Get the most from your solar panels

October 31st, 2013

If the rising energy prices are making your blood boil and you want a way to produce your own power, then you’re likely to have given some consideration to solar panels.

Of course, with solar panels not only can you slash your electricity bills but you can earn a guaranteed income with the feed-in tariff scheme too. This provides you with the opportunity to make an excellent return on investment.

But when the system is up and running, how can you ensure to get the most from it? We offer you the best tips to using your solar panels most effectively.

First off let’s look at the maths. If you want to get the most financial reward from your solar panels, it’s important to use as much of the electricity you generate at home, rather than exporting it to the National Grid. This is easy enough to understand, as the average electricity unit costs 15.32p/kWh, rather than the export rate of 4.5p/kWh.

If a lot of the electricity you produce is instead being exported, then your energy bills will be higher than they could be.

This is where energy efficiency comes into play. By improving your home to accommodate energy efficient measures you’ll be able to reduce your overall electricity usage.

So how can you do this?

  • Fit energy efficient lighting and purchase A-rated appliances such as washing machines and fridges
  • Improve the insulation of your home if you use electric heating
  • Consider a voltage control system.

So now your home is a little more energy efficient, how about using more of the power you generate? There are four great tips to doing this:

  • Run appliances during the day

Solar panels are only actively generating electricity during daylight hours, which means you’re likely to be at work when they’re in full force. But this doesn’t need to be a problem because you can set your appliance such as the washing machine and tumble dryer to operate during the day, rather than at night. Don’t forget to also charge your laptop during this time too.

  • Switch to electric heating

If you’re on the gas grid you may not have considered the idea of electric heating. But perhaps it’s time to give this thought, and electric heating can help you to save more money when you have solar panels installed. Electric heaters work by producing heat and storing it during the day, only releasing it at night when it’s needed.

  • Heat your water with solar panels

Yes, solar PV systems will only produce electricity, but you can still take this to heat your hot water if you’re keen to save even more. Have an immersion heater installed, costing between £300 and £500. This can be run by the electric you produce, reducing the amount of energy you buy through the grid. This option may not be cost effective for those on the gas grid but if you heat your home with oil, electric or LPG, it’s certainly a worthwhile consideration.

  • Store electricity on batteries

If you are out of the home a lot during the day, then one of your main concerns will be that solar may not be a worthwhile investment. But there is the possibility to use batteries, and store excess electricity on these to use at a later time. Whilst they can be expensive, batteries are invaluable to some homeowners and are typically found with off-grid solar panels.

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