UK explores solar meters as gov cuts feed in tariffs

Immersun solar meters
Solar meters, such as Immersun, work by diverting excess renewable energy to heat hot water tanks

In the UK, a national newspaper reports how thousands of householders are installing solar meters to divert excess renewable energy for personal use.

The news comes as the UK government has dramatically cut feed in tariffs, reducing the rebate prosumers will receive from energy companies.

The Telegraph said the Immersun device manufactured by Lincolnshire-based company 4eco has been installed in 30,000 homes so far.

The solar meter, which costs around GBP450, works by automatically redirecting excess solar energy to water immersion heaters.

The meter, one of several on the UK market, sends unused power produced from a set of solar panels, a wind turbine or hydro-electric system to a hot water system, such as electric underfloor heating.

4eco estimates that adding Immersun to a PV installation can increase the return on investment by up to 5% or a payback on the unit of between 2-5 years.

The UK government recently announced cuts of 87% to subsidy prices in a bid to halt a GBP1.5 billion overspend on renewable energy, reports the newspaper.

A householder buying solar panels this month would receive a feed-in tariff of 13 pence per kilowatt hour (kWh) but this will drop to less than 2 pence from January 2016.

Using excess energy within the home will therefore provide a net financial saving for the householder assuming they use the water when it’s still warm.

The other negative about the solar smart meter is that it only works in homes with electric water heating, which excludes combination boilers, the most common type of hot water system in Britain.

Calculations produced for Telegraph Money suggest that a family of four, using 202 litres of hot water per day, would save GBP243 using a power-diverting device, earning back the original outlay after less than two years.