The sun radiates more energy to earth in one day than the whole planet uses in a year. Installing solar panels on your home allows you to use this energy, meaning you can do your bit for the environment and save money on your energy bills.
Electricity-generating solar panels convert sunlight into electricity which you can use to power your home. This can cut your electricity bill and your carbon footprint.
Water-heating solar panels are less common. These only use the sun to heat your water and don’t generate electricity. They can still save you money and cut your carbon footprint but you can’t sell any excess power back to the grid.
Solar panels don’t need direct sunlight meaning they are a great source of energy even in the UK!
Even though solar panels can run in gloomy weather, you do want to maximise the amount of daylight they are exposed to. This means it’s best to install them on a south-facing roof or a wall that isn’t shaded by trees or other buildings.
Solar panels even produce electricity on cloudy days but they won’t work at night. You can’t power your whole home on solar power and will probably have to rely on the National Grid at night time. However, you could invest in a home battery to store solar power for when you need it.
The cost of installing solar panels depends on the surface you want to cover and the type of system you want installed. Smaller systems can cost as little as £1,500. In 2019 the average cost of a 4kW system (which is enough to power a three bedroom home) was from £4,000 to £6,000.
This is expensive and unfortunately rent a roof schemes are no longer available so it’s not possible to get solar panels for free. However, installing solar panels on your home could save you significant amounts of money and will reduce your carbon footprint.
Using solar panels can even earn you money as you can sell excess electricity to your energy provider. Under the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) any electricity you don’t use yourself can be sent to the National Grid and earn you money.
Energy companies offer different prices so it’s worth comparing energy suppliers to see whether switching could get you a better deal.
Taking advantage of an SEG requires an energy smart meter. Most energy providers will install one for free, you can check this by comparing energy providers.
Remember that you can only take advantage of SEG if you have electricity-generating solar panels. You cannot earn money from water-heating solar panels, these will only save money on your household bills.
Installing solar panels might seem like a big investment but it can save you a lot of money in the long run.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, a 4kW system could save you up to £240 a year in electricity bills and it will reduce your annual carbon footprint by around two tonnes.
Selling your surplus energy to your energy provider can add to your savings, as you will be earning money on top of what you save.
If you are thinking about installing solar panels there are some significant advantages:
However, there are some disadvantages:
If you are still interested in solar power, compare costs and energy providers before choosing your solar power system.