Shining A Light On Solar Panels

The property sector can often act as a window into the wider world, as through viewings and meetings, we hear first-hand about the issues populating our clients’ minds.

For example, home offices and outdoor space have been a more prevalent request since the pandemic, particularly from clients moving away from London, where such facilities had been at a premium.

In recent weeks, however, energy ratings have understandably risen to the top of the agenda for many of our clients, owed to the skyrocketing prices witnessed throughout the UK.

Across the country, energy bills jumped significantly last month, and are expected to do so again later this year. This has rightly placed a renewed focus on a property’s energy efficiency rating and the methods by which homeowners may look to save money.

With this in mind, we decided to look at one of the ways in which homeowners might lower their energy costs – solar panels – and tackle some of the key questions we’re being asked about them.

Why would homeowners consider solar panels?

Though their aesthetics may leave something to be desired, solar panels have become more widely adopted in recent years and offer several advantages to homeowners.

Their raison d’etre remains to reduce our reliance on the grid, by converting sunlight into usable energy, and in turn, reducing energy bills. Solar panels do this by absorbing the sun’s rays through photovoltaic cells within the panel, which in turn are converted into electricity.

However, solar panels also offer benefits elsewhere.

For example, utilising solar power significantly reduces each home’s carbon footprint, and in some cases, can generate a surplus of energy that can be sold back to the grid, afforded the homeowner with a dividend of sorts.

Key considerations

But solar panels are not without their quirks, specifically in relation to listed buildings.

In Bath, solar panels are not permitted, whereas they are in Bradford-on-Avon, albeit with consent required from Wiltshire Council in the case of listed properties.

In terms of positioning, as a northern hemisphere country, south-facing instalment will offer optimum exposure to the sun and allow for the maximum amount of energy conversion.

Panels positioned on the west or east of a property (or both) will also yield results, but north-facing roofs will be unsuitable, due to their limited exposure to direct sunlight.

Another consideration, particularly for listed properties, is whether a solar panel will damage the property’s roof?

Whilst there’s nothing about the panel itself, or the installation for that matter, that inherently carries risk, it’s worth being mindful of the overall condition of one’s roof. Put simply, if the roof is in good condition, the addition of a solar panel is unlikely to have a negative impact, whereas if the roof is in bad condition, homeowners should consider addressing this before moving forward with any installations.

Alternative solutions for listed properties

For listed properties, of which there are many in both Bath and Bradford-on-Avon, homeowners may feel more constrained in their ability to improve energy efficiency.

Beyond solar panels, there are other measures that may assist.

The differences between summer and winter are often felt more keenly inside a listed property, as the issue of single glazing comes back to bite.

Whilst double glazing your beautiful bay windows is unlikely to be an option, typically secondary glazing will be permitted and will help retain warmth within the property.

Adding further insulation may also be possible, particularly for Grade II and Grade II* buildings, where regulations are less stringent. For Grade I, listed building consent may again be required from the local council.

The key takeaway from this is if that regardless of your property’s vintage, there are ways in which you can improve your home’s energy efficiency. As prices continue to rise, we recommend that clients perform their due diligence on the options available to them and their local council’s policies in this area.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Cobb Farr today.

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