DAD-of-three Andy McGann claims that installing solar panels on his house has saved him almost £1,200 in the past year on electricity.
Energy consultant Andy McGann, 34, from South Leicestershire, lives in a six-bed house with his wife and three kids.
He has 24 solar panels on his home – and they work by collecting sunlight, which is then generated into electricity.
The benefit of this is that because you are generating your own power, you don’t have to buy it from an energy supplier – and Andy has made some big savings as a result.
“My bills are so low because you generate power for free from the sun and store it in a battery for when you need it,” he said.
“We live in a six bed house – our bills would be absolutely huge if we didn’t have solar panels.”
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The reduced bills are particularly important at the moment, when many households are grappling with soaring energy costs.
The energy price cap was increased by 54% at the start of April, bringing the average household energy bill to £1,971 a year.
But those living in bigger houses, like Andy's, will be paying even more.
Over the past 12 months, Andy said he has used approximately 16,500kWh of electricity in total to power his home.
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This is based on meter readings he has taken over this period.
Approximately 9,400kWh of this energy was generated by solar power.
According to Uswitch, this amount of electricity would have cost £1,176 from his supplier, Octopus Energy, based on the assumption he uses 80% of his energy in the day and 20% at night.
However, the UK is not exactly known for its constant sunny weather, and Andy admits that sometimes his solar panels do not produce enough energy.
Over the past year, Andy has paid his provider Octopus £886 for the 7,089kWh extra electricity he needed to power his home. He has also paid £330 for gas.
The technology, which was installed in 2019, costs thousands of pounds.
Andy took out a £4,500 loan out for his solar panels with Allium Money. He has to make a minimum monthly repayment of £53, which means he would pay £1,938 in interest.
He paid £8,500 in cash. In total they cost him £13,000.
He has a 30-year warranty on the panels, but said solar panels should last 40 to 50 years.
“I installed solar panels because I want to be clean and green for my kids and I want to reduce my carbon footprint – but I’m also financially savvy,” he said.
“Paying energy bills is like renting – it never ends, the price can go up, and you're losing money to someone else.”
But there is a catch to using the solar panels – Andy's energy usage is higher than average because he's using electric heaters to warm his home to avoid switching on his gas central heating.
He says that choosing the right electricity tariff is also crucial to keep bills down.
Andy is on an Octopus Go tariff, which means he is charged a separate rate for electricity used during the day, compared to during the night.
During the day he is charged 30p per kWh, and during the night – between 12.30am and 4.30am – he is charged 7.5p per kWh.
The tariff is designed for people with electric cars so they can charge their vehicles during off-peak hours and save money.
But Andy uses the tariff to charge his solar panel battery at night when rates are cheapest.
The battery stores the energy produced by the solar panels – and Andy can then tap into this power when he needs it.
His solar panel battery uses up a lot of electricity in order to charge too. Andy said he pays Octopus around £41 a month in extra.
Homes with solar panels that produce more energy than they use can also choose to sell power back to the grid – this could leave some households in profit.
However, this is not as easy as it used to be. The Government used to provide generous feed-in tariffs (FIT) to homeowners with solar panels, to encourage more to be installed.
But the FIT scheme closed in March 2019 and households can no longer apply, meaning newbies to solar panels will not be able to benefit.
And while the cost of electricity has soared in recent months, the price households are being paid for selling excess power has not kept up with the rising rates.
Suppliers can charge customers 28p per kWh for each unit of electricity they use but they only get 1.5p per kWh for the excess power they buy back.
This means Andy is one of many choosing to keep hold of his power.
How much do solar panels cost?
How much solar panels cost will vary depending on your installer and how many solar panels you have.
Energyhelpline.com says 12 panels should provide enough electricity for a family of four and needs around 20 square metres of roof space.
Installation for this would cost roughly £6,000, it says.
But ongoing costs are low. A piece of tech in the panels called an inverter will need replacing around every 25 years and should set you back around £800.
The big costs behind solar power could be why only 970,000 homes have them installed, according to latest government figures.
It's also important to be realistic about how much energy your panels can produce.
Clearly, solar panels need sunshine to operate so their efficiency will depend on where you are in the country and which direction your roof faces.
Energyhelpline estimates that a three-bedroom house in the South of England could expect to save around £400 a year if it had solar panels.
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The Energy Saving Trust has a calculator that can help you work out how much you are likely to save.
We've looked at how much solar panels cost and schemes that could help you to recoup those costs.
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