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British Gas unveils solar panel scheme

Customers could be '£7bn a year better off'

British Gas has launched a scheme to help homes use and sell energy generated from solar panels installed on their rooftops.

The energy giant has unveiled MySolar – a solar panel installation scheme that offers consumers two ways of getting solar panels installed in their homes.

Customers able to buy solar panels from British Gas out right, will be able to use any power they need and then receive an income from any surplus electricity sold back to the National Grid under the government’s feed-in tariff initiative launched earlier this year.

Those who can’t or don’t want to pay for solar panels, could make use of British Gas’ limited ‘rent a roof’ option, where the supplier installs its own panels on customers’ roofs. The bill payer would benefit from the power generated, but British Gas would receive any feed-in tariff income.

Solar savings

British Gas claims up to half Britain’s homes could earn around £600 a year from rooftop solar panels and that collectively, we could be £7bn better off.

Any savings will depend on many variables – our how to buy solar panels advice guide lists the things you should consider before installing solar panels.

Solar panel buying advice

A typical solar panel installation costs £12,000, and would pay for itself in around 11 years after providing £1,100 a year in electricity bill savings and income from the feed-in tariff. The next 14 years – up to the end of the government’s 25 year guarantee – would generate £15,400 pure profit.

In comparison, the British Gas ‘rent a roof’ scheme doesn’t look quite as appealing. Which? solar expert James Tallack says: ‘If British Gas owned the panels then an average household in the Midlands would save just £140 a year on their electricity bills.

‘They’d also need to be completely clear about responsibilities for maintenance and insurance of the panels, as well as the fact that anyone interested in buying their home in the future may be put off by the presence of panels that they won’t get the full financial benefit from.’

Financing home improvements

For those who want to buy their own solar panels, British Gas is providing a two year 0% APR finance deal to help with initial costs. Although this scheme is only open to British Gas customers, other government and energy supplier grants are listed in our energy grants advice guide.

Lower your gas and electricity bills

You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

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