10 ways to make the most of your commercial solar investment

10 ways to make the most of your commercial solar investment

Solar power is an excellent way to save money in your business and make your part contributing to a sustainable future. If you’ve taken the plunge and installed solar, you’re already on the right track. But did you know there are specific strategies your business can implement to maximise the return on your investment?

Here are ten proven ways to get the most out of your commercial solar energy system:

1. Changing Your Energy Usage

To truly maximise your solar investment, consider aligning your daily energy usage with your solar generation. In Australia, peak solar output occurs between 9 am and 3 pm. Utilise energy-intensive appliances & machinery during these hours to use more solar energy and less from the grid. Remember, feed-in tariffs often pay less for excess energy sent back to the grid compared to what you pay for grid electricity. So, the more solar energy you use directly, the more you save.

This will likely require staff education and training to implement across your business – and is a great way each individual staff member can help contribute both to your business sustainability.

2. Timing Appliances & Equipment

Making the most of your solar system goes beyond installation; it’s also about when you use your appliances. Optimal solar energy generation typically happens between late morning and early afternoon. By aligning your high-energy appliances like industrial ovens, mixers, motors, EV chargers, heating, and air conditioners with these peak solar hours, you can substantially increase your savings.

Modern appliances often come with features like ‘delay start’ or ‘timer’ functions, allowing you to easily schedule their operation for when your solar panels are most productive. If you have electric vehicles or a home battery system, timing their charging can also contribute to more efficient energy use.

3. Moving Away From Gas

Transitioning from gas to electric appliances and equipment can significantly amplify the benefits of your solar system. This shift not only helps you lock in your energy costs amidst rising gas prices but also reduces your carbon footprint. If you’ve got any gas-powered appliances, machinery or hot water heating within your business that you could change now or next time you need to purchase new equipment – now that you’ve got solar – electric alternatives can run efficiently on your solar-generated electricity.

However, it’s essential to assess your solar system’s capacity for the additional load and consider any upfront costs, such as purchasing new appliances or necessary rewiring. Luckily, various state and government rebates can help offset these initial expenses, making the move to electric more affordable.

4. Choosing a Solar Friendly Energy Provider

Selecting the right energy provider is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of maximising your solar investment. Not all providers are created equal when it comes to feed-in tariffs, daily fixed charges, and peak/off-peak rates. A competitive feed-in tariff can boost your savings, while lower daily fixed charges can make a substantial difference for businesses generating most of their energy from solar.

If you installed a battery – joining an energy provider with a VPP or Wholesale Trading scheme could also boost your solar investment returns further.

If you’re looking to further reduce your carbon footprint, you can also consider providers that invest in broader green initiatives.

5. Solar Diverters (or Hot Water Timers)

Sending surplus energy back to the grid earns businesses a feed-in tariff, a credit for adding electricity to the public grid. However, the rate for these feed-in tariffs frequently falls short of the cost you’re paying for grid energy.

Utilising a solar diverter allows you to optimise the use of your own generated electricity, thereby enhancing the financial returns on your solar system. Additionally, if your setup includes a solar battery, a solar diverter offers extra benefits by minimising charge and discharge cycles, thereby extending the battery’s longevity and overall lifespan.

6. Utilising Energy-Efficient Appliances & Equipment

One of the major sources of energy wastage in businesses comes from outdated, energy-inefficient appliances & equipment. Compared to newer models, these older appliances & equipment consume significantly more power. Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances & equipment not only boosts your savings but also maximises the benefits of your solar energy system. They require less electricity to run, leaving more surplus solar energy that can either be stored in batteries for use during high-cost periods or fed back into the grid. Additionally, some states offer businesses rebates and incentives for upgrading your appliances or equipment, making it an excellent way to further capitalise on your solar investment.

7. Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging

Combining an Electric Vehicle (EV) with your solar system is like having your cake and eating it too—financially and environmentally. With solar panels, you can charge company-owned EV’s using clean, renewable energy, slashing both your fuel costs and carbon footprint. It’s a prime example of how adopting multiple green technologies can create a synergy that amplifies your savings and environmental impact.

8. Energy Efficient Buildings

Maximising your return from solar and decreasing your energy usage overall can also be achieved by reviewing your buildings and offices and looking for optimisations that can make them more energy efficient. Things like insulation upgrades, LED lighting upgrades and window glazing can all decrease the amount of energy your business requires – ensuring your solar investment offsets an even higher portion of your overall energy usage.

9. Regular Solar Assessments

Your commercial solar system is a significant investment that should be diligently maintained to ensure you’re reaping the maximum benefits. Regular solar assessments not only help to keep your system running at peak efficiency but can also provide personalised advice to help you unlock even greater savings.

By taking these steps, you can significantly increase the return on your commercial solar investment. Each action point not only saves your business money but also contributes to a more sustainable and energy-efficient lifestyle. So why wait? Start making the most of your solar today!