Adding solar panels to your home is a fantastic way to generate your own green energy and reduce your energy bills.
They also help you become more energy efficient and reduce your reliance on the National Grid.
What’s more, the government incentivises people to have solar panels fitted through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), under which people are paid for excess electricity that they export to the national grid.
But solar electricity generation is certainly better suited to some people than others. If your main motivation for generating solar power is to save money, then you need to have the sort of lifestyle that enables you to use the power as and when it’s generated - in daylight hours.
Solar panels can’t store electricity for use later, so if you don’t use the electricity during daylight hours, then it gets exported to the grid. In one way, this is great as you are supplying green energy and you get paid for it through the Smart Export Guarantee. But on the other hand, you then simply end up paying a higher rate for electricity that you use at night, when solar panels can’t generate electricity.
If you have a home storage battery then this solves your problem, as these save the electricity your solar panels generate during the day, for use when it’s needed. However, batteries aren’t for everyone due to the upfront costs involved.
The perfect match
So, what kind of people can make solar panels work for them?
One is electric car owners. If you charge an electric car at home, then you use an awful lot of energy, and generating your own electricity can make a lot of sense to make running your car even cheaper, more energy efficient, and keep bills down at the same time.
Another key group are people who principally consume electricity during the day. Some people have the sort of flexible lifestyles that enable them to concentrate their electricity use at the most cost-efficient time of day. If you have solar panels, that might mean using your washing machine while the sun is shining.
This group of flexible home-bodies has grown this year, as the lockdown has forced many people to work from home. This trend is expected to continue even after the coronavirus pandemic, with a survey by the Institute of Directors showing that 74% of businesses plan on maintaining the increase in home working.
Working at home inevitably means using more energy during the day. The average household energy bill could increase by £107 this winter for those working from home five days a week, according to a study by Energy Helpline.
So, if you - and perhaps your partner too - now work from home and expect to continue to do so into the future, then it may be time to reconsider solar panels.
You’d be using plenty of electricity during the day, all of which could be generated by the triumph of science on your rooftop. You could also make an effort to change your energy use, and turn on the washing machine, for example, at a time when you can power it for free.
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