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

09 June 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.

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 domestic battery system, combined with 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.

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

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

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.