Looks like I'll have to wait for lower solar panel installation costs
Recently I've noticed a growing number of houses sporting shiny, new solar panels.
Not the odd one or two but the entire roof space.
My first reaction was panel envy as I lusted after these eco-friendly, money-generating items. Surely, not everyone has won the lottery and invested in eco-chic kit?
Apparently, you can have free solar panels if you rent your roof to a solar panel company.
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Installation and maintenance will cost you nothing.
Unfortunately, the rent-a-roof contract can be binding for up to 25 years and if you decide to sell your house then the new owners must be willing to continue your obligations.
Any repairs or alterations to your roof during the contract period may result in you paying compensation for any revenue lost during the time the panels are not functioning.
Another disadvantage could be that your mortgage provider objects to your roof rental, leading to difficulties when attempting to apply for another mortgage in the future.
During the lease time you may also miss out on a considerable sum of money because while you'll benefit from free electricity you are not entitled to claim for the excess energy you generate and, let's face it, the money is better off in your pocket than some get-rich-quick financier.
You may prefer the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme which includes biomass or wood-burning boilers, ground and air source heat pumps.
These alternatives open up the opportunities for eco- friendly energy sourcing and the scheme guarantees to pay for excess energy which will be bought by the National Grid.
Alternatively you could try the Feed-in-Tariff (Fit) scheme and you can sell your excess power to the grid, set a generation tariff (fixed rate you will be paid for your energy exports) or simply have your energy at a reduced rate.
However, you have to meet the eligibility criteria for the Fit scheme and, with the austerity cutbacks, the future looks anything but bright.
Tempted by all these panels, I rang a local solar panel company and asked for a quote on how much installing solar panels would be on my home.
Without so much as leaving their desk and visiting my house, they Googled my house and quoted me a phenomenal sum.
The salesman declared my house faced the wrong way, the panels would have to be placed on the street side of the roof and that my beloved silver birch would have to come down as its leaves would interfere with the amount of light the panels would have access to.
My house, built in the 1800s and situated among other older properties, would be aesthetically ruined if the panels are located at the front.
Likewise, I'm not prepared to destroy some well-established trees for a system that may or may not work.
While I'd love solar panels and the opportunity to generate a little cash, I'm prepared to wait for lower installation costs, better Government incentives and more than a little common sense being used by the installation companies.