Going Green, mustbethrifty house

From gas to all-electric to solar

Ripping out the gas meter was logistically unfun. It took many phone calls, emails, and Facebook complaints before my gas provider figured out that I didn’t want to disconnect from the electricity grid (I don’t even have an electricity account with them) and that I just wanted a Victorian Gas Abolishment Form. My gas provider also tried to tell me that meter removal would cost upwards of $500, when, in reality, it cost under $60. I’m not sure why it was so difficult for customer service to action my request. Maybe gas meter removal is still too rare an occurrence? Maybe other folks who switch to all-electric keep their gas meter and continue to pay their service-to-property charges?

Anyway, the gas is gone and good riddance.

gas meter
Our last gas meter reading

Meanwhile, winter has come; we’re cranking up the main split-system in the living areas for a couple of hours on most nights, and sticking to these areas. In the morning, our bedroom split-system turns on briefly to help us get out of bed. It’s really, really cold in the bathroom, now that there’s no ducted heating coming out of the vents. (Note to self: must get onto draft-proofing and double glazing this room.) Cheap Geek has timed the hot water to turn on during the middle of the day, in anticipation of free solar-generated electricity. And I’m getting used to cooking on the induction stovetop.

During this period of all-electric (no gas consumption), we used an average of 9.84 kilowatt-hours per day (20/5/16-5/8/16), compared to last year’s average of 5.63 kilowatt-hours per day (20/5/15-5/8/15) when we were using gas for heating/cooling, stovetop cooking, and hot water.Satellite dish

While waiting for the solar panel install, we had some roof maintenance done. The work is guaranteed for ten years, which hopefully means no solar panels will need to be removed during this period. Cheap Geek and my dad also took away the unused satellite dish that was bolted to the chimney; it would have been extremely hard to remove the dish with solar panels underfoot!

Thirty-two solar panels (Q.PRO-G4 265) were installed over three days. Due to our roof orientation and overshadowing in summer, Cheap Geek opted for microinverters instead of the traditional centralised inverter. There was the option of having a central inverter with power optimisers; these work better at extreme temperatures (i.e. warmer climes) and are the more cost effective option in commercial/larger arrays. However, we live in Melbourne and have a domestic system. Cheap Geek also preferred the safety of AC current running across the roof.

The panels started generating electricity on 6/8/16. So far, they’re pumping out anything between 4.19 to 27.3 kilowatt-hours. We haven’t got batteries yet so we are still drawing power from the grid between dusk and dawn, an average of 5.04 kilowatt-hours which is almost a 50% reduction in grid-electricity consumption. It also brings our grid-electricity consumption below what we were using in 2015, which means that our solar array is offsetting all of our energy needs for heating/cooling, stovetop cooking, and hot water.IMG_0016.JPG

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