- Many households are facing soaring energy bills this winter even with price caps or subsidies.
- Some people are installing solar panels on their roofs to help bring down costs.
- Insider spoke to two homeowners who use them to heat their homes and make money at the same time.
With soaring energy prices pushing up electricity bills, some homeowners have installed solar panels to bring down the costs.
Power bills in the US rose at the fastest rate in 41 years in August and the price of natural gas was a third higher compared with the year before.
The spike is partly because of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the economic rebound from the pandemic.
Britain’s energy regulator said in August the ceiling on energy bills would rise to almost $4,000 a year for the typical household due to the soaring cost of wholesale natural gas prices. The UK government has since announced help to reduce those costs, however.
Insider spoke to two people who have set up solar panels in their homes and are now saving money on their bills.
Gareth Hodgson, 58, from Merseyside near Liverpool in the northwest England, found out from his local council that it was offering cash grants for solar energy systems.
He told Insider he was eligible because he earns less than £31,000 (about $34,600) a year. In April he had a full solar system installed within weeks, including 10 solar panels, a water pump and heat inverter unit as well as underfloor radiators.
“They said it would have cost me £12,000 if I wanted to do it myself,” Hodgson said. “It even included the installation of double glazed French doors for free.”
The retired nurse used to spend £237 ($264) a month on his energy bill, but now gets credit for the energy that is fed back into the power grid. Hodgson was paid almost £94 in August for the energy produced.
He uses the money as credit towards his monthly standing charge of £120 ($133), after which he still had £40 ($44) in credit. Insider has verified these amounts via documents.
“It has changed my life massively. It has helped me a lot with reducing my bills,” Hodgson said.
The solar panels generate energy even when it is cloudy or raining, he said, and it will be his first winter using them. If Hodgson has to use power from the grid, he uses any up some of the credit built up during the summer. He has saved about £1,000 ($1,115) on his energy bills this year.
To conserve energy, his family will only boil as much water as they actually need for tea or coffee as it uses up the most power apart from the shower. They also turn the shower off after an initial rinse to lather up before turning the hot water back on.
John Reader, 74, from Cornwall, says it cost close to £7,000 ($7,800) to get 16 solar panels installed on his house.
“My electric bill was going up so I had them installed to save money – and for environmental reasons,” he said. “I tried to use only what we produce without buying any and now I’m even earning money from it.”
The amount of electricity the solar panels produce varies from between seven to more than 30, depending on how sunny it is. In July they panels 29 solar units on one day and the household only used nine, and he got paid for the unused units.
“The first check I got was for around £300 ($334) for three months of producing energy and it came as a surprise,” he said. “I’m pleased I did it and would recommend others do it.”