Solar power could save consumers money, but it comes at a cost

Switching to solar power can save consumers money, but that's if they're willing to make a big lifestyle change, Consumer New Zealand's James Le Page says.

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Consumer New Zealand’s James Le Page says a big lifestyle change is necessary to really see the benefits of switching to solar power. Source: Breakfast

Solar power would make sense for people who are really high power user during the day, including people who have a business run from home, run a pool or spa pool, or live at home.

However, for most people working a day job, when the sun is at its peak, there's probably "no point" even bothering, Mr Le Page said.

When the sun is shining, the solar panels absorb the light, and the silicon and conductors in the panel convert this light into DC (Direct Current) electricity, according to the Genesis Energy website. However, solar panels do not generate power at night. So unless a storage battery system is installed, consumers cannot store the electricity generated. 

So solar energy might not necessarily be right for those people out of the house during the day and cannot utilise the power, but Mr Le Page said people willing to make a lifestyle change to make it worthwhile - although he added it was "too much admin" for himself.

People committed to the source of power could make the most of it by putting the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher on a timer to kick off during the day, he recommended.

But added, "We should be proud of our power generation in this country because it is so eco-friendly. We've got all the wind generation and we've got a lot of hydro that makes up the majority of our power generation and if you've got solar on your roof you're just replacing one green energy for another."

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Fair Go investigates whether early adopters of this alternative energy source are being kept in the dark. Source: Fair Go