Do you want to reduce your reliance on the energy grid, protect yourself from volatile prices and become more self-sufficient at home? This article explains five areas you should look at.

1. Generate electricity by installing solar panels

With electricity prices remaining high, you could save £300-900 a year on your electricity bills by installing solar panels – while adding value to your home and reducing your home’s contribution to climate change.

Depending on the size of your solar array, and how much of electricity you use, you could pay back your initial investment in under ten years.

With solar panels lasting over 20-25 years, that’s years of savings to look forward to.

How many solar panels do you need?

The number of solar panels you choose to install is limited by your budget, your roof space, and the type of electricity meter you have (single phase or three phase). There are also limits on how much households can export back to the grid without approval from the local district network operator – most households are able to install up to around 12-16 panels or 4kW. A 4kW system will generate around 3,400 kWh of electricity per year.

It makes sense to install as many solar panels as your budget and space allows – as the labour and scaffolding hire make up a large proportion of your install costs. This will also future proof your needs as a household for electricity-intensive upgrades like an electric car or electrified heating.

You’ll be able to see the solar energy you are generating, as well as how much energy you are using in real time using an app on your smartphone or tablet – meaning you can make sure you get the best value from your home-grown energy.

2. Up your insulation

Making sure your home is well insulated is incredibly important in becoming more energy self sufficient. It will help you to use far less energy to heat your home, reducing your heating bills and increasing your comfort. Your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a good place to start to see what home efficiency improvements need to be carried out.

Loft insulation

Up to 25% of a home’s heat can be lost through the loft. Adding proper insulation here can be very cost effective – most homes will recoup the cost in energy bill savings in only two years.

Wall insulation
  • Cavity walls (two walls with a small gap in between) can be insulated from around £1000, with the work paying for itself in only three years.
  • Solid walls (one thick wall) are more expensive to insulate as it can involve adding an additional insulating layer. This work starts from around £8,500, but can be carried out on a room by room basis or bundled with other home improvements to lower the cost.

3. Electrify your heating

Electrifying your heating is a really important step in becoming more energy self-sufficient and reducing your reliance on oil or gas.

Choosing a heat pump is one of the most impactful ways to reduce your individual carbon emissions. This is because electricity, even if it comes from the grid rather than your own rooftop, is much lower carbon than directly burning oil or gas.

How much electricity do heat pumps use?

While the best modern boilers are around 90% efficient, a heat pump is up to 350% efficient. This means the power used to run them generates almost four times as much heat energy.

So, switching to a heat pump reduces your energy needs, and cuts your home’s carbon footprint by a huge 65%.

The average home uses around 12,000 kWh of gas for heating and hot water every year – so by switching to a heat pump, around 4,000kWh of electricity would be needed provide that heat.*

Can you run a heat pump on solar panels?

Heat pumps are compatible with solar panels, so you can use some of the electricity you generate to run your heat pump. Unless you have a very large array and battery storage, you’ll likely still need to draw power from the grid to power your heat pump – especially during darker winter months when less solar power is being generated.

4. Electrify your transport

Switching to an EV is another great way to sever ties with fossil fuels, and have greater control over the energy you use.

There is no getting around it, charging up an electric car does use a lot of electricity. Cars in the UK drive an average of 20 miles a day – that’s around 5kWh or £2 on your energy bills each day. But it is significantly cheaper, and better for your carbon footprint than filling up with petrol or diesel. And if you charge up with the power you generate at home, you’ll be adding miles for free.

Read our recent article comparing the cost of driving an EV with a petrol-powered car here.

5. Store the energy you generate

Battery storage is often installed alongside solar panels to help households to use all of the energy they generate by storing it for later use.

The average home uses about 8kWh of electricity every day, and household batteries can vary in size from 1.2 kWh to 16 kWh.

If you’re considering a battery, it’s a good idea to get one that could cover your evening and night usage, or a cloudy day where not much electricity is being generated.

Battery storage

Battery storage also sets you up to benefit from time of use tariffs when they are more widely available. You will be able to charge your battery from the grid during off peak hours, and then use the cheaper electricity on cloudy winter days when your solar panels aren’t generating much electricity.

You will be able to manage your battery storage capacity, and view how much you are generating, using and storing using an app on your smartphone or tablet.

The future is electric

As clean technologies develop, there are more and more ways to make our homes energy self-sufficient. From installing heat pumps to providing smart meters so you can see exactly what you’re using, Good Energy is here to help you switch away from fossil fuels, cut your bills and protect our planet.

*The figure of 4,000kWh is an indication of how much electricity a heat pump might use. It will vary from house to house and depends on local weather, the ductwork and insulation, the property’s condition and size as well as a correctly designed heating system.