Renewable energy comes in a variety of forms. Several types like solar thermal panels and photovoltaic panels are widely available and relatively easy to install. There are even Government incentives of up to £ 2,500 for householders to fit them (see However, there is not the uptake that many expected, nor is there enough for the demands of climate change. Wales has pledged to reduce carbon emission by 3% per annum year on year until 2020. This will then need to be continued apace we are to reach 80% overall reductions by 2050. So we need to get cracking if we are to reduce our carbon emissions, oh yes, and our energy bills.

Time and time again you hear the argument. £ 3,500 for a solar panel system and only about £ 250 saved on bills, that will take me 14 years to pay that off. I probably won't be in the house then.

OK this seems like a reasonable argument on the face of it, however it is very shallow and not very well thought through. So it might be time for a little more depth and a little more lateral thinking.

If you had £ 3,600 in savings and managed to get 5% interest on it you will get a whopping £ 160 in taxable interest per annum. £ 90 less than you would effectively get by saving on your fuel bills. So all of a sudden £ 3,500 invested in capital equipment on your house brings in the equivalent of over 7% tax free interest. Not a bad return.

Then there is the argument that you might sell the property and not get the equipment costs back. Well in these days of Energy Performance Certificates where the energy performance of your home is stated in black and white for potential buyer to see, the addition of a solar hot water system brings your energy ratings right down. How much is a saving of £ 250 per annum on fuel bills worth to a prospective buyer? Would you rather live in a C rated or E rated house? It might well be the key difference between your property and others in the area and so it is obviously worth up to an additional £ 3,500.

Renewables now look like they are a great rate of interest, a capital asset and readily available with a Government sweetener. So what's to lose? By the looks of it, high fuel bills.

For more details on renewables, home renovations, sustainable building and individualised building advice and support, please contact the Eco Home Centre in Canton, Cardiff. See . This is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to sustainable building in Wales.

Eco Home Centre
16 Wyndham Crescent
CF11 9EH

Tel: 029 20373094

Contact: Peter Draper


Eco Home Centre is a Rounded Developments Enterprises project. RDE is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.