The cost of energy has been at the forefront of public debate and household concerns for a while now. Five out of the six big names in the British energy industry have now raised their fuel tariffs and it is estimated that there will be 7.2 million households in fuel poverty this winter.
The average household utility bill now stands at £1,344 – Ofgem figures show that in January 2008 the average dual fuel bill was just £885. This enormous increase in cost has left many homes struggling to make ends meet.
However, the installation of a domestic renewable energy system such as solar panels could be a way of keeping homes out of fuel poverty. Warwick Council recently invested in renewable heating for several social housing tenants to ensure that they could heat their homes effectively this winter.
There are multiple benefits to installing a photovoltaic (PV) system, including reducing carbon output and household expenditure. Solar panels can also generate income thanks to the government's Feed in Tariff (FiT), which reimburses households for electricity produced and any excess that is put into the national grid.
The FiT rates were slightly reduced on the first of this month, from 16p/kWh to 15.44p/kWh but due to the rising cost of electricity, the return on solar investments is actually even more than it was prior to the cuts.
Speaking to solarpowerportal.co.uk, industry expert Dr Chris Jardine said: "We’ve seen a 3.5 per cent cut in Feed in Tariffs on residential and small commercial buildings. But at the same time, we’ve seen electricity prices rise by as much as ten per cent in October which more than outweighs the cut in Feed in Tariffs and makes the return on investment from solar projects higher than it was this time last month."
Solar panel installation saw a four per cent rise in September and it is hoped that more households in the UK will move towards renewable systems with the introduction of the Green Deal Cashback Scheme that comes into effect in January.