Figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that almost half a million households have fitted solar panels so far. We take a look some of the issues surrounding this technology and dispel some of the myths. So if you’re thinking of taking an environmental loan, read on...
Myth 1 – They are so expensive I’ll never make my money back
Solar panel costs have fallen considerably in recent years, with the average 4kWp domestic solar system costing between £6,000 and £9,000, according to the Energy Saving Trust. This may seem fairly pricey at first glance, but you also need to take into account the money you’ll save by generating your own energy and also the amount you can earn by selling surplus electricity back to the National Grid.
According to the Trust, the average household can expect to generate savings and income of around £770 a year if they register for the Feed-in-Tariff scheme before the end of March and around £750 if they register from April 1. With panels expected to last around 25 years, this would mean that a set of solar panels costing £7,500 would have paid for themselves in a decade and any savings or income generated after that point would be profit.
For a more accurate estimate of the income and savings you could receive from the domestic Feed-In Tariff scheme check out the Energy Saving Trust’s Solar Energy Calculator.
Myth 2 - They won’t work as it’s never sunny
Luckily for us here in the UK, solar panels don’t actually need it to be warm and sunny to generate electricity as they use daylight rather than sunlight. Solar panels do tend to be up to 50% more efficient when the sun is out compared to in cloudy weather, according to uswitch.com, however, they will still generate sufficient electricity when it’s dull and grey.
Myth 3 – They require a lot of regular maintenance
Solar panels actually require little in the way of regular maintenance. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the main thing is just to ensure they are kept clean and clear of any over-hanging trees so that they are working at their optimum level. You can clean the panels yourself with warm water and washing up liquid using a telescopic cleaning pole or high pressured hose, or you can hire a specialist cleaning firm who should have your panels looking as good as new for around £30.
In terms of other general maintenance, your installer should leave you a list of things to check on a regular basis, including your inverter, which is likely to need updating at some point in your panels’ lifespan at a cost of around £1,000.
Myth 4 – I wouldn’t benefit as I’m not in during the day to use the electricity
If you’re rarely at home during daylight hours, it may seem like you wouldn’t benefit from solar panels as you aren’t around to use the electricity generated. However, you will still be able to sell your excess energy to the National Grid.
To ensure you don’t have to import too much energy from the grid to use yourself in an evening, you can use timers so that appliances such as washing machines run during the day or fit control systems which divert excess energy to certain devices.
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