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A $285 energy rebate now or free electricity for life

Money and power lines
The NSW government's program for free solar starts next week. (Source: Getty)

Starting next week, around one million NSW households will be able to get a free solar system, energy-efficient appliance or energy-saving home upgrade.

The NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said this week that applications for the free solar program would open next Monday.

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Applications are limited, with funding available for 30,000 households at this preliminary stage.

Many households have been missing out on the benefits of cheap, clean rooftop solar due to the steep upfront cost of installing a solar system.

While the NSW government program seeks to remedy this by offering a lump sum to cover the initial cost, it comes with a catch: households need to give up their energy rebates for 10 years.

These rebates - maxing out at $285 each year - are designed to ease power bill pressures on low-income houses.

Known as the Low Income Household Energy Rebate, the scheme is restricted to pensioners and other concession card holders.

The NSW government said households would save more money by substituting their rebates for solar, with a rooftop solar system expected to save households up to $600 each year.

Over the course of the decade, households could save $6,000 by taking up the solar offer, compared to $2,850 if they continue to receive the rebates.

Energy savings from government program
Source: Finder

Rooftop solar systems can save households money as they produce energy from the sun that can be used during the day, with any surplus energy exported to the grid in exchange for a feed-in payment.

These payments can help offset the cost of using grid energy in the evening when the solar system stops generating.

Who is eligible for the NSW scheme?

The offer is only open to people who own their own homes and who don’t already have a solar system.

People must also hold a valid Pensioner Concession Card or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card.

The scheme is also restricted to certain areas, including the Central Coast, North Coast, Illawarra – Shoalhaven and South Coast in the regions and eligible local government areas in Greater Sydney.

What if I can't install solar?

For people living in apartments or renting, they’ll be able to swap their rebates for energy efficiency upgrades, such as energy efficient dryers and airconditioners valued at up to $4,000.

“People living in apartments or renting who can’t have solar installed may be eligible to swap their rebate for a suite of energy-saving appliance upgrades, helping to reduce demand on the grid and lower power prices for everyone,” Kean said.

He said this would include energy-efficient fridges, dryers, air-conditioners and hot water systems, and upgrades such as window shading and draught sealing.

Kean said the program would help ease bill pressures at a time when the war in Ukraine is driving up power prices.

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