Get your home ready for solar.

Don’t forget energy efficiency in the solar rush
With all the Government incentives currently available for installing solar panels, it’s no wonder there’s been a rush of homeowners, eager to cash in on the maximum feed-in tariff rates.
Because of the rush, many homeowners are forgetting to take simple steps before the installation, to make the most of the energy produced once their installation is complete.
There’s little point in saving money in one area if you’re only going to continue wasting it in another. It’ll diminish the return on your investment and certainly won’t be doing the environment any favours either.
But all is not lost – take a look at our handy guide to making the most of your solar installation.
Most solar companies will offer you some form of energy audit. This is a critical first step as it helps you determine exactly how much energy you really use, and can help you reduce that amount. Essential if you’re looking to be totally self sufficient – you don’t want to be paying for generating capacity you don’t really need.
Review your home’s appliances – washing machines, driers etc come in all budgets and flavours but there’s little point in generating free energy if it all goes to power an un-efficient appliance. Consider renewing or upgrading (or just using less) any hungry appliances.
And on the subject of appliances – if you’re buying new energy efficient models, then make sure you make full use, whenever possible, of their energy saving features like low temperature settings or eco wash programmes.
A double glazing salesman once told me that the majority of homeowners who’d had energy efficient double glazing fitted didn’t reap the rewards of their new windows by turning their room thermostats down a notch or two. Your home doesn’t have to be tropical – so turn the thermostat down by a degree or more.
Have you seen the light? Take a careful look around your home and see if you can’t replace any old bulbs with energy efficient ones. Why not go one better and incorporate LED lighting?
Finally, review your homes insulation. There are a few initiatives around at the moment promoting energy efficiency with offers and grants on wall and loft insulation. Re-visit hot water tank and pipe lagging – can it be improved or updated? Any additional insulation will only save you energy.
The same goes for draught excluding – check windows, doors and especially letterboxes. Draught excluder is cheap to buy and easy to fit, but reducing the amount of cold air that gets into your home, increases the energy savings as you’ll find you need to heat your home less.
Most, if not all, of the above we should all be doing already, what with the increases in fuel bills, but it’s even more important to review your home’s efficiency if you’re about to embark on a solar panel installation – if you really want to make the most of this amazing technology and are serious about maximising the return on your investment whilst also lowering your regular energy bills.
Reducing your overall energy usage isn’t a bad thing for the environment either, but of course you already knew that.
photo credit: daniel novta

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