In the current climate, finding affordable and energy-efficient energy sources for your home is essential for a growing number of homeowners. If you are concerned about wasting money and harming the planet, you’ll want to make changes that cater to these needs while creating an excellent environment for you and your loved ones.
Solar energy is a viable solution; you’ll likely have seen solar panels cropping up on many homes in your area. Sometimes, these homeowners make money by selling power back to energy suppliers.
Still, at the very least, these households are comfortable and confident in taking control of their energy matters. Cost is always an issue, but it might surprise you that with solar panel grants, this energy solution isn’t out of reach for most homeowners.
In this article, we’ll examine the various solar panel grants available for homes in the UK, explaining the merits and suitability of each. We’ll also cover how to install solar panels after you receive a grant and the impact this will have on your energy bills.
At Skylamp Solar, we are solar energy specialists, ensuring you receive relevant and up-to-the-minute information. Online searches will reveal a lot of grants for solar panels, but some are no longer available, resulting in frustration and a waste of your time.
We ensure you focus your time and energy on accessible solar panel grants, transforming your home and life.
As of 2023, there are more than 1.2 million homes in the UK with solar panels. This figure is increasing (in 2020, the number stood at around 970,000 solar panel households). A desire to save money and be greener are crucial factors in this movement towards renewable energy, but the change in solar panel costs is also essential.
Compared to 2010 prices, solar panels are 88% more affordable today. Given cost is one of the leading, if not most significant, elements in determining whether adding solar panels to a home is suitable for a household, this is a hugely influential factor.
As you’d expect, many factors influence the cost of installing a solar panel at your home. The size of the home and roof space, the energy demand, the size of the panel, the quality and efficiency of the panel, how accessible the home is, the cost of the installation, and even local living costs all determine what a homeowner pays to benefit from solar panels.
Factors which influence the quality and efficiency of solar panels include:
Silicon is the lead material in the majority of solar panels, but there are two forms to choose from:
Monocrystalline is the more efficient of the two options but is more expensive.
A solar panel’s efficiency relates to the level of sunlight it can cover to energy.
While the leading solar panels convert around 24% of sunlight into energy, the average in the United Kingdom is between 18% and 22%.
Understandably, the more solar PV panels you have, the more it costs to install your solar panel setup. However, this is where some households can find a good trade-off. If you have suitable roof space, you can install a greater number of less efficient solar panels, which lowers the cost and hopefully returns a sufficient level of energy to make the process worthwhile.
Once everything is installed and up and running (which includes adding a solar inverter to turn the power from Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC), making it suitable for your home), there are maintenance costs to consider with solar panels.
It would help if you also considered cleaning costs in the overall running of your solar panel system.
In many cases, a higher fee offers a better return, especially if you install a more efficient solar panel system which generates more electricity. Still, in general, each household needs to find a balance between cost and return they are comfortable with.
According to information provided by the Energy Savings Trust, a 3.5 kilowatt-peak solar panel system for a three-bedroom property is generally suitable, and the average cost for this setup is around £5,420.
At the start of 2023, the average cost of solar panels is £1,549 per kWp, and a one or two-bedroom property requires a 2.1 kWp system. This means a one or two-bedroom property should expect to pay around £3,300 for its solar panels.
For a larger home, say a four or five-bedroom house, a 4.9 kWp system is required, which will cost around £7,600.
So, there are costs to consider when installing a solar panel setup at home, but there are major outcomes to consider before deciding if this suits you.
You need to know what return you will likely get from installing a solar panel setup and what support is available to lower the cost of adding this energy solution to a home.
This article focuses on the second aspect, so we’ll briefly touch on the average returns expected from solar panels before detailing ways households can save money by adding solar panels to their roof or property.
Given rising energy costs, every household should be looking to tackle high energy bills. With a greater focus on the Energy Performance certificate (EPC) for homes, more people are aware of the importance of energy saving, and how it impacts their monthly spend.
A lot of people will focus on their carbon footprint and energy saving with respect to the environment, but for most people, energy saving improvements mean saving money.
