Solar energy can be used for generating both heat and electricity, but the the technologies used in each case are different. Currently, there are two types of systems you can use to generate either heat or electricity from sunlight. These are: solar thermal heating and PV panels.
Solar Thermal Heating
These systems use the heat from the sun to warm up domestic water. The flat plate collectors are the cheapest option. They transfer heat from a flat metal sheet to the pipes placed underneath. The pipes run the heated water to a storage cylinder for use by the household.
Solar PV Panels
Solar Panels can be installed on the roof of your house or garage. They gather light from the sum and the energy is then converted to electricity for domestic use. Any generated electricity which is not used, is transferred back to the grid or is stored in standalone batteries, depending if the solar system is connected to the grid or not.
The PV panels are available in two options: tiles or fixed panels, panels being the the cheaper option. The panels also vary in the size and strength. Moreover, although the efficiency of solar panels increases in areas with constant sun exposure, they can also be used in any areas with less sunlight. Also, since solar energy is free, using it to meet some, or all of your household electricity needs, is a good way to reduce your bills and save up some money.
Read more: What are Solar Thermal Panels?
How To Save/Earn Money Using Solar Energy?
The Feed-in tariff was introduced by the UK government in 2010. It works on basis that you get cash back for any renewable energy that you generate in your home. The amount that you will receive depends on the Kw size of the system which is installed.
There are two tariffs used:
- Generation tariff is paid per Kw and as mentioned above is calculated using the size of the solar system. You receive money for the electricity that you export back to the grid and for the consumed electricity, generated by renewable electricity-generating technology, such as Solar PV
- Export Tariff is also paid by Kw. You will receive a set price for each unit, you you export back to the power grid. So you have the option to sell the electricity that you have generated but have not used.
The renewable heat incentive (RHI) is a similar governmental program but it is about solar thermal heating. Government funding is available for both public and private sectors. The funding is accessible for people using renewable energy to heat their buildings. Payments are received per Kw and are guaranteed for up to 20 years.
How Much Can You Save?
The installation price of a PV system is in the range of £4,000 and £6,500. This can result in the saving of more that 1,200 kg of carbon emissions and you can receive between £500 and £1,000 from the Feed-in Tariff.To find out more specific information about the savings you can make, use the calculator on the energy saving trust website.
Solar thermal heating installations cost from £3,000 to £5,000 and you will typically save around £80 from the energy bill. You can check exactly how much you will be receiving from RHI if you use the online tool on the website of the department of energy and climate change.
Increasing Cost of Living
The cost of living is continuously increasing. This results from higher grocery expenses, rising fuel and utility costs. The more the price of electricity rises, the more you will be saving. By using solar energy you will reduce your dependence from conventional energy sources and will not have to face constantly increasing energy bills.
Increased Home Value
Any improvement that you do on your home, contributes to the overall value. The same goes for solar panels since they make your home more attractive to potential buyers. According to some homebuilding guides, solar-powered homes sell faster that those using conventional electricity.
Using solar energy will not only reduce your carbon footprint but makes economic sense as well. You will save some
money from the reduced electricity bill and also make money some years after the initial investment on the solar
system. Getting a solar system is also a home improvement which will increase your home’s value.