April 1st energy price hikes are out
51p for electricity and 13p for gas
It looks bad but as gas prices are falling and summer approaches these rates will probably revert to somewhere near to the same as this winter when next winter sets in. Anyway, I’ve remade the chart and this is what it looks like.
Double click the image for a better view.
Since last year oil prices fell but are recovering leaving heating oil largely unchanged at near £1 a litre. LPG on the other hand has fallen dramatically, off the highs, leaving a chance to lock in to some attractive prices under 50p a litre. The 10,000 kW.hrs mark half way across the chart could be only half of your likely energy demand and £1,000 worth of LPG is the only energy source that directly gets you that far.
The price of electricity at 51p brings some serious consequences for some. You’d have to multiply the electricity bar by 5 just to get to the 10,000 mark so that’s £5,000! Direct heating with electricity is not a good idea. Consider a cheap mini-split heat pump to escape that bind. More on that later.
Heat pumps, as usual, nearly tie with natural gas on running cost but both are even more expensive and the Government push for heat pumps for all looks even more dubious.
Solar panels suddenly get a massive kick in the incentive calculation when generated electricity becomes worth 50p. They have been a no brainer for a while but even more so now. Just three panels make about 1,000 kW.hrs a year, or at these rates £500, so you can see how quickly you can get your money back.
E.g. 10 panels, 4kW for £5,000 make over 4,000 kW.hrs or £2,000 worth. As I say, it’s a no brainer.
LPG is unregulated and didn’t go up on April 1st so if you are choosing a gas boiler make it LPG and lock in to some relatively cheap energy while you can. Just because you have access to town gas doesn’t mean you have to use it. What’s happened here is that tankers of gas from the U.S. saw increased demand due to the war but warm weather suddenly reduced it so the supply chain – tankers on the sea – got flooded. This is temporary of course but you can lock into long term LPG contracts for half the price of town gas while the going is good. Have a look on YouTube at ‘Updata Charts Today’ for a daily look at the gas prices where the fall off the highs is insane. Also, if you have an old oil boiler, now would be a good time to think about a change to LPG.
A new era arrives and a new twist to eco heating. After April a typical 10kW.hr battery can store 10 x 50p worth of electricity i.e. it can hold £5 worth of electricity gathered free from your solar panels and then keep the power on after the sun goes down. So, some £5 a day saved during the 8 sunny months which comes to about £1,200 a year. For the other 4 months, when solar panels are not making enough to store, there is another game. Octopus Go will sell you electricity for 12p for 4 hours a night. Typically the battery will only accept charging at 2.5kW so the 10kW.hrs it can take on board matches that. The day time rate for Octopus Go is 44p so your mix is as follows:-
Free from PV + 12p nights + 44p day
…. and hopefully not too much of the 44p. Note that the night rate is close to the price of natural gas so charging up a night storage heater at that rate is OK but not too clever if you are on LPG. However, if we use a heat pump to triple the output from the cheap electricity then an entirely different picture emerges. A full size heat pump would produce heating for about 4p/kW.hr which is astonishing but it would hammer the battery very quickly. But 4p – wow!
And that bombshell brings us neatly onto mini-splits.
Mini-splits are just small air to air heat pumps which are easy to install and you could get one fully installed for about £1,200. That quote for a £15,000 heat pump installation pales by comparison doesn’t it?
My mini-split has been running for a year so I can tell you how it’s been.
In the shoulder months the PV panels (4kW) run it free a lot of the time
It often draws well under a kilowatt so we run it when needed without worrying about the cost too much
It provides enough background heat to enable the main heating to be left off sometimes
It blows hot air so makes a great laundry drying machine.
Summer air conditioning is really good, cooling the whole ground floor
It actually cost under £1,000 installed and that took just 4 hours
It was bought from Saturn Sales who gave good advice and delivered on time
The best bit though is that batteries will enable a mini-split to be a major asset without particularly draining your bank balance (or the batteries) and most of their running time is either free or making heat at 4p/kW.hr
While the Government is trying to force us into unworkable heat pump arrangements at a cost of about £10,000 after incentives we can do much better for a bit less money and with less hassle too. The new ultimate mix is:
Solar panels with 10kW battery
LPG gas boiler if that’s a choice.
I anticipate a panic surge in demand for solar and batteries after April 1st – Now is the time to get going.
While I hope my figures are accurate please do your own research before making any commitments.
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