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Get Smart: How Solar PV, LEDs and Smart Meters can slash your Energy Consumption

The benefits of solar energy are widely known but both your energy bills and carbon emissions could decrease massively by utilising new technology along with your PV system which are designed to save energy further.

The positive environmental impact of solar panels is widely known and they’re increasing in popularity due to the fact they produce no harmful emissions like other forms of energy generation and consumers are not tied to pulling energy from the electricity grid. More than ever we see rooftops speckled with the shimmering black of domestic solar panels as they become more commonplace.

A 4kWp system installed can save nearly two tonnes of carbon per year and generate 3,500kwh of energy for the home to use over the same time.† Whether you already have solar panels installed, or are considering the change this article takes you one step further and explains the huge benefits installing energy saving extras alongside your panels can generate.

Why install solar panels?

Installing solar panels will help decrease your electricity bills, with worrying increases every year consumers can now take control of their own electricity supply. The sun is completely free, once you've paid for the installation of your panels, your electricity costs will automatically reduce.

There are government approved schemes the world over that incentivises consumers to install solar panels, these Feed-in Tariff scheme pay you for every unit of electricity the electricity you generate over the lifetime of the system (20 years). If your system is producing more electricity than you need, households are able sell the surplus back to the grid through the Export-in Tariff scheme; about half of what you produce will be exported back to the grid.

In January 2016, the government slashed the domestic Feed in Tariff rates from 12.03pence to 4.39pence with the export tariff remaining at 4.85pence. Every quarter the government reviews these rates and they are subject to further reductions each quarter.† Deployment caps were also introduced in order to keep annual expenditure below £100m. This means if your system is installed and registered after the cap is met, you won't be eligible for the Feed in Tariff until the next quarter, with no guarantee that the rate will stay the same.† The next quarter begins April 1st 2016 with a new rate of 4.32pence and 3.89pence if affected by a deployment cap.† Now is definitely the time to act for consumers looking to gain the highest return on investment on your solar PV system.

Installing solar panels don’t just enable you to save money, but most importantly they cut your carbon footprint. Solar electricity is completely renewable energy and doesn't release any harmful carbon dioxide or other dangerous emissions.

How else can I save energy

Solar panel installation should go hand in hand with energy consumption reduction, by making energy saving changes you may be able to. After installing your panels, you might have to reconsider the way you use energy in order to reap the greatest rewards from them, utilisng your panels properly will make huge differences to your savings.

Techniques such as installing LED bulbs are two great low cost, easy to install, options for improving your carbon footprint by reducing your energy consumption. LED lighting technology has improved greatly in the last few years, no longer do consumers need to suffer the dull glow as they warm up. LED bulbs use 90% less energy than their old fashioned filament predecessors. Traditional bulbs typically accounts for around 10-20% of your electricity bill. †Replacing all your bulbs with LEDs can save you up to £7.50 per bulb per year! Not only that but LED bulbs last up to 50,000 hours, 50 times longer than filament bulbs and 20 times longer than a Halogen. Each LED will last you over 10 years. Although LED bulbs are slightly more expensive to buy initially, they will amount to huge savings over their lifetime, making dramatic reductions on your energy bills.

The buzz word of 2016 is “smart” - almost every piece of technology we own is now interactive, but did you know this can be applied to your energy system now too? Our once humble homes have finally caught up in the race to go smart. Gone are the days of fiddling with a difficult, manual thermostat. With 60% of your energy costs being spent on your home and with ever rising prices upgrading to smart heating controls to use in tandem with your solar panels allows you to take control of your energy once and for all.

Before smart heating controls, you had to grapple with a traditional programmer that required manual input. Now you can control your household’s heating from anywhere in the world using your smartphone, tablet, laptop and even your smart watch! Not only this but certain models can be programmed to learn your behavior and implement savings on your behalf. The Energy Saving Trust state households energy usage can reduce by between 5 and 15% in the first year of using an energy monitor. Smart heating controls allow consumers to see and control the energy they’re using in real time and reduce their usage instantly without anxiously waiting for a quarterly consumption statement.

Where do I start?

Before installing a PV system it’s worth knowing you will only be eligible for the Feed in Tariff scheme if your installation is completed by an MCS accredited company. Before you install your system you should have a bespoke performance estimate completed on your home by a registered Domestic Energy Assessor.† This will allow you to see how much your system could generate and what you will be paid over the Feed in Tariff duration. †Consumers must bear in mind that these rates are only available to homes with an EPC rating of D or above, Households with an E rated EPC will receive a lower Feed-in-Tariff rate.

By cutting your energy consumption by installing LED bulbs and a home monitoring smart meter means it could be possible to install a smaller, lower cost solar PV system. †On average you could earn £400 a year through the Feed in Tariff if you install typical 4kW system. The environmental and individual benefits of solar PV are vast, but with the added benefits of LED bulbs and a smart energy monitorComputer Technology Articles, can you afford not to install them?

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Suzanne Vallance is a content writer for DMS Energy Solutions. Since working with companies who focus is reducing the UK's carbon footprint her interest in sustainability has grown.

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