Summer Power bill can catch solar customers out if used incorrectly


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During summer some of our solar customers have been caught out with an unexpected bill due to heavy usage of air conditioners, clothes dryers and pool pumps at the wrong time of the day, with the huge rise in electricity prices on July 1st we thought it would be a timely reminder on how to best use your solar system.  Owners with solar systems need to remember when is the best time to use equipment to maximise their system.

Customers with 44 cent feed in tariff

If you have the 44 cent feed in tariff, your goal is to use as much power as you can at night, and move as many items as possible to tariff 33.  This way you can export as much solar as possible to build up credit in your power bill to offset night time usage.  For example our smartest customers use dish washers, washing machines and cooking appliances at night or early morning and have their pool pumps, air conditioners and hot water systems connected to tariff 33. Remember, solar is only connected to tariff 11 and appliances connected to tariff 33 will not affect the solar export.

When investigating customers with high power bills we are finding as the main causes:

  • Customers using their dishwasher, dryer and washing machines in the middle of the day and using up solar power and not exporting anything.
  •  We are also finding customers still running their pool pumps on tariff 11 and during daylight hours.
  • The majority of air conditioners are still not connected to tariff 33. Additionally, there is higher than normal usage during the day and night.
  • Customers with Solar Hot Water systems with the booster switch left on.
  • Halogen down lights still being used throughout the house.

Customers with 8 cent feed in tariff

Customers with solar connected to the 8 cent feed in tariff need to almost have the complete opposite strategy to customers with the 44 cent feed in tariff.  In fact, the goal is to not export any solar at all, and to use all  solar power produced, saving your house 30 cents a kWH.  With solar storage now available, exported solar is much better value being exported to your storage for your house to use at night. This will save 30 cents a kWH and is better value then to being paid an 8 cent feed in tariff.

When investigating customers with high power bills we are finding as main causes:

  • Customers have been getting poor advice from friends who have a 44 cent feed in tariff.  This has led to the incorrect assumption that they should be running their appliances (dish washers, washing machines, dryers) at night and not during the day.
  • Customers not putting their pool pump on to tariff 11 and running the pump at night instead of during the day.
  • Excessive use of air conditioners at night.
  • Halogen down lights still being used throughout the house.


If you need any help with any of this please give us a call.   Ph: 1300 HORANBIRD



Removal of 8 cent Feed in Tariff won’t effect North Queensland


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With the announcement from the State Government today about the removal of the 8 cent feed in tariff H&B would like to make these points on why it will not effect North Queensland Solar customers:

  • Horan and Bird have been selling solar systems successfully for last  12 months now with the 8 cent feed in tariff available and we have been designing the systems so the house  uses most of the solar from the roof.  So when the customer uses solar, it therefore saves the customers approximately 30 cents kWH as that roughly is what it costs to buy power from Ergon. If you can use your own solar power you save so much more – so the 8 cents is simply a bonus, not the main reason to buy.  Our customers export less than 10 % of their solar system output anyway as we want them to save the most amount they can.
  • It is critical that home owners get a full energy evaluation to ensure the right size solar system is installed on your roof, and you are not wasting solar power. That’s why we can find ways to help the customer use the most amount of solar.
  • However solar storage is the next boom in the energy market, and the removal of feed in tariffs is going to escalate the boom. So buying solar today sets you up for the future.
  • This new deal may even be a better deal North Queenslanders. There is every chance that Nth Queensland Ergon customers may receive up to 12 cents for solar feed in from the Retail arm of Ergon. Ergon Energy customers, will continue to be paid a tariff set by the Queensland Competition Authority
  • The real threat is the removal of the government rebate (renewable energy certificates) in which is reducing the price of a 5kW solar system by up $4000 at the moment. The Government is reviewing this rebate as we speak.  I could not recommend it enough to act quickly or miss out on this $4000.
  • Our customers with the 44 cent feed in tariff will not be effected.


Subsidies for Rooftop Solar – Zero net cost to households

By Giles Parkinson, Renew econemy.

A new analysis from the solar industry has demonstrated that the cost of the small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) – which governs rooftop solar and hot water systems – will amount to zero for Australian households – contradicting the claims of the country’s biggest utilities.

The analysis released by the REC Agents Association (RAA) suggests that the gross cost of the certificates used to help pay for rooftop solar is minimal, and offset entirely by the reduction in wholesale prices that solar causes on the National Electricity Market.

