Page last updated 04 March 2013
Once you've had your solar PV system installed, it's time to start recouping your investment and getting on your way to turning a profit. Take a look at our top six solar PV tips on how to get the most out of your system.
One of the best solar home tips is to try to reduce your overall energy usage. A standard solar PV system is capable of producing up to 75% of your annual electricity needs – so the less electricity you use overall, the more likely it is that your system can provide all the energy you need. This means you'll be left with very low energy bills to pay. Remember, you have to buy any electricity not generated by your system from your electricity company at the standard rate.
Any surplus electricity that you generate is sold back to the National Grid at a rate of 4.5p/kWh – this is far less than the amount you have to pay the electricity company if you run out of solar power (typically about 15p/kWh). To maximise the benefits of your system, try to use the majority of your power in the daytime when your solar panels are creating electricity – use dishwashers, washing machines and irons during daylight hours, and charge laptops and mobile devices in the day rather than at night.
If you have electric storage heaters in your home, then using solar PV electricity to fill them is great way to make the most of your system. Heating can form a large part of your annual energy bills, so using free solar power to fill your heaters can help you save money, as the heat can then be released whenever you need it.
Another top solar PV tip is to invest in storage batteries, which allow you to store your surplus solar electricity without selling it back to the grid. You can then use these batteries to provide you with energy at night or on sun-free days, further reducing your dependence on traditional power suppliers. Be warned: these batteries can be costly and will need replacing every five to ten years.
A more advanced method of making the most of your solar system is using it to provide your home with hot water. This may incur additional costs, as you will need an immersion heater and a number of other components to connect your water and solar systems together. Connecting these systems can cost around £500 and may not be worthwhile if you currently use gas to heat your water.
6. Install an export meter If you are taking part in the Feed-In Tariff scheme, the government assumes that you are exporting around 50% of your solar-generated power and pays you accordingly, regardless of how much you actually export. If you export more than this, you can fit an export meter for around £250, which will make sure you get paid for every kW that you feed into the grid.