Solar in summer

Summertime in Australia is the stuff of dreams for solar power. Here’s how to ensure your panels generate the most amount of energy and your home’s at its most energy efficient.

The sun in Australia is synonymous with barbecues, beaches and bliss, and for those with solar, it means more power to keep things cool. But getting the maximum benefit from your solar panels requires making sure everything is in order, and a good understanding of how you use power throughout the day can also help you optimise your energy to keep costs down.

Let’s take a look at some ways you can stay cool and be energy efficient.

Perform a panel health-check.

To ensure your solar panels are ready to get to work, a quick maintenance check can help generate the most amount of energy. In this, you should do the following:

  • Check your usage. A solar monitoring system such as AGL’s Solar Command monitors how much energy you’re generating and consuming in your household, as well as highlighting any issues your panels are experiencing. This will give you a good idea of how your solar panels are tracking.
  • Cleaning. Remove any obstructions from your panels (or get a professional to do it). This includes tree branches, leaves and dirt. If there’s anything that is causing shade, ensure it’s removed or minimised as even a little bit of shade can affect output.
  • Servicing. Dust, airborne pollution and the build up of contaminates can also affect your panels’ efficiency. Get an expert in to do a service and check for dirt, along with cracks and loose fittings, and ensure panels are working their hardest.

Natural ventilation.

We often forget that a little bit of effort can go a long way with energy efficiency. Utilising the following tips costs nothing, and helps you maximise your solar energy use in the most efficient way possible.

  • Zone your house. Close the doors to rooms which you’re not using, and only cool those you’re in.
  • Cool it naturally. At night or when a cool change comes through, open your windows and doors to allow the cooler air to naturally lower the temperature in your home – without the use of fans or air conditioner.
  • Close your curtains to keep out the heat. Stopping as much heat as possible from entering your home reduces your need for cooling. Close your curtains and blinds on a hot day – especially before you leave the house.

Consider upgrades and installations.

Every year we think about upgrading our homes, but looking at how upgrades impact on your energy usage can go a long way to making your home more efficient.

  • Double glaze. Low emission double glazing or a good quality window film will help keep the heat out most summer days.
  • Build a pergola. A pergola on the north side of your house, doesn’t only give you a great space to relax but it helps you save energy. Angle the beams so that they help shade the house in summer.
  • Get a pre-summer health check done on your cooling system. External equipment, such as an evaporative cooler, may have leaves and other debris lodged in the vents. Employ a professional to clean the evaporator, condenser coils and check the refrigerant levels and control system, so that your system works as efficiently as possible all summer long.