Can we get solar power?

Most of the electricity we use comes from power stations. Most of these in Britain are powered by oil, goal or gas – these are fossil fuels which cause global warming, and there’s a danger that they may run out one day.

Other power stations are nuclear-powered, which is cleaner right up to the moment we have to deal with dangerous radioactive waste. Small parts of the country have wind power, wave power and solar power, but these figures are slowly on the rise.

More and more new houses are being built with solar panels, and many other houses are having them fitted. If you’ve got the space, you can even have a wind turbine on your house, but these are still very rare.

So, can your house get solar power, and how effective is it?

There are actually two options when it comes to using solar power. One is a solar water heating system – in which the power of the sun heats fluid inside the panels, which is then pumped round to heat water in your domestic boiler. It can save up to a third on your family’s water heating bills, so it will take a very long time to pay for itself.

The other type is the photo-voltaic solar panel, or PV. These are the ones that actually generate electricity. The technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, which means they’re much better at generating electricity than they were before. You don’t even need direct sunlight for them to be effective – just a south-facing roof and plenty of daylight.

Why do you think the roof needs to be south-facing?

The downside is that a system is expensive to install – an average one will cost over £6,000. But on the plus side, your family can save up to 40% on their electricity bill, meaning that the large initial outlay can be recouped within a few years. There’s also the chance of earning what’s known as a “feed-in tariff”, which is selling your electricity back to the national grid. Not only are you powering your own home, but those of your neighbours as well, and getting paid for it!

As long as you have a roof that’s facing the right way and can take the extra weight, you can be living greener with your own electricity.