You might not think that right now is a good time to think about solar panels. Not only are times a little uncertain, but because we’re now firmly in autumn weather, moving very quickly towards the winter, meaning dark evenings and overcast days. All in all, it’s safe to say no one in the UK is getting enough sun at the moment!
But solar panels are always a good investment, even in the dreary UK weather, and especially when times are tough, and money could start to become tight any time. They are one of the first things we suggest when customers are looking for ways to make their homes more energy efficient, and save some money on their bills too. But how do solar panels help you achieve that?
How Solar Panels Work
Before we talk about how much money they can save you, it’s important to understand how they work first. Basically, solar panels absorb the energy from the sun and convert it into electricity. If you want to get science-y, they work by allowing photons (or particles of light) to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Each solar panel is made up of lots of smaller panels called photovoltaic cells, each of which takes sunlight and turns it into electricity. They’re made of two slices of semi-conducting material (usually silicon), with the photovoltaic cell sandwiched in the middle. Link lots of them together, and you have a panel that can start to generate a real, useful electrical current.
When you put these on the roof of your home, they start to take in the sunlight hitting the roof and turning it into electricity. Wire them into your electrics, and you now have a completely free, unending source of electricity to power your home with.
With solar panels, the long-term payoff does come with an up-front cost, and it’s this bit that tends to put some people off having solar panels installed. On average, the cost of solar panels in the UK is between £5,000 and £10,000, with each panel costing around £350.
This is quite a big gap, which is what makes it so difficult to quote on cost without actually seeing the house and getting some information. The main reason the cost varies so much is that it depends on a few things, including the size and occupancy of your house. This makes sense really – the more people you have living in your house, the more amenities you’re using, the more power, so you will need more panels to provide the power you need.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. A lot of local councils offer grants, discounts or other incentives for residents to instal solar panels on their homes – as it helps improve their green initiatives. So if you’re looking at solar panels but aren’t sure about costs, it’s worth looking into what’s available in your area.
Now onto the good bit – the savings! Once the initial investment has been made, your solar panels can start saving you money right away. There are a few ways they do this, including:
- Less power from the grid: The first, and biggest perk is the fact that with solar panels you don’t need to buy as much energy from the grid – if any at all. So your energy bills are going to come down by anywhere from £150 -£450 a year.
- Price of electricity: The price of buying electricity from the grid can vary (and is on the rise right now), and your energy provider will have fees on top of that. So the more you can generate your own power, the more you’re saving.
- Stored power: If you opt for battery storage, you can actually store any excess power generated by your panels for use later. This means you can still see lower bills during the darker months, and have a backup power source through power cuts.
- Feed-in tariffs: On top of using your own energy, you can also sell any extra electricity you generate back to the grid, in what’s called a feed-in tariff. Initially the amount is offset against your power bill, but if you generate even more than that, then they could even pay you a rebate. So solar panels can make you money, not just save it!
- Increase property value: Another way solar panels can help you make money (in the long term) is by increasing your property’s market value. Having solar panels on your home can increase its value, and make it easier to sell if you chose to.
At DNA, we’re big fans of renewable energy in our builds, and will often recommend solar panels when drawing up plans for your home. Solar power is the greenest type of energy there is, and provides you with an ongoing, permanent source of fuel and energy for your home, which can make all the difference to your comfort and financial health. If you’d like to know more about solar panels, or ask us to quote for installation, just get in touch with us today.