The Importance of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) are a legal requirement for anyone building, selling or renting a property (with some exceptions). However, beyond simply being a necessity, they are actually very useful to help you understand how energy efficient your home is and what can be improved on. The certificates show clear action points, broken down into cost of investment. If the recommendations are followed, this in turn can help save money on energy costs and make your home more eco-friendly.

The Importance of EPCs title with EPC background image

You can look up EPCs of other properties, in order to compare energy performance with similar homes, for free on the EPC register. You will also have been supplied with an EPC for your own home prior to moving in, unless you have lived there since before they came into force.

I looked through mine, which is now due for renewal, as they expire after a decade. It is very informative. For example, my home is rated D (on a scale of A-G) which is average. It is good in some aspects, according to the certificate, but it is poor on main heating controls, for example. It then gives lower cost measures to improve my home, a list of non-cost simple actions that be done to save money and reduce environmental impact, and a higher cost recommendation to invest in a better central heating unit.

To better understand the importance of this heating unit recommendation though, bare in mind that in a typical UK household, more than half of the fuel costs are for providing heating and hot water. Therefore an efficient heating system is essential, and a key step to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, as well as your energy bill.

As is the case for many homes in the UK, mine is a central heating system, with a boiler that runs on mains gas. I use a clean energy company for both my gas and electricity too, to try to be more environmentally- friendly.

As well as recommendations written on the EPC, I found some further suggestions on Energy Saving Trust and other websites for further energy-saving improvements to gas central heating systems too:

• Replace your boiler with a newer model. This is especially important if you don’t have a condensing boiler, as these are most efficient.

• Make sure the heating control unit allows you to decide specifically where and when you want heat.

• Switch to renewable technologies for generating energy to your home, or at least choose a green energy company to supply your home.

• Make sure your home is well insulated and draught-proofed.

So whilst EPCs might seem like an inconvenience and unnecessary cost, they are actually very useful. Paying attention to the information, and perhaps making some investments, can offer long term gain on both reducing your bills and impact on the environment too.

*This is a collaborative post.

Sustainable tourism: Are we doing this right? A Guest Post by Midlands Traveller

Everybody likes travelling, right? It’s a fact! The idea of discovering a new country is thrilling. Or sometimes, visit again that destination that brings back memorable memories of past holidays.

But have you stopped to think that every time we pack our stuff and go on holiday somewhere, we also take with us the responsibility of making tourism more sustainable? At least, we all should think about it.

But I have some good news for us! According to a booking.com survey released last year; the green travel trend continues to increase considerably with the majority of the global travellers (87%) saying that they would like to travel sustainably.

However, the survey also points out that nearly four in 10 (39%) people can confirm managing to do so. Is it a big figure? Probably. But we need to make it better!

The thinking globally, acting locally is a reality that can’t be ignored. Popular travel destinations such as Venice has started campaigns and actions to promote responsible tourism. The #EnjoyandrespectVenice is a campaign to bring awareness to the impact that careless tourists can cause in the environment, landscape and natural beauties of cities like Venice.

It’s a serious issue, and unless we change the behaviour now when travelling anywhere, it will be too late to save our planet and natural sources.

Here are some of the tiny and important tips to go green when travelling…

Sustainable tourism: Are we doing this right? A Guest Post by Midlands Traveller

Go further!

It seems silly, but if you’re thinking about jetting off soon, it’s always better to choose a further destination. We all know that aviation industry causes a massive impact on the environment and fewer flights taken, means less damage to the planet.

So, maybe it’s time to save for that dreamt visit to New Zealand, for example, instead of going three times a year to Benidorm, right?

Buy Local

It’s something I already do when travelling and I do recommend it. There is nothing more exciting than trying the local food, buying artisanal and experience the local culture.

Travelling is about indulging yourself in a different culture. It not only helps the local economy but also sustain people that live from this income.

Greener Accommodations

The best memories I have from the hotels and b&bs that I have stayed before are always related to how the green alternatives they offer. I have been to an apartment in London that left me organic food and natural beauty amenities. It was a game changing for me.

