10 Top Tips to Increase Solar Self-Consumption

  • Carbon Reduction
  • Renewable Energy
  • Jun 21, 2024

There are many advantages of solar energy, such as lower costs, lower carbon and lower risk, but what solar offers, more than any other low-carbon tech, is return on investment (RoI). What’s the fastest way to get pay back on your investment? It’s about maximising self-consumption. We’ve got 10 top tips to help you use more solar energy:

  1. Conduct an Energy Audit:
    • Want to know how much energy you really use daily? Start with a smart meter to track your electricity consumption from the grid and your solar production. This helps you see when you’re using the most energy and how it lines up with your solar generation. Most good solar systems have a monitoring dashboard.
    • Retrofit for Better Energy Efficiency: Older office and commercial premises can be energy hogs. While big retrofits can be pricey, even small improvements can make a big difference. Think about investing in energy-efficient upgrades over time to save money and reduce your reliance on the grid.
  2. Install Insulation:
    • Heating and cooling are big energy users. Insulation helps keep your premises at a comfortable temperature longer, reducing your need for heating in winter and cooling in summer. This means more of your energy needs can be met by your solar panels.
  3. Switch to LED Light Bulbs:
    • LEDs use way less energy than traditional bulbs and last longer. Since lights are used more after dark, switching to LEDs can reduce the amount of grid electricity you use.
  4. Switch to Electric Vehicles:
    • Thinking about an electric vehicle? It’s the future, and you can charge it when your solar panels are pumping out energy. This cuts down on your carbon footprint and reduces filling costs, from around 60p/kWh on the public charging network to under 5p/kWh! Try our free carbon reduction planning tool to find the right EVs for your business
  5. Charge During the Day:
    • Instead of charging overnight, charge them during the day when your solar panels are generating power. This includes electric vehicles, and everything from phones to lithium ion power tool batteries.
  6. Charging for employees

Employers must decide whether to charge staff for plugging in their cars at work. Electricity is not classed as a vehicle fuel by HMRC, so there are no benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax implications if an organisation wishes to provide free charging to employees. But HMRC has made it clear that employers are likely to need to account for or, perhaps, charge for in future.

Charge points can be operated by staff RFID (radio-frequency identification) cards, apps, or contactless cards provided by the company which installs and manages the units.

If drivers have to pay for using workplace charge points, they can claim for business mileage from their employer, with Advisory Electricity Rate (AER) currently at 5 pence per mile (ppm).

  1. Use Power Tools at midday:
    • It sounds obvious, but use solar power for energy-intensive operations during the day to cut down on evening and nighttime grid electricity use.
  2. Improve Your premises’s Building Envelope:
    • Seal gaps around windows and doors to keep your premises’s temperature steady. A well-sealed premises means less energy is needed for heating and cooling, allowing more use of solar-generated electricity.
  3. Consider a Solar Battery:
    • A solar battery stores energy for later use, letting you use solar power even when the sun isn’t shining. This can significantly increase your solar self-consumption, but comes at a cost. Batteries aren’t cheap.
  4. Use an Energy Management Systems (EMS):
    • An EMS tracks your energy use and can help optimize when different appliances run. Some systems let you control everything from your phone, making it easier to use solar power efficiently.

By following these tips, you can make the most of your solar panels, reduce your reliance on the grid, and save on energy costs. Every step you take moves you closer to being more self-sufficient and solar-powered.