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Top tips on selling a house with an existing solar PV installation

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
01-Aug-11 43.30
01-Apr-12 21.00
01-Aug-12 16.00
01-Nov-12 15.44
01-Jul-13 14.90
01-Apr-14 14.38
01-Jan-15 13.88
01-Apr-15 13.39
01-Jul-15 12.92
01-Oct-15 12.47

 

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.

Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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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?

Homegrown 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.

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