So, it doesn’t matter what kind of accommodation you are going for, it’s always important to research what sustainable measures these places can offer you. It can go for a simple garbage recycling collection to solar panels; even sophisticated hotels in Las Vegas are offering “eco-luxury” facilities nowadays. No excuse, huh?

If it’s packed, avoid it!

Most of the destinations we want to live in life have attractions and landscapes that will be crowded. Who doesn’t want to go up at the Eifel Tower once in life or step on one of the famous Italians historical bridges? You can still do it, but it would be better for the environment if you plan your trip carefully and visit your favourite city when it is less crowded. It’s a win-win! You can try, at least.

Walk out & about!

There is no other better way than knowing a place than walking through it. I did it in Dubrovnik, New York and lately, in Porto. Unless you have any special need and need to use transport, please walk along the streets, avenues and narrow lanes of your destination. Not to mention, it’s an excellent exercise as well.

So, think greener when travelling next time. It may be easier than you think to make a difference in the planet.

About the Author

Simone is a journalist with both Brazilian and British citizenship who has been living in Birmingham since 2011. She is vegetarian, with a passion for plant-based food. She also has a keen interest in green living. She writes at Midlands Traveller; a blog about business opportunities, the travel industry and well-being. You can find her on twitter, instagram and facebook too. 

Green Homes Need Green Gardens 

More and more homeowners have transformed their interior decor and lifestyle to create nature-friendly attitudes at home. You might have switched all your light bulbs for LED solutions that are not only cost-effective but that also dramatically reduce your energy consumption, for instance. Perhaps you’ve been encouraging your family to take shorter showers and turn the tap off while brushing their teeth. It is not uncommon, as well, to pursue your green motivations into the kitchen, where your grocery shopping focuses only on the most sustainable options, from packaging to production. In a word, you have a green home.

However, if your green home is surrounded by a grey and dull garden, your efforts in protecting the ecosystem might seem vain. As a nature-lover, you need to invest time and energy in turning your yard into a green and lush garden. Why so? Because the best way to protect the environment is to create a space where wildlife can roam freely and safely directly at home.

Green Homes Need Green Gardens 

Is it flooded in places?

Home maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner. You wouldn’t dream of putting your house at risk by falling your maintenance schedule, from cleaning the gutters to keeping your HVAC system under control. However, the same level of care isn’t passed onto the garden. If the gutters on your driveways tend to flood easily, for instance, it might be a sign that they’re blocked. The excess water can lead to wet patches in your garden, which affects not only the vegetation but also the overall soil structure. Additionally, the presence of stagnant water in your garden can also be a health hazard for pets and children. In other words, you want to ensure that rainwater has a clear escape path.

Soil needs nutrients to be productive

Unless you’re a professional gardener, you probably don’t know the soil composition in your garden. However, you can observe if there are visible issues. For instance, if plants struggle to grow, your soil might not be fertile enough. You can use feeding solutions such as Seasol to give your garden all the nutrients it needs. Additionally, you can also make your own compost bin, using biodegradable garbage – fruits and vegetable peels are a favourite, but you can also use eggshells, for instance – to feed your soil. Besides, using composting benefits not only the soil but the environment, as you can dramatically reduce your wastes.

Is your soil too compact or overcrowded?

Last, but not least, if you notice a lot of wet or empty patches where nothing seems to grow, it’s a sign that you might need to dig deep. Indeed, the presence of rocks and other large obstacles – such as bricks or even construction rambles from a previous construction site – in the ground affects its ability to absorb water. Consequently, your garden appears to flood when it rain, even though you’ve got a water evacuation system. Additionally, plants can’t grow roots in the proximity of stones, and therefore they can’t survive. Large obstacles might need breaking up or even professional equipment to be removed safely. For small stones and rocks, you can use a shovel to solve the issue.

Gardening pic of a shovel and a wall

A green garden is a welcoming place for wildlife. It provides shelter and food for small animals and insects. Additionally, it also actively purifies the air around your home and makes your green home lifestyle come true.

*This is a collaborative post

What are the Priorities for Climate Change? #TakeASeat at COP24

We have 12 years to save our planet. Just twelve short years. As explained by the world’s leading climate scientists, global warming needs to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP24 is happening now, and they want to give us all a seat at their table. They are asking:

What are your priorities for making progress on climate change?

