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British Gas unveils free solar panel deal

British Gas launches new rent-a-roof scheme

Solar panels

Solar power is a good eco-friendly option, but it’s expensive to install

British Gas has launched its new ‘rent-a-roof’ solar panel deal, that will give more people access to free solar panels.

The new scheme has been set up with the the National Housing Federation and will give its members access to solar panels supplied by British Gas. The National Housing Federation represents 1,200 independent, not-for-profit housing associations in England and bills itself as ‘the voice of affordable housing’.

British Gas will rent roofs of housing association properties, install solar panels and maintain them for 25 years. The energy company pays landlords £30 a year to rent the roof, and the tenant’s electricity bills should reduce by £100 a year or more as the property benefits from energy generated through the solar panels.

British Gas makes money from the scheme by collecting money paid through the Feed-in tariff – a government scheme that enables people with certain microgeneration technologies installed (such as solar panels) to sell any unused or excess electricity produced by their system back to the national grid.

For more information about solar panels see our guide to how to buy solar panels, including information about costs and payback times. Our Energy grants guide reveals more details about the Feed-in tariff.

Rent-a-roof schemes

Which? energy expert Sylvia Baron says: ‘If you’re renting and your landlord takes part in this scheme, this could be really good news for you as you will save money on your electricity bill. However, if you own your property and want to have solar panels, you should consider buying them yourself.’

In the long run you could be better off paying to install your own solar panel system and keeping the lucrative Feed-in-tariff income. Even though the initial cost of installing panels is off-putting, you could save thousands in the long run.

When Which? looked at the savings involved in rent-a-roof schemes, we found that even if you were living in the UK’s sunniest region, the maximum you’d save is £412 a year off your electricity bill, compared with the £1,313 that free solar panel companies such as British Gas will collect from the feed-in-tariff. 

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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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