Winter may have passed but many households are still feeling the pinch of inflated energy bills. According to government data, the average annual gas and electricity costs for the “typical” household peaked was £2,500 between October 2022 to March 2023, though one homeowner managed to spend much less. Geraint Williams, 50, spent just £60 a month after getting solar panels for his semi-detached property.
Geraint is from Tonteg, South Wales, and lives in a three-bed semi-detached house in the valleys. Like most people in the UK, he struggled to contend with rising living costs following the energy price hike and inflation of food prices at the end of 2022.
Faced with huge bills for everyday expenses, the homeowner took the decision to invest in solar panels as a means of reducing the cost of running a warm, functioning household in winter.
He said: “My bills have more than doubled and this has meant I have less expendable income. I only use the smaller retail shops for essentials now and I use cheaper supermarkets instead to buy my main groceries.
“The higher price of fuel has also affected how much I go out as I calculate how much it will cost before I travel. I had a smart meter installed, which opened my eyes to just how much it costs to use different appliances in the home, so I started looking into solar panels as a way to reduce my energy bills.”
While the environmental benefits of switching to renewable, solar energy are undeniable, many Britons are put off by steep upfront costs.
But according to Geraint, it was easier than he thought and has saved him hundreds of pounds since September last year.
He explained: “I wanted to get them for a couple of reasons – cheaper monthly outgoings, but also because of the 25-year guarantee. This longevity means it will still be benefitting me well into my pension years, which is a time in my life when I will need financial help the most.”
After shopping around, he chose Energise EV to supply nine 400KW panels, spread across two sections of the roof at the front of his family home to soak up the best of the Welsh sunshine.
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The total cost was £9,000 for the panels and installation, but Geraint was able to apply for the £1,000 eco grant from Rhondda Cynon Taf council. This reduced his total bill to £8,000.
While he noted that not everyone has the means to spend thousands on solar panels, and that “more needs to be done” to make renewable energy more affordable, he is still in awe of the savings he has made.
Geraint said: “The solar panels have slashed the cost of my energy bills, and even on a cloudy day I can go off-grid if we’re not using any large appliances that day.
“My energy bills would have been around £220 a month before September 2022, but, with the panels installed, my monthly bill in the peak of winter came down to around £120, which is a huge reduction.”
He continued: “With the government energy support on top, I was only paying £60 a month in the winter that’s just gone, and when it comes to the summer months, I expect my bills to come down to zero as our energy consumption decreases.”
As well as saving money without changing his usage habits, the 50-year-old will also earn on extra energy he puts back into the national grid.
Geraint has already earned a return of £10 so far but with summer on the way, his solar panels could stand to generate much more.
This is covered under the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), which entitles solar panel users to pay for every unit of electricity fed back to the grid.
While the average household will take 11 years to recoup the installation costs of solar panels according to the Money Saving Expert, they do come with some instant results.
Aside from lower monthly energy bills, Geraint noted that one of the biggest benefits is being able to track how much energy his panels are producing through the app.
Analysing this data allows homeowners to determine the best time of day to use energy-guzzling appliances, like washing machines and tumble driers.
He said: “The greatest satisfaction for me comes when you see £0 on the smart meter when these types of appliances are running.”
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