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When your solar panel installation has been completed, you might find yourself wondering “What happens after I install solar panels?” Here are five things you can do once your solar PV system is up and running.

#1: Discover the power of solar energy

First of all, congratulations! You’re now one of more than 30% of homes in the South West Interconnected System (the ‘SWIS’) enjoying the potential benefits of rooftop solar panels.

When you speak with other solar panel owners, you might hear about their experiences with their electricity bill, exporting solar and how they’re getting the most from their solar PV system.

Everyone’s experience is different and any changes to your electricity bill will depend on a range of factors, including your particular solar PV system and how you use electricity at home. Generally speaking, using solar energy your panels generate means you can reduce the demand for other types of electricity generation, as you put the sun’s energy to work. Solar power is a cleaner, greener type of electricity and is a popular renewable energy option for many homes.

As you learn more about the benefits of solar panels, you might see how small changes could maximise your use of the solar energy they generate. This could translate into savings on your electricity costs – see A day in the life of a solar super-user for more tips.

#2: Shift your load

One of the benefits of solar is that you could see some considerable savings in your electricity costs, especially if you can shift more of your electricity use to the sunniest parts of the day when your panels are producing the most solar energy. 

This is known as load shifting. 

Here in WA, the period between 10am and 2pm is generally when solar panels generate the most energy. To use more of electricity during this time and maximise the use of the solar energy the panels generate, you could:

  • Set a timer to run your dishwasher or washing machine during the day, rather than at night.
  • Charge your devices during the day. If you’re out for the sunniest parts of the day, consider charging a portable charger which you can then use to later charge your devices.
  • If you have a pool, run your pool pump in the middle of the day, rather than after dark, if possible. Remember to always follow your manufacturer’s recommendations.

Shifting your load to use as much as possible of the renewable energy your panels generate also helps the electricity grid to be more stable. To learn more about this, read How low load is challenging WA’s energy system and Everything you need to know about the duck curve.

#3 Embrace your energy tech

Many solar owners find their inverter (the bit which transforms the energy from your rooftop solar panels into electricity which can be used in your home) comes with an app. 

If you have an app for your inverter, it could help you to see your system’s solar production and performance at a glance. You can track this throughout the year to help you understand how your system works throughout various conditions. 

If you haven’t already, sign up for My Account to make managing your Synergy account easier than ever before. You can use My Account to help you to understand your electricity use, see your electricity bill and get practical tips which could help you to reduce your energy use. 

For more information, you might like to read How to use your solar data to change your energy habits.

#4 Check your electricity bill

Once you’ve installed solar, your electricity bill can provide you with information about how you’re consuming your solar energy. If you’ve never paid much attention to the details on your electricity bill, now could be the perfect time to learn more.

Here are some answers to questions you might have about your electricity bill as a new solar system owner.

“Does my bill show how much solar I’ve used?”

Your bill will only show your grid usage. This means your bill won’t show how much solar you’ve consumed - but you should be able to see a drop in the amount of grid electricity you’ve used compared to before your solar system was installed.

“Do solar panels give you free electricity?”

Making the most of the solar energy your panels produce could help you to reduce your electricity bill - but having solar panels doesn’t mean you won't get an electricity bill.

Your solar panels generate energy when the sun is out, so the more of that energy you can use rather than it being exported back to the grid, the more you will benefit from your solar system. 

When the sun goes down, grid-based electricity takes over, unless you have a battery installed. If you have solar, you will still pay for the electricity you use from the grid, the daily supply charge and any other fees and costs that are applicable.

“Why is my electricity bill so high when I have solar panels?”

If the amount of electricity your home has drawn from the grid doesn’t drop after your solar installation, it’s possible that you may have increased your evening electricity consumption since your system was installed. This could also be a sign of an issue with your solar system, so check with your solar supplier to make sure it is working properly. 

“Can I sell power back to the grid?”

If you are signed up to the Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme (DEBS), exporting excess solar energy to the grid happens automatically if your system generates energy that you do not use. Check your electricity bill for your feed-in tariff – this is the amount per unit that we credit you for any solar energy your system exports to the grid.

If you haven’t yet received your first bill after your solar panel installation, you might like to get a preview of what your electricity bill will look like with solar.

#5 Look after your solar panels

Keeping your solar panels clean could help your solar panels work more effectively. This is because over time, dust, dirt and debris can build up on your solar panels, meaning less sunlight can get to the panels, lowering the amount of energy that can be generated. 

Your solar panels will not be as effective in the shade, so consider trimming back any tree branches which might be shading your panels during the day.

It important to always follow your manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations related to maintaining your solar panels - take a look at our no-sweat guide to cleaning your solar panels.