Name: Geoff Jacobs
Location: New South Wales
Joined Amber: 18/09/2020
Joined Amber for Batteries: 07/02/2022
Household: 2 adults, 2 children.
Energy set up: 8.4KW solar, Tesla Powerwall 2 (13.5KW), SolarEdge inverter
Total earnings over last quarter: $329.60
Average FiT: 27.2c/kWh
Average Usage Rate: 48.9c/kWh
Max earnings on a given day: $47.84 on 3 May, 2022
Savings from adding solar, battery and Amber for Batteries: $1,601.55
Time period: 1 Apr - 29 Sept 22 (6 mths / 182 days)
1. What made you decide to get solar and a battery?
It was primarily climate change related and about what I can do to become more self-reliant, stop using the grid. The energy market is not fixing itself, so it was about ‘How can I get away from that?’. I took matters into my own hands, got some solar panels, got a battery and realised ‘This is awesome’. It was really about resilience, self-consumption and lowering the bills.
At the same time, the feed in tariffs had gone to crap and weren’t what I hoped so I wasn’t really getting great value from feeding back to the grid.
It’s also been nice having that coverage during blackouts. We had a couple of hours outage and someone had an important meeting in our street, and they knew we had the battery. So they came over and worked from our house for a couple of hours. So that was kind of nice just to be able to share that with the neighbours.
2. And why did you decide to join Amber?
Basically my thinking was, ‘Well I’ve got this battery now - how can I make it work better for me?’.
Chris (Amber co-founder) actually came to talk at my workplace about Amber, loadshifting and the automation element, the ability to do it all smarter. At that time, I used the API that you guys have to hook into, which was really fun, and then when SmartShift was offered as a trial for New South Wales I decided to get onto that.
I was with Powershop before and getting a bad feed-in tariff - which wasn’t just them, it was everyone - and Amber just sounded more exciting. Like, “Oh, the wholesale price changes every 30 minutes”. I liked the idea of it.
Overall, because of how volatile the grid has been this year, it’s hard to say if i’m paying less. I’m certainly earning more, though.
Before I got on Amber for Batteries, I was really watching every kilowatt going out of my battery and thinking, ‘No, I'm not going to run this load today. I'm going to run it tomorrow’, because the battery was often at a much lower percentage. Whereas now when I look, my batteries at 90% charge. So I just go ahead and do the stuff I need to do. Of course, a lot of that power’s come from loading from the grid, because the algorithm’s kicked in and charged my battery when it saw there was excess power on the grid at the time and it was cheap.
But whereas I might have woken up before with an empty battery, now I’ll wake up and I’ll have 40% in my battery because it topped up overnight, so that’s great.
And then there have been times when I’ll see I'm getting like $17 feed in tariffs. And I just decide to turn everything off and export the battery, which has been fun.
It’s been a very volatile year in the power grid and SmartShift definitely helped us capitalise on that volatility. It’s been great to see those negative monthly bills come through and capitalise on those crazy feed-in tariffs, when there’s a huge price spike.
It’s definitely give us a much better view of what's happening on the energy market and any times when it's good to be able to take advantage of that. So you know, if, for whatever reason we have a full battery, and there's a high feed tariff, we will often choose to export for a period of time, or SmartShift will automatically do that for us, which is great.
With the UI (user interface) changes there’s been plenty of improvements in the app since day one. It surprised me how quickly we saw changes come through in the app after giving feedback. Seems like there’s really been a lot of focus being paid to Amber for Batteries and that’s lovely.
At work we have a Slack channel where we talk about solar, batteries, energy and that sort of thing and people often ask which providers other people are with. My first question is always, “Do you have a battery?”. If you do, Amber’s awesome - there’s so much you can automate and control, especially once you join Amber for Batteries. And you get access to the wholesale price of energy, which just comes with a lot more transparency, and the API, if you’re into automating other things in your home.
It's also lovely working with a smaller size company who obviously care a bit more about each customer, not just the bottom line.