Meet the O’Hares: Maximising their energy efficiency with home battery storage and solar panels

Meet the O’Hares: Maximising their energy efficiency with home battery storage and solar panels

By: Alexandra Dunsford-White

09 Jun 2021

Households in Britain currently account for up to 40% of the country’s carbon emissions, and as part of the transition to net-zero, there needs to be a change in how our homes are heated and powered. Our homes need to be smarter and more flexible with when and how they draw electricity from the grid, as the grid today won’t be able to cope with this massive increase in demand.

The key to flexibility is home battery storage.

Battery storage technology has grown in leaps and bounds over the years and, when combined with domestic renewable energy systems such as solar PV, offers a powerful solution for households that are generating their own electricity and want to be less dependent on the grid. It’s why we launched our very own Solar Storage tariff last year - the first of its kind - to support and reward customers who use home battery storage.

We’ve invited two Shell Energy customers to tell us how home battery storage has helped them become more flexible with their electricity, and more energy efficient too. But first, let’s take a look at how it can help you use less energy, save money long term, and play an important role in driving the UK’s clean energy transition.

Solar PV and home battery storage - a powerful combination

The number of UK households installing micro-generation systems like solar panels is growing. In a recent Shell Energy survey conducted in collaboration with Energy Systems Catapult, 15% of Brits have solar panels on their homes already, and they’re becoming more efficient and cheaper all the time.

Hundreds of thousands of domestic solar systems were installed over the last 10 years thanks to the highly-successful Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme, which paid those installing electricity-generating solar panels a rate for what they generate and put back into the grid. In 2020, this was replaced by the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) which supports many UK prosumers (meaning they both consume and produce their own electricity) with payments for the electricity they feed back into the grid.

Now, we know what you're thinking. Sunshine, especially in the UK, isn’t exactly a given year-round. But solar panels can generate plenty of electricity even on cloudy (and dare we say, rainy) days. In fact, households with solar panels tend to generate more electricity than they’re able to consume, especially in the summer months.

And this is where home battery storage comes into play. A domestic battery can store the electricity generated by your solar panels (PV) and use it to power your home when the sun goes down. That means you’ll use less electricity from the grid, which is great news for everyone. What’s more, in summer when a PV usually generates more electricity than you need, the intelligent battery will feed the excess into the grid for others to use.

This is great news for you because when you use less electricity from the grid, you pay for less. Simple, right?

But as they say, the proof is in the pudding. So let’s meet the O’Hares to find out how home battery storage has helped them.

How one Shell Energy household is maximising the potential of their home

Staffordshire-based couple Brendan and Dawn O’Hare live in a detached four-bedroom house with their two dogs, Zak and Ellie. Brendan, a police officer who works shifts, is often at home during the day three days a week, and Dawn, a headteacher of a primary school, spends more time at home during school holidays and weekends.

We sat down with Brendan to find out how their sonnenBatterie domestic battery system, combined with his solar panels has made a big difference to their energy consumption at home.

How long have you had a solar PV system?

For about five years now. We wanted to install some panels on our roof at the back of the house, so we went for a 4kWp solar PV system which cost us about £5,000 at the time.

Why did you make the switch?

We’d always wanted to get a solar PV system installed. It took quite a bit of research, but we took the leap at a time when there were good deals on offer. We were also able to take advantage of the FiT scheme, so it all made sense.

What happened next?

We were on the lookout for something to maximise our home’s energy capability and make the most of the electricity we were already generating from the panels. Getting an intelligent home battery to store the extra electricity seemed like a logical next step.

There’s not much information out there about battery systems, as the technology is still quite new in the UK and not many companies offer it. We came across the Shell Energy and sonnenBatterie offer and registered our interest.

Dawn (left) and Brendan (right) O’Hare, their two dogs Zak and Ellie and their sonnenBatterie which was installed in their garage.

Dawn (left) and Brendan (right) O’Hare, their two dogs Zak and Ellie and their sonnenBatterie which was installed in their garage.

Was it hard to install your sonnenBatterie?

Due to COVID-19, the survey with the installer was done remotely, but it was simple and easy to complete, even over the phone. We provided some photos and measurements of our home, and we ended up installing it in our garage.

The actual installation of our sonnenBatterie was completed over two days, but overall it was quick and painless. The team was very helpful and always on hand to answer any questions.

What difference did it start making?

Since getting our home battery, we’ve noticed that our self-consumption has increased to 65%*. This means we’re using more of the solar energy produced by our panels and we’re far less reliant on the grid than previously, which gives us peace of mind.

We’re looking forward to more daylight during summer this year, so we can export more of our extra electricity back to the grid.

The sonnen app is a great way to keep track of your usage and how much you’ve got stored up. I look at it at least once a day. We noticed that our dishwasher was causing a huge spike in usage, so we decided to buy a different model that was more energy efficient, and we also now set a timer on certain appliances so we can make the most of the electricity generated by our solar panels.

With the sonnen App, you can check the status of your sonnenBatterie, look back at your historical energy data, track your energy flow and analyse the efficiency of your system, all in real time.
With the sonnen App, you can check the status of your sonnenBatterie, look back at your historical energy data, track your energy flow and analyse the efficiency of your system, all in real time.

Are there any other changes you’ve made?

We use the Shell Energy app to monitor our costs in pounds and pence - the graphs are simple and useful - and the sonnen App to check up on our solar and battery performance. When used side by side, it’s an effective way to manage our home energy and help us make more energy conscious decisions.

We’ve also become more aware of how home energy consumption can have an impact on the planet. So combining our solar panels with a home battery has encouraged us to take further steps where we can. We’ve started recycling wherever possible, and try to shop locally to support more businesses in the region.

We even decided to buy an EV in January, and got an MG ZS, along with an EV charge point.

Reap the rewards with our Solar Storage tariff

Want to join the O’Hares in maximising your home? Find out more on the dedicated page for Solar Storage tariff - the first of its kind - and start reaping your rewards. You can also get a quote for a sonnenBatterie.

You can also read more stories from customers who have made the switch to our Solar Storage tariff.

*The above illustration is based on a solar array of 4 kWp and a 5 kWh battery system installed in a detached house in the West Midlands of England. In each of the spring months of March, April and May 2021 an average of 1.2kWh of solar energy was produced of which an average of 65% was self-consumed and 35% was exported back to the grid.

Self-consumption of solar energy will vary depending on a number of factors including battery and solar array specification, weather, time of year and usage habits.