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Nigel Buckton’s 5 Things to Know Before Investing in Solar Power

6 September 2022 | Roxy Kasprzyk

Nigel Buckton has been a Lightwave user for 5 years, he initially invested in the Lightwave system to reduce energy being wasted in unoccupied rooms. Nigel wanted to go one step further and recently invested in solar panels to kick things up a notch. Nigel documented his journey in a YouTube video and like many of our users, he is a witty problem solver and approaches challenges in a very holistic manner. He started to evaluate his energy consumption through all his devices and appliances, his light switches and bulbs, his car and every other thing that eats up energy. We spoke to him to find out where his interest comes from, and the way he overcomes challenges to make his home as energy efficient as possible. 

1. Understand your home’s energy routine

For Nigel, that meant taking a step back and understanding his and his family’s lifestyle. From kids leaving lights on, to the movements that his family makes throughout the house on any given day, and that also includes seasonal changes to heating. Nigel uses his Lightwave system to turn things off/on at his leisure and practically power down the house at 11pm when everyone retires to their bedroom. This way there is no device left on standby, and no opportunity for his kids to leave the lights on. Nigel started small, his energy efficient quest began in the living room when he used his Lightwave system to turn everything off at night. He then spread to the rest of the house and used a room-by-room heating schedule to save even more money. Nigel’s advice, start small to not overwhelm yourself. By adding home automation for energy saving purposes before installing solar panels, it will put you in the perfect position to gain the most from the renewable energy source and get a better return on your investment.

2. “What is my budget?”

Depending on the size of your home and the size of your energy-saving expedition, this is one of the most important questions to ask yourself before embarking. It is important to factor in how long until you start seeing an offset in savings, so you know how often to expand your energy-monitoring system. 5 years ago, Nigel made his first investment in the Lightwave system, he then slowly expanded when he saved enough money. After using Lightwave smart dimmers to control lights, he invested in radiator valves to control his heating and bit by bit he built a more sustainable home. The more he expanded, the more he saved and at the end of 2021 he was able to purchase solar panels. March 2022 they were put up and immediately cut out half of his energy bill. For July, after the battery was installed, his entire bill for gas and electric was £35. With his house and bank balance becoming more efficient, he made it his aim for the home to run entirely on solar power. 

3. Optimization requires patience

If you are new to smart home technology or energy monitoring, there is one thing you should know: it will require some leg work for you to perfect your automations, moods and scenes. Especially if your end goal is running your home entirely on solar energy. After understanding your home’s energy routine, start seeing your home as a playground and each room is a different part of that playground, so understand the room’s needs and how it can run on minimal energy. Setting up a system to monitor your home’s energy use, as well as a system to monitor the solar energy produced is quite the task, especially because it has to be personalised to each home. Nigel says “it’s best to put the time in and do tasks in bulk, as it will save so much time and money in the long run”.

4. Plan long-term

From speaking to Nigel it became very clear that he was excited by this project, he liked the challenges that came with it and the unique approach to each problem. He started with just wanting to teach his kids to have a more active approach to turning off lights, now he is running the majority of his home on solar power. He learnt a lot from his journey, like preparing for a late delivery and delays (which was the case with the battery) and buying products which will become obsolete in the system he built. The biggest takeaway from his journey is to plan as long term as you can, and as sustainable as you can. Don’t think you’ll just stop at optimising lights and heating, like Nigel, chances are you’ll also get hooked.

5. Aim for complete sustainability

After the installation of the solar panels, came the question of what to do with the excess solar power produced and how to power the home at night. Nigel purchased an iboost, which uses excess solar energy to heat up water and reduce waste. He also installed a battery recently so that he can store the solar energy that has been produced during the day. He created a circular flow of energy so that during the day he can use solar, and the battery at night, while his excess was used to heat water for free. Nigel’s goal of having a home entirely run on solar power, means first he’ll have to get through winter which will bring shorter days and less sun. He wants to keep his bills as low as possible, and switched to an energy provider with off-peak tariffs so that he can charge his Electric Vehicle at night and benefit from lower energy costs. He uses his Lightwave system to turn off all sockets when his kids leave for the day, apart from the one socket he requires for work. From the smallest devices, to the biggest energy drainers, Nigel has placed sustainability at the forefront of his home.

Share your energy monitoring and solar power journey with us on our socials @lightwave_technology.

Give Nigel Buckton’s video a watch, and leave him a like for getting out of his comfort zone to share his story on YouTube!

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