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Making the most of solar during winter

Did you know that, on average, we get 100 hours less sunshine during winter compared to summer? That’s due to the shorter days and wild winter weather. While we’ve just passed the shortest day of the year there’s plenty of winter to come. This makes it a good time to think about energy efficiency. While your solar system will be generating power it won’t be at the same levels as during summer. For this reason you need to be sure you’re making the most of every bit of sunshine we get.

Your system will be generating the most power between 9am and 4pm making this the best time to be using your energy hungry appliances like the oven, vacuum cleaner and dishwasher. Best to use the timer delay function on those appliances if you’re not going to be home.

You can do something similar with your hot water heating system but you may need help from your electrician. By reheating your water between 12-3pm  you’ll be doing it when you have the most solar power. It will also mean you have hot water in the evening when you really need it.

Preheat your home by setting your electric heater, or heat pump, to come on in economy mode shortly before you get up or come home at the end of the day. This is much more efficient than trying to warm your home instantly by turning your heating on full power.

If possible, change your old light bulbs to LEDs. Not only do they use 75% less energy, allowing you to minimise power consumption, but they also last 25 times longer than older, incandescent lighting. If your old hot water cylinder feels warm, wrap it in insulation to keep the heat in.

There are also some habits you can change and they won’t cost a cent – in fact, they’ll save you money. They may sound simple but they’re often overlooked - like turning your appliances off at the wall rather than leaving them on standby mode. Don’t keep checking how things are cooking in the oven as 20% of the heat escapes every time you open the door. Using lids on your pots while cooking can reduce energy consumption by up to 14%. Take a shower rather than a bath and close the bathroom door, even when you’ve finished, to stop all the steam spreading through the house. And using the cold water setting on your washing machine can reduce its energy use by as much as 90%.

When the timing is right for your family you may want to consider bigger power saving options like home insulation, double glazing and thermal backed curtains and carpets. These will significantly improve energy efficiency and cut your power use.

Whether it’s big or small the changes you make will help maximise the use of solar power, improve the comfort of your home, and, quite possibly, your family’s health.

Go to it!