The analysis is timely given that the government has finally released the terms of reference to its review of the renewable energy target, and the members who will sit on the panel.

The government is under intense pressure from state governments – the owners of generation and network assets that they are trying to sell – as well as private-ly owned utilities to reduce or cancel the incentives to rooftop solar.

That’s because, as Stanwell Corp has admitted, the proliferation of rooftop solar is reducing demand and pushing down prices, causing it to make a loss. However, the push to remove the rooftop subsidies is usually pitched as a move to remove “household electricity costs”, which usually gets uncritical play in the mainstream media.

The RAA analysis, however, seeks to demonstrate what a nonsense this claim is because the cost of the SRES is expected to halve over the next two years to less than 1% of a power bill. The reduction in wholesale electricity prices delivered by the SRES cancels out any related cost increase that gets passed through to customers.

“This analysis destroys the myth that the Renewable Energy Target is a major driver of soaring power bills”, said Ric Brazzale, President of RAA. “The Renewable Energy Target is low cost and high achieving. It must be maintained to finish its job.”

The RAA analysis uses Australian Energy Market Commission data to show the make up of power bills and the contribution of the two parts of the RET, the SRES and the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET).

solar ret aemc


As the table shows, the cost of the SRES amounts to just 2 per cent of the average household electricity bill, and will fall by more than half to less than 1 per cent within two years.

However, the impact of renewables is also to lower the cost of wholesale electricity prices. The AEMC has recognised this impact and consulting firm SKM quantified it in a study undertaken for the last RET review in late 2012.

That study put the fall in wholesale prices at up to $7.90 per MWh lower to 2022 due to the impact of the RET, with an average  over the modelling period of $6.70 per MWh, or 0.67 cents per kWh. 

The SRES is estimated to account for 40 per cent of the total RET impact from 2012 to 2020, and so it might account for an average reduction in wholesale prices of $2.70 per MWh. (Actually it could be greater given that it operates during the day time peak period). In any case, this is equivalent to 0.27 cents per kWh and exceeds that AEMC’s estimated cost pass through in 2015/16 of 0.24 cents per kWh.

“The reduction in the wholesale price exceeds the cost pass-through on customer bills, which means that residential customers will be better off in future with the operation of the SRES,” the study says.

Horan & Bird Launch Smart Home Technology


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With the recent partner split and voluntary closure of AV Design in February 2014 the staff have already found a new home at, Horan & Bird.

Horan and Bird have engaged key staff members from AV Design to head up a new division of their business with a focus on ‘Smart Home’ technology.

“The ability to deliver Smart Home technology is not only an important innovation step for the future but also the perfect fit for Horan & Bird given our customer positioning and promise of being every North Queenslanders Everyday Energy Solution”, said John Horan.

“More importantly most of these products and technology will integrate perfectly with the Horan & Bird Energy Management technology being currently launched”, added Scott Bird,   “This new technology combined with our existing energy solution platforms including energy storage will be unmatched by any company in our category in Australia”

For more than 30 years AV Design led the industry in C-Bus, home automation, smart home technology, and home theatre, including completing projects in many of the most expensive and sophisticated houses in NQ.

Horan & Bird are very excited to be now able to offer sophisticated home automation with smart home technology as well as the latest cutting edge products in audio visual and home theatre.

If you are building, renovating or just want a face lift to your home we urge people to call into H&B and talk to our team about the latest products on offer.  Let us help you design a package to meet your budget.

If you are looking for further opportunities to reduce your power bill or enhance the performance of your existing solar system don’t hesitate to talk to our team.

Latest Update to the Government Rebate for Solar


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Over the next two weeks the Government is reviewing the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

Currently the RET is set until 2020.  The RET forces large polluters such as  electricity retailers to purchase renewable energy certificates from home owners and businesses who install solar panels and solar hot water systems.  These renewable energy certificates are commonly referred to by solar companies as the Government rebate.  The reality is that this rebate costs the government and tax payers nothing and it is forcing polluters to clean up their act and use clean power.

 The Government has been under incredible pressure from Australia’s largest electricity retailers and the coal industry to remove this RET target.  RET has been a huge success for Australian home owners and for helping Australia develop a cleaner future for our Children. This RET target has also shown the rest of the world that Australia is serious about the future of our planet.

