If you have photovoltaic solar panels fitted to the roof of your house and are getting regular Feed-In Tariff (FIT) payments, you may be wondering how to deal with this when you put your house on the market.
Here, Mike James – an independent property writer working with Peter Barry Estate Agents, provides his top tips for selling a house with an existing solar PV installation.
How will solar PV affect the value of my house?
The good news is that your home is virtually guaranteed to have gone up in value as a result of the solar investment you put into it.
Solar PV panels can add value to your property in 3 ways:
- As you’ve no doubt experienced yourself, your energy bills are lower as a direct result of using solar power. This is clearly an attractive proposition to home buyers. According to a recent study, 1/3 of UK buyers would be happy to pay more for a house with a solar PV installation if it means they can benefit from lower electricity bills, particularly in view of the current steep rise in traditional energy prices.
- Then there’s the government backed Feed-in-Tariff (FIT), the regular income you are getting for selling a proportion of the solar energy generated on your roof to the National Grid. The rate of return you will be getting depends on when your panels were installed, and rates have changed drastically since the scheme’s launch in 2011. If you decide to sell your home within 20 years of the solar PV installation, the FIT payments will pass onto the new homeowner – essentially free income that will push up the value of your home to any potential buyer.
- What’s more, your solar installation is also likely to affect your home’s EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) grade, now a requirement for every UK home being sold. Solar panels have been known to raise the EPC rating by at least 2 grades, and this is reflected in an uplift in the value.
When is the best time to sell a home with solar PV?
When it comes to selling a house with an existing solar PV installation, there are several factors to consider:
The ‘younger’ your solar installation when you sell your home, the more appealing it will be to potential buyers. For one thing, the panels themselves will have many years of warranty left on them, bringing extra peace of mind. More importantly perhaps, the FIT scheme itself will have longer left to run (up to 20 years maximum, depending on the exact tariff), meaning more ‘free’ payments for the next owner.
On the downside, however, selling your home too soon after fitting solar PV panels means that you may lose out on the return from your initial investment. Depending on the original cost of your solar PV installation and the FIT rate applicable at the time of commissioning, you should normally expect to earn the initial payout back in FIT payments and energy saving in around 7-8 years.
FIT rates have been reduced substantially since the launch of the scheme 5 years ago. The latest official regulations can be viewed here while current FIT rates are detailed here. The table below shows the digression dates when rates were changed by the Government up to 2015.
|Digression Date for Solar PV||Feed-in tariff rate (pence / kWh)|
In order to balance both the return on your solar investment as well as the maximum sale value of your property, it makes most sense to sell your home within, say, 8-15 years of the date of your solar PV installation. If you wait until the end of the FIT contract, your property will still be attractive to buyers due to its increased energy efficiency and lower utility bills. And as long as all the solar system components themselves are of good quality and in good condition, or possibly still under warranty, there should be no problem.
Top tips for selling a house with solar PV panels
Having considered the above issues carefully, you may now be ready to put your property on the market. If you’re ready to proceed, make sure you are fully prepared to take advantage of the added value that solar panels bring to your house for sale:
- Double check that your solar installation is in perfect working order.
- Have all the paperwork and official documentation for your installation readily available. This includes receipts from your accredited installer, the Microgeneration Certificate (MCS), any solar product warranties, FIT contract and payments you have received.
- Provide evidence to show the impact of solar power on your energy bills, perhaps by showing actual electricity bills before and after the installation.
- Find an estate agents who understands the value of solar PV, so that the asking price accurately reflects the added value and effective marketing can take place.
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!