Solar panels for your home: A smart investment

by Solar Selections on January 29, 2013

Solar power home installation

Considering installing solar panels for your home? Solar panels are one of the smartest investments a home can make these days, thanks to the UK’s feed-in tariff and the unprecedentedly low cost of solar panels. What does a household need to keep in mind when thinking about going solar?

Home solar panels in the UK: Driving down power bills since 2008

If you’re considering solar panels for your home, it’s probably because you’re looking to reduce your electricity bill. The cost of electricity is rising steadily across the UK, and this trend is not expected to reverse anytime soon. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that are installed on the roofs of homes help to safeguard their owners against ballooning power bills.

Solar PV technology has been around for decades, but hasn’t always been affordable. Just as it was on the cusp of affordability, many governments around the globe began introducing incentives for producing solar power: feed-in tariffs. The UK was also in on the trend, introducing its (very generous) feed-in tariff in 2008. The program was a hit, and home solar panel installations surged–especially when there were impending reductions to the rates. This happened several times, with the incentive program being characterised by erratic shake-ups that rattled confidence in the the solar panel industry in the UK, which was still heavily subsidy-dependent.

The sudden reductions in feed-in tariff rates were actually partially a product of the scheme’s own success–system prices had come down dramatically in a short period of time. While this doesn’t excuse the government’s ill handling of the scheme, it does give some indication of how seriously the solar PV game has changed in the last few years. Solar panels may be a ‘no-brainer’ for UK homes in the not-so-distant future–even without subsidies.

(Read more: Solar panel payback and return on investment.)

Prerequisites for installing solar power on your home’s roof

So most households consider going solar to save money on their power bills, which makes sense because of the feed-in tariff. The first step in reducing home energy bills, however, is not installing solar panels; it is energy efficiency. The UK government recognises this, and has a system through which homes must meet a minimum standard of energy efficiency before they can qualify for the full benefits of the feed-in tariff. This ensures that money is spent where it is needed most.

A minimum energy efficiency requirement is required through Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) grading. Homes that want to install solar panels must undergo an EPC assessment and achieve at least a D rating (read more about EPC ratings). EPC assessments usually cost between £40-£80, and it is estimated that roughly half of all homes in the UK will meet the criteria without any changes. Those that do not hit the D mark but still want to go solar, however, can usually achieve it with some small investments in energy efficiency–e.g. installing a condensing boiler or cavity or roof insulation.

Interested in installing solar panels on your home and want to know more about what’s involved? Solar Selections provides free, impartial solar quotes from leading installers anywhere in the UK. Fill out the form to the right of this page or call us on 020 7205 2267 to learn more today!

© 2013 Solar Selections Pty Ltd

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