Jun 1, 2017

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Are Solar Panels Affordable?

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Solar panels and solar setups work in two distinct ways. One is on grid, the other off grid. Off grid is currently rather expensive because the cost to replace batteries is prohibitive. As technology has improved, so has the viability of an off grid system because batteries are holding more power, longer. It’s still not quite there in terms of a cost efficient mechanism to replace coal power stations. We are not that far away however.

If you have access to the grid, then you should have solar panels installed. It’s as simple as that. In most countries around the world solar panels are relatively cheap. A full 5000 Watt system should not cost anymore than £4000 and another £1000 to install. This will power most homes comfortably to the point minor top up may be required from the grid, however that’s unlikely. You are more likely to be feeding the grid.

One major requirement for solar panels is roof space. To get a 5000 Watt system on your roof would require 40m2 of free space. This is normally going to be ok for your average 3 bed home. The maintenance is absolutely minimal and mid quality cells from China are still going to last fifteen years providing an astonishing payback. By the way after fifteen years your solar panels are not useless they will have lost a fair amount of performance however, in the region of 30%. It is certainly not even close to throw away. Many homes run on 3000 Watt systems according to varying sources. There is every reason to think a solar system will last twenty five years.

The only thing stopping this revolution is the upfront cost. Government incentives will hopefully make this all the more attractive proposition in the near future and continued improvement in battery technology allowing for homes without grid to become normal. Government have already recognised many other technology savings, such as sash window draught seals, so why not cut solar tax? It’s an exciting time in human history. Think about it – Elon musk has just announced his new high tech roof will only cost a mere $22 a square foot. Now combine the over supply of electric with an electric car – and that is a warm thought to not be powering our vehicles and home on dirty fossil fuels. He’s also gone on record as stating that his wonderful system may only require 40% roof coverage in the high tech beautiful solar tiles, the rest being ordinary. That means the remaining 60% can be used to power our car, or heat our water with electric, and maybe do away with gas in the home as well. I believe the future to be solar and it’ll be in every home as standard pretty soon.

Cavity Wall Insulation

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Cavity wall insulation is a great way to reduce the cost of your energy bills whilst improving the quality of your home comfort. Cavity wall insulation serves to reduce heat loss, and a handy bi product is the reduce noise transfer through walls, leaving you feeling extra snug and secure.

Cavity wall insulation is an epoxy foam that is pumped into the cavity of your walls. This stops draughts and air transfer as well as binding the walls together nicely. Many holes are drilled externally so that the foam does not need to be injected into one area alone. Multiple holes ease and assist the transfer through the cavity reducing friction, and increasing the likelihood of completely filling the cavity without leaving spaces.

Once the holes are drilled and the foam is filled entirely the compound is left to set and cure. Once cured any foam that escaped can now be trimmed off and the drilled out holes can be made good. It’s a little difficult on exposed brick homes as you can clearly see the drilling which is unfortunate but the benefits far outweigh the negative impact on aesthetics. If your home is rendered then the impact is minimal. The render is patch and then painted over leaving no visible marks from the installation of foam.

20% of heat is lost through walls and it is the second most important part of improving the conditions in your home. Loft Insulation being the only better value job pound for pound. I suggest you take a look at loft insulation first if you haven’t already.

This is the second largest heat loss area, second only to the loft. The cost of cavity wall insulation has risen dramatically in the last few years mainly because the amount the government will subsidise this important energy saving job has reduced significantly. Most homes that are large, will need to contribute more than the government now does if your unlucky. The costs contribution your end might range from £200 to £500. However much the cost, the job provides assured heating payback as well as making the home more comfortable. I highly recommend cavity insulation as long as your house brickwork does not suffer from damp or your in coastal areas.

The last remaining important factor to discuss is the quality of tradesman you use. There is a big difference between a poor and a good cavity wall installation. If your installer does not drill enough holes close together the chance of having pockets of air is quite high. You also must consider a good installation will have as smaller impact on the aesthetics of your home as is possible.