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What Savings Can I Make With Solar Heating?

For greener heating that saves both the environment and your finances, installing solar panels is a sure-fire hit to gain a cheap source of thermal energy and power for your boiler. Over 100, 000 solar panels have been retailed and installed in the UK to date, with the attractive lure of selling surplus energy back to the Grid proving a popular initiative.

There are two common forms of solar panels that are currently used within the UK, being:

  • Solar Photovoltaic Cells: Usually attached to the roof of your home, these convert sun captured energy into electrical energy ready for use. Subsequently this can then be used to heat water through powering an immersion heater or other boiler types. The financial benefit from such energy generation can be substantial, with additional energy sold to the National Grid and stored in batteries for future use. These units that would have cost, on average, 15p each can be retailed to the grid for 3p a unit, helping to absorb the initial installation costs.
  • Solar Thermal Heating: Energy from the sun is harnessed to heat water for your home, transferring sun heat to water immediately. Commonly used as a flat plate collector, heat is transferred from the panels to the pipes directly below through basic conduction. This heated water is then transferred to a storage cylinder or immersion heater for later use. Tube selection is vital, with “areas evacuated tubes” being highly efficient in cold areas through retaining over 10% heat (similar to a thermos flask).

It is not overly wise to replace the electrical connection completely with your immersion heater as in the darker months this can result in water taking longer to heat, but it makes perfect sense to top up with cheaper energy attained from the solar sources.

Using Plumbcare expertise, we can help provide advice on how to maximise the benefit of this cheap energy, providing information on the most suitable water heating controls that guarantee you get the best out of your solar panels without having to endure a cold shower!

Regarding PV panels, there are numerous designs that all harness levels of solar energy at different success rates. Crystalline silicon technology is commonly used in the UK and are the most successful at converting solar energy into electricity, thus being the most expensive. Monocrystalline functions at a 15% conversion rate and is subsequently cheaper.

System Costs

The cost of installing Solar PV ranges between £4000 and £6500, with Thermal Solar Installation cheaper at £3000-5000. However, the PV costs can be off-set through selling surplus electricity back to the grid, generating revenues between £500-£1100 on average a year.

But What Can I Save?

PV can save around £200 to £250 annually off your electricity bill, with Thermal Solar installation saving approximately £85 a year on gas or electricity, depending on what powered the boiler previously. In relation to environmental impact, with Solar PV you can save 1200kg in carbon emissions annually and with Thermal, approximately 250kg converting from a gas boiler and 500kg from an electrical.

Fundamentally, the choice between Solar PV or Thermal all comes down to whether you want to use solar energy for more than just heating water, with the prior offering the ability to power other electrical appliances or sell surplus electricity back to the grid! For either Solar option, Plumbcare have the knowledge and expertise to help you!

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