Back in February when my partner and I decided to take the plunge and splash out £6,500 (gulp) on getting solar panels installed we knew it would save us money and help cut our carbon. What we didn't expect was how enjoyable we'd find owning a solar setup.
Installing the system was amazingly hassle-free. In fact, because our rig was commissioned just a couple of days before a change in the Feed in Tariff, getting the paperwork in to the power company was the tensest part of the whole operation.
Before the power company replaced it with an updated model, our old fashioned electricity meter went backwards when the sun shone
Once it was done, we found ourselves in possession of eight solar panels, a big red emergency switch and a fascinating new meter showing how much electricity we'd generated. For a couple of weeks before the power company replaced it with an updated model, our old fashioned disc electricity meter went backwards when the sun shone - very satisfying to see!
Having these meters was massive fun, and for the first few weeks they were checked at least three times a day, often with a quick calculation of how much money the rig had made for us so far.
Visitors to the house were given due opportunity to see the numbers ticking up, before being trotted outdoors for the best view of the panels themselves. Most were highly enthusiastic, keen to chat about how much it cost, how much it would save, how long it would take to pay off (around six years, since you ask), and so on.
We've calmed down a bit now, but a quick peek at the meter to see how much power we've generated that day is still a guaranteed pick-up. It's changed how aware we are of our power use too - before getting solar pv the total on the 'leccy meter was something to either ignore or worry about. Now we check it regularly, are better about switching things off, and spend ages researching cunning plans to use our clean, free renewable energy rather than pricey, carbon intensive power from the National Grid.
So, how do the figures add up? Well, our setup was commissioned just before the Feed in Tariff, paid for every kWh (kilowatt hour) generated by renewables, dropped from 43.3p, so that's the rate we get. We also get 3.2p for the electricity that we make but don't use, which is exported to the Grid. Because there's no meter in the house that measures that, it's estimated by the power company as half of all we generate.
At the moment of writing, we've generated 906.08 kWh, which works out as £392.26, since the beginning of March. And what's better, is that it also works out as 389.61kg of CO2. So, for me, solar has saved money, saved carbon, and is a ball to own!