This is something solar panel owners benefit from.
Information from the Energy Saving Trust indicates solar panels reduce electricity bills by 46%, which means households enjoy annual savings of £320 to £750. Focusing on an average three-bedroom property, there is an opportunity to save around £449 annually.
When looking at average energy bills, it is vital people ensure they check up to date information. The cost of energy has shifted dramatically since early 2022, with many households facing sky rocketing bills. This will drive demand to lower energy consumption, and bills, and it is vital to fully understand your expected outlay.
In November 2022, the UK Government updated their Energy Price Guarantee to protect people from rising energy costs. This move limited the level energy suppliers can charge for each unit of energy. At this time, the average energy bill for gas and electricity households moved to roughly £2,500 a year.
In the Autumn Statement of 2022, this Energy Price Guarantee was extended to April 2024. For that timescale, the average energy bill for gas and electricity households is set to stand at around £3,000.
The Government claims this measure saves the average household around £500 a year. There are energy affordability schemes in place to support households who struggle to manage their energy bills at this time. It is unlikely the installation of solar panels is a suitable move for households in this position, so it is vital to be aware of the different support mechanisms in place for those who need assistance.
Energy saving measures are crucial in advancing the take-up of a renewable energy system, and renewable energy sources. Given the cost and positive impact of energy saving materials, you'd think there would be more grants in the UK to encourage people to install a solar energy system at home, but as with many things, there are political forces at play.
However, help is available when it comes to energy saving materials, improving energy efficiency and lowering energy bills.
If you want to buy a solar panel for your home in the United Kingdom, please consider the Energy Company Obligation scheme, the most prominent of all relevant grants in the UK. The scheme is in its fourth iteration, which is why it is more commonly called ECO4, and this is the final stage of the ECO scheme.
Depending on your circumstances, you can receive up to £14,000 towards the cost of energy-efficient installations, so this is a solar panel grant that is worth considering if you plan on upgrading your property.
If the heating in your home comes from electricity, say from an electric boiler, it might be possible to use the ECO4 scheme to fund the installation process.
This solar panel grant scheme began in July 2022, and it runs through March 2026 for households who meet the following criteria:
If the house isn’t up to the expected insulation standard, the scheme supports improving the insulation.
The criteria for funding from ECO4 is aided by introducing the Local Authority Flexible Eligibility (LA Flex) initiative. It was found that over 46% of households fell short of eligibility for the ECO4 scheme, so this new eligibility process helps more fuel-poor families receive funding from local authorities, allowing them to make the necessary changes.
If the household receives any of the following benefits, energy suppliers will deem an application eligible for ECO4 funding:
There is also a commitment from the UK Government to ensure people who receive Department of Work and Pension (DWP) benefits can access the ECO4 scheme, whether or not they also receive support allowance like UC.
While the ECO4 scheme is said to focus on owner-occupied property predominantly, it is available to social housing residents and even private rented property, if the landlord allows the installation.
There is a requirement for gas and electricity energy companies that serve a minimum of 150,000 customers to fit ECO measures, which means the list of ECO-compliant energy companies include: British Gas, E, E.ON, Ecotricity, EDF, ESB Energy, Octopus Energy, Outfox The Market, OVO Energy, Scottish Power, Shell Energy, SO Energy, The Co-Operative Energy and The Utility Warehouse.
Knowing there is an energy company obligation relating to solar panels and solar panel grants is a factor in encouraging energy efficiency. Most industry experts agree there could be more assistance for a solar panel grant from the energy supplier sector, but having some form of government's energy company obligation is better than nothing.
Another way households with solar panels can save money is with the Smart Export Guarantee or SEG. This method replaces the Feed-in Tariff, allowing users to receive money from energy suppliers for unused solar-generated electricity.
The Smart Export Guarantee doesn't fit neatly with grants for solar panels or solar PV systems, but it is a way to reduce the overall cost of this system. This is a way to generate electricity, and the solar thermal panels not only reduce energy bills, there is an energy company requirement to pay for unused renewable energy.