Share your key points for climate action across social media using the hashtag #TakeYourSeat to make your voice heard.

So what are my key priorities for tackling climate change?

• Focus on reducing single-use plastics & plastic waste:

In some countries, there have been major strides in this already. Initiatives from organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage and Lonely Whale, amongst many others have driven change in policies at government levels and inspired large communities to change their habits. However, this is the tip of a very large iceberg that cannot be ignored.

Further changes in policies to tackle it at the source – especially the manufacturers and companies themselves – need to be put in place, to stop them producing so much. Consumers need to change their habits too, but they are often limited by lack of options and cost barriers. There is only so much they can do; companies are best placed to tackle the issue more effectively. Policy needs to ensure the importance of this and give guarantees this will happen urgently.

• Replace fossil fuels with clean energy:

End fracking. Replace all fossil fuels with clean energy. There are some key countries in the world, including here in the UK, who are still heading in the wrong direction on this. We need to change our course, now.

• Embrace slow fashion:

The fashion industry needs a mass overhaul. Fast fashion, with cheap throw-away clothes that are only worn once or twice, is killing our planet. The processes and materials used are unsustainable, and unethical too. Attitudes need to change, and the entire way the industry operates, needs to change.

#TakeYourSeat COP 24 climate change conference - quote

Individual Action

Did you know that reducing meat intake (especially beef) is the single most effective action that individuals can take to reduce climate change?

Every little helps, so even just one meat-free day per week makes a huge difference. Give it a try.

I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that. Then I realised I am somebody.

Further action: Promote the benefits of reducing meat consumption. Support and raise awareness of initiatives such as Meatless Monday to help drive consumer change.

What are your key priorities for climate change? 

Join in the discussion #TakeYourSeat

 

Eco Made Jeans: Review

As with the other areas of my life, I try to adopt an eco-friendly approach to clothing wherever possible. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I need some new additions to my wardrobe (as much as I still love my oldest favourite jeans, I bought them in Las Vegas back before I was even a mum!) So I was very happy to receive an email asking me if I would like to review a pair of eco jeans from JD Williams

Eco Made Jeans: Review

About

Eco Made indigo slim fit jeans are available in sizes 10 – 32. They are made partly from COOLMAX® ECOMADE fibre, which is made from 97% recycled material such as bottles, so helps reduce the environmental impact of plastic and keeps it out of our oceans.  This innovative design keeps moisture away from the skin to help stay cool in summer (or at hot gigs!) so are perfect for all year round and a variety of occasions.

Price: £40 (RRP) Shop here.

EcoMade slim fit jeans

Review

These jeans feel quite stretchy and are very comfortable. The sizing is as expected and they fit well. Having worn them at two gigs already (and one venue was particularly warm!) the material does indeed seem to feel cool when needed but still as warm as any other jeans on a cold night.

EcoMade jeans dressed up with boots for gig

They can easily be teamed up with different tops and footwear to either dress them up, or opt for a more casual look. For example, I wore them with boots and a long sleeve top for the gigs, which worked well. The fit is flattering, yet relaxed and comfortable enough to dance around, or laze around, or go for a long walk! I love them and would definitely recommend!

Lazing on sofa in jeans

*Disclosure: I was sent these jeans to review from JD Williams All opinions are my own. 

The Berry Berry Designer Bags: Stylish Sustainable, Ethical Fashion

Have you heard of The Berry Berry designer bags yet? If not, you should have done! This ethical fashion brand was set up in 2014 by Lucia Jombikova;  she has developed a range of seven gorgeous bags out of fabric offcuts, reclaimed clothes and even upcycled magazines and sweet wrappers. Her bags come in a range of sizes from a small clutch bag and mini clutch purses to large tote bags and messengers, including one perfect for men. Each bag is unique and ethically made by a team of mumpreneurs.

Messenger bag. Girl and boy sat on wall next to river. Both have a bag

Protecting our Environment

In the UK alone, there are 1.3 million tonnes of textile waste each year, and in Europe 4.3 million tonnes. Fast fashion is an ongoing problem, but there is a much needed rise in sustainable and ethical fashion developing as consumers begin to increase awareness of this issue. The Berry Berry helps to tackle this; for every two handbags made, one kg of textile waste is saved from landfills.