 What does all this mean?

Currently a 5kW solar system attracts up to $4000 in renewable energy certificates.  For a commercial business or farm a 10kW system has up to $8000 and a 30kW system up to $24,000 in certificates.  These certificates are removed from the price of your solar system currently.  Without these certificates customers will have to make up this shortfall in the purchase price.

 We certainly hope that there is no change to the RET, however we are urging people not to miss out if you have not got a solar system on your house, business or farm yet.

This could be your last chance for a government rebate to help reduce your power bill.

A Solar system is the Hills hoist (clothes line) of the 21st century, eventually everybody is going to get one. In the USA a solar system is being installed every 4 minutes.

Solar Management Service for Landlords and Investors


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Horan & Bird are excited to announce a new solar system management service.  This service will not only provide your family with peace of mind that your solar system is working at its best, but also an opportunity for landlords and investors to install solar on their investment properties and commercial buildings.

“Many clients have contacted us looking for a service that enables them to monitor the solar production on their investment properties.  Clients are now using solar systems to reward good tenants, attract good tenants to vacant properties and in most cases achieve greater rental income with happier tenants.  Smart investors realise that increased rent results in an increase to the value of their property.”  John Horan, Director of Horan & Bird

  Horan & Bird can install a customised monitor and provide the following services:

  • Send you or tenant weekly emails that show your solar production, Tariff 11 & 33 usage.
  • Send you or tenant alerts if your solar system stops working.  Find out immediately and not three months later when you receive an expensive power bill.
  • Send you alerts if your system is under performing, so warranties can be claimed.
  • Monitor your solar system if you or tenant goes away on holidays.
  • Monitor your solar system if you rent your own house out.
  • Provide peace of mind and ensure the best performance of your solar system.
  • Provide a third party service for landlords who install solar for their tenants and charge their tenants extra rent.  H&B validate the output of the solar system.



The Price of Solar Set to Rise Rapidly


The year of 2013 has seen some of the lowest prices for solar systems in history.  This has been the result of the high Australian dollar, combined with the record prices for Renewable Energy Certificates.  These low prices for solar systems have reduced the pain for many customers who missed out on the 44 cent feed in tariff in Queensland.

The rapidly falling Australian dollar has seen the cost of solar equipment rise by up to 17% since November 2013.  Leading experts such as Charlie Aitken from Bell Potter are predicting the Australian Dollar to fall as low as 75 cents US in 2014. (We all forget that in 2009, the Australian dollar was trading at 65 cents US) If it reaches 75 cents the cost of solar equipment will rapidly rise again by at least a further 15 % to 25%.

However, the stance on Renewable Energy by the Abbott Government is the largest threat in the short term for solar prices.  As reported by Giles Parkinson of Renew Economy, the Abbott Government is being urged to remove Renewable Energy Certificates for roof top solar Systems.  In our opinion the Government will reduce or completely remove Renewable Energy Certificates this year. This will add more than $3500 to the cost of a 5kW Solar system and up to another 2 years to get your money back on your investment.

Townsville is the best place in Australia for Solar Power production and profit.  If you still don’t have solar, you need to act as soon as possible or you soon could be paying up to an extra $4000 for a 5kW system.

Innovation is the key to survival for farmers


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Cane Farmers for years have been using innovation and technology to adapt to challenges.  Over the years we have seen farmers face many challenges such as the high Australian dollar, low sugar prices and the low cost of labour from Countries like Brazil.  Many of these problems are out of anybody’s control and it is the farmers who are clever enough to turn these problems into opportunities who will prosper.

For example to combat countries with cheap labour such as Brazil, farmers have turned to cane harvesters, sophisticated equipment and farm practices to improve efficiency and reduce overhead costs.  To combat low sugar prices farmers have chosen to plant other crops to diversify their income.  To take advantage of the high Australian dollar farmers have had the opportunity to purchase farming equipment and vehicles at reduced prices.  Even take the wife on an overseas holiday.

There are always going to be challenges in business, and today it is the price of electricity, in five to ten years’ time it will certainly be the price of diesel as the world transforms to bio fuel, hybrid Electric vehicles, hydrogen or even compressed air to run their cars. 

