There’s no denying that we are deep in an energy crisis here in the UK, as electricity and gas prices begin to soar to their current price cap. Households could see their energy bills rise as much as 54% on average according to The Independent.
The consistently climbing price of gas and the reduced importation to Europe has meant there’s very little relief in sight for homeowners, and with the government’s response offering little to comfort the situation people are turning to alternative means of energy.
The most common question around the topic seems to be whether solar panels are a worthwhile investment, so let’s find out!
- Are solar panels right for me?
- What are the benefits of solar panels?
- How do you get the most out of solar panels?
- What are the cost and cost savings from solar panels
- How do you maintain solar panels?
- Are solar panels the answer?
If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, and perhaps more importantly your energy bill at the same time, then installing solar panels could be a good choice. It sounds fantastic of course, but there is a lot to consider, the initial cost of installing solar panels can be a lot to front.
As energy bills rise, you can save an increasing amount on your monthly bills every year, but not only that you can sell the excess energy you generate back to the grid – although suppliers pay a lot less for this than the market rate, roughly 1.5p per kilowatt-hour.
To really get the most out of your solar panels and save money then you may also need to change your lifestyle. Using your larger electric appliances throughout the day when there is sunlight will mean you require less excess from the energy companies which is at a much higher cost than selling the excess back to the supplier.
There are a lot of benefits to switching to solar energy, here are just a few of the benefits to making the switch:
Reducing your energy costs
This is an obvious one, but generating your own power with solar panels will reduce your electricity bill and earn you extra money by selling it back to the grid. One of the main reasons it’s become such an appealing prospect to have solar panels fitted is because of the rising cost of energy, with the amount of savings constantly becoming more and more appealing with every price rise.
Although they might seem quite tricky to install, there not. It’s usually pretty easy and straightforward to have solar panels fitted to your roof and will only take about a day to get your home up and running with solar energy.
Reducing your carbon footprint
You can have ease of mind that you’re using clean energy to power your home in a sustainable way, and help to do your part for the UK to achieve its carbon reduction goals. By cutting down your carbon footprint you’re helping to protect wildlife habitats, economies and communities.
Renewable source of energy
As well as the reduction of your carbon footprint, they offer a source of renewable energy that will help reduce air pollution – one of our biggest global challenges.
Solar panels are a costly investment with a significant initial payment, so it’s extremely important to make the most of them and start making your way to turning a profit. Here are a couple of tips and tricks to get you going:
- Reducing your usage
This is the same with any energy really, but if you reduce your usage with solar panels then your system might be capable of powering most if not all of your energy needs. Typically solar panels are capable of producing around 75% of your annual usage, but the more you can cut down your electric usage the more of the energy can be covered by the panels and the lower the energy bills you will have to pay are.
- Don’t export your power, use it
If you generate a surplus of power then it’s sold back to the National Grid for a cut-rate, which is far, far, far less than what you would pay for the energy the other way around. You need to maximise your system so that you use the majority of your power during the daylight hours rather than overnight, this might mean switching your habits slightly, like charging your phone during the day rather than overnight.
- Do you have electric storage heaters?
Using solar energy can be a great way to make the most of your system and fill your electric storage heaters, as heating is a large amount of your energy bills and using your solar energy will help save you a significant amount.
- Storage batteries
You can actually invest in storage batteries, rather than selling your excess back to the grid. The amount you get for selling back to the grid is so low that it’s definitely worth trying to keep your energy – but again be warned that these batteries can be quite expensive, so we would only really recommend it if your energy bills are generally quite high.
- Convert to an electric boiler
If you convert your boiler from a traditional gas boiler to an electric one then you are able to heat your water with the electricity you are generating. It also means that you are likely not selling any excess energy back to the grid, as your boiler will be taking a lot of your annual usage.
The average cost of having solar panels fitted to your home is around £5,000, and they will typically last anywhere between 20 and 30 years before you will then need to replace them.
Despite that cost, solar panel installations continue to soar with an increase of more than 70% last year according to This Is Money.
It’s no surprise, with the constantly increasing cost of energy in the UK people are turning to alternatives to power their homes. It’s got so bad to the point if you put your postcode into energy switching companies, most of them won’t offer you any deals and recommend staying with your current provider.
As of April 1st 2022 the energy price cap has increased, which means you will be charged if you are on a variable tariff at the rate of £0.28p per kWh of electricity, with a standing charge per day of £0.45p – note these are the lowest rates when paying with a debit card.
According to Ovo Energy, the average annual energy use is 3,941kWh. Using the new rate of £0.28p per kWh, that would give you an annual spend of £1,103.48, then on top of the standing charge of £164.25, bringing your annual spend on electricity to an eye-watering £1,267.73.
Then there’s gas on top, but that’s another story all together.
Solar panels will typically allow you to source 75% of your overall yearly energy usage, which will save you roughly £950.80 per year if energy prices stay the same.
If you are considering installing solar panels then as we mentioned it can be a costly thing to do, and initially you won’t see the benefits financially of doing so for a good few years. For that reason, it’s so important to maintain your solar panels and make sure you’re getting the most out of them. Here are a few of our quick tips:
- Keep the solar panels out of the shade – you need them to be efficient at absorbing the light!
- Make sure the inverters are flashing green, as if they’re not flashing you are losing money.
- Clean the solar panels every so often, you can use a solar panel cleaning kit, any build-up of dirt or leaves can absorb or block sunlight.
Generally speaking, solar panels don’t need to be maintained all that much, and if your panels are tilted then the rainfall usually clears away any debris, so you should only need to clean them a few times a year.
It really depends, there’s no right or wrong answer as it depends on what happens with energy. What we will say, if you were already considering the switch to solar energy then this should help push you towards that decision.
Solar panels come at a cost of roughly £5,000 and typically last between 15-20 years. At the current energy rates, the average household would pay off the solar panels in just over 5 years, with the annual savings at roughly £950.80 per year, giving you roughly 10 years at least of free energy, saving you around £9,508, if the rates stayed the same.
The gamble is the “if” as the truth is, it looks bleak now but nobody knows what is going to happen to energy prices over the next few years.
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