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I'm getting solar panels: should I switch electricity supplier?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 August 2012 at 11:38 am

Q: Dear Cathy - From the customer side of things, I will have a brand new 4KW PV system shortly and am currently on a Scottish Power May 2013 fixed electricity only deal (with Econ7)  - no standing charge - with staged day rate tariff of first 225 kwh used each quarter @23.319p with remaining all/day @11.620p and a night rate @ 5.316p - all rates incl.VAT.

Before PV my annual electricity usage was high at about 11,500 kwh with an annual bill of about £1,200 and I am hoping of course to make substantial savings through FIT payments and my own daytime usage....and some but less of course through export.

Bearing in mind that my PV will only of course be potentially making savings for me during the more expensive day rate daylight hours, is there any advice about changing tariffs to say perhaps a non-staged day rate tariff without standing charge? And, if so, is there a more PV-friendly and thus more economical supplier or PV specific switching website you can suggest.

A: The way the FIT works is that you get a cheque (or bank transfer) quarterly from your FIT supplier (who may be, but doesn't have to be, the same as the company you buy electricity from). So the only metric that is significant in considering who you buy your electricity from is how much of your generated electricity you use at home.

The assumption is (for the purposes of calculating export tariff) that you will use half of what you generate. This is likely to be an over estimate for most household, but will depend on how much electricity you currently use during the day. I have a 2.1 kW system, and I work at home, and I still export about two thirds of what it generates (although we are quite a low usage household, and we do take care to put the washing machine etc on when the panels are generating most).

So if you look at the predicted generation figures for your solar PV, and take a third of it, that will give you a reasonable estimate of your savings (more if you use a lot of electricity during the day, less if your house stands empty all day. Subtract that figure from your current annual usage in kWh and that will give you a reasonable figure to put into the switch sites. We recommend Which? Switch*, which is the only not for profit switch site, and is approved by Consumer Focus. (*This is an affiliate link, which means that if you switch using this link we will get a recommendation fee, which will help us cover the cost of running this website).

Photo by Niels Sienhart


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2 comments - read them below or add one


maketheswitchusaComment left on: 26 June 2013 at 11:51 am


Thank you for sharing. I hope more people become more knowledgeable about Solar power.

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3coPeteComment left on: 30 August 2012 at 12:36 pm

Hi. This is a question I am often asked in my line which is to specify PV and Heat Pumps and the truth is there is no simple answer. Could I suggest that you stay on your existing tariff for one year after the PV is fitted, keep a weekly or at least monthly log of kWh used on each of your usage meters and your PV generation meter? After that one year trial you will have sufficient data based on your actual usage and actual generation that you may need to make an informed decision. The FiT will be the same whatever company you choose to be your FiT supplier but from a consumption position, it may be better to stay on your existing contract or move to a flat rate contract with your existing or different supplier.

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