Free Engineer advises commercial and residential clients on solar and other energy-reduction solutions. We asked them “how’s business at the moment?” and here’s what they had to say:
Energy is front of mind, particularly the economics, because we see stories on the news all the time about rising costs and their impact, as well as more stories about renewable alternatives.
In the first quarter of 2017, we’ve seen about a third of businesses report that they’re feeling the impact of a significant increase in energy rates.
Residential isn’t feeling it as much, although there has been an impact for that sector too, but there are business that have seen a 200 per cent increase in their electricity charges.
There are a few contributing factors, of course, notably the shortage of gas supply and the closure of Hazelwood. The impact on users is starting to come through and businesses feel they are too dependent on the grid.
Do people know what their options are?
There are a lot of changes happening all the time, not only in technology but also government policy and the rebates that are available, so we find people are a bit confused.
A lot of people decide: “I should do something” but don’t know what their options are, so they ask us “what should I do and how should I do it?”.
It’s probably fair to say that all our clients have a small amount of base knowledge, but they don’t feel as if they need to know everything if they engage us and just get us to come up with the appropriate solution.
Do people understand the economics of installing solar power?
It is now easier than ever for home owners to install solar, with finance options which allow you to pay nothing up front and still save money while paying back your solar installation through monthly repayments, which are easier as your new electricity bills are cheaper than your old ones.
Many people don’t realise that the payback period has decreased because the cost of a system has gone down significantly while the price of electricity has gone up.
Not to mention that a lot of people ask the most basic question: does the rebate still exist?
Solar solutions for residential homes can now have payback periods as short as around 4-5 years, but we advise people to get in quickly, because the initial STC rebates will most likely be gone once solar installation reaches a certain level of penetration across households.
The industry that we’re in isn’t so much about how much people save, but more the fact that they are saving and also how they’re doing it.
Not surprisingly, a lot of businesses and residents are pretty happy to know that they can save 20 or 30 per cent, and if it’s 50 per cent all the better.
Most of the time the initial and primary motivation is a financial one. The environmental benefits – being a good global citizen – is seen as a positive thing, of course, but it’s a bonus to most people and not their main motivator.
Especially from a business perspective, the dollars simply have to stack up.
Free Engineer supports World Vision’s Multiplying Gift Appeal which delivers food aid in partnership with the World Food Programme.
Every 4 kW of residential solar panels you install through Free Engineer can help provide life-saving food assistance to 20 people for one month.