the excess heat, helping them to operate at maximum efficiency.

DishwasherBut getting solar is just the first step; you then need to ensure you are using your energy wisely to maximise the electricity the solar panels are producing for you. Depending on where you live, you may be affected by daylight savings. If this is the case, make sure you adjust any timers to ensure you are still operating devices such as pool filters during the peak hours of sunshine – usually between 10am and 3pm.

In general, make the most of your solar ensure you operate all your appliances during the day. Take note of when your solar panels produce the most energy. If they’re west-facing, peak output will occur after midday, while if your panels are east-facing it will be in the morning. For north-facing panels, it will be about midday. Operate your appliances during these times and avoid having all your appliance on at one time; wherever possible, try and run them one after the other.

Washing MachineThis time of year many people leave before the sun comes up and come home after dark. Most dishwashers and washing machines come with a delay start functions, which means you can set them to start throughout the day when you’re not home. If your machine doesn’t have this function, you can invest in a timer switch that will turn your appliances on and off. The key is to remember to adjust these for the current season. The closer we get to winter the fewer daylight hours there are.

Hot water accounts for a large proportion of the average home’s electricity bills as such you want to try and avoid turning that hot water tap when it’s dark. Make sure any leaks are fixed promptly to avoid unnecessary wastage.

If you’re rinsing the dishes to put into the dishwasher, only use the cold water tap and try and have all the dishes done before the sun goes down. You can fill the sink up with hot water while the sun is still shining and leave it sitting till you’re ready to use it. If you have a dishwasher, stack it up and set it to go on when the sun comes up.

Install low-flow shower heads and try to take showers when the sun is shining. This will not always be possible, so limit the amount of time you spend in the shower and avoid staying in the shower to heat up. For those chilly mornings, stand under a heat lamp in your bathroom rather than staying in the shower – heat lamps use 20 times less energy that heating the water for your shower.

I hope these tips help you make the most of your solar this autumn and takes the chill out of those energy bills!

Julie Moore is the director of Save Energy Save Money, a white goods efficiency & cost comparison service.

(Top image by Brad Beattie, via Wikipedia.)

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Julie Moore
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