Are Ikea’s solar panels a good deal?
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Swedish home furniture giants Ikea are to begin selling solar panels in all 18 UK based stores within 10 months, following a successful trial period, but do they offer value for money and should you even consider buying solar panels from a furniture store?

Firstly, their price of £5,700 for a 3.36kW system, which is the size for a typical semi-detached property, is expensive. Comparing pricesfrom accredited solar installers shows that a larger 4kW system can now be installed for under £5,000, and a 3kW system for as low as £4,000. Though Ikea have to start somewhere

On the plus side the investment figures still stack up, with Ikea’s smaller 3.36kW system, on a south-facing roof in Southampton, forecast to earn £770 each year from the Government Feed-in-Tariff (guaranteed for 20 years) – meaning you can recoup the cost within just 7 years.

Though installing the same size system for a lower cost from an accredited solar installer makes more sense and will give you a shorter repayment period.

From a personal opinion, Ikea are making a smart move, they have seen the Solar Panel business on the rise and must be expecting a big boom soon like the rest of us. Hence the first UK solar advert airing last week and the noise Solar has been making in the news recently

New to Solar Panels? Here’s an introduction!

Did you know? The amount of the Sun’s Energy hitting the Earth Solar-System
daily is enough to power the entire planet 20,000 times over. And yet we only harvest a tiny fraction of this valuable resource that will continue to provide us with Free Energy for another 4 billion years.
If you had an oil or gas well under your Home or Business would you extract it?
Why ignore the most powerful resource known to man? Solar Energy is a clean form of renewable energy that if utilised correctly can provide vast amounts of energy daily & save your home or business  a lot of money over the lifetime of the system (roughly £17,000 over 20 years.)
With Energy costs constantly rising & our demand for fuel growing all the time,we are at serious risk of fuel poverty if we don’t reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Lets not run on dead Dinosaurs! We need to look at alternative, renewable way of heating our homes & businesses.
In 2012 the population reached 7 billion & the UN estimates by 2050 it will reach 9.2 billion by which time the Worlds fuel reserves will be 75% less.
 Either we stop going at it like rabbits or we change to renewable energy, I think we all know which one we would prefer!

Solar Panels providing Solar Water Heating

Solar Water heating can provide up to 70% of domestic hot water annually thus
reducing your reliance on fossil fuels which will equate to an approximate 30% saving on fuel. There are also environmental benefits to solar energy. A typical domestic system can save approximately 350kg of COannually or over one third of a tonne.

How Solar Panels Work

How it works – Solar panels are mounted on your roof ideally 45East/West of due South 1800. There are possibilities if you don’t have a South facing aspect but ideally anywhere within that 90windows optimum. Because solar technology has progressed so much in recent years they don’t need direct sunlight as they work on natural daylight.
At daybreak your panels heat up. The energy is sent from your roof to your hot water
tank via stainless steel insulated pipework & is transferred to your hot water cylinder.
When the temperature in your cylinder is reached the pump shuts off & you have a
fully heated tank of water at your disposal. When you run a bath or take a shower
the temperature in your hot water tank drops & the sensor tells the pump to deliver
more energy to the tank. The new heat that is being stored in your panels is sent straight down to your tank so even whilst you are showering your water is reheating. It’s a bit like leaving an immersion heater on all day except you are getting free energy from the sun. It really is that simple…
How to keep your Solar Panels efficient 
There are new materials coming out all the time to make Solar Panels more efficient e.g. new cells, metals. So my advice is to research a few companies that have the key ingredients so you know your Solar Panel will at the top of it’s game! Sort of things you would need to look for are Solar Panels with less wires as they would block sunlight, PVT cells etc.
Over a period of time your Solar Panels will get a bit mucky, just like how a glass house does over the years. This affects how efficient the panel is and will slow how much electricity you make right down. There are solutions to the problem though, in fact there are solutions for the solution! Basically you can buy most of the products to clean your Solar Panels online. I recommend a good Solar Panel cleaning solution and at least a 24ft cleaning pole if you’re too lazy to go up the ladder with a wet rag! If you are even lazier or have money to burn, (usually come hand-in hand) You can hire cleaning companies to do it for you that range from about £30-£50.
Until the next time, I bid you adieu my dear Sirs and Madams!

Solar Panels, not just for your average Hippie?

Solar Power was once deemed only for the eco-green world, TO SAVE THE PLANET and so on. Not to be taken so seriously by your average Joe. But times are changing and it’s becoming a big financial gain, becoming more public with 500,000 UK roofs with Solar Panels, its about time it got fully advertised.

First UK Solar advert to air here

The UK saw it’s first Solar Panel advert recently from Eclipse Energy, right after everyone’s daily dose of Emmerdale! Though a tad cheesy it proves that Solar Power is a more serious, mainstream business. Being targeted at the general, public ideally wanting to save a few quid!

Pioneering the way forward in the Solar Panel business is Chris Cash (Managing director of Eclipse Energy) who thinks that marketed the right way, it can become big industry. And rightly so! Solar Power is accessible to almost any home-owner with many rewards and benefits. Cash is paving the way forward showing the average Joe how Solar Power can help them.

