Savvy net-zero homeowners hoard energy on the cheap to lower their bills

Savvy net-zero homeowners hoard energy on the cheap to lower their bills

Batteries are often mentioned in the same breath as solar power as a way for homes to become more self-sufficient. However, Skilton has no panels. If it did, he says, it would store the energy they generate instead of exporting it, since the fees for doing so are very low.

He says: “Selling solar power at 5p per kWh is crazy. If you’re going to do anything solar these days, you should store it in a battery.”

Most “net zero homes” run on a “recharge system,” where solar panels and batteries offset some electricity costs, but won’t be enough to meet all of a home’s energy needs, says Paul Knight of Off Grid engineering company. Pro.

Even a house with a Tesla Power Wall, one of the most popular models, using £500 of electricity a month, would run out of stored power before the cheaper rates kicked in overnight. Unlike these, Skilton’s setup is a “whole house system”, meaning the batteries cover 100% of the home’s energy costs.

Green technology comes at a high price, understandably unpleasant during a cost-of-living crisis, but with energy bills unlikely to drop anytime soon, Knight generally advises, if you can afford it, investing £10,000 to £14,000 in a hybrid system of solar panels and batteries.

Households with high levels of energy consumption and money to spare, he argues, should opt for a “whole house system” such as Skilton’s, although this can cost up to £40,000.

However, households with an electric vehicle may already be halfway there. Thanks to vehicle-to-home charging, electric vehicles operate similar to the Skilton battery setup, charging overnight at a low rate and powering the home during the day while idling on the road.

Ovo Energy, a provider, says doing so could save the average driver £920 a year in energy costs, using current rates. This is calculated on an Economy 7 rate, while some providers offer EV-specific rates with even better rates.

However, at present, there are very few such tariffs. Conor Maher-McWilliams, an electric vehicle expert at Ovo, says this is because uptake among providers has been slow and the market is “still at an early stage.”

He says: “Over the next five to 10 years, ‘V2H’ has enormous potential. If your car is there, it becomes a compelling proposition.”

Powering a home on a tariff like Economy 7 depends on smart charging technology, but as Britain reduces its reliance on gas this will mean off-peak hours will be less simple than they are now.

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