Family finds solar energy `empowering'

By James Kelly
Updated November 1 2012 - 11:58pm, first published January 1 2009 - 1:58am

VICTORIAN electricity prices will rise an average 9.3 per cent today but the Boin family is not worried.Joe and Louise Boin installed 10 solar panels to their Invermay home two weeks ago, and have undertaken an energy use audit of their appliances.What they found was an old kitchen fridge was using 27 per cent of their annual electricity use.Mr Boin said the decision to install the panels was not based on economics but for the environmental benefit."We have had the solar hot water for 10 years and we decided we wanted to also cut down on our emissions," he said."It's fantastic, we produced nearly 100-kilowatt hours of power since we put them up and we have actually got a meter that measures the total input/output. During the day we are putting power into the grid."We figure once we replace the fridge it will just about cover our energy costs."Mr Boin is also the treasurer of Ballarat Renewable Energy And Zero Emissions.Recently the group, through its collective buying power, purchased 80 panels for its members.Mr Boin said his panels cost $17,500 but after he receives his rebate the panels will have cost $9500."Even now we are still producing about 500 watts of energy, even on a cloudy day. It's actually the intensity of the light not necessarily the sunshine and it's definitely not the heat," he said."We have 80 sets of panels ready to go up and we have just started to put them up. The more energy prices go up, the more we will save."BREAZE has also ordered 100 solar hot water systems to distribute to buyers."That is what we are all about," Mr Boin said."This is something people can do. We want the government to do things, we want industry to do things and this is something we can do ourselves and it's very empowering."