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How to Save Money With Solar Energy

20th December 2022

Historically, both home and business property owners have been drawn to installing solar arrays in order to harness free energy from the sun, and also rely less on power derived from burning fossil fuels, which damages the environment. These continue to be popular reasons for installing a solar power system.  However, it now costs even less to install the technology up front, and there are additional ways to save money with solar energy which will give you ongoing savings and continually improve your return on investment.

Lowered Bills

The most obvious way to save money with solar energy is the reduced requirement to use energy from the grid, which the utility companies charge an arm and a leg for. Once the initial costs of installing the array and associated tech has been covered, the system incurs minimal running costs (an occasional service throughout the life of the system is all that is required) and provides free energy generated from the sun. 

In quantitative terms, you can expect to see savings of over £20,000 over a period of twenty years or so, based on a 4kW system and well over £30,000 with a 6kW system.

SEG Payments

An additional way to make money from your solar array system is to make use of the government endorsed SEG (Smart Export Guarantee) payment scheme. The SEG scheme was introduced in January 2020 as a means of contributing towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and offers an incentive for UK homeowners to switch to solar.

The basic idea is that the SEG scheme offers what are known as export tariffs (payments) for various small-scale energy generating systems provided they are low carbon. SEG payments replace the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) programme which ended in 2019.  However, homeowners signed up to the FIT programme can still claim their FIT generation tariff which differs to their FIT export tariff. 

The way SEG payments help you to save money with solar energy is that energy companies will offer you special tariffs in return for the renewable energy that you export to the national grid - essentially, you’re being paid to generate power.

There are some criteria that you must meet in order to be eligible for SEG payments, such as the type of energy generation system you’re using, and your geographical location (homeowners in Northern Ireland for example do not qualify).

So, with a 6 panel system rated at 2.34kWp (Kilo Watt Peak) you can expect to see payments of around £45 per year. While hardly ground-breaking, it’s essentially free money- which is hard to come by these days!

Increased Property Value

Contrary to common perception, the addition of a solar array can actually increase the value of your property. While historically the appeal of a solar power system was diminished due to the perceived loss of aesthetics, (which is still a legitimate concern on period properties in particular) these days, modern research has found properties with a PV system have a value increase of approximately 4.1%.

In urban locations such as towns and cities, the property value increase is even more prominent.  A study carried out in the US found such buildings to have a roughly 1% greater property value than equivalent properties in rural and semi-rural environments. This can obviously equate to tens of thousands of pounds being added to the sale value of your property and is a long term way to save money with solar energy.

Our Top Tips - How To Save Money With Solar Energy

If you’ve already had a solar power generation system installed at your property, or are thinking about installing one, here are our top tips for how to maximise the amount of money you can save.

1. Use your power as it is generated

While you may be taking advantage of the Smart Export Guarantee and Feed In Tariff payments, they will equate to less per kilowatt hour than the price you’ll pay for using energy from the grid.

Therefore, it makes more sense to use the power you’re generating for your own use (i.e. during daylight hours) rather than prioritise feeding the power back into the grid.

2. Ensure the array is installed optimally

Another common misconception regarding solar power is that it won’t work on cloudy or overcast days. In actual fact, a solar array will work whenever it is light outside regardless of weather conditions. However, they will naturally work most efficiently on brighter days.

In the UK, you can maximise the efficiency of your solar panels by ensuring they are installed facing due south (as we are north of the equator). Doing this ensures that they will face sunlight throughout the day.

The angle that the panels are oriented at will also affect their efficiency as they need to receive as much sunlight as possible.  So at the equator, for example, panels would want to be mounted perpendicular to the angle of the sun (i.e. flat on the ground). In the UK, the best angle is less black and white and is usually defined automatically by the roof angle. If possible, though, they should be mounted at an angle which ensures that they gather the most amount of sunlight throughout the day - so not too far vertical, or flat.

3. Install a Battery System

If you have a solar array system installed, or indeed any other type of power generation system such as a wind turbine, the biggest game changer and way to save money is to install an energy storage system. These, as the name suggests, store the power that you generate.

This, therefore, allows you to use it either when you need it, during nighttime hours, or when the power from the grid is most expensive (some energy supply tariffs have peak and off-peak usage timings which vary the price you pay for energy). 

More Money, More Easily

With the UK in a financial recession, and the cost of living being sky high, we’re all looking for ways to save money. While not the most obvious way of getting money into your back pocket, switching to a modern solar tech solution may just be the ‘green earner’ that you’ve been looking for. With grants and incentives to cover installation, more efficient power generating arrays and tech, and continued payments for exporting power to the grid, it’s never made more financial sense. Give us a call today to save money with solar energy tomorrow.

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