May 31, 2019 - 4min read
Ever since Elena and Dan became Tonik members just over two years ago, they have been using 100% renewable electricity to power their forever home in the Northwood area of suburban London, where they live with their three-year-old twins Katarina and Gregory.
Now though, the family are generating and storing their very own renewable electricity, thanks to the photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and Tesla Powerwall we installed for them in March this year. Working together, these sustainable technologies have revolutionised the way Elena and Dan’s home uses energy.
But don’t just take our word for it - we spoke to Elena about why she and Dan decided to get PV and battery storage, their experience of the installation process with The Phoenix Works, and just how big a difference generating and storing renewable energy has made in her family’s day-to-day life.
For Elena, the appeal of investing in microgeneration and storage was only partly financial - the more powerful attraction was emotional, both in terms of what it could mean for her children, and what it would mean for her as a citizen of the world.
“Looking back at when we first started researching the solar and battery combo,” says Elena, “we knew it made sense financially as we could see it would reduce our energy costs, lower our risk and exposure to energy price increases… but it was never just a financial decision for us.”
There was something about committing to a brighter future that Elena found hopeful - something that would not only have a positive impact on the planet, but set a sustainable example closer to home as well.
“Our main motivation was the environmental benefit of generating our own electricity,” says Elena, “the idea of using as much of our own energy as possible to reduce our dependence on the grid.
“As a young family, we wanted to show our kids that they can make their own energy and teach them how it works. We have been teaching them how their toys are powered by the sun now, and it’s the first time they’ve grasped the concept of energy; the fact that they can see how all the energy is produced at home has made them really curious and excited.”
The installation took place on March 11th 2019, when expert renewable tech engineers James Sherwood, Andy Smith and Carl Harvey from our sister company The Phoenix Works popped round to install Elena’s solar panels and Tesla Powerwall.
“We were kept informed at every stage of the process,” says Elena. “We knew what to expect and when we needed to be home, for example, to have the scaffolding set up or to be shown how to use the Tesla app as part of the handover process. Overall, it was a really positive experience; Andy, Carl and James were very polite, attentive and - most important of all - professional. It was clear they knew their stuff and were passionate about doing a good job - even when Storm Gareth broke out!”
The installation took four days (but would have taken three if it weren’t for the storm), and immediately sparked the curiosity of two budding renewable energy enthusiasts nearby…
“Both of the kids got involved with the install,” says Elena. “My daughter was telling the engineers that they’re not allowed to wear their shoes in the house, and my son was very taken with the idea of climbing the scaffolding.
“Now, the panels are on the rear of our roof, and the house backs onto the kids’ school - so when the kids are in class and learning about energy efficiency, their school friends can look out of the window and see what it looks like in action. It makes it tangible and more meaningful.”
As with Matt Morgan in our previous case study, the solar panels and Tesla Powerwall working in concert have made a dramatic difference to the energy consumption - and carbon footprint - of Elena’s home.
“In the three weeks after the installation, only about 10% of our electricity came from the grid,” says Elena. “In the past six days alone, we have actually been entirely off-grid - and that’s just in March, some of which was during a storm! All the numbers we crunched are already becoming a reality.”
By April 2019, Elena’s home was 93% self-powered - as shown in the screenshots from the Tesla app above - with 63% of that coming directly from the solar panels during the day, and the remaining 30% from stored energy in the Tesla Powerwall being used at night or on days with little sunshine.
“We’re no longer using any energy from the grid in the evenings because we have the battery as well as the solar panels - which means we’re completely self-sufficient,” says Elena. “The graphs from the Tesla app show how much of our generated energy would be going to the grid, and it was really eye-opening to see how much we’d be losing if we didn’t have the battery.”
“Yes, it is a big leap to get solar, and an even bigger leap to think about battery storage,” says Elena, “but if anyone considering making the investment were to ask me for advice, I would have to say take the leap. It just makes sense.”
Find out more here, or to book your Tesla Powerwall installation call The Phoenix Works on 0113 815 5366.