Michael Robertson’s power account is now firmly in credit.
Michael Robertson’s power account is now firmly in credit.

How to cut you power bill to $0

A BLOKE from Queensland has kitted up his house so he'll never have to pay a power bill again in his life.

Michael Roberts was blowing $450 a quarter on bills for his Sunshine Coast home, but since he switched to using a cutting-edge solar power and battery set-up - which is controlled and monitored by a computer - he doesn't pay a cent.

In fact, the 65-year-old's first bill since the transition 10 months ago showed he had accumulated $24.63 worth of credit on his account.

HOW DID HE DO IT?

First, Mr Roberts said it is important to find a house with decent "solar access", which basically means it has consistent access to sunlight.

"I had been reading about batteries, but from what I understand, the full economic benefit of batteries isn't here yet," the retiree told news.com.au. "At my age, I'm not going to wait until batteries are economically viable and I'm more interested in the environmental benefits as well."

The set-up cost about $14,000.
The set-up cost about $14,000.

So, Mr Roberts called somebody he had worked with before to install the solar set-up in his home - opting to go for a Redback system on the advice of the installer.

The Redback's "Inverter" acts like the "brains" of a solar power system. When the sun shines on solar panels, the Redback Inverter converts the energy from the panels into energy you can use in your home.

"It is set up with a computer which basically manages my daily use," Mr Roberts said. "If the washing machine is going, the electric hot water system is on and I put the kettle on - there is not enough power generated by the panels for that, so the computer draws power from the grid for the short time I'm exceeding the capacity.

"The first preference is to draw power from the battery but, if not, it can draw from the grid at the same time."

Because his system has a battery in it, any energy he is not using can be stored for use later on, especially during peak times in the evening when electricity from the grid can be expensive.

Michael uses the Redback app to track his electricity use.
Michael uses the Redback app to track his electricity use.

Mr Roberts can even check what's happening with his power remotely from overseas with an app.

The app also allows him to track is electricity use and change his energy habits accordingly.

He has only had one slight teething error for about three weeks with the interface on the app, but this didn't affect his power and the retiree says he couldn't be happier with the set-up.

The Redback Inverter also talks to the energy grid so when you are not using energy in your home, and the battery is full, it sells power back to the energy distributor, which is how you get a credit on your power bill.

The system has now been in place for 10 months. The two bills he has received so far are both in credit, and Michael expects the third one to be in credit too.

SO, WHAT'S THE CATCH?

Michael says he had to shell out $14,000 to install the complete set-up. However, he said he saw it as an investment that would pay itself off in about seven years.

"I just compare it to buying about $14,000 worth of bank shares and compare it with what kind of return I'd get off that," he said.

"This system returns me more than double what I'd hope to get off shares simply by not having a power bill to pay."


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