How much money can you save with solar panels?

Want to cut your fuel bills, make money and help the environment? Then installing solar panels is your best bet – find out how much solar PV and solar thermal heating can save you.

solar panel

Here is a way to save money and help out the environment at the same time. Find out how much installing solar PV and solar thermal heating will save you. Solar panels are becoming one of the fastest sellers in the UK, says the Solar Trade Association with more than 100,000 panels already installed.

How do solar panels work?

There are two types of solar panel systems currently in use for solar thermal heating and photovoltaic panels for renewable energy.

Solar thermal heating

These systems use the energy from the sun to make hot water for your home. The flat plate collectors are the most common and cheapest option that works by transferring heat from a flat metal sheet to pipes running beneath it. The pipes run heated water to a storage cylinder or immersion heater for use by the household. In extremely cold weather areas evacuated tubes are 10-15% more efficient and work similar to a thermos flask.

Solar photovoltaic cells

These photovoltaic or PV cells are attached to the roof of your home or garage. When light from the sun shines on these cells the energy collected is converted to electricity for the home to use. Any excess electricity generated is then exported to the national grid or stored in batteries in standalone systems.

These PV panels are available as tiles or in fixed panels that are less expensive than the tile option. The panels come in a range of sizes and strengths. The solar energy is measured by the amount of electricity in kilowatts that is generated each hour, kWh.

Is my home suitable to have solar panels installed?

Anyone can install solar panels but if all or part of your roof faces south and has a slope of 35 degrees that is not shaded by trees or other buildings then solar panels can be installed to save you money on electricity bills. You should always ensure that your home is well insulated as all energy cost savings will be greater.

How much do solar panels save on electricity bills?

The STA says that solar thermal heating alone will give a family of four up to 65% of hot water needs each year. This product is a lot more efficient for people who use a lot of hot water such as a large family. A couple would not consider this an option as they will not use enough hot water to warrant spending the money on solar thermal panels.

How much money can solar panels save?

Solar PV installation could save you in excess of £200 each year off your bill for electricity.

Solar thermal installation for hot water can save a large family up to £85 on bills each year.

How to make money from solar panels

Feed-in tariffs

The UK government has introduced a feed-in tariff scheme, FIT, to give cash back for any renewable energy that is generated by solar PV panels installed on your home. The rate varies depending on the kW size of the system installed.

Tariffs payable  till the 31st December 2013 vary from:

  • 13.41 to 14.90 for a 4kW and less system

  • 12.15 to 13.50 for a 4to 10kW system

  • 11.31to 12.57 for a 10 to 50 kW system

These payments to you are tax free and will be linked to inflation. There are two tariffs used:

  1. Generation tariff is a payment per kW depending on the size of the panels and is paid for exporting to the grid and the electricity from solar PV that you use.

  2. Export tariff is a 3p per kW payment or you can sell electricity on the open market

To be eligible for the FIT payments you need to have an Energy performance Certificate that has a rating of D or above to qualify.

The renewable heat incentive

This is a similar scheme to the FIT that was launched for renewable heat technologies that include solar thermal heating. More than £850 million of government funding is open to industrial, business and public sector buildings that contribute to 38% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. Payments are given for every kW of renewable heat generated for twenty years and will give a 12% return on the investment.

In 2013 the government will be offering the RHI for households with a grant of £300 towards the cost of installing solar thermal panels.

How much do I save with solar panels?

Solar PV average installation cost is between £4000 and £6500. You will save more than 1200 kg in carbon emissions and you will get between £500 and £1100 from FIT on a 3kW system.

Solar thermal heating installation cost is between £3000 and £5000. You will save 250kg in carbon converting from gas and up to 500kg converting from an electric boiler and you will get a £30 grant to install the system and save around £80 on your energy bill.

solar panel installation

Benefits of solar panels

Reduce your carbon footprint

By installing solar panels you can save as much as 1200kg of carbon dioxide emissions a year says the EST if you switch to solar PV and 250kg if you convert from gas hot water to solar thermal heating.

Solar panels require minimal maintenance

All you need to do is clean your panels each year and remove any dust build up. If you have enough rain it is done for you.

Solar panels will last

The EST reports that a solar panel has a life of around 25 years.

Planning permission for installation of solar panels

If you are living in an historical or listed building you will need to apply for permission to install solar panels. If you are in Northern Ireland or Scotland you will need to contact local planning authorities about the installation. Apart from these areas anyone else can have solar panels installed as long as they are not taller than the highest point of the roof and more than 9 metres squared in size.

How much do solar panels cost?

According to the EST solar PV panels cost between £5000 and £7500 and solar thermal panels are less expensive at around £4500. Always check with local councils about grants for renewable energy installation.


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Garry says:

Could you give me details of putting pv panels in a field? Maybe about 100kw of installed panels?


mjackson says:

Hi Garry,

Thanks for your post.

As we only deal with roof mounted solar panels, my knowledge on this subject is very limited however i have been able to find some information online that i think might help.

Please follow this link to the energy saving trust website, where you will find further information on A frame solar panels.

I do hope this helps.

Mark @ Servicemagic

i would like a quote for my house and some information about sollar power system could you please send me a leaflet my name is mohammed iqbal thanks

mjackson says:

Hi Mohammed,

Thanks for your comment.

We act as an introductory service and do not quote for jobs ourselves.

In order to get a leaflet, you would need to contact a solar company directly.

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