The savvy net zero homeowners storing up cut-price energy to slash their bills


Batteries are often mentioned in the same breath as solar as a way for homes to become more self-sufficient. However, Skilton does not have panels. If he did, he says, he would store the power they generate rather than export it, as the rates for doing so are very low.

He says: “Selling solar at 5p per kWh is crazy. If you’re going to do any solar these days you should be storing it to a battery.”

Most “net-zero homes” work with a “top-up system”, where solar panels and batteries offset some electricity costs, but will not be enough to meet all of a home’s energy needs, say Paul Knight, of engineering company Off Grid Pro.

Even a home with a Tesla Power Wall, one of the most popular models, using £500 worth of electricity a month, would run out of stored energy before cheaper rates kicked in overnight. Unlike these, Skilton’s set-up is a “whole house system”, meaning the batteries cover 100pc of the home’s energy costs.

The green technology comes with a hefty price tag – understandably off-putting during a cost of living crisis – but as energy bills are unlikely to fall anytime soonKnight typically advises, if you can afford it, to invest £10,000 to £14,000 on a hybrid system of solar panels and batteries.

Households with high energy consumption levels and with the cash to spare, he argues, should go for a “whole of house system”, like Skilton’s, though this can cost as much as £40,000.

Households with an electric vehicle may already be halfway there, however. Thanks to vehicle-to-home charging, EVs function similarly to Skilton’s battery set-up, charging overnight at a low rate and powering the house in the day while sitting idle on the drive.

Ovo Energy, a supplier, says doing so could save the average driver £920 a year in energy costs, using today’s rates. This is calculated on an Economy 7 tariff, while some providers offer EV-specific tariffs with even better rates.

However, at present, very few such tariffs exist. Conor Maher-McWilliams, Ovo’s EV expert, says this is because the take-up among providers has been slow as the market is “still at an early stage”.

He says: “Over the next five to 10 years ‘V2H’ has huge potential. If your car is sitting there it becomes a compelling proposition.”

Powering a home using a tariff like Economy 7 relies on smart charging technology, but as Britain winds down its dependence on gas this will mean off-peak times will become less simple than they are now.


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