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If you’ve ever wondered about the magic behind achieving substantial savings with a home solar system, you’re in for a treat. We recently had a sit-down with Samantha, the co-owner and Director at ASK-Renewables, to delve into the intricacies of managing her own home solar setup. The burning question that frequently crosses Samantha’s path is, “How do I manage my home solar system?” And she’s here to spill the secrets.

 

Introduction

 I’m Samantha, the co-owner and Director at ASK-Renewables. One burning question that consistently comes my way is, “How do I manage my home solar system?”.

In a nutshell, the beauty of it is that you can take a hands-off approach. We’ll expertly install the system as per our agreed specifications, and voilà! You can pretty much let it be, witnessing the benefits unfold almost instantly. A quick weekly check on your monitoring is all that’s required to ensure the system is living up to its promises.

Yet, should you choose to invest as little as 5 minutes each day delving into the weather forecast, contemplating your anticipated energy needs, and perhaps making a few tweaks to battery charge settings if necessary, you might find yourself making additional substantial savings on your electricity bill. It’s a small effort with potentially big rewards.

 

Real World Example – My Home

 I practise what I preach, and my home is a testament to that commitment. Powering my home is 11.6 kilowatts of solar panels on Emphase microinverters which soak up the sun from the South, East, and West. This is then channelled into two LUX Power Squirrel Pods (3.6kw each). But it doesn’t stop there; hooked up to the Squirrel Pods are 4 brand-new Hanchu 9.4kw batteries. Apart from the gas hob, my home runs entirely from my home solar system, we have an air source heat pump for heating and hot water, and our annual consumption from the grid roughly 8000kwh per annum or more. For the past eight years, I’ve admittedly taken my solar setup for granted. It wasn’t until we made a significant investment in installing the four Hanchu 9.4kw batteries that I truly began to pay attention.

Here’s a snapshot of our energy generation and consumption over the past three months. It’s important to note that comparing £ figures to last year may not offer significant insights, given our previous adherence to a standard, capped tariff. However, I can make comparisons to the price cap in my area at the time and it’s worth mentioning that our energy generation and consumption patterns remained quite consistent between ’22 and ’23.

 

Generation kwh Grid Consumption kwh £ per kwh

Cost excl. Standing Charge

 

 

Vs Price Cap @ 33.45p Savings
Oct ‘23 425 566 0.1110 62.82 189.33 126.48
Nov ‘23 236 1087 0.1457 158.37 363.60 205.23
Dec ‘23 112 1396 0.0985 137.51 466.96 329.45
Totals 3049 £358.70 1019.89 661.16

 

 

What Tariff Do I Use?

Since the spring of ’23, we’ve shifted to the Octopus Agile tariff. For those unfamiliar, the Octopus Agile tariff operates on a variable pricing model with half-hourly rates determined by wholesale costs. We receive these half-hourly costs at approximately 4 pm the day before. So, around 4 pm, I can see the anticipated electricity costs per half-hour for the upcoming day. This tariff is commonly referred to as a time-of-use tariff, signifying that electricity prices vary from being higher during peak consumption periods to cheaper during off-peak hours.

 

 

Planning For The Day Ahead

 After dinner, I spend 5 minutes checking the next day’s weather. From this I can take an educated guess as to how much energy our solar panels will generate, understand the expected outdoor temperatures, and determine how much my air source heat pump will consume to keep my house warm. I also think about our evening plans like if we’re using the oven or running appliances such as the washing machine, tumble dryer, or dishwasher. From this information I can begin to adjust settings accordingly.

For example, I can decide how many half-hour slots I want to use to charge the batteries from the grid. The LUX Power units talk to Octopus and know the cost of my electricity. Since the end of October, I’ve increased the number of overnight slots for battery charging from 8 to 10 and then to 12. The LUX Power unit picks the 12 cheapest half-hour slots to charge my batteries.

The main goal here is to use as little electricity from the grid during peak times as possible. If I need a quick battery top-up in the afternoon before prices go up in the evening, I just press a button on the app to get an hour’s charge into the batteries.

 

Summary

Similar to many aspects of life, your PV and storage system investment can yield greater returns when you invest a bit of attention. The more effort you put into monitoring and adjusting settings, such as optimising charging schedules or considering energy usage patterns, the more significant benefits you can reap from your investment. It’s a simple equation: a little attention can go a long way in maximising the efficiency and returns of your solar and storage setup. As an example, my projected price per kWh for January is currently 12 pence, emphasising the importance of staying informed and actively managing your energy-related decisions to make the most of your investment.

Samantha Kidd

Co-Owner & Director

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Sam