ENERGY BILLS: Is it time to put solar panels on your roof?

October 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

Sam Dunn

19:03 EST, 15 October 2013


06:36 EST, 16 October 2013

Putting solar panels on your roof means that not only can you save money by using the energy that they generate but that you can also get a tax-free return from the healthy subsidies that the Government pays.

Returns on solar panels are not as good as they once wear but still look good next to the return from a savings account.

But for those who don’t want to go that far there are some other neat energy-saving tricks that could keep you warm for less and help the environment. We take a look.

Fun in the sun: If you're out on a sunny day and not using any appliances your electricity is sold back to the National Grid

Fun in the sun: If you’re out on a sunny day and not using any appliances your electricity is sold back to the National Grid


Solar panels on your roof absorb daylight — which means they work even on cloudy days — and convert it into electricity.

power is then used to run appliances and lighting in your home. You get
paid for every unit of this energy you use. But you can also make money
from energy you don’t use.

So, if you’re out on a sunny day and not using any appliances your electricity is sold back to the National Grid.

Every three months, you get a rebate from your power company.

So you benefit twice: by using less electricity from the Grid, and earning income from the sale of your power to the Grid.


The average cost of buying  and installing a system is about £7,000, according to not-for-profit advice website the Energy Saving Trust.

This is for photovoltaic panels that sit on top of your roof. The price can double if you have the panels installed as part your roof.

Each panel measures roughly 1.5 square metres and typically UK homes have 15 panels taking up 20 square metres.

This generates roughly 2,500kWh per annum — about two-thirds of the energy needed to run a family home for two adults and two young children.

As a rule, you won’t need planning permission unless your home is listed or in a conservation area. Any extra electricity you need has to come from the National Grid at a standard rate.


You’ll be paid a minimum sum for all electricity generated by your system, known as the Feed-In Tariff (Fit). You’ll currently get 14.9p per kilowatt hour (kwh) for each unit of electricity you create.

You get 4.6p for every unit sold back to the Grid. Together, these payments boost your savings because your on-site electricity reduces the bill from your normal supplier.

Sign up now and this tariff will be frozen for 20 years — and rises with inflation. The Energy Saving Trust estimates half of all the power created by homes with solar panels is sold back to the Grid.


About £800 a year, typically. For example, a family of four in a three-bed property who buy a 4kWh solar panel system will earn about £560 a year from their supplier just for generating the solar electricity.

On top of this, they will then make £90 from selling power back to the National Grid via their energy supplier.

And finally, they’ll typically knock £150 from their electricity bill by using their own power instead of buying it all from their supplier.

This works out as approximately £800 of savings in total.

To find out what kind of savings you could make, use the solar energy calculator on the Energy Saving trust website.

At these rates, you need to be prepared to stay in your current property for a minimum of eight years to make it worthwhile. The key to making big savings is to use as many of your appliances as possible in the daytime when you are generating your own power.

Your installer should show you how everything works and you must register the Feed-In Tariff.

A new meter then shows you how much energy is being generated — and how much you are exporting.


Every home in the UK is supposed to have an energy efficiency rating. Your home must have an Energy Performance Certificate rating of D or above to qualify for the full 14.9p per unit payment. Lower rated houses get just 9p/kWh. (Most installers can arrange one for you, or contact your local council for more information.)

For the best performance, your roof should ideally face south at a pitched angle of around 30 degrees.

It will still work if your installation is at any pitch and facing south, or  due east or due west, but your power generation — and income — will fall. There should be no shading from trees or other buildings — but it really needs to benefit from clear sunshine between 10am and 4pm each day.

Although they’re not too heavy, you should always tell the installer if you have a flat felt roof — with a frame, it can work.

Also, you’ll need to find a regulated installer — try the Energy Saving Trust.

And you must make sure they are a member of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.

Like any household job, get a number of quotes then pick the company which you feel most comfortable with.

The panels should last for 25 years. They may also need cleaning, particularly if birds have a habit of targeting them.

You may also need to change the so-called ‘inverter’. This kit, costing about £800, links the roof power to your domestic power supply .

Always tell your home buildings insurer — the panels constitute a major change to your property.

Some panels you see on roofs are solar thermal hot water panels, a completely different technology not the subject of this article.


The National Association of Estate agents says not — but says some more ethically-minded buyers may see them as a desirable extra.

