Over the last few years more and more solar panels have appeared on the roofs of UK houses. Around 25,000 homes are now harnessing the sun’s energy to heat their water and power their central heating.
The fact that it’s becoming more popular will naturally drive the prices down from suppliers of the panels. However, is now the time to jump on the bandwagon and invest in creating an eco-home?
We’ve pulled out some of the key factors you need to consider when deciding whether or not to install solar panels.
Is solar power right for your home?
Most properties can be fitted with solar panels. However, a large proportion of the roof needs to be south facing so that it captures as many of the sun’s rays as possible.
If you live in a block of flats then solar panels are still an option, but the residents would need to get the agreement of the freehold owner before installing the panels.
How much does it cost?
It will likely cost between £10,000 and £15,000 to purchase and install the panels. However, government grants can be obtained, which may reduce the cost by up to 50%. Once the panels are installed, you can expect a saving of around 50% on your water and heating bills.
Does it only work when it is hot outside?
The solar panels will still produce energy during the winter, and when there is partial cloud cover. The important factor is that it is bright, rather than hot.
Therefore, on an overcast day or during the night, the panels will not produce energy.
Will they look ugly?
The early solar panels produced in the 70s have dogged the industry due to their unsightly appearance. However, since then the appearance of the panels has improved dramatically.
They are also now available in a range of different colours. Many people now recognise the solar panels as adding a touch of modern architecture to other wise dated houses.
You could lower your emissions by the equivalent of a car driving 70,000 miles a year
Do they really help save the environment?
A house with solar panels will produce approximately 40 tonnes less of CO2 emissions each year. For comparison, 40 tonnes of CO2 is roughly what is produced by a family car driven for 70,000 miles
Although there has been a upward trend in the number of homes adopting solar energy in the last few years, the UK is still behind other countries. In Japan, there are approximately 500,000 homes with solar panels, but even this number only represents about 1.5% of the total number of homes.