Welcome to a brighter future
If you think all that chat about solar energy being able to reduce bills for heating and lighting while helping to save the planet is little more than a load of hot air, be prepared to think again.
Media stories will continue about dwindling supplies of fossil fuels forcing up energy costs and creating unwanted increases in carbon emissions as a result of burning oil, gas and coal, among the use of other scarce resources. But an environmentally-friendly alternative is available.
Although the sun is many millions of miles away, its energy can be harnessed to help heat and light homes and businesses. You may not be able to say goodbye to utility bills completely but – once the cost of installing the solar energy equipment has been recovered – you can expect financial savings, as well as enjoying a greener lifestyle.
More than 20,000 UK homes already benefit from solar heating and it’s law that all new build properties must get 10 per cent of their energy from renewable sources, such as sunshine.
Isn’t it time you thought about installing solar energy systems?
Surely, the UK isn’t sunny enough…
You may be surprised just how much sun the UK has each year; it’s estimated that we receive enough solar radiation, ie energy, to match the output of 1000 power stations.
In fact, some experts estimate that up to one-third of a home’s annual hot water requirements can be generated by the sun.
Even better, solar heating systems don’t need direct sunlight, meaning they gather energy on cloudy days too.
…OK, what specialist equipment will I need?
The equipment needed to collect solar energy depends upon whether you want to heat your water supply or generate electricity to heat your rooms (also known as ‘space heating’) and/or run appliances.
Water heating uses a technique called solar thermal, where water travels through a solar panel and is warmed from the heat within.
Electricity is generated using photovoltaic (PV) cells. These are made of silicon and have two layers of semi-conductors, one positive and the other negative, which work together to convert sunlight into an electrical current.
Installing a suitable solar energy system involves working at height and you’ll need to be sure that your roof is strong enough to support the equipment. A keen DIY person may be able to tackle this but if any doubt about your capabilities – or if you want to apply for a grant – you should hire a professional.