Hub News, MASH+ News

Solar is a win/win for Castlemaine rental couple and their landlord

MASH participant Linnet GoodMon 17/11/2014: Linnet Good and Dev Mukherjee tell their ‘solar story’

Linnet Good and Dev Mukherjee are renting a 3 bedroom property in central Castlemaine. Dev commutes to Melbourne on weekdays and Linnet works as a copywriter from home. Everything in the house runs on electricity including their heating, hot water, cooking and cooling.

“We’ve always been careful with our electricity use and turn off everything when we aren’t around,” says Linnet. “Despite this our electricity bills were high at around $2,640 per year. This was mainly because everything runs off electricity. But also the house isn’t very well insulated so a lot of power gets wasted and I really feel the cold in winter!”

The deal with the landlord

Linnet and Dev had been thinking about going solar for a while. They knew that they had to come up with a win/win proposition that would benefit both them and their landlord. Together with Stephen Breheny the installer for the Mount Alexander Solar Homes (MASH) solar bulk-buy project, they decided that they needed a 3Kw solar system (12 panels) which would cost $4630.

Linnet and Dev went to their landlord with an offer that they would pay an extra $25 per week in rent towards the cost of the panels ($1,300 per year) if the landlord purchased the solar system outright. This rental increase would pay off the capital cost of the solar PV system within 5 years, with an annual rate of return for the landlord of 5-7% (2-4% more than what’s currently on offer from banks).

Lower electricity costs already

The system was installed on the 3rd October this year. From meter readings so far, Dev says they are saving more than $25 per week on their bills. What has also helped is that they have shifted their power usage to daytime as much as possible when they are generating their own power from the sun. “Somewhat bizarrely”, says Dev, “our peak electricity consumption is now between midnight and 2am as we heat up our hot water at this time on an off peak tariff.”

Not just about lower bills

For Linnet and Dev, the environmental benefits of solar PV is what really drives them. Linnet says:

“I hate the idea that I’m contributing to climate change. I want to minimise my impact on the environment as much as possible. I believe it is one of the most important things I can do.”

“Putting solar on our home is, for me, a political act as much as anything else. I believe that everyone needs to do their bit to help reduce climate change, rather than rely on governments. This is about taking direct action and if we all did it, the difference we could make collectively would be enormous.”

And the message to landlords

“If you want good tenants, it makes sense to install solar. It’s a capital improvement to your property, you get better tenants and you can charge more rent,” says Linnet.