Many other companies are stepping forward into the ‘light’ that Cash has so kindly shown, with companies like Spectrum Energy talking about their adverts coming out soon. The Solar business is finally coming into it’s own. It has been steadily rising for a while now and I won’t be surprised after a mass of adverts that it will finally hit it’s stride, making solar industry boom!

Don’t get conned – get comparative quotes!

You’d think the message had gotten through about getting comparative quotes for home improvements before choosing a company but research by Sainsbury’s Insurance reveals different.
An unbelievable 6.2 million people have employed ‘cowboy traders’ in the past 5 years, resulting in £3.7 billion being paid out to rectify botched jobs.
But the mind-boggling statistics don’t stop there.
Only 36% of people engaging a home improvement tradesman or company bothered to get comparative quotes and only 31% asked for a formal written quote!
An average of £2077 was paid by homeowners to ‘cowboys’  for work that was bad, shoddy or downright dangerous and in need of rectifying, which on average added a further £600 to put right.
Over 150,000 people are estimated to have paid over £5000 to put right a botched improvement.
The advice is to always get comparative quotes, check firms or individuals relevant qualifications and trade accreditations and get a detailed quote in writing before engaging a company or individual.
Asking neighbours or reading previous customer reviews can also be helpful – especially if you’re new to an area and don’t know which tradesmen can be trusted.
Home Improvement Quotes offer instant online quotes for over 17 different home improvement projects before giving you access to over 2,500 local and national tradesmen, who’ll be able to access your particular project and offer an honest, no obligation quote.
photo credit: larry lamsa
This story appeared in our weekly homeowner newsletter dated 19th September 2011. Click here to read the full newsletter.

Home Improvement Quotes on Facebook (and a few other places).

You’ll have noticed our more recent newsletters have started displaying links to top social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Unlike the baddest ‘Bond villain ever, It’s not a quest for world dominance. Just a desire to make our online resources and homeowner articles available where, when and how you want them.

So if you’re a fan of Facebook (for example), you can get all the latest articles and offers without having to ‘log off’.

The same is true for our Twitter and new Tumblr (micro-blogging platform) accounts. Regular uses will know they can follow us to get the latest updates via their computers or mobile devices.

Our Home Improvements Blog and RSS Feed alerts can deliver the latest headlines directly into your news feed reader programme saving you having to re-visit the blog or website to see if there have been any updates – especially if you’ve left a comment or question on any of our Blog articles.

And the goodies don’t stop there. Since before the massive interest in renewable energy began, we’ve been writing a daily article dedicated to the latest renewable energy news. Our Solar Panel blog carries informative articles on all forms of renewable energy, the latest grants and energy saving ideas. Renewable energy is to big a topic to ignore so we also launched a dedicated Twitter account and RSS feed just for you.

photo credit: jorge quinteros

Home improvements – with a little energy saving in mind

click here for instant online home improvement quotes
Who doesn’t like to do a spot of home improvement? Ripping out old kitchens, re-modeling bathrooms and replacing draughty windows are just some of the favourite areas for improvement or revamping.

On a grander scale – extensions of loft conversions with en-suites – even turfing out years of unwanted junk from your garage and converting that have become more popular, as homeowners choose to stay put rather than the expense of moving home.

So before you pick up the sledgehammer (or reach for the internet to source a quote – click here for instant online home improvement quotes) – why not consider ways in which you can incorporate or specify energy saving devices.

For example….

If you’re replacing a bathroom, why not consider:
– a smaller bath that will take less water to fill
– energy saving shower
– low flushing toilet systems that use half the water of a full flush
– mixer taps so hot water isn’t wasted
– low energy light fittings and bulbs
– solar or ground source powered underfloor heating system

And in the kitchen – think about:
– mixer taps to save hot water
– ‘A’ rated energy efficient appliances
– low energy lighting
– underfloor heating powered by solar or ground source methods

Don’t forget that the old fittings being replaced can often be recycled. Why not try to choose warm colours and warm to the touch surface materials too?

Insulation of extensions and conversions goes without saying – in fact it’s very often part of the planning specification but think about how you’re going to heat these additional rooms. Perhaps it’s time to change the whole houses heating system to a more fuel efficient boiler or even explore solar panel systems?

Windows and doors should be double glazed and preferably ‘A’ energy rated. There are a range of frames and glazing options which include gas filled cavities and and special low-e coatings to help you achieve maximum efficiency and energy savings.

Outside, if you’re improving your fascia or converting a garage – why not think about a rain water harvesting system or a simple divert to a water butt from a garage down pipe all saves money.

If you’re having a new driveway, think about using reclaimed materials or blocks. Consider the environment and the risk of flooding by choosing a permeable driveway surface.

Check with your local authority – are there any local grants available for insulation or heating system improvements under the Warm Front Scheme or Boiler Scrappage Schemes? The Energy Saving Trust is one useful resource where you may be able to find out more.

And you thought improving your home was all about just having to choose a paint colour?

photo credit: drcorneilus

Beat the VAT increase on your home improvements

As of January 1st 2010, the standard rate of VAT will be returning to 17.5%. If you want to take advantage of the reduced rate, and potentially save hundreds of pounds on your upcoming home improvements project, you should be thinking about getting started as soon as possible.

Click here to read the full story.

photo credit: ssoosay