The prospect of further price increases was enough to convince Topham that he needed to reduce his dependence on the electricity grid. In March he took the plunge and ordered three wall-mounted batteries and 20 solar panels—12 of them to be wired up directly and the other eight as backup in case he wanted more capacity later down the line. If the sun is shining, Topham’s solar panels generate enough electricity to power his household appliances and send excess energy to be stored in the wall-mounted batteries, which he draws on when demand and prices peak in the evening. Topham’s monthly electricity bill will still go up—all energy customers have to pay a daily charge no matter how much or little electricity they use—but he estimates that it’ll be about half what he’d be paying otherwise. “I was looking at immediately securing my energy finances,” Topham says.Other homeowners are following suit. “On that very first weekend when the price cap change came in, our inquiries increased by 300 percent,” says Richard Moule, a director at the Sheffield-based solar installers All Seasons Energy. “We weren’t even advertising that much for solar at the time,” he says. “It just went ridiculous.” Chris Tague, director of the Renewable Energy Network, which plans and installs solar panels mostly for businesses, says that last spring around 85 percent of his work was on heat pumps. Now 90 percent of enquiries are from people who want to install solar panels. “I’d love to say that we’re coming at it from the point of view of business owners really caring about the environmental crisis,” he says, but that’s not their primary concern. “Largely what they do care about is looking across their profit and loss and accounts and seeing that one area of their expenditure—energy—is increasing exponentially.”The gas price crisis is pushing forward what the UK needed anyway: more solar panels on rooftops. In 2021 the UK’s electricity grid operator set out three different pathways the UK’s energy sector could follow to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Two of them required a tenfold increase in rooftop solar panels by 2050. The third envisaged a fivefold increase. “All else equal, we need people to be installing solar panels,” says Eoghan McKenna, a senior research associate at University College London’s Energy Institute.