Getting solar panels installed is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save on those energy bills. But are they really worth it? Once upon a time, the British government offered incentives to people who had solar panels installed on their homes, making them much more financially viable. However, that scheme has now ended, calling into question whether or not investing in solar panels is worth it.
Here’s a look at the arguments for and against getting solar panels installed on your house, and some energy-saving alternatives if you opt against the idea.
What Was the Old Scheme?
In April 2010 until March 2019, the government ran a scheme known as the feed-in-tariff, and it paid out in two ways, the generation tariff and the export tariff. The generation tariff paid for all the electricity that a house with solar panels generated. Rates were set dependent on when you signed for the scheme and the size of your solar PV system.
In the early days, it paid around 50p per kilowatt-hour, but it reduced over the years and was only 4p for new customers who signed up in March 2019. The contracts were fixed for the life of your contract, so people who signed up to the scheme before it ended are still receiving payments, it’s just no longer available to new customers.
The export tariff paid homeowners for the surplus of energy they exported back to the grid. Rates were set at the market rate for electricity, not based on the actual amount of electricity exported. Since March 2019, this scheme no longer exists, and a new one was put in place that seems to leave people worse off.
What is the New Scheme?
The new scheme is known as the Smart Export Guarantee, and it came into effect on the 1st of January 2020. Energy companies set their own price for the energy; it’s not fixed by the government. This new scheme means that homeowners are only paid for the energy they export back to their supplier, and a smart metre also shows how much energy is produced by the solar panels. Under this scheme, it will take much longer to pay off the solar panels from the money made through the scheme alone: around 20 years.
While the new scheme means that people would be financially worse off buying solar panels now than they would have a few years ago, it’s not a bad investment for people who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
Solar panels create clean, renewable energy from the sun that reduces the amount of fossil fuels you use at home to run electrical devices. They produce no emissions and last a long time with no maintenance.
In ideal conditions, solar panels can produce around 75% of a typical household’s electricity consumption. If an average UK household produces roughly 2.4 metric tonnes of CO² a year, then switching to solar panels would be the equivalent of planting more than nine trees a year.
Alternatives to Solar Panels
Solar panel installation costs between £2,500 and £15,000 depending on the size of your system. So it’s quite likely that it would take a long time to make back those costs on the Smart Export Guarantee alone. This might not be a problem for people wanting to do their part for the environment regardless of the costs, but for people looking for more financially viable options, here are a few alternatives to solar panels:
A smart thermostat can make heating your home more efficient by only warming up the rooms being used. You can control it by phone, so you can set the heating to come on when you know you’re heading home and keep it off whenever you’re out.
Don’t rush to dispose of all those perfectly good appliances. But when it’s time to upgrade, go with top quality models that are rated for their energy efficiency. They might be a little costly initially, but they will save you on your energy costs in the long run.
Upgrading your boiler to an A-rated condensing boiler with a programmer, thermostat and radiator controls will give you better control over the heating in your home and save you money each year.
Double glazed windows insulate your home and keep the cold out, reducing your heating bill. In a semi-detached property with entirely single glazed windows, updating them to double glazing could save as much as £110 a year.
Wall cladding and roofing sheets
Getting wall cladding installed on your home or commercial building offers excellent insulation to keep the elements at bay. Insulated roof sheets are rated for their ability to retain heat, minimising the loss of heat through a building’s roof.
At Bushbury cladding, we can supply wall cladding and metal roof sheets that are suitable for a wide range of applications. Contact us today to find out just how much more energy-efficient you can make your home with our roofing sheets and wall cladding sheets.