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  • FIRST POST
    • EnnisR
    • By EnnisR 2nd Mar 18, 5:52 PM
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    EnnisR
    Affordable Housing Solar PV
    • #1
    • 2nd Mar 18, 5:52 PM
    Affordable Housing Solar PV 2nd Mar 18 at 5:52 PM
    Hi Everyone, I moved into a new build, affordable housing, housing association property in October 2017 with the understanding that the property had an EPC B rating due to insulation, double glazing and solar pv panels. In fact the energy certificate shows that the cost of heating, lighting and hot water at the property should be around 1053 over 3 years. As I am on a low income but receive minimal council benefit I was delighted at the prospect. The reality has been a nasty shock. The property is heated by 5000kw of electric panel heaters and the water is supplied by an 180l immersion. To add insult to injury I only receive the benefit of the (I believe) 2kw solar pv panels if I am at home during the day ( I work) and use what is produced, as there is no battery to store the energy generated. I am not entitled to any FIT payments and the energy that isn't used goes back to the grid. The housing association tell me that it pays for the supply of the outside lighting on my new estate. The result is that my heating is switched off and I rely on the use of a calor gas heater in the lounge only. The housing association provide no written information on the solar pv system and I am concerned that I may be being charged for the electricity that is being generated as well as as what I am using as I have used 2500kw since the middle of October. My immersion is on a timer for an hour a day, heating is off and all my appliances are A rated. I used to pay 100.00 a month at my old property for oil AND electricity and am finding the costs crippling (112.00 a month electric with no heating). It has transpired that the Energy performance certificate was based upon gas central heating & hot water - a typo according to the housing association as there is no mains gas in my village Is it possible that I am paying for energy generated as well as used??? (British Gas Smart Meter) Advice greatly received before my child & I freeze in this weather
Page 1
    • silverwhistle
    • By silverwhistle 12th Mar 18, 2:00 PM
    • 1,816 Posts
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    silverwhistle
    • #2
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:00 PM
    • #2
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:00 PM
    I'm surprised none of the experts has seen and commented on this, perhaps this bump might help.

    It's highly unlikely that you are paying for energy generated, but don't you have a separate generation meter? It would be a good idea to start paying more and regular attention to the meter(s) and the readings to get a clearer picture of how you are using the energy.

    I've got 4kw solar panels and an immersion too, but have a diverter (cost me about 200) to shove spare power into the immersion. I'm single and it does me pretty well 8 months of all my HW and a contribution the rest of the year too (like that very cold sunny spell a couple of weeks ago). I still export but gain over a 1000/1100 units of hot water a year.

    How many panels are there on your roof? 2kw worth would almost certainly be 8 of them, which isn't bad for a housing association property. If you can't find the money to get a diverter installed at least have the immersion on over the middle of the day to get the benefit of the sun. Get yourself a socket timeswitch and start your washing machine (dishwasher?) on sunny days at a time when the sun is shining. Every little helps.

    As at 2pm on a patchy cloudy day I've only topped up my tank with 1.65kWh but it's sunny enough now to go downstairs and put the dishwasher on. :-)

    Hope this helps a little bit.
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 12th Mar 18, 2:22 PM
    • 2,531 Posts
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    GreatApe
    • #3
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:22 PM
    • #3
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:22 PM
    You are unlikely to get all the solar output that's just how they work most will go into the grid and the council should get the payments for that and not you for obvious reasons. Plus we are in the winter months so they won't be producing a lot right now anyway

    A normal house uses about 9KWh a day of electric. If you are using electric for the hot water too that will add another about 9KWh a day. If you have been there since mid October that's about 140 days so 140 days x 18KWh a day = 2520 KWh and you say you used 2,500KWh so spot on to what would be typical

    That 2500 units of electricity would cost you in the region of 350 over the 4.5 months you've been there. Or about 80 a month.

    Find out if you can get economy 7 and then set your tank to come on during those hours. That way your bill should fall. If you also set your washing machine to work at night you can also save there withe economy 7

    As for the solar panels 2KW system isn't very big it will generate maybe 1,700 units and you won't get all of them. Your flat meanwhile will be using closer to 7,000 units of electric so while the solar panels will help they might only cut your electric usage and bills by 10%

    It might be worth setting up your immersion heater to come on during the day in the sunny summer days but really it isn't going to do a lot for you at best it night save you 50 for the year.


    If you want to save on your electric bill you could try some of the following

    Switch to economy 7
    Switch to a cheaper supplier
    Use energy efficient lights
    Don't use a tumble dryer instead dry cloths outside or if you have no outside then dry them in one of the rooms but leave the window open in that room and the door closed so the damp goes outside. Do this only in the warmer months. In the colder months its best to use the dryer as saving money on electricity but suffering from damp due to drying cloths indoors wouldn't be worth it!
    Take quicker showers and use less hot water where possible.
    Make sure you keep the hot water tank cupboard closed to reduce its heat loss.
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 12th Mar 18, 2:32 PM
    • 2,531 Posts
    • 2,274 Thanks
    GreatApe
    • #4
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:32 PM
    • #4
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:32 PM
    I'm surprised none of the experts has seen and commented on this, perhaps this bump might help.

