It’s no secret that many Brits are worried about increasing energy costs, and for good reason. According to the Association for Decentralized Energy, the residents in over half the households in the UK – roughly 14 million – reported that they went without heat at some point last winter, and roughly half of those went cold on a regular basis, just to save on their energy bills. As a result, more and more citizens of the UK have begun looking for ways to keep warm without staying bundled up while in their homes.
To be certain, there are numerous ways to reduce your energy bills, such as turning off devices when they aren’t being used, improving the insulation in your home, or shopping for a better deal from alternative energy providers. These options can generate savings, but it is questionable whether those savings will last, should energy costs continue to escalate as they have during the last few decades.
One alternative that shows promise is the installation of solar panels on individual homes to provide part or all of the household’s energy requirements. Germany, for example, claims to produce roughly 50% of its electricity from Photovoltaic (PV) power sources. And while the UK is not known for having an abundance of sunny days, it is not unreasonable to consider such sources as at least a partial remedy to the high energy costs that are so closely tied to highly volatile pricing of non-renewable energy sources such as gas, oil, and coal. Whether the energy is produced on a community, country-wide, or individual scale determines the feasibility of utilising solar energy. Carefully weighing the advantages versus the disadvantages of going solar is essential.
- Reduce or eliminate monthly electricity bills – There is, of course, no charge for sunlight, so monthly electricity bills can be reduced or eliminated.
- Get paid for generating electricity – Thanks to the government’s Feed-in Tariff, you can be paid for the electricity you produce, even if you use it all yourself.
- Sell the electricity you don’t use – If the solar array generates more electricity than your household uses, you can even be paid for selling the excess back to the grid.
- Reduce your carbon footprint – Even if you aren’t a committed conservationist, you can take pride in the fact that you have reduced your contribution to pollution and climate change.
- Initial cost – It must be taken into consideration that Germany’s achieving such a milestone has involved significant capital investment by both industry and government. An individual household might not be able to manage the outlay of up to several thousand pounds that would be required to install a solar array whose output would meet all the household’s needs.
- Long-term break even point – Even the most economical of home solar generation systems will take many years for the initial cost to be fully offset by savings on monthly bills. As such, families that cannot afford the cash outlay for such a system would be making monthly payments that are likely to be higher than their current electric bills.
- Questionable return on investment if the house is sold – It is too early to tell whether home buyers will be willing to pay a sufficiently high premium for a house that is run entirely by solar power. Given the trend toward increasing mobility, it would be unwise to disregard this factor if one is unsure as to whether they will remain in the house for many years.
- Storage technology lags behind generation technology – While the efficiency of PV panels is improving by leaps and bounds, the ability to store the energy produced has not kept pace. Batteries remain large, expensive, and limited in their capacity, and some, such as lead-acid and lithium ion, also pose some health, safety, and environmental risks.
As you can see, there are a number of things to take into consideration when deciding whether using solar energy to power your home is the right choice for you and your family. Keep abreast of breakthroughs in generation and storage technology, as well as the economic and political ramifications of continued reliance on fossil fuels for power generation, You may find that over even a relatively short term, powering your home with solar energy is, in fact, a bargain.