Installing solar PV on your home is a great way to reduce your electricity bills and your carbon footprint. However, there are ways you can get the most out of your system, maximising your savings and also doing your bit to help save the world!
Some small lifestyle changes and planning ahead can make all the difference to your savings.
Use appliances during the day: Solar panels work by converting the energy in sunlight into electricity. This is done mostly during optimum conditions – the daytime. Therefore by using appliances during the day, the electricity being generated is used straight away.
Washing machines, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners especially use a lot of power – typically around 2500W. When using them in daylight, even a low light day will supplement the energy usage, and a sunny day may power the whole operation.
Use timers: many people are at work during the day, so do not have the ability to utilise the sunny hours. By using timers on appliances in your home you can set your washing machine or dishwasher for example to start during the day. This not only means you get the most out of your solar, it also means you will get home to fresh dishes and your washing done!
Pull the plug: many electrical appliances run in the background when they are not switched off at the plug, and this can use more electricity than you realise. Switch off your TV, chargers, and any other items that could be running on standby.
Stagger your electricity usage: Using electricity during the day is the most effective way to get the most out of your solar panels. However if you use everything at once, you may still be importing the extra electricity needed from the grid. Stagger your energy usage throughout the day to maximise your solar energy; and keep this in mind when setting timers too.
Generate hot water from solar: By installing a solar immersion switch alongside your solar PV system, you can use the excess electricity generated by your PV to power your immersion heater. This means that you would get as much of the free energy generated by your system as possible. The switch works with intelligent controls which react to household demand, which means that is more electricity is needed somewhere else in your home, the electricity will be diverted there.
Monitor your electricity: you can use a system monitor to access your generation and electricity consumption. Some monitors will work with your computer, smart phone or tablet so that you can access these figures easily. By utilising this information, you can work out how much energy you are generating at a given time, and then tailor your electricity usage to this so that you only use the energy your solar is producing.
Convert your lighting to low energy: as most lights are used at night when the PV system is not generating, it is beneficial to install low energy or LED light bulbs. This will reduce the amount of energy the light needs to power itself, which will save you money on your bills.
Some of these actions are small changes you can make to your lifestyle, and others are things that may need some investment in time or money. When this is the case, it is vital to keep in mind how much these products/actions could save you in the long run, and you can guarantee that it will be worth it.
This post is part of a series on installing solar panels for your home. Check out the rest of the series.