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Smart meters

The government has asked all of Britain's energy suppliers to install smart meters into every home in the country by 2019. These will replace existing electricity and gas meters. Smart meters are the next generation of tariff meters and are supposed to give you more control over your energy use.

Unlike standard meters which have to be read manually, either by a meter reader, or you the consumer, smart meters send the reading to the supplier without anyone having to manually read the display. This means that estimated bills should become a thing off the past.

Conventional meters measure how much energy you have used, but they do not show when you used it most.  The new smart meters will be able to access accurate and up to date information about how much energy you are using, which should encourage some users to be a little more economical, switching off lights and appliances off when not in use. These new meters will still offer credit or prepayment methods, giving the flexibility and choice required in today's economic climate. In addition to the smart meter, consumers will be offered an energy display unit which will help them understand and hopefully reduce, their energy consumption.

You away already have one of these new meters in your home, for others the full scale roll out is due to start in 2014.

The NICEIC, ECA and The Electrical Safety Council lobbied Parliament and the energy suppliers to include isolation switches on the new meters. The additional cost was negligible if installed during the manufacturing process but the safety implications to electricians are huge. As usual all the relevant parties buried their heads so far in the sand that the proposal was rejected. Apparently the safety of electricians etc is not important enough to enable us to turn off the electricity when changing consumer units etc. Thanks Westminster and all the energy suppliers, that's really helpful!

For more information about smart meters, Consumer Focus has a section on it's website with a series of questions and answers. Go to

The truth about Solar panels.

There are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding this technology. I hear them almost every day and they range from "they only last 10 years" to "you'll never get your money back".

The truth is, most panels are guaranteed to produce up to 98% of their rated energy in 10 years time. A good quality panel should last up to 25 years, maybe longer.

You will certainly make your money back and gain a healthy return on your investment. The cost of manufacturing solar equipment has fallen sharply and in turn, so has the cost of installation. The press made a big headline about feed in tariffs (FiT) dropping, but in reality this is far outweighed by the lower purchase and install costs.

Another comment I hear often is that the panels are "ugly". This can be true, different panels suit different properties. Always ask to see images of the panels your installer is planning to use. In our opinion and experience, newer developments suit the black panel type, whilst older roofs look better with the standard type of panel. It really is up to the sales person to guide you in the right direction and if they don't, they are failing in their job so send them away.

Pushy sales reps: Don't you just hate them, I know I do, which is why we dont employ them. If you experience a pushy hard sell solar installer at your door, don't let them in. Make them stand on your doorstep, or better still, send them packing.

How much can I earn? The most important question. It obviously depends on how many panels you have, the make and model, the inverter, the slope, and direction of your roof. Say you have a south facing roof (the best direction) and the slope is 35 degrees with 6 x 200 watt panels. Lets pressume that your system generates 1000 kilowatts per quarter: Every three months your electricity supplier will ask you to provide a reading from your generation meter. This meter is installed along with your panels and measures the amount of electricity generated by them.

The current feed in tariff (FiT) is 0.1544p per kilowatt so we multiply that number by the amount of kilowatts generated

0.1544 x 1000 = £154.40

Now we work out how much we have sold to your supplier. Remember, domestic property resell rate is usually set at 50% of the total generated, whether you use all or none of it. So, we take 50% of our generated total (500 kilowatts) and multiply that by the current sell back rate (0.045p per kilowatt)

0.045 x 500 = £22.50

So, Your earnings at this point are £176.90

We now need to work out how much you have saved off your electricity bill becuase you have used your own electricity instead of buying it from your supplier. An average cost of domestic electricity is 0.15p per kilowatt hour so we multiply that figure by the 1000 kilowatts your panels produced.

0.15 x 1000 = £150.00

Now we see the real value of those panels. Your total return on your investment for the last three months would have been:

£154.40 + £22.50 + £150.00 = £326.90. Tax free. Another point worth remembering is that the Feed in Tariff is index linked and guaranteed for the next 25 years.

Obvioulsy these figures depend on many factors, the bigest one being the amount of panels you have. For more information, advice or help, contact us in the usual way.

Plug in timers

How many of you use the plug in timers to turn on lights in the evening?

Most timers are not suitable for low energy (compact fluorescent) type lamps and can over heat or worse if used with them. The best way to check is read the instructions...if it doesn't specifically say that it ok to use with them   DONT.

Instead why not try LED lamps, these now come in designs very similar to the standard incandescent type but use only a few watts, run cold and achieve their full bightness instantly.

For more info on this or any other topic why not drop us a line.