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  • Mary B

Tips for Making The Most of Your Solar Panels

In 2015 Keith and Mary took the plunge and invested in solar panels to produce energy for their home. Mary contacted us recently to share some of her knowledge and tips for making the most of your panels. Here are her insights.

Keith and I were first introduced to the idea of solar panels by an advertising leaflet through the door, which piqued our interest. A visit from a salesman followed and he explained the benefits of a solar installation not only for us but for the environment as well. We had a couple of quotes and decided to have the work done by a local company called Absolute Solar, who we would have no hesitation in recommending. Scaffolding had to be put up to reach the roof but the work was done on the date promised and there was no disruption, so it was all a straightforward and easy process.

Four years later, in September 2019, we invested in a 3kWh battery which stores any surplus generated electricity from sunrise to sunset. The battery is 680mm length x 256mm width x 610mm height and is situated in the garage. Although it was expensive at the time (£5400), the money we are now saving due to the steep increase in electricity prices is beginning to reap its rewards.

One sunny morning in mid-summer we could see on the smart meter display that our electricity consumption was less than 1kWh when we got up and less than 1kWh when we went to bed! During our best week we consumed only 6.05kWh. Obviously, as we go into winter the figures will change but the solar panels charge even on a cloudy day saving us money all the time. The savings in the summer months are greater than in winter, but any electricity you can store must surely be better than sending it back to the grid?

three smartphones with solar panel app display showing the daily, weekly and monthly useage of energy generated
Here are some examples of the daily, weekly and monthly usage that Keith and Mary have logged

On top of saving money on the energy that we use, we are paid every three months for the electricity we generate and export which is presumed to be half our generation figure - for example this last quarter we had £251 paid into the bank. This is another advantage of the battery as we are storing electricity for our own use rather than sending it back to the grid but still getting paid for it! The amount paid per kWh increases every year in April and we calculate that the panels should be paid for in 10 years. The scheme that we initially signed up for has now finished but you can still earn money from solar panels through the Smart Export Guarantee. There are details on the website here.

Some people are concerned that there is a long time period before you start to see the advantages of the financial outlay. For us solar energy has been a good investment, particularly at a time when our portfolio is decreasing rather than the increases we have seen in the past few years. A little extra money in your pocket at a time when things are being squeezed is a great help to the household budget!

Mary has kindly offered to answer any questions you may have. If you'd like to know more about her and Keith's experience with solar panels please email Jenny and she'll pass the message on to Mary.

Mary is also a long-term member of The Festival Players amateur theatre group and recently has been preparing for their latest show this September at Loughborough Town Hall, performing The Vicar of Dibley - The Second Coming. Based on the classic TV comedy, it promises an evening (or afternoon for the matinee) of fun and laughter. If you'd like to buy tickets you can visit the Town Hall website here.

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