Last week I was on the phone with a confused member of the public asking about solar panels. She asked whether they were worth £10,000, especially given the reduction in the Feed In Tariff rate, whether the quotes she had been given were ‘good’ and other general questions that a responsible company really ought to be giving out as standard.
We get countless enquiries from people who have been confused into spending lots of money or just want to know where to start. For people who are thinking of installing solar panels our advice would be as follows –
- Get at least two quotes
- Ask for references, even better, go and see an installation the company has carried out and speak to the ‘satisfied customer’
- Speak to someone independent (a friend who has had them installed, the Energy Saving Trust, The EcoHouse etc).
The decision by the government to reduce feed in tariffs has been widely reported. I think that a reduction in the rate was right but that it was done in the wrong way. The price of buying panels has dramatically reduced over the past year, resulting in some people making too much money on the back of it. It has been good times for the installers and has done the industry a lot of good, but the funding needs to be spread wider to enable more people to benefit.
I would encourage people to continue to consider installing solar panels, most forward thinking companies are still working to a payback period of around 10 years on the new 21p rate, which is still a good deal.
It remains to be seen what happens in April, but if this scheme is cut further, keep your eyes peeled for the new Renewable Heat Incentive (for solar hot water panels and other such products) and the Green Deal (household loans paid back through your energy bill – the proviso being that anything installed should save more money than it costs).
Any green intervention will be worth it in the long term as the long term trend in energy prices is upward.
Gavin Fletcher, Conservation Team Manager