Dominka Berry Berry Bag

Giving Back

For every five bags sold, The Berry Berry donates a bag filled with female essentials to Project Purse, a NGO who distribute them to homeless women, women in refuges and those who need assistance.

Lucia says: “it was important to me to create an ethical handbag range, as I found only either good looking but expensive handbags or cheaper, non-ethically made handbags. There was a definite gap in the market which now I hope we, at The Berry Berry can close so that women don’t need to compromise style, cost or the environment and no one needs to suffer in the making of the handbag. Women can wear our handbags with pride knowing they’ve empowered other women, the mumpreneurs I employ to sew and make the bags and those other women at Project Purse who also benefit from them purchasing one of our handbags”.

Justina Bow Bags. 3 bags on wall next to water

Kickstarter Campaign

The Berry Berry is running a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to fund the larger scale production of their first batch of bags. The campaign aims to raise a minimum of £10,000 and, in return for your support, you will receive your chosen handbag in time for Christmas. To buy a bag and support the campaign please back them on Kickstarter before 24th October.

Types and names of The Berry Berry bags

Giveaway

I have teamed up with The Berry Berry to giveaway a gorgeous clutch bag to one lucky reader. Enter via rafflecopter below. Competition ends 11th November 2018. Good luck!

Clutch bag made from sweet wrappers

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This is a collaborative post with The Berry Berry.

Zero Waste Eco-Friendly Postpartum and Menstruation Wear by Modibodi

It has been a decade since Squiggle came into this world. However, I remember the early days after birth very well; even in the hazy midst of that exhausted but elated sleep deprived state, it is not something to forget!

The practical new mum challenges that I wasn’t quite prepared for were things such as leaky boobs! (Which will happen regardless of whether you actually breastfeed or not by the way!) I went through a tonne of nursing pads. I was aware there were washable options, but I was somewhat less environmentally minded back then and it just felt like too much of a task. But faffing with breast pads and nursing tops also became an issue for me, and caused me quite alot of stress in our early breastfeeding days. That is why I think Modibodi nursing tops are brilliant!

Modibodi Nursing Top – RRP £45

Modibodi breastfeeding singlet is cleverly designed to look and fit like a regular breastfeeding bra, but replaces the need for nursing pads. It is beaitifully soft thanks to the bamboo outer layer, and uses patented technology to ensure maximum comfort, hygiene and effectiveness. The Breastfeeding Singlet is available in sizes 10-18 and cups A-G.

Maternity breastfeeding singlet

(Note: This is not me and I am not pregnant!)

5% of each sale donated to PANDAS throughout October

Modibodi have teamed up with PANDAS Foundation, a post-natal depression charity, to raise awareness and support their work. Throughout October, Modibodi will donate 5% of sales of the breastfeeding singlet to PANDAS. I was lucky enough not to suffer with post-natal depression myself, but I certainly do not underestimate the importance of such charities and the vital work that they do in supporting new mums!

Modibodi wants to highlight the realities of post pregnancy bodies. In a recent survey, undertaken by the brand, over half (53%) of the women surveyed revealed that they weren’t happy with their bodies and felt pressure to lose the baby weight quickly. 6 out of 10 mums surveyed also felt that there wasn’t enough comfortable and accessible nursing bra options, which is where Modibodi steps in, by providing a comfortable eco-friendly solution to breastfeeding mums.

Modibodi want women to embrace their post pregnancy body with #lovemybabybodi, and is encouraging women all over to the UK to upload a picture of their post baby body along with the hashtag, in order promote wellbeing and confidence for all mothers.

I have also teamed up with Modibodi for one lucky reader to win one of these handy zero waste breastfeeding tops! Read down to the end of this post for further details and to enter.

Underwear

Modibodi also have a collection of underpants that cover all absorbencies and come in a range of styles. These are useful for both postpartum and monthly menstruation. I have mentioned before that I use period pants for a zero waste, eco-friendly period (along with a mooncup sometimes) so I was very happy to try out a pair of their pretty sensual bikini pants with heavy overnight absorbency.

