Battling climate change may seem far removed from our everyday lives, but we can all do our bit to be more eco-friendly.
Solar panels are great option if you’re looking for ways to make your home more green.
Here’s what you need to know before you make the leap.
1. Getting the right ones
Solar panels are relatively inexpensive and straightforward to install compared to many other types of renewable-energy technology. Panels are usually fitted to a pitched roof, but they can be mounted on a wall, or a frame on the ground or a flat roof.
Although they work on cloudy days, the panels need a sunny position to be most effective - somewhere south-facing that gets sun most of the day is ideal.
There are two types of solar panel - the ones that generate electricity, called solar photovoltaics or solar PV, are most popular. Visit the Energy Saving Trust to see how they work.
2. Keeping it cost effective
An average 4kWp domestic solar PV system costs around £5,000-£8,000, according to the Energy Saving Trust, but it could earn you money through the Government's Feed-In Tariffs scheme.
Providing your system qualifies, the scheme pays you for the electricity you generate and use and also for any surplus electricity you supply to the national grid.
3. Thermal panels
The other type of solar panels, solar thermal panels, heat water. The Energy Saving Trust says that a typical system costs around £3,000-£5,000, but the savings made are likely to be moderate.
As well as the solar panels, you'll need a boiler or immersion heater to give you additional hot water and sometimes make the water heated by the panels hotter, especially in winter.
You may also have to change your boiler and hot-water cylinder to ones compatible with the panels.
4. Rent-a-roof schemes
If you want, but can't afford, solar panels, consider a rent-a-roof scheme, where solar PV panels are supplied and fitted free of charge in return for you leasing your home's roof to the supplier for up to 25 years.
You get the electricity generated by the panels free of charge (or at a reduced rate), but you have to give the Feed-In Tariffs income to the supplier of the panels. Rent-a-roof schemes aren't as prevalent as they once were and not every home will qualify, but they can be a good solution.
5. Planning restrictions
If your home's leasehold, you may need permission from the freeholder to install solar panels - the roof usually belongs to the freeholder.
Restrictions may also apply if you live on 'designated land', such as conservation areas, and if the building's listed - ask your local council what you can and can't do. Where planning restrictions apply and solar panels aren't allowed, solar roof tiles or slates may be acceptable to the council's planning department.
Would you ever consider installing solar panels? Let us know in the Comments section below.