Why Are My Solar Savings Not Increasing? Tracking Solar Energy Used And Generated

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Introduction

Harnessing the sun’s rays to power homes has become a popular choice for the environmentally-conscious, with homeowners eager to support the environment and experience significant reductions in their electricity bills. The idea of generating your own electricity, decreasing carbon emissions, and potentially trimming energy expenses is truly exciting.

However, amidst the promise of solar savings, some homeowners may find themselves puzzled by a seemingly contradictory situation: Why are their solar savings not increasing as expected, particularly during the scorching months when the sun is at its peak? In this article, we will shed light on why solar savings may not be keeping up during hotter seasons. We aim to provide you with insights and strategies to maximise your solar investment, even on the hottest days of the year.


Why Are My Solar Savings Not Increasing?

How Hot Temperatures Affect Solar Power Generation

First, we have to understand how temperatures affect solar power generation. Solar panels generally perform optimally at lower temperatures, a seemingly counterintuitive but crucial aspect of their efficiency. Rising temperatures enhance the conductivity of semiconductor materials within photovoltaic cells. While increased conductivity may appear advantageous, it actually contributes to a decline in overall efficiency by elevating the flow of charge carriers, subsequently diminishing the generated voltage.

Therefore, during Singapore’s hotter months of June, July, and August, we may observe a dip in electricity generation. This intricate relationship between temperature and solar panel performance may explain why your panels might produce less electricity despite the sun’s intense presence.

The Science Behind It

Solar panel efficiency is influenced by temperature. Photovoltaic (PV) modules are evaluated at 25 degrees Celsius, yet real-world conditions, especially in hotter environments, can cause significant efficiency drops, reaching up to 25%. High humidity exacerbates these effects, as clouds and dirt can limit performance. With rising temperatures, a solar panel’s voltage output decreases, leading to an efficiency decline of approximately 0.3% to 0.5% per degree Celsius above 25°C. Conversely, in colder settings, solar panels perform better due to favourable temperatures, resulting in improved power generation.

As a consequence, solar panels tend to excel during Singapore’s late spring and early summer months, particularly in May. This timeframe offers an optimal combination of increased sunlight and relatively moderate temperatures, resulting in increased solar power generation and heightened panel efficiency.


Increased Electricity Usage Nationwide

Next, we have to take into account electricity use, which also affects our solar savings. During the scorching months of June, July, and August in Singapore, the demand for air conditioning skyrockets. As temperatures rise, households turn to their air conditioning units to keep indoor spaces comfortably cool. However, this surge in air conditioning usage comes at a cost, contributing significantly to higher than usual energy consumption. On average, AC can contribute to more than 20% of a household’s total electricity bill, even more during peak summer season.

Total household electricity consumption in 2021, shows spikes in June and August. This may explain why solar savings may be lower during those months
Source: Energy Market Authority (EMA)

The rise in air conditioning usage, accompanied with a less efficient solar panel system from the heat, emphasise the importance of adopting energy-saving measures during the hotter months. By doing so, we would be able to effectively manage electricity expenses, thereby seeing an increase in promised solar savings.


Managing Electricity Usage

When it comes to handling increased energy needs during the hotter months, a few smart steps can go a long way in keeping your electricity bills in check. Try out these practical tips to make a positive impact on your energy consumption:

  • Alternate Between AC and Fans: Striking a balance between air conditioning and fans can help uphold a comfortable indoor temperature without straining your energy consumption. An effective approach involves turning on the air conditioner an hour before bedtime to cool the bedroom, followed by switching to a room fan as you sleep. This ensures sleep comfort while efficiently managing air conditioning usage.

  • Optimal AC Settings: The optimal temperature setting for your air conditioner to balance energy consumption and comfort is typically around 24 to 26 degrees Celsius. This range allows for efficient cooling while minimising electricity usage. Adjusting your AC within this temperature band can help you strike a good balance between staying cool and managing energy costs.

  • Choose Energy-Efficient Appliances: When considering energy-efficient appliances, it’s important to recognise the potential for greater long-term savings. While these appliances might come with a slightly higher price tag upfront, their efficiency can lead to significant reductions in your overall energy consumption over time. This means that while you may spend a bit more initially, you’ll likely see noticeable savings on your electricity bills in the long run.

By following these simple yet effective strategies, you not only contribute to a more sustainable energy use but also pave the way for enhanced solar savings in the long run.


Installing a Consumption Meter

Another effective strategy to consider is the installation of a consumption meter. This meter allows you to closely monitor your household’s electricity usage and generation over a specific period, whether it’s a month or a different timeframe. This information can offer valuable insights into your consumption patterns, helping you make informed decisions to optimise your electricity usage and contribute to overall energy efficiency.

Sample electricity consumption meter data shown in mobile application. This allows easy monitoring of household's solar savings
Sample consumption meter data in mobile app to monitor solar savings

Monitoring Your Solar Savings

At GetSolar we offer the opportunity to have this meter installed, allowing interested homeowners to effortlessly monitor their electricity consumption. For those who have partnered with GetSolar for their residential solar system installations, we invite you to reach out to us for further details and information about this valuable addition.


Conclusion

As we tread the path of solar power, it becomes evident that responsible energy management is the cornerstone of a sustainable future. Balancing the utilisation of solar energy with prudent consumption practices is a vital endeavour. By adopting mindful habits and optimising energy use, we ensure a steady and enduring supply of clean power. This proactive approach prevents over-reliance on the grid and safeguards against potential energy shortages. Together, we can safeguard our environment while enjoying the benefits of solar energy, paving the way for a harmonious coexistence between technology and nature.

Are you still in the midst of considering whether to get your first solar panel system? At GetSolar, we have developed a free solar panel calculator to help you gauge how much you can potentially save with solar and how much it costs, with just a single click of a button.

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