Utility bills are constantly on the rise, and even if you have a solar installation, you likely feed a great deal of the power back into the grid. In fact, the average home with a 4 kW solar system feeds some 1,500-1,600 kWh to the grid. While that’s reasonable, and even a good deal, especially if you’re not using it anyway, you’re typically getting less for power you feed into the grid than you pay for it. While export tariffs are set to remain about the same, at about 4.9 pence per kWh, learning to maximise your electric usage helps you to save as much as possible, because you often pay twice or more when you purchase electricity.


Why Store Energy

Electricity costs an average of 8-11 pence per kWh across the UK, although these rates vary a great deal.  The current FIT rate for 4K systems is about 6.16 to 13.39 ppkWh, with the higher rate applying to homes with an EPC rating of A. With an average of a 4.9 pence per kWh export tariff, you can save more than 50% by keeping and utilising energy yourself. Last year, Santander UK conducted a study on average electricity bills across the UK, and found that homeowners spend an average of £742 per year on their electricity bill alone, and prices have risen since then. That means providing half of your own energy will save you £371 per year, vs. a much smaller savings of around £126 per year for using about 1,500 kWh of your electric. In return, you’ll lose about  £79 in export tariff fees, which means a savings of about £200 per year.

Because the average 4Kw solar system generates about 3,400 kWh of energy per year in the UK, and prices average at around 10 pence per kWh, you can likely save money by storing and using your solar energy. After December 30, you’ll almost definitely want to save as much as possible. Find out if solar panels are worth investing in after 2015. 

How it Works

Installing a power storage system in your home is an investment, but it does allow you to keep more of the energy you use. By reducing the amount you feed back to the grid, you lower your monthly electric bills more, which saves money in other ways. Battery costs and installation costs vary quite a bit from supplier to supplier, but costs have dropped as much as 50% from 2011, making it much more practical to install storage systems today. PowerVault provides one of the cheapest options at about £2000-2,800 per unit, which becomes cost effective after 10 years for most home systems, and sooner for commercial sola panels or if energy prices go up. They also aim to cut costs, with an eventual goal of around £1,000 per battery system.

Other Options

While solar storage systems are expensive and not always cost effective other options, such as solar immersion controllers direct excess PV power towards the hot water heater rather than feeding it back into the grid. These systems cost less, usually just under £400 with installation costs, and do not affect the Feed in Tariff, which is set based on used/generated energy.

Utilising more of the power produced by your solar array can boost your savings so that you earn your money back more quickly, but usually do require an investment. You do still want to install your solar array before December 30 to qualify for the higher FIT rates, but adding savings on top of that is always a good thing. You’ll also want to save as much as possible on the initial cost of both your battery storage, and your solar panels, so that you can earn your money back more easily.

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