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April 2023
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Shocking news giving a bit of a pause to take a breath

Oh, yeah? Another article on insulation.

No! Electricity and gas prices went up this month – we were away when this happened, which made it a little more surprising than it perhaps should have been.

But, like many who made the move to solar power and EVs early, it’s really not that bad. This year has been a good solar generating year (as per fig 1 below) compared to last year and on top of that, our SEG or smart export guarantee means we get 11p over the cost of buying a unit for every unit we export.

This is important because a big change happened once solar panels became relatively cheap: one of the benefits we got from doing the install early was a means to recoup some of the investment by feeding in our excess energy into the grid.

However, that and our export rate were initially fixed which meant with the high rates of inflation due to gas prices rising we were potentially left out in the cold.  In April, our energy provider gave us the floating SEG – which allows us to largely fund our heating and electricity through the use our V2G and solar exports.

Of course, it also reduces our pull on the grid.  Our consumption is lower (though V2G does skew the figures) because of our investment in lowering our carbon footprint.

Of course, there are other benefits as seen in the UK’s Carbon Intensity monitor last night…  We can see that wind and imports (like our car donating its stored energy) far outweighed our need for electricity generated by gas. 

These figures show why its important to retain the SEG and enable more people to invest in solar and get a fast return on investment.  For the next 20 years, it would enable the UK to become one of the lowest users of fossil fuels for heating and energy.

Hang on a minute, doesn’t this just mean poor people are buying rich people’s electricity?

I am saying, we shouldn’t be using this mechanism to regain inequalities in our system.

I’m a higher rate tax payer and have been for the past 12 years.  I strongly believe that tax for me should be higher and for those earning less it should be lower.  Why not?  I can afford this to make the UK better.

By keeping the “green levies”, we can make this technology available to more people, especially in the middle earning tier, those paying higher rate tax but who have no wiggle room to make such investments.

The high rate tax bracket should be raised and then the rate put to 45% and the highest tier should be back at 50%.  I also think a spouse who isn’t working should be able to gift their tax allowence to their partner but that really does stray off topic…

If more people use solar generation during the day and V2G over night, we can reduce our need to burn fossil fuels to those who cannot do either, reducing the cost – where there is no demand for something it either becomes very cheap or very expensive.

We need to change people’s view on the technology.  Tesla’s power roof hasn’t really come to fruition and is very expensive where you can get it.  Round where we live, solar cells are almost seen as a badge of honour.  All the cool houses have them but that isn’t the case everywhere in the UK.  Which is odd.

If we team the technology with smart meters of course, you start to be able to tune their usage.  My parents were early adopters and now my mum is widowed is running her car, cooking, green house, and house for less than £30 a month at today’s prices (her heating is a little different as she’s an oil fired house off the grid).  During the summer that pretty much drops to zero even though she’s heating the hot water from the solar panels too.  She will be well below the price cap of £2,500.

Will you?

It’s a good question.  Our EV is now doing a 25 mile round trip during the day which means we’re not quite doing as well as we did – it’s knocked £10 a month off our earnings from V2G bringing our total in at £160 per month compared to £170.  We get around £600 a year from our FIT.  So (12*160 + 600=) £2,520 from the panels and V2G is nearly the price cap.  Our electricity use is typically 7287.70kWh and our gas is 19176.29kWh.

At 33.38p per kWh for electricity and a standing charge of 37.08p per day, that makes the electricity bill = £135 (standing charge) + £2432.63 = £2567.97 for electricity.

Gas is charged at 9.81p per kWh and a standing charge of 27.12p per day.  So that’s £1,882 near enough.  So our bills have gone from £300 per annum last year to £1,930 although that’s a poor estimate as it has done this as a big bang and actually the prices only went up in October.  That’s £8 per m2 in our home.

Our usage has dropped considerably thanks to our Tado valves and thermostats and using our smart meters to make better choices.  We’ve also knock 1 tonne off our carbon footprint, which is reducing our costs as well – typically we’ve reduced our usage by 100kWh for electricity and 450kWh for the gas it month.   It has, after all been a much hotter year and we did go from using gas all year to turning it off over the summer.  We made use of natural mechanisms to reduce our need for cooling over the summer.

Interestingly, we started up the boiler for heating and hot water this month.  Compared to last year when we were both working from home and didn’t have the Tado thermostats in place (though I had installed the radiator valves) our gas usage in October was 1112.95kWh where-as this year, halfway through, our gas usage is only 259.94kWh – a drop of 24% – and there have been some really cold days.  My son and I both travel into the office each day meaning my husband is only properly heating one room when he is in the house.  Turning the heating down automatically when we’re all out makes such a difference!

Our current direct debit is £150 a month (which is £1,800 and we have a credit to cover the rest with our supplier) , which is reasonably cheap living these days, especially as there are now three of us contributing, £50 each a month…

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