    It's highly unlikely that you are paying for energy generated, but don't you have a separate generation meter? It would be a good idea to start paying more and regular attention to the meter(s) and the readings to get a clearer picture of how you are using the energy.

    I've got 4kw solar panels and an immersion too, but have a diverter (cost me about 200) to shove spare power into the immersion. I'm single and it does me pretty well 8 months of all my HW and a contribution the rest of the year too (like that very cold sunny spell a couple of weeks ago). I still export but gain over a 1000/1100 units of hot water a year.

    How many panels are there on your roof? 2kw worth would almost certainly be 8 of them, which isn't bad for a housing association property. If you can't find the money to get a diverter installed at least have the immersion on over the middle of the day to get the benefit of the sun. Get yourself a socket timeswitch and start your washing machine (dishwasher?) on sunny days at a time when the sun is shining. Every little helps.

    As at 2pm on a patchy cloudy day I've only topped up my tank with 1.65kWh but it's sunny enough now to go downstairs and put the dishwasher on. :-)

    Hope this helps a little bit.
    Originally posted by silverwhistle

    Most immersion heaters are 3KW and very seldom would a 2KW system produce 2KW so at most maybe the 3KW immersion could be powered by 1.5KW from the solar panels. So half for free half for 14p from the grid = 7p averaged

    Better just to heat the tank on an economy 7 at maybe 7p a unit and forget about it. Also set up the washing machine and dryer to come on during the economy 7 hours

    Simply put it seems the council didn't want to install a boiler and pay for it's maintenance. That way the tenant ends up paying 13p for electricity instead of 4p for gas for their hot water. If they use 3,000 units a year of hot water that means 270 more for electricity over gas. Not nice for the tenant but at the end of the day they are in a nice new home for free and its not like the social landlord is making a profit.

    Electricity is expensive but eletric heating is cheap to install and maintain
    Gas is cheap but gas heating is expensive to install and maintain
    Last edited by GreatApe; 12-03-2018 at 2:34 PM.
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 12th Mar 18, 2:51 PM
    • 2,531 Posts
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    GreatApe
    • #5
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:51 PM
    • #5
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:51 PM
    Try to save money on your other bills too

    Check your phone and broadband bills. Maybe get together with the other tenants in the block and share a WiFi internet connection. 240 a year for broadband shared by say 5 flats is 48 each rather than 240 each so a saving of nearly 200 a year

    If its suitable for you and you have the space maybe rent out a room. Doesn't have to be long term with room rents in the 400-600 per month region even renting a room out for 3 months a year can be a big financial help for people on low income or benefits.

    Look into asking for a pay rise even a small one can make a big difference. Worst case they say sorry no.
    • Martyn1981
    • By Martyn1981 12th Mar 18, 2:53 PM
    • 6,864 Posts
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    Martyn1981
    • #6
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:53 PM
    • #6
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:53 PM
    Most immersion heaters are 3KW and very seldom would a 2KW system produce 2KW so at most maybe the 3KW immersion could be powered by 1.5KW from the solar panels. So half for free half for 14p from the grid = 7p averaged
    Originally posted by GreatApe
    That's not how diverters work, they put the excess into the immersion, no import.
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
    • Martyn1981
    • By Martyn1981 12th Mar 18, 2:57 PM
    • 6,864 Posts
    • 11,107 Thanks
    Martyn1981
    • #7
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:57 PM
    • #7
    • 12th Mar 18, 2:57 PM
    Is it possible that I am paying for energy generated as well as used??? (British Gas Smart Meter) Advice greatly received before my child & I freeze in this weather
    Originally posted by EnnisR
    The best thing to do would be to watch on a sunny day when the sun is in front of the panels. Try to use as little electricity as possible, switching most items off, then look at the smart meter and see if it appears to be clocking up any units.

    If you are generating say 1kW or so for an hour, with very little home use, then there should be no import, at all. If a kWh or so is clocked up, then there is the possibility that the meter is adding export to import.

    Have a try on a few days, for a few hours, and see what happens.
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
    • silverwhistle
    • By silverwhistle 16th Mar 18, 9:26 AM
    • 1,816 Posts
    • 2,384 Thanks
    silverwhistle
    • #8
    • 16th Mar 18, 9:26 AM
    • #8
    • 16th Mar 18, 9:26 AM
    Most immersion heaters are 3KW and very seldom would a 2KW system produce 2KW so at most maybe the 3KW immersion could be powered by 1.5KW from the solar panels. So half for free half for 14p from the grid = 7p averaged
    Originally posted by GreatApe
    As pointed out above it doesn't work like that: as I type I'm shoving 1.25kW into my tank from my 4kWp installation. As the sun comes round a bit that will increase and then drop if a cloud should pass over. On today's weather, like yesterday, I'll have a hot tank and then export. Even a 2kw installation will do very well: less export than mine but more than 50% of my savings.

