Solar photovoltaic panels are an intelligent investment.
As the UK government rewards those who choose to proceed with installation by offering them Feed-in Tariff payments – payments that are guaranteed for 20 years, index-linked and tax-free for domestic domiciles, awarded for each unit of electricity generated by an eligible system – investing in solar panels is an opportunity to earn a substantial supplementary income. The benefits are environmental too: switching to solar energy could reduce your carbon footprint by around 1.8 tonnes annually, according to Energy Saving Trust. Solar energy is a renewable, sustainable and non-polluting energy source. But how can you make the most of your system?
Solar photovoltaic panels are also a popular home-improvement measure as they can save you money on your electricity bills. For each unit of electricity you use that your panels have generated, you are saving what you would have previously paid to import electricity from the national grid. As your Feed-in Tariff payments are paid at a fixed rate – presuming your system isn’t metred – you won’t be able to increase them. But by making a few simple changes, you can increase your electricity bill savings.
Maximising the amount you are saving on your electricity bills is achieved by ensuring you are using as much of your free solar energy as possible. Here listed are a few suggestions for how you can easily do this, including simple lifestyle adjustments and one relatively inexpensive but potentially financially-rewarding technology. As DECC expects electricity costs in the UK to rise by between 26-44% for households by 2020, and by between 33-77% for commercial consumers, now is the time to invest in solar panels and future-proof yourself against rising energy prices.
Making the Most of Solar Panels
1. Take advantage of the brightest hours: Solar photovoltaic panels are generating electricity whenever they are exposed to light. Therefore, it is advisable to use any electrical items with a high electricity demand during the sunniest hours of the day, to maximise your savings.
For example: the average washing machine cycle requires 700 watts of electricity, accumulating an estimated cost of £55.48 annually – which could be avoided if you were to schedule your washes for during the hours when your panels are generating energy. Many models of washing machine have built-in timers, which are useful if you are not at home during the brightest hours of the day. But if you don’t have in-built timers, external timers for your appliances are available cheaply. Products such as Belkin’s WeMo enable you to wirelessly control your electrical items from anywhere via your smartphone or tablet, using your home’s Wi-Fi network.
2. Stagger use of your appliances: To avoid accidentally importing electricity from the grid by using more than your panels are generating, try not to allow multiple appliances to draw electricity simultaneously. So when making breakfast, boil the kettle for your morning drink before switching on your toaster. Small changes like this will lessen the chance of you using more electricity than you are generating.
3. Heat your water: Solar immersion diverters are small, automatic power controllers that are programmed to divert the surplus energy that your solar panels are generating, which would normally be exported back to the grid, to your immersion heater. These devices will generate a large portion of your hot water and are expected to save an average family £250 annually. They’ll also help to reduce your carbon emissions, as you won’t rely as much on your typical, non-renewable heating measure. Marketing-leading brands include immerSun and Solar iBoost.
4. Storing the surplus: An often enquired-about method of maximising self-consumption from solar panels is to store your surplus electricity using a form of solar battery. These products can certainly help you in eluding rising electricity costs, and are particularly useful for those with off-grid properties.
For those connected to the grid, these types of systems typically will only feed electricity to the utility grid once the battery has been fully charged. You can then draw from your battery when you require electricity at moments when your panels are not generating. Solar batteries tend not to be the ideal choice for most domestic homes as, unlike a solar immersion diverter, these devices tend to be very large and expensive, resulting in a much longer payback period for your system.
With current installation costs and Feed-in Tariff rates, we expect most Solarwall customers to earn a 13% return on their investment – adopting any of these tips could help you to earn an even greater return. Please browse our website, www.solarwall.co.uk, for more information on solar panels, solar immersion diverters and other renewable technologies and insulation measures.