With electricity the good news is that solar can start to significantly reduce the power costs for farmers.  Over the next 5 years with the development of hybrid storage solutions with batteries, salt, steam and compressed air, solar will be able to run pumps 24 hours a day.  There is a huge chance that farmers will not have to pay another power bill in 5 to 10 years’ time as they will own their own small power plants.  How good would that be for farmers?

I am also certain that in 5 years’ time if there was a Hybrid Electric Tractor (they may already be out there) on the market that could reduce the cost of fuel by 80% this would also be a great chance for farmers to use innovation to their advantage.

As in the situation with Holden and Ford, the government has shown it cannot afford to continuously bail out sectors in trouble.  It is impossible to fight change; the world moves very quickly, use innovation and new technology to your advantage.Image

Solar Feed in Tariff is not to blame


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Can we please come clean and stop blaming the solar feed in tariffs for the increase in power bills. This report in the Townsville Bulletin blaming the solar feed in tariffs for an 8.6% increase in future power bills is really over the top (Townsville Bulletin December 14th).  The real reason for power increases is to pay for all the old power poles and power lines that need to upgraded to handle peak load power from 4pm to 9pm every night.

Furthermore with the increase in energy efficient appliances, gas cooking, LED lighting, Solar Hot water, Solar Air-conditioning, and solar panels, energy retailers cannot make the money they used to and have to raise prices.  Why is it that the government want to sell the Ergon Retail arm?  You only have to read the CEO report of every Energy retailer in Australia.  Customers are using less electricity and the only way to make profits is to raise prices.  Just like what email did to Australia Post with the price of stamps 15 years ago, energy efficiency and a more energy focused customer will do to Energy retailers.

Why is it that there are no Energy retailers in North Queensland?  It is because they cannot make any money.  North Queenslanders have been forced to turn to Solar, gas cooking, inverter air conditioners and LED lights, because they have no choice.  For example a new Inverter Air conditioner runs with almost 40 % less power, air-conditioning makes up to 70% of many power bills here.  I don’t see too many stories blaming Inverter air conditioners for the increase in power bills.

Over the next 5 years you will see a major shift away from the traditional reliance on grid power.  In fact the grid will be probably needed for less than 30% of a customer’s energy usage.  Solar storage is coming very fast, with the huge investment in Electric Cars the price of batteries are coming down rapidly.  New Zealand power company Vector are already supplying customers with Solar and battery storage instead of running power lines to new homes. 

Installing solar on your roof today is like investing in the day time electricity usage for your house for the next 20 to 30 years.  This is like locking your daytime power usage for under 7 cents kWH for the next 20 to 30 years.  Running power from Gladstone costs the government about $700 million dollars just to subsidise the power losses. It just does not make sense to continue with this type of business model.

If the Government want to save Ergon, and really reduce the price of electricity, how about channelling this $700 million into battery storage and use the multiple megawatts of solar in North Queensland.  This will enable the private sector to remove peak load power problems that are crippling electricity prices.  Take advantage of the thousands of locals installing solar in fact they should be commended because not only are they helping the environment but will save the Government in having to spend billions of dollars in future power plants. 



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Sydney, Australia, 22nd November 2013 — Trina Solar Limited (NYSE: TSL), a leading integrated manufacturer of solar photovoltaic (PV) solutions, is pleased to announce that its solar leasing company Lightleasing Pty Ltd has signed a pivotal agreement with Horan & Bird in Queensland to roll out a leasing offer across Queensland and Australia.

“Horan & Bird are excited to launch Solar Leasing’ to the market,” says John Horan of Horan & Bird. “In partnership with Australia’s most popular solar panel Trina Solar we can now offer a solar solution to many more Australians who are seeking an alternative to paying cash up front. In the USA up to 70% of all solar systems installed are through leases like this. I couldn’t think of an easier way to significantly reduce your power bill using clean, green electricity and not having to worry about maintenance or repairs to the system.”

John Susa of Trina Solar Australia says: “We are delighted to launch this pioneering solution with Horan & Bird rolling out a game-changing product offer to the Queensland market. This truly is a new pathway for solar in Australia”.

Horan & Bird’s Solar Leasing offer allows residential consumers and businesses alike to reap the benefits of solar power without the upfront cost or risk. Customers enjoy a fully tailored solar power system with a performance guarantee – if the system underperforms the customer will be compensated. With flexible lease terms, maintenance and insurance included, solar leasing is a simple and effective way for customers to save money whilst generating their own clean, sustainable energy.