Tin foil behind your radiators – and other wacky energy savers

There are dozens of simple — and zany — steps you can take to keep warm AND cut your bills. Here are some of the best:

  • Put foil behind the radiators — it will reflect warmth back into the room.
  • Get draught excluders to stop chilly breezes. You can buy a red spotty dog one for £9.99 at Homebase. 
  • Heat is also lost through keyholes and letterboxes — so cover these up, too.
  • Put on an extra jumper and cuddle up under a blanket. Or what about buying a slanket or snuggie (a blanket with sleeves)?
  • Stick plastic tape around draughty windows (15 m of Stormguard tape costs £4.99 at Homebase). 
  • A layer of clingfilm on a window is a cheap way to create double-glazing: 6 sq m of Stormguard double-glazing film costs £8.99 at Homebase.
  • Don’t heat an empty house. Put radiators on a timer so they only come on when you are in. 
  • Hallways and stairwells don’t need heating — so shut your doors!
  • … and turn off the radiators in the rooms you aren’t using.
  • Believe it or not, turning down the thermostat just one degree to, say, 19 degrees can save you £65 a year.
  • Close the curtains at dusk — and tuck them in around the window sill to stop draughts. 
  • Keep active to keep warm — do some vigorous cleaning or get the heart-racing by vacuuming. 
  • Just used the oven? Open the door to let the heat in to the kitchen.  But not if you have young children, pets or are accident-prone.
  • If your water is piping hot, turn down the thermostat to no more than 60c/140f. 
  • Set your washing machine to run at  30 degrees. 
  • Use energy-saving lightbulbs — this can save £60 a year and they also last ten times longer than regular bulbs.
  • Buy a hot water bottle (Asda sells one for £3, or Poundland has a small one for just £1).
  • Turn the lights off when you leave a room. EVERY TIME.
  • Unplug appliances.  Your TV, DVD player and even your mobile phone charger — can cost you up to £90 a year when they’re not being used.
  • Don’t fill up the kettle for just one cup of tea. Put in just what you need. 
  • Fill up the dishwashers and washing machine. A half-full load uses the same energy as a full one.
  • Put lids on saucepans — it’ll stop heat escaping and mean things will cook quicker.

If you have any energy saving tips, send them to us at


Energy efficiency
improvements can help you save on energy bills. But, remember, you
could also save up to £300 by switching energy suppliers – without
making any changes to your home.

Suppliers offer their cheapest rates via online tariffs
so if you’re ready to switch, it will certainly pay to do so.

suppliers tend to charge more for electricity to those customers who
live in their ‘home’ region – the areas where they enjoyed a monopoly
before energy deregulation.

So switching away will almost always save
you money.

are different all over the country and the cheapest supplier for you
will depend where you live. You only need to be interested in the tariff
that is going to be cheapest where you live, so do your own comparison
to find the best price.

By Amy Andrew

Comments (569)

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Is it me,

York, United Kingdom,

11 minutes ago

What they dont tell you is how much interest on £7000 you lose when you spend it installing these panels. £7000 @4% ( Assumed av over 20 years) compounded yields £15951. This is a total of £8951 interest. This equates to £448 per annum. This reduces the financial gains of these panels massively. In addition I very much doubt they will last 20 years least not at their original output. Why anyone wants to ruin the appearance of their homes for a few hundred pounds is completely beyond me!!!

the geek,


28 minutes ago

we have pv and are at home all day, so can take advantage of electricity production. The max they save is £150 a year, the bonus comes from the FIT payments. Rent a roof schemes do not benefit house owners in the long term, they will find they cannot sell their houses. We also have solar for the hot water and we pay bills of approx £400 a year

Fay Beecher,

UPMINSTER, United Kingdom,

30 minutes ago

Please be warned about pigeons nesting between your roof and solar panel, my neighbour has had them installed and my patio next door is covered in pigeon droppings every day which cannot be healthy!!!!! If you don’t believe mer please google it!!!!! annoyed solar panel neighbour



34 minutes ago

I should add, pay back time, even here is under 10 years, nearer 7.



35 minutes ago

so much uneducated nonsense, by folk who know very little about solar panels. We live way north of most people in the UK and panels work still. The problem in the UK is as much energy consumption and house 25years behind everyone else in Europe. All the big companies have been throwing up houses and building to the lowest standard possible. We have 30sqm of panels and a ground source heat pump. Toasty warm, for not much money, even in a proper winter.


Peterborough, United Kingdom,

48 minutes ago

I have had 18 panels on my south facing roof for about 4 years and get about £1800 per annum. This is tax free and far better than any investment that is around.

Fay Beecher,

UPMINSTER, United Kingdom,

29 minutes ago

yes but have you got pigeons nesting under them!!

geoff riches,

great yarmouth, United Kingdom,

1 hour ago

I’m a massive fan of Solar Panels, if you have a south face roof or even putting them in garden, it will be the best job you’ve ever done and you will be happy.



1 hour ago

That is absolute rubbish, they do not work on cloudy days. I know as my home as them in fact it is my only source of electricity so don’t believe the lies told about it.



2 hours ago

make sure you buy the panels .Never lease them as it makes it very difficult to sell your property


bournemouth, United Kingdom,

2 hours ago

The comments are about as valuable as the story. A load of rubbish and totally misleading.

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