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How do I make the most of my solar panels?

Posted by Helena Ripley on 2 October 2015 at 10:30 am

If you were one of the early installers of solar PV and are receiving generation and export Feed in Tariffs (FiTs) then you are probably making a good profit. However, as the FiT has decreased, newer installers may be wondering how to use more of the electricity generated so that you don’t have to buy as much electricity back from the grid. The export tariff is fixed based on the assumption that you will export half of the electricity you generate, but if you are able to use more than half you can make more of a saving. Here a seven handy tips to help you do that.

  1. Use timers on your washing machine and dish washer. This way you can run them in the middle of the day when your panels are generating the most electricity even if you’re out.
  2. Stagger appliances with a high electricity demand: do the vacuum cleaning, cooking (if you have an electric cooker) and laundry one after the other when the sun is shining to maximise use of solar electricity and decrease the amount you need to import from the grid. 
  3. Charge your phone early in the morning or in the evening: your panels won’t be generating as much electricity then but you can still make use of it.
  4. Turn things off: quite obvious really but you want the electricity to be used for things you really need. If the sun’s out you probably don’t need the lights on. Try to avoid stand by too - you don’t want your TV and computer eating electricity while you’re out.
  5. Need a new fridge? Look for the most energy efficient models available. The highest energy efficiency rating is A+++ but it keeps going up! Your fridge and freezer are on all the time so the smaller the amount of electricity they need, the lower your bills.
  6. Use surplus electricity from your panels to run an immersion heater in your boiler. That way you won’t need to use as much gas for central heating and hot water. Make your panels work harder!
  7. Invest in an electricity storage system: save up your excess electricity to use in the evening and avoid buying costly electricity from the grid.

Push your panels to the limit and make sure you are using as much of your solar electricity as possible.

Photo : H2ECO

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5 comments - read them below or add one

Adam W

Adam WComment left on: 19 January 2016 at 10:31 pm

richmc> I use a 1KW kettle so that it will run on PV generated electricity during the less sunny months. The kettle is one designed for a caravan as the only household ones I could find were higher rated.

The lower power also encourages my tenants to not overfill the kettle as it takes nearly 10 minutes to boil a full kettle.

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eggmanComment left on: 30 November 2015 at 4:33 pm

Before I had solar installed my EPC was band "F" 37, after installation it came down to "D" 59. I thought this was pretty good and I was receiving a good return on my FIT payments.

However, Scottish Power have now reviewed my EPC and dropped it back down to "E"??

The government state you have to have a minimum "D" rating to have solar panels installed. This has now meant my FIT payments have halved.

Can Scottish Power change my EPC grading?

Please please help :-(

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richmcComment left on: 30 October 2015 at 5:11 pm

I hope Paul dosn't see this as "cheap advertising" as I have no connection with the companys I will mention


As a retired couple we have the luxury of being around to know when to put the washing machine and dish washer on, with an added bonus of looking out of the window to spot the best cloud break for the heating cycle. I've used a solar diverter to heat my water for years, first a home designed unit now an excelent Solar I boost, I have a battery store that will hold 6Kwh of excess solar from Wattstor. All my appliances are A+ or better and during the winter months we live on stews, cassaroles, and other more imaginative dishes, all made in our slow cooker.

This time of year the batteries don't always fully charge in a daybut I know not a single watt is going out to the grid, I switched my supplier to Ebico as they have a zero standing charge tarrif (via SSE). This summer we had a few days with less than 1p electricity consumption and so far as the days are at their dullest and shortist it's rare for the daily charge to excede £1.

And Gillian you need to have a bit more faith in your apliances, they have delay timers for a reason and safety systems to avoid flooding, for example our Bosch dishwasher comes not only with an anti flood device but a 5 year insurencs against any damage that might occour in the event of a failure.

We have LED lighting throughout and 270mm of loft insulation, cavity insulation and modern double glasing throughout. We use a fast switch off kettle boil only what we need.

To be honest we are running out of boxes to tick, if antone has any more tricks we can employ please post them up!

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paul53Comment left on: 4 October 2015 at 7:59 pm

shame when the  comments  are  used  for   cheap advertising

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gillianreidComment left on: 2 October 2015 at 11:46 am

We are always told not to run the washing machine while we are out in case something goes wrong with the plumbing and there is a flood!!

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