Since the launch of the feed-in tariff to encourage the take up of renewable electricity generation technologies we have seen an unprecedented take up of solar photovoltaics, solar for generating electricity. A significant contribution has been from the free solar panel companies that offer to fit solar panels to homeowner's roofs at no cost to the homeowner. Whilst this offer benefits people who own their own home either outright or through a mortgage it excludes tenants of council and housing association properties.
Recently there has been more of a move to providing council solar panels and there are many examples in areas such as North Tyneside, Nottingham city council, Brighton and Bournemouth. Unfortunately both local councils and housing associations do not have the funds to pay for solar PV installations for all of their tenants but private installation companies with funding are able to make the large initial investment for solar installations of this scale.
It may seem like a bit of stereotypical view of council and housing association tenants but they are more likely to be in fuel poverty and more likely to spend longer at home during the daytime. Before I get chastised here are the actual figures based on tenure for fuel poverty. Private tenants are even more likely to be in fuel poverty but with the complications of private rented accommodation it makes it difficult for free solar installation companies to negotiate the fitting of solar on a house by house basis. Councils and housing associations on the other hand tend to be responsible for large numbers of properties and so installers only have to deal with one entity making it easier to negotiate the installation of free solar on these properties.
Over the last decade the number of people in fuel poverty has more than doubled, arguably due to the continuing increase in fuel costs for households, lower household incomes and increases in other fixed costs. The cost of fuel bills are set to rise if the recent double digit increases in gas and electricity costs are anything to go by. The installation of solar on suitable housing association and council properties is going to insulate tenants in part from these increases in fuel prices. Without sounding too liberal this is an ideal way to redistribute wealth as this is more targeted than providing free solar to private households.
The fact that private solar installation companies offer free solar to private homeowners is now well publicised. However not much is known about companies offering free solar for social housing. The problem is that tenants cannot enquire directly about getting free solar panels installed on their home as they do not own the property that they live in. It is the owner of the property that has to enquire; this is usually the local council or social housing organisation. So where do start looking if you were the procurement manager looking to find a free installer for social housing properties. You can contact potential solar installation partners by completing this social housing solar enquiry form.
Funding should have been provided initially for council and other social housing properties but central government, many councils and housing associations lack the finances to be able to fund the number of installations on this scale. Several investment companies and solar installers have taken the initiative to offer free installations for appropriate social housing properties.
The installer will provide the investment to be able to install and maintain solar photovoltaic systems on suitable properties. This means that there is no investment needed on the part of the tenants or their landlords. The tenants will then benefit from at least 25 years of free electricity provided by the solar panels reducing their electricity bills.
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