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How solar energy really does reduce bills
Solar panels “can save you hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year”

[Article extracted from The Sunday Times, Sunday January 21 2024]


Detailed modelling by Solar Energy UK for The Sunday Times suggests solar panels “can save you hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year” and achieve payback in less than ten years when combined with a heat pump.

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), which registers installations, says solar photovoltaic (PV) panels were fitted on almost 190,000 UK rooftops last year, confirming the growing solar revolution in Britain.


With soaring fuel costs leading to the current solar scramble, Chris Hewett, Chief executive of Solar Energy UK, described the new high as “truly a moment to celebrate”.


A global energy crisis compounded by the war in Ukraine has driven up bills, the average household’s energy bill rising 5% to £1,928 since energy watchdog, Ofgem, raised the direct debit price cap for the next quarter.


Meanwhile, the cost price of standard solar panels, VAT-free since 2022, has fallen by up to 45% in the past year.


“The economic argument is much stronger than it’s been for many, many years….research suggests that it [solar panel installation] adds value to your home - there’s an expectation now that your home is future-proof.”   Ian Rippin, chief executive of MCS.


How much can I save on bills?

It depends on how many panels you can fit on the roof, how much electricity you consume while the sun shines, if your roof is in the shade or not and whether you have a battery to store energy for use at night.  The roof angle and aspect (35 degrees and south-facing is ideal) and latitude (the further south, the better) make a difference too.

The analysis compared solar savings in two scenarios, which found the typical British home, a draughty Victorian terraced house with gas heating in the middle of the UK, could cut its energy bill by £729 a year by installing a 2kWp solar PV array and a battery.

In the best-case scenario, a 4kWp system with a battery and solar thermal heating could slash the fuel bill of a highly insulated, modern detached house in Portsmouth from £2,212 to £136 a year, saving more than 18 tonnes of carbon (equivalent to 37 flights from London to New York).

“Although the peak of the energy price crisis has long passed, the cost of power remains at historically high levels,” says Gareth Simkins, a spokesman for Solar Energy UK.  “So it is no surprise that installing solar power and other energy efficiency measures continues to be great value for money.”

Can I generate all my own energy?

According to Ofgem, an average three-bedroom home uses 11,500kWh gas for heating and hot water, plus 2,700kWh electricity for lights and appliances every year.  Whereas, according to the Eco Experts, a group of climate-aware writers, a standard 3.5kWp solar PV system can generate 2,645kWh a year. That’s 91% of the home’s electricity and 18% of its total energy use.

Can my car run just on sunshine?

Yes.  Some chargers allow you to power a car directly from your home’s roof.

The average British car drives 5,200 miles a year.   At the average consumption of 0.31kWh a mile you’d need 1,612kWh of energy to cover that distance - about two thirds of what a typical 3.5kWp array generates annually.

Should I get a battery?

A battery stores the solar energy you generate in the day for use at night, so you can be more energy independent.  “You’re always better off using your own energy than exporting it to the grid,” Rippin says.

“At this time of year, when you’re not getting much sun, you can charge your battery cheaply overnight and use it during the day so you don’t have to buy at peak electricity prices,” says Ross Miller, the managing director of Smartly Energy (  Solar batteries can keep you going during a blackout, but some types must be set up to do that, usually at an extra cost.


The size of your solar battery should match your daily energy use: work it out from your bills or smart meter.  A 5kWh battery will power a fridge, a few lights and a TV for ten hours.  Be aware that energy guzzlers such as kettles and hairdryers will eat into that time.

A cheaper alternative to a solar battery is a PV diverter, which sends surplus energy to the immersion heater in your hot water tank instead of selling it to the grid.

Do solar panels work when it is cloudy?

Yes, albeit less effectively.  Shade, such as from buildings, trees or chimneys, limits output, and performance drops in winter.

How long do solar panels last?

Warranties cover 25-30 years, after which performance slowly reduces.   Panels need almost no maintenance, although you should clean them annually, and you may have to replace the inverter after 15 years.   Most home batteries have a ten-year warranty and will slowly lose charge after 15 years or so.  Give us a call on 07468 494 079 or 07515 257 446  if you would like to find out more costs and pricing for your particular property.


LUX ELECTRICAL SERVICES can formulate your energy to fit the best combination of solar panels, batteries, car chargers and air source heat pumps for your property's needs.


For a free survey and quoatation, call us on 07515 257 446  or 07468 494 079 to find out how you can use solar power to save money on your fuel bills today!

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