Home Energy Systems

Manage Energy Costs
One of the areas of most concern to households is inflation, and particularly the rising cost of energy. I thought that I’d focus this short blog on what I’ve done to mitigate these increases and manage my energy costs through my retirement.

Manage energy costs

One of the areas of most concern to households is inflation and particularly the rising cost of energy both in the UK and across the world. As such, I thought that I’d focus this short blog on what I’ve done to mitigate these increases and put my energy security and costs in a good place through my retirement. It is worth restating, that it isn’t always about the capital cost of home upgrades such as solar, batteries and heat pumps. It’s about creating a stable, secure and low-cost system that minimises your outgoings and leaves more for the fun things in life.

Over the last few years have spent about £20,000 on upgrading my home – a lot of money you might say, and I’m sure many would argue that I’ll never recoup my investment… But my philosophy is, that I might have spent that £20k on a world cruise or a new car and no questions would be asked… I made a conscious decision to invest in things that reduced my energy and living costs – little did I know how fortuitous this investment would be and what a massive impact it would have on my finances moving forward.

What I invested in

In short, what I did with my home energy upgrades was initially to install as many solar panels as would fit on my roof. I ignored those who were more cautious and advised me only to install panels on my south facing roof. At the same time, I installed a home battery (Tesla Powerwall 2) which provides 13.5kW storage. I also installed an Eddi solar power diverter, which is a nifty bit of kit that diverts excess solar energy into heating domestic hot water. Lastly, I ripped out my ageing gas boiler and installed in its place, an Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP) to take care of my needs for heating and hot water. Thankfully with the ASHP I managed to qualify for the government scheme The Green Homes Grant which paid £5,000 of the £7,500 cost making it no more expensive than a replacement gas boiler.

So, what difference does all this tech make to my energy bills?

Well, for about 7 months of the year (April to October) my bills are minimal – on most days my 6kW of solar produces more than enough energy to run my home and charge the battery to full – which then takes me through the night to the following morning. I have to pay the standing charge of about £15 a month, but around £20-25 per month is normal.

What about during winter?

Through the darker colder months my costs do increase however, but not nearly as much as others without the tech, might experience. My strategy involves what’s known as load shifting. As I own an electric vehicle (EV) I qualify for a special tariff from Octopus Energy called Go Faster. What this gives me is a split electric tariff, with a daytime rate of 34p per kWh and a 5-hour nighttime rate of 8.25p per kWh.

The idea with load shifting is to move as much of your electric usage to those cheaper 5 hours, which in my case is from 1:30am to 6:30am… This allows me to charge my home storage battery at the cheap overnight rate, charge my car to full and in addition my heat pump heats the hot water and warms the house to 20 degrees. So by 6:30am I have hot water, a warm house and full batteries both for the car and for the home.

The total cost for this overnight use (excluding the car) is between £1-2. This will vary depending on how much energy is left in the battery from the previous day and how hard the heat pump has to work to heat the house. From 6:30am I use any solar produced to run the home, including heating – at this time of the year I would expect to get to sundown with a full Powerwall ready to provide energy through the evening for cooking and heating.

75% Saving!!

It is difficult to be precise in terms of full year costs, but based on last year’s usage, my expectation is that my total energy bill for the year will be around £600 and that includes some car charging. With a so-called “price cap” being at £2,500 for the average family, I think it is fair to say that my bills are at least a quarter of what they might be had I not invested in these energy systems. Whilst smart meters on a conventional home energy setup provides visibility of usage, I feel my setup has enabled me to manage my energy costs. I will follow up with further blog posts which will go into greater details around the technology and also specific usage demands of the average home.

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