As the country is coming to terms with an energy crisis and households with soaring bills, interest in home-produced power is bound to escalate.
With soaring wholesale gas costs potentially nearly doubling the average household energy bill over the next year, many will turn to solar panels as a method of mitigating rising costs.
But homeowners must check how much they could realistically save before installing solar panels – as the actual figure can vary dramatically.
Having solar panels installed could add £1,800 to a property’s value, according to new data
Trade body Solar Energy UK believes the systems could save homeowners £330 a year off their energy bills.
Moreover, it claims adding solar panels could increase a home’s sale price by around £1,800 – or nearly half of the up-front installation cost.
Here, we explain the impact of solar panels and outline some of the considerations homeowners need to make before going ahead.
Are solar panels vital to reaching net zero by 2050?
Solar Energy UK is urging financial service providers to put more green finance products on the market to meet the likely increased future demand.
It believes the demand will rise as the UK adopts electric heating and transport, such as heat pumps and electric vehicles.
Its report found demand was already high, with 33 per cent of people saying solar panels were their third biggest home improvement priority after the kitchen and bathroom, and replacing windows.
This increased among young homeowners: of 18 to 30-year-olds, 52 per cent cited it as number three on their list.
This desire for solar power was perhaps unsurprising, given 72 per cent of homeowners felt that the environmental impact of their home was important.
The report also included recommendations to maximise the contribution residential solar systems can make to decarbonising the UK economy.
Solar Energy UK called on financial institutions to develop and bring to market consumer finance and green mortgage products that rewarded investment in properties which include solar.
Some 46 per cent of homeowners said that if a new consumer finance product, such as a green mortgage, meant they could install a solar energy system without any upfront payment, they would be likely to get one.
This reached 71 per cent for those in higher socio-economic groups.
The trade body is also asking the Government to create a level tax playing field for solar; encourage the development of new consumer financing initiatives; and develop green retrofit programmes.
It said increasing the uptake of solar power would be ‘a vital measure’ if the UK was to meet its target of achieving a net zero economy by 2050.
Chris Hewett, CEO of Solar Energy UK, said: ‘The UK stands on the brink of a home energy revolution. There is a powerful investment case for residential solar.
Solar Energy UK believe installing solar panels could save homes on their energy bills
‘Bringing new green finance products to the market – and recognising the value of solar homes – will help unlock millions of affordable energy projects for home owners and occupiers around the country.
‘Taking swift action on this will help the UK move towards net zero a way that is good for consumers, good for the climate, and good for the UK’s solar power industry, which is ready and willing to deliver.
‘The return on investment makes upgrading a home with solar power system an easy and simple way to lower a property’s running costs and increase its value, while also, crucially, reducing its environmental impact.’
Households should think carefully before they agree to have solar panels installed at home
What you need to consider before installation
However, there are a number of things people need to carefully consider before committing to installing solar panels.
Cost One of the main considerations is how much it costs to install the panels.
They often range into the thousands to install, and cannot be moved – so if you are planning to move home anytime soon, you will likely not benefit financially from having them fitted.
It is possible to get a quote from suppliers, but prices vary dependent on how many panels you will need. However, it is possible to get money back on your investment.
Many have been able to take advantage of the feed-In tariff scheme, whereby they get payments from their energy supplier if they generate their own electricity – but this stopped taking applications for new members in March 2020.
In its place there is now the Smart Export Guarantee, which works in a similar way.
Licensed electricity suppliers must offer a tariff and make payment to small-scale low-carbon generators for electricity exported to the National Grid, providing certain criteria are met.
If you get panels fitted, it is a good idea to sign up to this scheme.
Is your home appropriate? You will also need to consider whether you are even able to have a solar panels installed on your home, as not all properties are suitable.
Whilst in most cases you won’t need planning permission, you will need to ensure you have enough space to fit them.
If you don’t have room for them on your roof, you could install an outbuilding to house the panels.
The current guidance provided by the Government says an outbuilding should be single storey, with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and a maximum overall height of 4 metres, and a dual-pitched roof.
Anything more than that would require planning permission.
Is your roof strong enough? The roof will need to be strong enough to hold the panels, and there needs to be enough space to house the inverter – the component that converts the direct current produced by your panels into ready-to-use alternating current.
The condition of the roof itself should also be inspected to ensure that it is safe enough to hold the panels.
Some solar panels firms offer free inspections which may be worthwhile before you commit to having them fitted.
If households do decide to get panels fitted, they should ensure the work is carried out by professionals and remember to tell their home insurer.