While you can save a lot of money by installing solar energy in your home, the first place to start saving, is by cutting down on how much energy you actually use.

This is because solar energy installations can be rather expensive. If you can cut back on your basic power usage, then you can cover all your energy needs by instaling a smaller system. This will make your solar return on investment much greater.

So what are the quickest ways to use less power at home? A few simple steps can reduce your power usage immediately.

1. Use energy efficient light bulbs

This can halve your lighting bill overnight.

2. Unplug transformers (ie. laptops, cell phone and camera chargers) when not in use. These transformers use energy even when you laptop or cellphone is fully charged. They are on "standby", which means they are on and ready.

3. Have shorter showers.

Hot water makes up about 30% of your power bill. Shorter showers can greatly reduce your power bill. Obviouly any shower uses far less water and heat than a bath, so stop all baths.

4. Buy energy efficient appliances.

When you need to replace something (especially your fridge) get the most energy efficient model you can find. This will pay for itself in time, and save your power bill in the long term.

5. Check your hot water tank temperature.

If your geyser is is set too high, turn it down a bit. You may be wasting energy keeping it at a much higher temperature than you need to.

6. Insulation

You will be surprised at how much heat (or cool) is lost through poor insulation. Insulate your ceilings, insulate water pipes, fit a geyser blanket. Insulate where ever you can.

Do an energy audit. Do you have a heated swimming pool? Do you leave lights on? Do you heat rooms that you seldom use? Find out where you might be wasting power .

Common mistakes are heating corridors and passageways, leaving lights on when no one is in the room, leaving appliances plugged in and having no curtains on your window (higher heating bills.)

Once you've cut down your power bill, your solar power will go much further in powering your home. The more power you save, the more money you save and the bigger impact your solar energy will have.

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