With the cost of solar panels dropping by almost 60% in the last three years, sustainable energy in the guise of solar photovoltaic panels are now becoming an affordable option for homeowners and householders in the UK.
Buying an option for the comfortably well off
There are two distinct ways properties can benefit from solar heating. The first option is to pay for the system yourself and benefit from the Feed in Tariff (FIT) set by the Government, which on a 3 WP system should return around £1200 a year, including the money saved on electricity bills, the FIT and the small amount of energy sold back to the grid. Such a system will cost around £11,000 to buy and so should only be considered by those with comfortable savings. Experts reckon the solar panels will have paid back the investment in around 8 years and from then on the owners will be making a profit. The FIT rate is expected to be cut next year so many companies are advising consumers to get them fitted now.
Get a system free
The second way to get solar panels fitted to your roof is by allowing a company to fit them free of charge! This may sound too good to be true, but the fact of the matter is, many companies are prepared to do this. The homeowner benefits from the electricity generated by the panels in the day time while the company take the money generated by the FIT. Industry experts say this will give most homes a saving of between £3-£4 a week. Not a lot but it would certainly pay for most home insurance policies. The company are basically renting the homeowners roof to generate the profit from the FIT.
Factors to consider
There are several important factors to bear in mind before you go ahead with such a project. First of all you need to ensure your roof is suitable for the installation. South and south west facing pitched roofs are the most appropriate for solar panels, whereas north facing roofs are not worth considering. The roof must be clear of overhanging trees and anything else that can cast shadows, and it must also be strong enough to take the frame and the panels. Your home insurance provider must be informed about the project although most will sanction the scheme, and if your home is listed then you will probably need planning permission.
Ensure you get more than one quote and make sure the companies who offer their services are covered by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Only companies belonging to the MCS can qualify for the FIT. Also ask to see their membership of the Real Energy Assurance Limited (REAL) assurance scheme. This will ensure any deposit you pay will be safe.