Here is a way to save money and help out the environment at the same time. Find out how much installing solar PV and solar thermal heating will save you. Solar panels are becoming one of the fastest sellers in the UK, says the Solar Trade Association with more than 100,000 panels already installed.
How do solar panels work?
There are two types of solar panel systems currently in use for solar thermal heating and photovoltaic panels for renewable energy.
Solar thermal heating
These systems use the energy from the sun to make hot water for your home. The flat plate collectors are the most common and cheapest option that works by transferring heat from a flat metal sheet to pipes running beneath it. The pipes run heated water to a storage cylinder or immersion heater for use by the household. In extremely cold weather areas evacuated tubes are 10-15% more efficient and work similar to a thermos flask.
Solar photovoltaic cells
These photovoltaic or PV cells are attached to the roof of your home or garage. When light from the sun shines on these cells the energy collected is converted to electricity for the home to use. Any excess electricity generated is then exported to the national grid or stored in batteries in standalone systems.
These PV panels are available as tiles or in fixed panels that are less expensive than the tile option. The panels come in a range of sizes and strengths. The solar energy is measured by the amount of electricity in kilowatts that is generated each hour, kWh.
Is my home suitable to have solar panels installed?
Anyone can install solar panels but if all or part of your roof faces south and has a slope of 35 degrees that is not shaded by trees or other buildings then solar panels can be installed to save you money on electricity bills. You should always ensure that your home is well insulated as all energy cost savings will be greater.
How much do solar panels save on electricity bills?
The STA says that solar thermal heating alone will give a family of four up to 65% of hot water needs each year. This product is a lot more efficient for people who use a lot of hot water such as a large family. A couple would not consider this an option as they will not use enough hot water to warrant spending the money on solar thermal panels.
How much money can solar panels save?
Solar PV installation could save you in excess of £200 each year off your bill for electricity.
Solar thermal installation for hot water can save a large family up to £85 on bills each year.
How much do I save with solar panels?
Solar PV average installation cost is between £4000 and £6500. You will save more than 1200 kg in carbon emissions and you will get between £500 and £1100 from FIT on a 3kW system.
Solar thermal heating installation cost is between £3000 and £5000. You will save 250kg in carbon converting from gas and up to 500kg converting from an electric boiler and you will get a £30 grant to install the system and save around £80 on your energy bill.
Benefits of solar panels
Reduce your carbon footprint
By installing solar panels you can save as much as 1200kg of carbon dioxide emissions a year says the EST if you switch to solar PV and 250kg if you convert from gas hot water to solar thermal heating.
Solar panels require minimal maintenance
All you need to do is clean your panels each year and remove any dust build up. If you have enough rain it is done for you.
Solar panels will last
The EST reports that a solar panel has a life of around 25 years.
Planning permission for installation of solar panels
If you are living in an historical or listed building you will need to apply for permission to install solar panels. If you are in Northern Ireland or Scotland you will need to contact local planning authorities about the installation. Apart from these areas anyone else can have solar panels installed as long as they are not taller than the highest point of the roof and more than 9 metres squared in size.
How much do solar panels cost?
According to the EST solar PV panels cost between £5000 and £7500 and solar thermal panels are less expensive at around £4500. Always check with local councils about grants for renewable energy installation.
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