Finding the best and cheapest retail electricity deal to meet your household’s energy needs is no one’s favourite job. Add rooftop solar to the mix and it becomes even more complicated. But it’s absolutely worth doing.
New data from Sydney-based solar software company Solar Analytics has found that 70% of homes with rooftop PV can save an extra $400 a year – on top of their savings from solar – by switching to a better retail power plan.
Happily, Solar Analytics have also decided to capitalise on this fact, through a major update to their industry-leading solar monitoring program called Plan Optimiser, launched in the company’s home market of New South Wales last month and in other NEM states this month.
As Solar Analytics explains it, Plan Optimiser uses a household’s actual solar generation and electricity consumption data collected through its monitoring platform to provide an automated analysis of every electricity plan on the market.
The new program then ranks each electricity plan by the potential savings available through switching. Customers can then easily decide when and which retailer to switch to, and realise the extra savings.
According to initial trials in NSW, Solar Analytics found that 70% of its customers could save money by switching to a better plan. Of those, the average savings amounted to $400 per year, with some customers able to save thousands.
To achieve these sort of results, Solar Analytics says its team of boffins has had to scrape the information from thousands of different electricity plans around Australia and find a way to match all of this with actual household solar and energy usage data.
They then had to build an customer interface that seamlessly tied all these components together in an easy to use platform that ranks each available plan from best to worst for each particular household.
As part of this process, the company undertook a major overhaul of its entire monitoring dashboard so that it now highlights savings information – because, says Solar Analytics CEO and co-founder Stefan Jarnason, that’s what most customers want to understand.
Indeed, the need to understand how to get the most financial benefit from your rooftop solar system is becoming increasingly important as feed-in tariffs start to wind back and networks get the all-clear to start charging households for exporting to the grid.
“Our mission is to power the world with rooftop solar, and by maximising the savings from rooftop solar we are providing even more households and businesses to get solar and get more from their solar,” he said.
As you can see in the chart below put together by Solar Analytics, the savings solar households can realise by shopping around are greater in regions with greater electricity retail competition (Victoria will be released in October and is expected to be similar to NSW).
Customer returns on their chosen plans are also continuously assessed through the program, with Solar Analytics recommending that customers check back regularly to see if they can do better, as retailers update their plans and new ones come to market.
The Plan Optimiser is available to Solar Analytics residential customers with an active subscription at no extra cost. It can be accessed with both the Classic and Integrated solutions, but a consumption meter is required for integrated sites.
The program is only applicable in jurisdictions where there is energy retail competition, however – that is, where customers actually have a choice of energy plans. (That counts you out, for now, Western Australia.)