Home solar power is a great way of producing cheap electricity and reducing carbon emissions whilst doing our bit for the environment and lowering our personal carbon footprint. Installing it doesn’t have to be expensive either – many governments will provide grants for home solar power systems and it’s even possible to build one at home from materials available around the home however that’s not particularly effective compared to cheap solar panels.
In this article we will go through the pros and cons as well as some facts and figures to help us make an informed choice financially, and morally, it’s a great way to teach the kids environmental awareness too. Let’s get started!
Concerns about sustainable development, carbon emissions and depletion of resources have made green energy a salient issue. Governments are turning to wind power, solar power, solar windows, and wave power among others, but despite the environmental benefits there are a number of potential drawbacks, not least that green sources may struggle to provide the quantity of energy required to power the world’s biggest industrial nations. This concern is dropping however, for example the London Array is now powering nearly half of London’s electrical requirements. This is quite something.
By installing solar power at home, homeowners can take the matter into their own hands and ensure that if the grid goes down, they don’t. Household solar panels can provide in excess of 40% of a home’s energy needs and in some cases as much as 70 or 80%. Solar hot water heaters can reduce a home’s gas bill by up to 85% a year. Reducing a household’s reliance on the grid means reducing the strain on the grid – and many homes can now sell energy back to their governments. This is unfortunately becoming a problem because the price the grid pays keeps lowering. It’s better to workout a way of using your electricity and storing it to get maximum benefit and value for money.
Solar Power Cost
One of the major stumbling blocks for individuals however is the initial upfront cost. A single 1kW system can retail at £4000 when bought commercially, plus there are additional requirements for batteries, an inverter, charge controller and installation as well. A solar hot water heater can cost over £2500. If you can get over the start up price you will just keep enjoying the benefits for years and years to come.
It doesn’t have to cost that much though. Among the major commercial companies are a number of smaller cooperatives selling hand-built panels often at lower prices. By filtering beyond the first few pages of search engine results it’s occasionally possible to stumble across a bargain. Here’s an example of a cheap 5KW system that costs just £4000 but of course cost of installation needs to be considered.
Some homeowners take it one step further and build their own. There are plenty of online sources that provide instructions for both solar panels and solar hot water heaters and doing so can more than half the initial outlay.
Solar Power Grants
Many governments have woken up to the fact that it is in their benefit to encourage citizens to undertake such improvements and will offer grants towards the cost of installation. These can be a significant portion of the cost. However I would point out grants are becoming fewer and further between in favour of larger projects which the government can then charge for.
There are also tax breaks available, as well as ‘feed in tariffs’. These are government contracts to buy back any electricity generated by a household which is fed back into the grid. In the UK it’s possible to earn up to £1500 a year tax free by selling electricity back to your electricity provider.
Ultimately, a combined home solar power system for hot water and electricity can cut your household bills by around 60-70%. As such, they will save you money in the long run and thus make sense both environmentally and financially. Take advantage of government incentives to install solar power in your home and you could not only make massive future savings but also contribute to an increasingly delicate environment. If this is too much of an investment for you, here’s some smaller steps towards saving the environment.
Energy Saving Trust, “Solar Electricity”
Energy Star, “Where Does My Money Go”,
The Green Company, “Feed In Tariff”,
Win & Sun Design Guide & Catalogue.