According to the Energy Savings Trust, there are many benefits to solar electricity. Not only do solar panels help households reduce their carbon footprint, they could also cut their electricity bills by hundreds. However, installing solar panels in the first place is not cheap. Express.co.uk spoke to property experts to find out if it’s worth it.
Explaining, firstly, how solar electricity works, Adam Male, Chief Revenue Officer at online lettings agent Mashroom, said: “Solar panels absorb sunlight through photovoltaic cells to produce electricity, and are often most effective when attached to the roof of a house, a building within your property, or in a space that is exposed to lots of light throughout the day.
“The electricity generated from the solar panels can be used throughout the home to power typical household appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and our TVs.
“Any electricity that is generated that isn’t used within the household is then sent back to the grid.
“Thanks to the Smart Export Guarantee, homes that are fitted with solar panels can be paid for any electricity that they don’t use, which can help significantly reduce energy bills.”
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But how much exactly can households save with solar electricity?
According to the Energy Savings Trust, this depends on multiple issues, including the postcode, the roof’s slope and direction, the size of the solar panel, and the estimated amount of electricity a family would use in a day.
A family living in London, who are at home all day and therefore would use more electricity than a family who are out all day, would save an estimated £505 a year with the Smart Export Guarantee.
Meanwhile, a family in the same situation living in Aberystwyth, mid-Wales, would save an estimated £485 a year.
The average domestic solar PV system is 4.2kWp and costs around £6,500.
But, long-term, households could save thousands as solar panels need little maintenance and should last 25 years or more.
Homeowners can use Energy Savings Trust’s solar energy calculator before exploring the Smart Export Guarantee tariffs available on the Solar Trade Association website.
The Trust also recommended getting three quotes to compare costs and services, as well as to be sure to consider council planning permission.
Adam added that “Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently announced that homeowners will no longer pay five percent VAT if they’re thinking of purchasing solar panels, cutting it down to zero percent for the next five years”.
The property expert continued: “Although the overall cost of solar panels is generally high, homeowners should start to see savings on energy bills pretty quickly and the solar panels will effectively pay for themselves in the long run.”
Depaq Singh, Midlands-based property investor, developer and managing director of planning consultancy ProDesign, agreed that solar panels can be an effective way for homeowners save money fast.
He said: “With energy bills on their way up again this year due to the current climate, I believe it’s a no brainer for homeowners to install solar panels on their property to try and ease the pressure on their budgets.
“With more homeowners increasingly working from home and therefore using more energy throughout the day, a lot of them are now looking at renewable sources to assist with this demand.”
Depaq noted that installing solar panels can even “increase a home’s value by £1,800, according to a report from Solar Energy UK”.
But the first thing to do before investing in solar panels? Making sure your home is suitable.
Adam said: “If you live in a conservation area or a listed building, chances are that solar panels would alter the character of the building, so check before you proceed.
“Solar panels can be weather dependent and work best in bright, sunny conditions. They can still work in cloudy weather too, however it can have an impact on how much electricity is produced.
“Also worth considering is the aspect of your home. A south facing roof or building is the optimum position for a solar panel to make the most of the daylight, whereas a north facing roof will most likely be sat in the shade.”
He added: “Once you’ve installed a solar panel to your property, make sure you register it with the company who is responsible for providing your home with electricity, known as a distribution network operator (DNO).
“A DNO supplies utility companies with the electricity we use at home, and needs to be notified that your solar panels will be exporting any unused electricity back onto the grid.”