Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Time to go Solar

How one family is saving over £1,000 a year thanks to having solar panels installed. You could also have the chance to win a system worth £11,670!

As the sun shines on a local family who are reaping the benefits of renewable energy, one lucky Belfast Telegraph reader has the chance to cash in with our super competition.

Having electricity produced free during the day while also earning money on any they don’t use are the benefits which David Thompson and his family have been reaping since having solar panels installed just three weeks ago. It was only after careful consideration which included extensive research on the systems available and thorough analysis of the figures for savings on energy bills that the tree surgeon from Greyabbey finally decided it was an investment worth making.

David (52) spent £11,000 having a 6.5kW PV System with a PV Harvester and a smart immersion installed by leading local renewable energy company BlueBuild Energy Ltd on a shed at the back of his home. Rethinking how they use their electricity during the day has been the only challenge to David and his family which includes wife Lorraine and their son Ross (25), whom likehis dad, works from home as an IT specialist.

David said: “With Economy 7 you were used to putting on your appliances at night when the tariff was cheaper, but this now happens during the day when the sun is producing the electricity free. “So it’s a complete reverse of what we are use to but it is easy to do as all appliances can have timers fitted and it’s just a case of changing your routine.

“After three weeks we are seeing the benefits.” One of the big concerns regarding solar panels in Northern Ireland is our lack of sunshine, but David has discovered that the sun doesn’t have to be shining for the system to work. Even on grey days, which we get more than our fair share of, the panels continue to produce electricity. David explains: “About two Saturdays ago I decided to keep an eye on it to see how it was working.

“By about 9am it had produced enough power to switch on the immersion heater. Once the standby things like fridges and freezers have all been powered and there is extra electricity, the immersion kicks in. “That’s when you know you have surplus electricity and can put on all of your other appliances.” David discovered that his solar panels were producing three and-a-half times the amount of electricity he was using overnight when his power wasn’t being produced free of charge.

The surplus goes back on to the grid and earns the family money. The way it works is that you are paid a tariff of 17.64p by the government per unit of electricity generated, plus 5.41p export tariff which is paid into your bank account by Power NI.

The income is tax-free for 20 years with savings are estimated at around £1,100 a year as well as an estimated reduction of 40% on oil bills. David said: “Our electricity bills would have been around £250 a quarter in the winter and £200 during the summer and we now expect them to be around £100 a quarter.

“This together with the surplus electricity we are now producing and the payments you receive for that means there is no doubt it will pay for itself. It really is a no-brainer.” The Belfast Telegraph has teamed up with BlueBuild Energy to give away one of its latest solar power systems worth £11,670.

For the chance to make savings of £50,000 over 20 years, don’t miss Monday’s Belfast Telegraph for details on how to enter.

More details can also be found here.

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