Monday, 23 August 2010

Free solar energy panels

What’s the deal?

Alternative energy companies including Isis Solar, Home Sun, and A Shade Greener are offering free solar panels that can deliver electricity bill savings of up to hundreds of pounds.

Their offers typically include the supply, installation and maintenance of solar panels worth up to about £12,000.

Homeowners benefit from free electricity when there is sufficient daylight to power the panels, while continuing to pay for electricity from their existing supplier at other times.

Large, unshaded south-facing roofs are typically needed to fit the panels.

Is this good?

The Energy Saving Trust says that solar panels can save the typical home about £200 a year in electricity costs.

Consumer Focus, the watchdog, says the panel offers could be attractive to households who don’t have funds to pay for installation.

What’s the catch?

In return for free panels, the installers pocket the new “feed in tariff” – also called the “clean energy cashback” – of about £800 a year that can be earned under the government scheme to encourage renewable energy generation.

Homeowners are also tied in to contracts with installers for 25 years – so, if you sell your home, the buyer will generally have to take on the contract.

Also, installers could go bust, making it hard for homeowners to enforce maintenance agreements.

What’s the alternative?

Households could pay to have their own solar panels fitted, and then receive the feed-in tariff payments – which are tax-free and inflation-linked – as well as saving on electricity bills.

For a £12,000 outlay, households could earn £23,000 over 25 years, says Moneysavingexpert, the consumer advice website.
full article

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