Saving money with solar

Fiona and Steve share their adventure into powering their home and cars with renewable solar energy...

Deciding to install solar panels to your home often comes with a few questions - so we speak to Fiona and Steve about their experience, and how it's benefitted their home and their budget.

Around three years ago, Fiona and Steve started to research the value of having solar panels fitted to their 20-year-old four bedroom family home in Swindon. This was before the current energy crisis, the cost of living crisis and the pandemic; the couple simply felt that it was time for their busy family to start living a greener lifestyle - this included Fiona switching to an EV (read her story here) and Steve to a hybrid, so being able to charge a vehicle at home was essential.

Firstly, Steve researched the market, identified how solar could work for a family home, estimated a cost for solar panels with battery storage, and then they started saving up. Steve then contacted various suppliers for quotes, and used the knowledge gained from his online research to ensure that the couple chose a reputable supplier who recommended the latest in solar panel technology. 

The family were also keen to ensure that their new solar system would be able to smartly link to other devices in the home, such as their immersion heater and smart home apps.

Once Steve and Fiona had selected a supplier, they applied for permission to fit 21 panels across their home – their project required special permission as it was outside of the ‘norm’ in terms of the number of panels they were looking to install. Permission was also needed to install scaffolding on the pavement, to allow the installer to fit the panels safely.

The installation process was then far swifter than Fiona expected;

"When the installer of the panels turned up, it was extremely impressive - he used a pulley system to take the large panels up on to the roof, and took less than a day to install the lot."

Fiona was keen to install solar panels to reduce their rising household energy bills, which had risen from £45 a month when they first moved in 20 years ago to £550 for gas and electricity before switching to solar; the highest their bills had ever been.

After installing the solar panels, the family has seen an immediate reduction in their monthly bills. Fiona swapped to a new tariff with Octopus Energy, and their energy bills are now around £250 per month - a saving of £300 every month. Considering this is during the winter months, Fiona expects to see even lower bills when they can make the most of the summer sunlight hours.

The initial cost of their large solar panel system was around £15,000, so it will take a few years to pay for itself, but the couple are pleased to see that the ROI is already beginning to show, and is helping with their cash flow immediately. All of their equipment is under warranty for a decade, for extra peace of mind. 

"Even on a fairly dull day our panels are powering the house, and on most days we are actually transporting energy to the Grid when our battery storage is at capacity – and we’re barely into Spring!"

Steve and Fiona have gone on to make more energy-saving switches to make the most of the electrity generated by their solar panels;

"Although we still have gas to the house, we swapped our water heating to electric, and we’re now saving for an electric cooker to reduce our gas use as much as possible. We don’t think an air source heat pump will be suitable for our home, but we're looking to install a more energy efficient boiler soon."

If you're looking to install solar panels to your home, you can find out more in our 'Go Solar' section.