How to make the most of your solar generated energy
With the solar feed-in tariff not being quite what it was in 2015, many homeowners are adopting a new way of using solar that now makes it worth it again to start using solar energy.
What are they doing? They are storing their excess electricity in batteries* – it’s the ideal solution and the more affordable option for many homeowners as products like Tesla’s Powerwall hit the market.
* Check out our Homeowners Guide to Solar Batteries
If you would rather make the most of your solar generated energy without storing it, here are some of our top tips.
Monitor your solar production – what is solar power used for?
Monitoring what and when your panels are producing will allow you to ‘spend’ your energy in the most efficient way. There are plenty of devices and apps that allow you to do this easily so that you don’t have to manually check your generation levels.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy recommends keeping a list of your appliance power ratings next to your inverter or energy monitor so that you can choose which items to run based on what your panels are generating and what the appliance will use.
Stagger appliance usage
Try and avoid running all of your appliances at once as this will lessen your chance of needing to use additional power from the grid. Try and set appliances to run during peak generation times, taking the periods you will be at home into consideration. For example some homeowners will run their dishwasher in the morning, ensure there is nothing scheduled over lunchtime and then run the washing machine in the afternoon.
If your appliances don’t have built in timers, there are manual and digital timers that can be added to many appliances. You could also consider fitting timed plugs for appliances that need charging – for example electric toothbrushes, phones and laptops.
Don’t run partial loads
When you are generating your own electricity it can be tempting to run appliances like washing machines and dishwashers with partial loads. The downside to this is the amount of extra water you will end up using. Many homeowners choose to go solar to reduce their energy bills and generate clean, renewable energy to minimise their impact on the environment – using more water than you necessarily need is counterproductive to this.
Use your immersion heater for hot water
One of the best ways to utilise your extra solar energy is by using it to power your immersion heater. Whilst the immersion heater in a hot water tank is normally used if your boiler breaks down (or if you have no boiler) powering it with solar energy can take some of the load off a gas boiler. If you have enough excess electricity you may even be able to generate a whole tank of hot water.
Switch to low consumption appliances
You might be surprised by how much energy some of your appliances could be guzzling down. Not to worry though as there are plenty of alternatives on the market which can do the same job and use a lot less power. When it comes to buying more efficient appliances make sure to check the energy efficiency labelling.
It’s not just large white goods that can be swapped for more economical versions, you can also find kettles, vacuum cleaners and other smaller gadgets with the same treatment.