Can having a green lifestyle be cost-effective?

A few years ago solar panels and were considered the least cost effective ways to combat climate change, with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reporting homeowner’s would need longer than their lifetime to pay back the cost of installation through energy bill savings. 

People have also been unconvinced by the cost-efficiency of wind power adaptations on the home, unless the homeowner lives on the top of a hill.

But new feed-in tariffs (FITs), introduced in April, mean you will be paid for the excess energy generated by your solar panels and wind turbines, which is fed back into the national grid.

Solar power

The typical cost of installing a 2.5 kilowatt solar panel system is between £10,000 and £12,500. After this, you’ll be paid 41.3p per kilowatt hour (kWh) generated.

This will be enough, according to former energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, to give you up to £900 in the first year, on top of an estimated £140 of savings on your annual energy bill.

This plans to reward the most energy-efficient with an extra 3p per kWh on any excess energy exported back into the system.

However, it requires a hefty lump sum to get started, and you’ll need a south-facing roof to install solar panels.

Also, if you’re hoping to add value to your property, beware: while attitudes are starting to shift in the wake of FITs, like most renovations, some buyers won’t appreciate it.

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According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), 40% of all the wind in Europe blows over the UK, making it an ideal country for small domestic turbines.

There are two types of domestic turbine: free-standing mast-mounted and roof-mounted. The cost of a roof-mounted mircrowind system starts at £1,500. Larger mast-mounted systems cost between £11,000 and £19,000.

Recent savings estimates for a well-sited microwind system are around £380 a year off energy bills, and energy generated by these are also included in FITs.

However, you need planning permission, and, depending on the model, a turbine can be costly.

For more information visit or contact your local EST centre on 0800 512 012