Knowing it is possible to generate electricity, lower energy bills and play a part in helping others benefit from renewable energy is a great comfort to many households. This sort of outcome is a big factor in why many people have solar panels installed at home, but it relies on the co-operation of an energy supplier.
There are several benefits with the Smart Export Guarantee compared to the Feed-in Tariff, notably:
The importance of simplicity and ease-of-use cannot be overlooked when implementing a system like this. Many households will have concerns about how easy it is to use this solar panel system, and whether it impacts their day-to-day life. The vast majority of applicants will rely on a professional to install their system, so it is not as if this is a concern, but there needs to be support and guidance on the impact this new system has on running their household.
The movement towards energy meters is useful in altering people to new measures and mechanisms of using energy at home, but more guidance is always a good feature to have.
Related post: Solar panel grants for business
Suppliers pay up to 15p per kWh for surplus energy from a solar PV system, so the average payment back is £85 each year.
Given this goes on top of the energy bill savings households enjoy, you can see how the Smart Export Guarantee SEG system helps to lower the cost of running a household, while boosting the national grid.
Depending on where you live, funding from your local authority to install a solar panel might be available. This is also available for certain council houses, allowing a broader range of people to access the benefits of solar panels at a discounted cost.
It makes sense to contact your local authority or peruse your local council website to see if funding is in place to make these changes at your home. Similarly, if the UK Government announces new energy saving measures or implements a new eco scheme, we will do our best to ensure you know all about it.
One of the issues with searching for information on the internet is old information is often presented as current news. A casual search might suggest a considerable array of solar panel funding options, but many are no longer available, such as the Feed-In Tariff scheme.
Please make a note of the following funding options, which are not available in the UK:
The Feed-in Tariff scheme, which closed in April 2019 to new applicants, although the SEG has superseded the Feed-in tariff scheme.
Renewable Heat Incentive initiative, which closed in March 2022 to new applicants, although the Boiler Funding Scheme has replaced this (although this new scheme is not applicable for solar panel installations).
The Green Homes Grant closed in March 2021, but this was a hugely unpopular system.
Also, companies will no longer pay users to install solar panels in their homes.
The Green Deal is also unavailable, closing in 2015, and this was applicable to many forms of home energy improvements including solar panels, but there is a related form of green deal which might be of value to some households.
As of 2017, private investor backed loans for specific energy efficient home improvements are available from the Green Deal Finance Company. This support isn't the same as solar panel grants, and shouldn't be viewed as the best way for low income households to incorporate solar panels into their home, but it is an option.
Given the frustration some quarters have with the limited level of solar panel grants, knowing there are other avenues to explore in managing the cost of solar panels is important.
The days of free solar panels are long gone, but if there is a way to lower carbon emissions and support renewable energy, everybody wins, including the electricity supplier.
In 2010, there was a time when suppliers, in their rush to increase the volume of solar panel users, would supplement the installation cost, sometimes paying in full. This meant some homeowners got a free solar panel, but this is no longer the case.
While the number of options to fund solar panel installation has dropped compared to previous years, and there is no specific Government grant for solar panel installation, there are ways for households to save money while adding solar panels to their house.
At Skylamp Solar, we aim to keep you fully informed on all matters of solar power around the home. As we progress, there will likely be changes concerning solar panel grants in the UK, funding and support.
Fuel poverty is likely to be an increasingly important topic in the UK, and low income households must receive support in making energy efficient improvements.
Energy efficient homes benefit everyone, and energy efficiency improvements which lower carbon emissions, harness solar energy produced and allow excess energy to be better used makes a difference.
Yes, solar panels cost a lot of money, which inhibits many households from considering solar PV systems, but there is no reason why low income homes cannot produce excess energy, or benefit from excess electricity generated.
You can rest assured we will do whatever we can to keep you fully informed of ways to lower the cost of solar power, and new solar panels, without compromising on standards or energy efficient measures.