Category - Solar
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Will Scholfield, Engineer

3 Oct : Updated 9 Apr ● 6 min read

How do solar panels impact your electricity bill?

One of the main benefits of switching to solar energy is the reduction you’ll see in your electricity bill. 

Installing solar panels can reduce your electricity bill by as much as £1,180* a year, so it’s definitely worth investigating how much this renewable energy source could save you. 

But, what does harnessing the sun’s energy mean for your energy bill? Here, we explore how solar panels work with your electricity bill, how they can affect your monthly energy bill, and how you make money by selling excess electricity back to the grid. But first, let’s take a quick look at how solar panels work…  

How do solar panels work? 

Solar panels are made from photovoltaic (PV) cells that absorb sunlight. This energy is then transferred into direct current (DC) electricity, before being converted into alternating current (AC), which travels through your fuse box and into your home to power appliances. 

This is only a very brief description of how a solar PV system works, but for a more in-depth explanation, why not read our guide ‘How do solar panels work?’. 

How do solar panels work alongside your electricity supply? 

In this section, we explore what happens once your solar panels have been installed. Including the steps that need to be taken for you to understand how much energy you use.

If you’re interested in having solar panels installed, explore our complete guide to the solar panel installation process here.   

How are solar panels connected to the national grid?

Before we install solar panels for you, we will notify your distribution network operator (DNO) about the installation - typically, this is done 14 days before installation takes place. 

The DNO needs to know about your solar panel system to cater for your newly generated energy and ensure their network’s efficiency. Your region’s DNO will inspect and test your solar panel system to ensure it’s all working properly, too. 

It is important to note that the DNO is not your energy supplier, but a regional operator that owns and maintains the wires that carry electricity from the national grid to your home. To see which DNO operates in your area, visit the Electricity Network Association’s website and enter your postcode or check out the table below:

Northern ScotlandSSE
South and Central ScotlandSP Energy Networks
North East England and YorkshireNorthern Powergrid
North West EnglandElectricity North West
North Wales, Merseyside and CheshireSP Energy Networks
East Midlands, West Midlands, South Wales and South West England Western Power Distribution (part of the National Grid Group)
East England, London and South East EnglandUK Power Networks 
Southern EnglandSSE

How do solar panels affect your electricity bill?

Once the DNO has inspected and signed off on your system, your home’s primary energy source will automatically switch to solar, and you’ll only use electricity from the national grid once the energy generated by your solar panels has been used.  

Basically, the only difference you’ll see is a drop in how much your energy bills cost. 

What’s the average monthly bill with solar panels?

If you invest in a solar battery, which stores excess solar energy, you could save as much as £1,180 a year on your electricity bill. Discover everything you need to know about solar batteries in our complete guide.

Another thing to consider is how much it costs to have solar panels installed initially. For more information on paying for solar panels, take a look at our 2023 guide to solar panel prices.

What factors affect solar panels’ impact on your energy bill? 

While you can expect to save a good amount of money every month with a solar PV system installed, some factors will affect how much energy your panels generate, including:

  • The size of the solar system
  • The position of the solar PV panels and exposure to direct sunlight (panels will generate more energy on a south-facing roof)
  • Your current household energy usage
  • The cost of electricity in your area
  • Weather conditions 

How to get the most out of your solar panel system

Here are six ways to get the most out of your solar system: 

1. Positioning and orientation of the panels

To generate the most solar power, your solar panels need to be positioned in a way that will guarantee maximum direct sunlight. Ideally, this will be on a south-facing roof, but if your property is north-facing, the panels can be oriented to produce more power. 

2. Regular maintenance 

Solar panels are typically low-maintenance, only needing to be cleaned and inspected every few months. Despite this, solar PV systems must be well looked after to maximise their longevity and efficiency. 

A trained professional should inspect the panels annually to ensure they are in full working order and any problems can be rectified. In terms of cleaning, the rain will do most of the work for you, but a biannual clean is recommended to avoid tougher stains - like bird droppings - building up. 

3. Battery storage 

Batteries enable you to get the most out of your system as they reduce your reliance on the national grid, allowing you to store excess energy. This way, you can continue to save money and further reduce your carbon footprint.  

4. Smart technology 

Whether we’re controlling our thermostats remotely from our phones or dimming the lights via Bluetooth, smart tech has revolutionised the way our homes work. Smart technology can even help you to live more efficiently and optimise your energy consumption. Discover everything you need to know about smart technology for more information. 

5. Smart Export Guarantee 

As well as helping you reduce your electricity bills, you can also make money from your solar panels too by selling excess energy to the national grid.

This is part of the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), which launched after the closure of the Feed-in Tariff in 2019. 

To sell excess solar energy, you must register with an SEG licensee (an electricity supplier who offers an SEG tariff) via their application processes. Each licensee has their own application process - you can find a full list of SEG licensees here. It’s important to note that you don’t have to apply to your existing energy supplier - you can apply to any provider.

Once approved, any SEG’s tariffs will always be above zero, so you’ll always receive some money for selling excess energy.

Solar-powered pointers from BOXT

No matter which stage of your solar journey you’re at, we’re here to help. If you’re curious as to whether renewable energy is right for you and your home, our solar guides are brimming with tips to help you make the right choice. 

So, if you need information on whether you need planning permission for solar panels, how efficient a solar panel system is, or you just want to know whether solar panel costs are worth the investment, check out the BOXT solar guides.

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