What consumers should consider, and look out for, if considering installing solar panels at home
Since 2010, electricity companies have had to pay a feed-in tariff to customers who generate their own electricity. On 1 November 2012, a new system was introduced where the feed-in tariff available for new installations was reduced every three months, depending on the number of installations in previous months. The latest tariff rate is available on the Energy Saving Trust website.
if you’re about to sign up for solar panels:
- Use the Energy Saving Trust’s Solar Energy Calculator to see how much you could earn
- Shop around: Get at least three quotes whether you are looking to pay for panels upfront or join a rent a roof scheme
- Only use companies who are members of the REAL Assurance Scheme (the Consumer Code for the industry) and certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS)
- Do not sign a contract until you are sure you want to go ahead there is a seven day cooling off period but you may need longer than this to shop around and check testimonials. If you feel under pressure to sign, walk away as that is not the way a trustworthy company does business
- If you are considering a free solar panel deal make sure you ask the right questions using Consumer Focus’s factsheet
The following top tips are from REAL Assurance, the Consumer Code for this industry.
- Only approach companies that are members of the REAL Assurance Scheme
- Only sign a contract with a company that is certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) for the relevant technology
- Check the Energy Saving Trust website for objective information and target prices
- Read our guidance carefully before you sign a contract or pay a deposit
- Get at least three quotes before you decide which company to contract with
- Make sure any testimonials you rely on are genuine and were not paid for; contact the people yourself
- Before you sign a contract or pay a deposit make sure the company gives you in writing a quote including a standard performance estimate specific to your property and a full breakdown of what will be supplied; make sure it’s all-inclusive
- Before you sign a contract or pay a deposit make sure the company gives you in writing the standard terms and conditions
- Before you sign a contract or pay a deposit make sure you read all the informationcarefully and you understand it
- Never pay more than 25 per cent of the contract price up front; check it will be protected
- Remember you have the right to cancel the contract within seven days with no penalty; make sure you don’t waive this right by signing a waiver
- If you make any changes to the contract make sure these are agreed in writing and added to the contract
- If the company makes any changes to the contract make sure you agree them in writing; remember if you are not happy with them you have the right to cancel the contract within seven days with no penalty
- Send REAL Assurance your feedback when the job has been completed
If you have a complaint
If you have a complaint about any aspect of the Feed-in Tariff scheme please see the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s factsheet which outlines who to contact for different types of complaints.
Thank you to Consumer Focus for providing this valuable information.