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Get the most from your solar PV panels

Some of our homes have solar PV panels on them to help generate electricity. They were fitted a few years ago following a survey which told us which homes would benefit the most.

They work by using light from the sun to generate free electricity during the day. The electricity either gets used up when you use electricity at home or sent to the National Grid if it’s not used up straight away.

Over the course of a year, your panels should reduce your electricity bills, but only if they are used in the right way.

It’s important that you check your solar meter regularly to ensure it is working properly, as well as understanding how they can save you money on your energy bills and what the maximum savings are.

There are lots of myths when it comes to powering your home using solar PV panels, so, let’s clear them up.  

Myth #1 “The flashing red light on my solar panel meter means my panels aren't working.”

This is the opposite. Your solar meter has a number of LED displays on it and the red flashing light on your solar PV meter on the centre indicator means that your solar panels are generating electricity. The faster the light flashes, the more electricity is generated.

If the indicator switches to constant red, this means no energy is being measured and it’s important that you contact us straight away by calling 0330 303 3000 and press option 1.

Myth #2 “Solar PV panels means I never have to pay for my electricity.”

Solar panels will save you money on your electricity bill. In fact you could up to £95 and £230 a year on your bill depending on the size of your household. However, you still need to pay for the electricity you use through your energy provider as you won’t be able to generate enough electricity from your solar panels alone.

To keep your electricity bills down, it’s important that you keep an eye on your unit rate and the tariff you’re on. Let your energy provider know that you have solar panels installed, this should reduce your unit rate. If you think your unit rate could be too high compared to how much electricity you use or your bills have increased, it might be time to switch providers.

Our benefits and energy advice team are on hand to help you switch and advise which provider would be best for you. 

Myth #3 "Solar panels need sunshine to work and there’s never any sun in the UK!”

Probably the most common misconception about solar panels is that they only work in direct sunlight and, since the UK isn’t known for its sunshine, they are not much use.

This simply isn’t true as luckily your solar PV panels need daylight to work too, not just sunshine! So they still generate substantial amounts of electricity when it’s cloudy and throughout the winter months.

Myth #4 “Solar PV panels increase the cost of my electricity bill”

Having solar panels will bring your electricity costs down, but we recommend that you keep an eye on how you use your power. Usually, the average household’s electricity usage is lower during the day and then it peaks in the evening - when the kids get home from school, or you finish work.  People tend to use most of their daily usage between 6-9pm, with the peak at around 8pm.

If you have lots of different electrical appliances running at the same time, during the evening peak, this can cause your bills to increase as the demand for electricity is greater.

One way to combat this and lower your bills is by making simple switches to avoid using too much electricity during these times. Turning your appliances off standby and not using your washing machine and vacuum cleaner at the same time, for example, will reduce the amount of energy that you’re using.

Myth #5 “I can’t change energy suppliers, if I have solar PV panels.”

If you find a better deal for your electricity bills, don’t let having solar panels put you off. You can switch anytime to any provider.

Changing suppliers when you have solar panels works just the same as any other switch. The main thing to remember is always let your provider know that you have solar PV panels, so it’s factored into your tariff.

Our benefits and energy advice team are on hand to help you switch and save money. 

Myth #6 “Solar PV panels don’t make a difference to the environment.”

They certainly do! Using solar energy to power the appliances in your home is a great way to do your bit for the environment.

By having solar panels on your roof, you’re reducing your consumption of electricity from coal and gas, cutting down your carbon footprint. Solar power is clean, non-polluting sustainable energy and therefore it has a positive impact on the environment.

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