Solar panels have become more and more popular around the UK in the recent years. This is partly driven by the UK government (and to a wider extent European and Worldwide regulation) with the feed in tariff, which is a good sell back rate that was offered, and partly by the conscience of the people. Whatever the driver, since 2009 worldwide generation has risen from 7 to 30 gigawatts, and a good chunk of that is in the UK. In tough economic times it's not easy to make a big outlay on something like solar panels, but Britons seem to consider it as somewhat of an investment, so despite the reduction in the rate recently the sales keep on going up. So, if you've made the leap and are now generating your own power, here are some tips and popular questions that might help you out:
Use The Weather
The biggest single thing you can do is to be inventive with the power you're getting, and make use of the weather. As annoying as it may be, you will be receiving the most sunlight on your roof during 10am to 3pm during the day, so you have to use it. If you think it through, there are lots of thing you can do to make most use of electricity during the day. Here are some ideas:
Simply pop the washing on as you head out to work, it's cheap, or if it's a sunny morning, free!
You can get programmable slow cookers these days that are very cheap, and can be set in the morning for a certain period during the day, so why not have a delicious casserole cooking for 6 hours whilst your at work?
- Oil filled radiators
These electric oil filled radiators are very efficient and can be used for a variety of heating applications. Pop a few in different rooms in the winter, or use a big one to heat the main room, they can even be kept on constantly to dry out cellars. They're highly efficient and quite cheap to run when the sun's not shining as well!
If you still feel you're not using enough, put the immersion heater on and heat your water tank. This is obviously a high drain application, so it feels like you're getting your moneys-worth!
Should i Switch Suppliers?
Most people will only have a few panels, so they're not going to be producing all of their own power, so it is worth looking to switch providers, is there much to gain? Well, maybe, but it depends on your solar set up and home situation. If you work from home or spend a lot of time (and therefore use a lot of electricity) there, then you'll make good use of the power you're generating in the day, so you may as well sit tight. However, if you're out all day, making no use of the free juice, you might want to look at something else. Whichever situation you find yourself in, there's no harm in looking at at online comparison sites, you never know what kind of deal you might find.
Building control systems
If you have a bit more cash to spend, building control systems are getting smarter and smarter. Many new offices today incorporate all kinds of sensors both in and outside the building to regulate temperature, electricity and water use. These smart buildings can open windows, close blinds and adapt to the aspect of the sun during the day, and the technology is now being integrated into homes as well. Home energy monitors are becoming more popular, but you can go one further and get an integrated system that has sensors installed and monitors the generation and usage. This means it can balance the demands of the household and make the best use of the elements you have, and it makes a fantastically efficient system.
Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/oregondot
Rob is a eco evangelist working for specialist business electricity price comparison site BusinessElectricity. He loves how the whole green movement is gathering speed, and helping people find the best deals on their bills.
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