    Saved 0.95kWh today so far, but I do have the WM on.
    • GreatApe
    • By GreatApe 22nd Mar 18, 12:32 AM
    • 2,531 Posts
    • 2,274 Thanks
    GreatApe
    • #9
    • 22nd Mar 18, 12:32 AM
    • #9
    • 22nd Mar 18, 12:32 AM
    As pointed out above it doesn't work like that: as I type I'm shoving 1.25kW into my tank from my 4kWp installation. As the sun comes round a bit that will increase and then drop if a cloud should pass over. On today's weather, like yesterday, I'll have a hot tank and then export. Even a 2kw installation will do very well: less export than mine but more than 50% of my savings.

    Saved 0.95kWh today so far, but I do have the WM on.
    Originally posted by silverwhistle

    I assume from your post the diverter diverts all the energy into the tank until the tank reaches a certain temp and then it goes into the grid??

    Does this happen via DC direct from the panels into a DC immersion element or just standard AC with the immersion just making use of the energy needed to keep exports at zero?
    • EnnisR
    • By EnnisR 27th Mar 18, 1:45 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    EnnisR
    Thank you all for your replies, it now transpires that I am not the only new build resident having issues........a lot of others on the same estate are in the same boat. Some have been giving their solar meter readings to their electricity companies and now have catch up bills of over a 1000 and are effectively, like me in fuel poverty
    So, it isn't a solar issue at all, our 'affordable' all electric homes have electric panel heaters and immersions that will pull 8kw an hour without cooking or appliances but these homes are simply not retaining the heat generated for longer than 10-15 minutes maximum. Oh and the housing association says that ALL energy performance certificates are issued on the basis of gas (even if there is no mains gas??) At least now there is to be a group meeting as 75% of the residents want out due to the electricity costs being beyond their means!!
    • EnnisR
    • By EnnisR 27th Mar 18, 1:53 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    EnnisR
    I do have 8 solar panels which I believe equates to 2kw? The reading has just reached the 800's on the meter. But now I have an updated picture from talking to other residents, we are all in the same boat, the solar will only help those that are are home during the day so we may be better moving to Economy 7 or 10 and disregarding the solar completely as it's not really going to help me in anyway - it hasn't got enough oomph to power the immersion. Interesting to hear from someone else with more usage experience though
    • silverwhistle
    • By silverwhistle 4th Apr 18, 7:05 PM
    • 1,816 Posts
    • 2,384 Thanks
    silverwhistle
    Does this happen via DC direct from the panels into a DC immersion element or just standard AC with the immersion just making use of the energy needed to keep exports at zero?
    Sorry, just noticed a few more posts on this thread. The latter.

    To the OP, 2kWp of panels would make a decent contribution to hot water although as to whether it would be worth installing a diverter is another matter but a difficult calculation. In view of the general dissatisfaction on the estate you might want to suggest they install them (or maybe in yours for a trial ;-) ).

    My minimum usage is 52watts (possibly 37 occasionally) and then other things kick in (fridge etc.). My diverter sees that and then makes an allowance (of I'm not sure how much - 150w?) for error/delays and shoves everything left over into the HW tank. When the tank is hot, which would take longer in your case, export begins again.

    If you're not in during the day at least make sure you start your washing machine via a cheap timeswitch to take advantage of the best daylight.

    You might want to get hold of one of those infrared cameras for detecting thermal bridges and check the insulation in your houses. They can be bought or preferably borrowed.
    • pinnks
    • By pinnks 5th Apr 18, 8:27 PM
    • 559 Posts
    • 1,254 Thanks
    pinnks
    Subject to installation costs I would have thought a diverter would be a good investment. On sunny days like today, my systems generate between 1kW and 1.5kW before the WSW array comes into sun from about now until October any my water is hot before midday and stays hot from then on.

    My 1.175kWp array (ESE facing) produces about 180 kWh per month from April to September with about 80 to 100 lost performance because of my shading issue. That is an average of 6kWh per day, or 9kWh if I didn't have shading. A 2kWp system should produce a bit more.

    A 2kWp system should therefore be more than adequate to provide all or virtually all hot water from April to October, especially if there is little other draw on the system because people are at work. My 190L tank (with 2 of us) takes about 3kWh per day but a larger family or heavier water user might take more. If the system provides, say, 5kWh per day to heat the water for free for 7 months that would be about 150 saving on using imported electricity at 14p per unit. Over the rest of the year you might get another 40 or so. On that basis the diverter would take less than 2 years to repay the investment.

    Just a thought...
    Wiltshire - 5.25kWp
    3.5kWp: 14 x Phono Solar 250 Onyx, Sunny Boy 4000TL, WSW 40 degrees, June 2013
    1.75kWp: 7 x Phono Solar 250 Onyx, Sunny Boy 1600TL, SSE 45 degrees, March 2014
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