In the UK the feed-in tariff scheme or FIT's for short has always been the main focus for people interested in solar. The FIT scheme pays people for generating electricity from their solar panels whether they use that electricity or not. Many have neglected the savings they could be making by installing a solar PV system on their roof.
For those of you who may not have heard about solar panels; they are a renewable energy technology that converts daylight into electricity that can be used to power you household electrical appliances. Notice how I said daylight rather than sunlight, this is because there is a common misconception that solar requires sunlight to work. These panels, particularly the newer types used in the UK are designed to take advantage of our generally duller and cloudy weather here in the UK. It means that even when it is raining they are generating electricity.
If you invest in your own system then you benefit from the payments from the governments FIT scheme and benefit from lower utility bills. Not everyone has the money to spend so if solar panel cost is a problem your other option is to get free solar pv panels from one of the private companies that will cover the cost of the system in return for them getting the FIT grants. Under these circumstances you still get the free electricity that the panels will produce.
So how much can you save?
During the day the PV system on your roof will be generating electricity, when they are not generating power you will continue to use the power provided by your current utility company. As you are generating some of your own electrical power this means that you do not have to buy that power from your energy company, this is the savings you are going to make on your bills.
Obviously the larger the solar system that you have the more it will provide so it is better to compare in terms of percentages. A recent study on solar power usage showed that on average their customers were able to save 37% on their electricity bills. Depending on how much you currently pay on your bills this could add up to £200 a year. This was the average saving but they also found that a quarter of there customer who had the free panels installed had managed to cut their bills in half. They also noted that these particular customers tended to have changed their habits in order to use as much of the free daytime electricity rather than doing things at night. A typical example of this is using the tumble dryer during the day rather than in the evening.
What else can you do to cut your bills?
If you use less electricity you can also cut your bills, sometimes by a significant amount. This may seem like an obvious statement but it is something everyone can easily do by making small changes. The most cost effective way to do this is to install energy saving lights to replace the traditional filament bulbs. The newer energy savers come on instantly and provide a better quality of light more akin to natural daylight. Doing this can reduce your lighting costs to about a fifth of your current costs. This is something that works great with solar as during the night when the panels are not working you will be cutting down on the amount of power you are buying in from your electricity company.