Going Solar

Through my work transcribing interviews on research projects on a number of environmental issues for Cardiff University I have become very passionate about (some say obsessed with) going green. The most exciting part of this for me has been the installation of 18 solar panels on the roof of my parents’ home last September. I am so impressed with how efficient they are. I spend a great deal of time at my parents’ home and frequently get teased that I am wearing a path in the carpet of the living room on my way to check the Sunny Beam machine to find out how much power they are making at that given moment along with how much power they have accumulated over time and how much carbon has been saved.

I’m amazed at how well they’ve done over the winter months as between installation in mid-September and now (early April) they’ve made a total of 1784.74 kWh of electric and avoided 2,754.28lb of CO2. With the feed in tariff this means they have made £767.97 on top of the money they have saved on electric used and sold back into the grid.

They have also taken over our lives! The housework these days is pretty much dictated by the weather! We have a domestic energy monitor which lets us know how much we are using and then we reference the Sunny Beam to find out how much we are making. As soon as we are making significantly more in the morning than we are using to power the standard stuff which is running all the time such as the fridges, freezer, pond pump etc we move into the next phase of energy use. The first thing to go on tends to be the dishwasher. We wait for that to use its electric and finish the cycle before putting the washing machine on. We then allow that to do its job before commencing the hoovering!

The way solar panels work is they don’t store the energy; you have to use it as they make it. By working electrical items in succession we can cover most of our electric needs with solar power most of the daylight hours plus sell some back into the grid on all but very cloudy days. The other day when it was sunny I did 3 loads of washing plus the hoovering and was pretty tired by the end of the day! I was quite grateful the next day was cloudy – although that meant dusting and cleaning sinks – jobs that don’t involve using electric! Yes I have it that well-planned!

With the changing of the clocks and the evenings drawing out we have found now that the panels are making enough power on a sunny day to even cover the power to cook the evening meal. They truly are amazing. The ones we bought are British made as we wanted to support our own industry. They are truly superb. Another advantage of them is that I now realise we live in a sunnier climate than I ever thought we did. That was nice to find out as well!

Bridget, Wiltshire

Solar panels on the roof of Bridget's parents' home.

By working electrical items in succession we can cover most of our electric needs with solar power most of the daylight hours plus sell some back into the grid on all but very cloudy days. The other day when it was sunny I did 3 loads of washing plus the hoovering and was pretty tired by the end of the day! I was quite grateful the next day was cloudy …”