Solar Panels: Are They a Solid Investment?

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going solar

This post may be a bit basic for our long-time readers and solar experts, but I think it makes a good intro post for anyone thinking about going solar, and someone passed it on to me just as I was thinking about putting together a little “Going Solar” series, so I thought it made a good fit for that. Check it out and chime in with your thoughts in the comments below the post!

On this rocky financial road that many of us seem to be travelling on, there seems to be no place to pull over and take a break in order to avoid huge utility bills and other costs that threaten to crash head-on into you when you least expect them to. What’s more, it seems like everyone’s driving gas guzzlers, which not only hurt the environment but also manage to be a lot less financially efficient.

Overblown metaphors aside, there’s certainly a point to be made regarding the use of electricity and gas in the UK. Both cost more by the month, it seems, while people are increasingly looking to more eco-friendly approaches that are becoming more viable for the average citizen. While lots of people follow in the footsteps of celebs and get themselves a nice green car — a hybrid or full-blown electric vehicle — others think a little more outside the box and consider renewable sources of energy that will not only be carbon neutral, but save them plenty of money in the process.

One option that people often find themselves considering is the installation of solar panels onto their home. While these offerings have certainly improved in terms of efficiency and initial cost, is photovoltaic (PV) energy still worth the investment?

If you end up getting PV from a solar panel installation company like Evoenergy, in the UK, there are things you must initially consider that could rule you out entirely — but it’s still easy and free to find out if you’re well-placed for the installation.

Firstly, you must have a house that could have them fitted in the right direction. There obviously needs to be adequate sunlight, as well as a south-facing surface that is never shadowed by other buildings or trees. A house must also have a strong enough roof to hold the heavy cells (though, more and more people are planting them in open garden space to get around this). Luckily, if you live in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, you won’t need planning permission unless they go over a certain size.

Benefits are plenty in number. Firstly, you’re doing a good job for the environment. Solar panels reduce CO2 emissions and remove a tonne of the gas per cell each year — widespread adoption could certainly have a tremendous impact on a much more dramatic scale.

Secondly, you’ll cut your electricity bill by quite a large amount. Nobody is going to charge you for using sunlight. While the initial investment made to buy a solar panel or two isn’t cheap, you’ll likely recoup these losses over a short time. Also, any electricity you generate but do not use can be sold back to the National Grid. These feed-in tariffs, otherwise known as “clean energy cash back,” are part of a government initiative; however, they have been the subject of rule changes aplenty since their introduction, so see what you’re entitled to, and how best to take advantage of this plan.

In the end, you need to have someone actually look at your solar potential and give you an estimate of the costs to see what the exact monetary returns would be on a solar panel investment. And given how things can change in this environment, having such a process completed (it’s free, after all) every six months or so probably isn’t a bad idea (unless you go solar after the first time, of course).

Image Credit: solar panels on house via Shutterstock

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