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Solar Panels On Radio 4 Moneybox Live

Wed, 5 Oct 2011 16:38:00 GMT

If you listened to the October fifth show of Money Box Live on Radio 4 you would have heard a question and answer session on home energy and energy saving. The discussion answered callers questions, some of which were on the solar photovoltaic installations and a particular question on why someone had been refused free solar.

If you want to listen to the programme again then you can do but they only have it available for 7 days from today, the link is here. Notable guests were Karen Lawrence from the Energy Saving Trust and Ann Robinson (no, not that one) from uSwitch. There was one question in particular that was interesting from a caller who had applied for free solar but was refused as her roof was too small but then offered a paid solar system. This causes quite a bit of confusion amongst people researching solar as it sounds as if paid solar isn't cost effective if you have a smaller roof.

Solar panels on smaller roofs

There are a lot of households in the UK that have small roofs and therefore can only physically fit a certain amount of panels on their roof. Most free solar companies require a minimum roof area to fit their free panels so if your roof is not big enough you may get refused the free offer. However you could still pay for your own smaller system with fewer panels so why do the free installers turn down people with smaller homes?

solar panels mentioned on moneybox liveFree installers rely on loans and other sources of funding to cover the upfront cost of providing free solar to people. These costs have to be repaid with interest so the installer is keen to provide their free systems to the most cost effective properties. Solar PV systems are more cost effective the larger they are so free installers require a minimum sized roof in order that they can make a profit. This means that if your roof is too small it is unlikely you will be offered free solar. However as different installers have different requirements you may be refused by one company but accepted by another.

For a homeowner buying their own system, even a small solar photovoltaic system is the best option. Not only do you get the free electricity that the panels provide but more importantly you get the feed-in tariff that pays you for all of the electricity the panels produce over the next 25 years. It means that you will more than earn back your initial investment; at current prices payback periods are as low as 6-7 years in some cases. You will also end up with a significant tax free profit over the 25 year period.

Switching energy suppliers to save money

On the Radio 4 programme there was also some interesting discussion on switching energy providers since now all of the big six companies have raised their prices. I recently switched to a smaller energy company called Ecotricity as they are a more ethical company that offers both green gas and electricity. They can also donate £60 to the Green party on your behalf if you switch to them. Obviously my decision to switch was a personal one based on ethics and the environment rather than saving money. However switching could save millions of UK households money on their bills even if you switch to what is often perceived as pricier green energy companies such as Ecotricity and Good Energy.

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