Solar panels are becoming an increasingly common sight on houses up and down the country. Large-scale solar farms can be found in previously empty fields and it is not uncommon to see the odd photovoltaic system on the roof of community buildings.

As well as providing electricity to a building and greatly reducing running costs, solar panels can earn money via the government's Feed in Tariff and a great many people are taking advantage of this. With the cost of fuel steadily rising, more and more people are looking to install solar to keep their homes warm this winter.

A church in Oxfordshire recently had 42 solar panels installed on its roof. Like a lot of community initiatives, money for the solar panels was raised through a series of fundraising events in the local area, as well as individual donations.

St Peter and St Paul’s Church is expecting to see annual savings of £3,500 thanks to the energy produced by the solar panels.

Dan Inman, curate of the church commented: "The panels were installed using money raised by the local community, as part of our desire to reduce our carbon footprint and as a long-term means of raising funds for the church as a local community centre.

"By selling energy to the National Grid we will be able to generate about £3,500 a year towards the maintenance and upkeep of the church."

So far the panels have been performing well. The church was recently visited by the Bishop of Oxford who climbed on to the rood in order to bless them.

"Blessing solar panels is probably one of the more unusual requests received by the Bishop but he is very keen to reduce the carbon footprint of churches in the Oxford Diocese," added Mr Inman.

It is hoped that more churches in Oxfordshire and around the country will look to solar power to help reduce their running costs and carbon output.