Two years ago Hazel Adams invested £11,000 of her life’s savings in solar panels for her home. “At 78, most people thought I was mad to make this kind of investment but I saw things differently.”
Good Energy supports a growing community of over 55,000 generators across Britain. And from time to time, we like to drop in to see them to find out how they’re getting on.
Hazel agrees to meet with me one overcast day to tell me her story and from the minute we settle down on her living room chairs I know I won’t be disappointed.
“It’s all a matter of perspective,” she says cheerfully as she relaxes back in her chair. “My decision to generate solar power was based on a vision of what I thought the world should look like for my grandchildren. We have a finite amount of resources that are depleting and we should all do our little bit to create a more sustainable energy future.”
But the environment wasn’t the only driver for Hazel, who needed it to make financial sense too. “Generating my own electricity was just an extension of my drive to economise.”
Since moving three years ago, Hazel has looked for every opportunity to make her new home as energy efficient as possible. She explains proudly how she’s installed cavity wall insulation, had new double glazed windows put in and swapped blinds for wooden shutters – all in an effort to minimise the amount of heat escaping, helping to save energy and reduce costs.
As Hazel talks I can’t help but be impressed by her hands on approach. I ask her where this ‘can-do’ attitude comes from and she replies “It’s just common sense”, chuckling as I look at her in awe.
“Growing up in the war – times were hard. Everything was scarce so I learnt to economise by using resources wisely and consuming only that which I’d made myself.”
As Hazel left home and started her own family, her thriftiness came into its own; “I made clothes for my daughters as much as possible and started growing my own vegetables. It was a way to keep costs down.”
After talking with friends who had solar panels, Hazel decided that generating her own electricity would be another sensible way of saving. “Even if I hadn’t seen an immediate return through payments, I knew that having the solar panels would add value to my house in the long run – after all who wouldn’t want to come here and have lower fuel bills?”
Hazel is part of our pioneering HomeGen scheme that pays domestic generators (typically 4kW in size or less) for the electricity they produce. “Since installing the 16 solar panels on my roof, I’ve received over £2000 in payments from Good Energy – helping to reduce my household bills considerably.”
For Hazel “Becoming a generator was the best decision I ever made – all of my thrifty, economizing endeavours don’t compare to this investment. If I’d left the money in the bank, I’d have earned nothing. Now as soon as the sun is shining, I check my meter to see how much money I’m making!”
I wonder if Hazel had seen any other benefits since she started generating solar power. Her eyes light up as she recalls how in tune she’s become with her own energy needs. “You can’t help but become more energy conscious. I know I get more sun in the mornings, so I only use my washing machine and dishwasher then. And in the summer, I now turn off my gas completely and switch on the immersion heater for the hot water.”
Probing for energy saving tips, I ask Hazel what’s next on her agenda. “I’m going to redo my bathroom - changing the toilet to a more water efficient model and installing a shower unit above the bath to reduce water consumption. If I get a lovely big cheque from Good Energy for the electricity I’ve generated, I’m going to put that towards it!”
Before I leave, Hazel explains how she thinks more places would benefit from an investment in renewables; “I look at my local environment, to the open spaces and think that it would be lovely to see ‘good energy’ being generated; the type that doesn’t eat up our resources and helps eliminate harmful toxins and improve our climate - if not for me then definitely for my grandchildren.”
Well said Hazel.