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Would you consider solar panels?

Would you consider solar panels?

Category: Gas and electricity

Updated: 26/08/2015
First Published: 25/08/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

If you're fed up of paying too much for your gas and electricity, you're probably looking for ways to lower your bills. However, there could be more to think about than comparing tariffs and reducing your energy usage. These are, of course, great places to start, but if you're after a truly long-term solution, have you considered installing solar panels? According to research, a growing number of people are turning to this solution to reduce their monthly bills.

Go green and cut costs

Figures from Ocean Finance show that almost half of those questioned have recently installed solar panels or planned to do so as they look for ways to cut the cost of their energy bills. This is largely due to the soaring costs of energy prices, which are fuelling the desire to seek alternatives.

Breaking it down, the figures show that over a third of homeowners said they planned to install solar panels – 10 times more than last year – while a further 14% already have done. There's a clear financial incentive to do so, with the Energy Saving Trust calculating that a typical family of four in a three-bedroomed house can save between £500 and £800 a year on their energy bills, depending on where they live, simply by installing solar panels.

This dramatic saving is made up of a combination of general cost savings and the potential earnings of generating solar energy – the Energy Saving Trust says that households using solar energy can typically earn £560 a year from their supplier for generating electricity, as well as £90 from selling power back to the National Grid, and they can cut a further £150 from their electricity bills, too.

What's stopping you?

Given the potential savings, there's definite merit to considering solar panels, but many people are put off by the initial cost involved. This is by far the biggest barrier, with 40% of those who said they wouldn't consider solar panels citing this as the key reason, and given that the average domestic solar panel system can cost up to £8,000, it's no wonder.

The second most common reason for not wanting to install solar panels was the way they look, with 25% of respondents simply not wanting them on the roof. However, other reasons were also given, including the belief that they don't get enough sunlight, while 14% said they didn't believe they could get planning permission to install them. However, these final two reasons are complete myths – you don't need to be basking in glorious sunshine year-round to benefit, and in many cases, you don't even need planning permission!

Gareth Shilton of Ocean Finance commented on the findings: "It's interesting to see the rise in the number of homeowners who plan to install solar panels. Britain has some of the least energy-efficient housing in Europe, and this leaves homeowners struggling with high energy bills. The fact that 10 times as many homeowners are warming to solar technology is likely to be a response to rising energy costs and the search for ways to cut bills.

"While the upfront costs can be quite high, installing solar panels not only saves you money over the long term on your energy bills, but it can also increase the energy rating of your home and therefore add value to your property."

So, even if you're put off by the initial cost, the long-term savings could be marked. Over time they could more than make up for the initial outlay, and when you consider the fact that your home could be worth more as a result, it makes sense to consider them. For the time being, make sure your energy bills are as low as possible by comparing energy tariffs for your area, and then you may want to start thinking about a longer-term solution.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.