I looked at my Solar Generation meter and winked. My new Google Glass snapped this picture
116 days ago, on the darkest day of the year, we had our solar panels installed. They have just ticked over the 1MWh mark.
The average British house uses about 10kWh a day. By our estimates, our house uses 8.5kWh - thanks to LED lighting, a new TV, and efficient computers.
Basically, at this point in the year we're already generating more energy than we use and have, on average, completely offset our electricity needs so far.
Assuming the last third of the year is as productive as the first third - and that summer is bountiful - we should annually be generating more energy than we consume.
Despite the rise in gadgets and gizmos, the average UK household now uses less energy than it did in 2005. (NB - total energy in the graphs refers to electricity and gas.)
Insulation, more efficient domestic appliances, LED light bulbs, and the rising cost of electricity have had a dramatic impact on energy use.
Take a look at the best day our panels have had so far:
— Edent's Solar Panels (@Edent_Solar) April 16, 2014
Three times our daily use and - because I was working from home - I managed to make the most of it 🙂
What Is Electricity?
Not just a question of physics! Whenever I talk about our solar panels, one of the things I'm most often asked is what the figures actually mean.
So, here's a quick primer.
Imagine a 1 kilogram (kg) weight resting on a perfectly smooth surface - like an ice rink.
The amount of energy you need in order to move it 1 meter is defined as 1 Joule.
1kg * 1m = 1j.
Nice and easy!
Ok, suppose we want to move 1kg a distance of 1m in one second? That's 1 Watt - the unit of power.
Let's move from the theoretical to the practical.
Imagine an old, inefficient lightbulb. The sort which casts a bright light and is rated at 100W.
Switch the bulb on and, every second, it will draw 100 Watts of power from the electricity grid.
If we leave it on for an hour, it will have used 100Wh (Watt-Hours).
If we leave it on for ten hours, it will have used 1,000Wh. That's one kilo-Watt-hour, or 1kWh.
Boiling a kettle, for example, may use 3kW - but as it's only on for 1 minute it uses 0.05kWh.
In our house, we've managed to have the TV on - along with the electric hob, a few computers, and lightbulbs - and still used less than the sun was pumping down on us.