Modibodi period pants menstruation underwear postpartum underpants

Review: Sensual hi-waist bikini pants (heavy/ overnight absorbency) RRP £23.50

I love these! They are super soft and comfortable, thanks to the organic bamboo material. They fit very well and look (in my opinion anyway!) ok too. I felt confident and secure wearing them, with no concerns even on heavier days. (They hold 15-20ml, which is the equivalent of 2 tampons and 3 teaspoons!) They also wash well. Out of the several brands of menstruation pants that I use, these are probably my overall favourites in fact! Shop here.

Sensual high-waist heavy overnight absorbency pants

Teen Range

I would also like to give a mention to their teen range of underwear. As a parent to an autistic daughter nearing the age of puberty, the subject has come up fairly often with other SEND parents about managing self-care when it comes to starting periods. I personally feel that period pants offer a good solution to this.

Of course, they are beneficial to any teenager just starting their periods! For this reason, Modibodi have their own teen range. They even have a handy guide to download too!

Swimwear 

Last but not least, Modibodi also do swimwear! I haven’t tried it myself but I still wanted to include it in this post because this is another thing that has come up many times before. It is certainly not cheap but may well be worth the investment if you are a regular swimmer who would like that extra boost of confidence and peace of mind! See the swimwear section for more information.

Giveaway!

For your chance to win a breastfeeding singlet, enter via rafflecopter below. Competition ends 4th November 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received items in exchange for review and giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Recycling: What Are The Issues?

Recycling is a vital part of protecting our environment. After refusing, reusing and reducing as much waste as we can, and passing on things we no longer need, fixing or repurposing stuff, everything else should be recycled as much as possible to prevent it ending up in landfill.

Recycling: What Are The Issues?

What can be recycled?

Plastic is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to recycling. Seareach carried out a poll recently of over 3,000 people aged over 18 asking them: “What frustrates you most about recycling?” The survey revealed that almost a quarter of people asked expressed confusion over what can and cannot be recycled. A whopping two thirds of the people surveyed suggested that consistent and easily understandable labelling is needed to combat this. A significant number of people (38%) also pointed out that technology could be put to good use, such as an app to scan barcodes for more recycling information.

Facilities

It also seems that recycling facilities vary across the country, so people in some areas find it more difficult to recycle items than others. Furthermore, there are concerns over whether local councils do actually recycle everything that goes in the recycling. The poll revealed that 65% felt councils need to be more transparent.

As quoted on Talking Retail, Stuart Jailer said: “A lot of people were concerned that even though we sort our packaging at home, once it gets to councils, we don’t know that it’s getting properly recycled. Instead, people worry that a lot of it is heading to landfills or being shipped abroad.”

Garbage. Overflowing bin. Pollution. Landfill

The study showed that a lot of people want to be able to recycle at their local supermarket, as well as having consistent and transparent recycling collections at home. Other ideas suggested included better options for residents of flats, whom often do not have sufficient recycling facilities in comparison to houses. Also, sheltered accommodation should have easily accessible recycling bins for the disabled and elderly. Deposit and refund schemes across the country would also be useful.

Manufacturers need to do more

The survey also showed that people feel there should be more onus on manufacturers, rather than just the consumer. 39% of respondents felt manufacturers use too much packaging. They also complained that many products still come in packaging that cannot be recycled. For example, manufacturers still use black plastic for food products which cannot be recycled despite complaints from consumers to stop. (British Plastics)

Change in materials

Consumers believe it is important that manufacturers stop using materials that cannot be easily recycled. Examples of this are foil/ plastic hybrids and plastic wrappers, as well as the black plastic mentioned above. It would also be beneficial if we improved recycling facilities so that more materials have a higher rate of recycling too.

Recycling symbol

Did you know? 

Here are some of my own recycling tips, that you might not already know:

• Silver foil can be scrunched up and put in recycling.

• Stretchy plastic, such as toilet roll wrappers, can be recycled in local supermarkets along with plastic bags.

• Multipack crisp packets (the outer foil/ plastic type packaging, not the individual bags) can be recycled at some supermarkets.

• Walkers have just announced a new partnership with TerraCycle UK to recycle all brands of crisp packets. You can send them direct to the company in an envelope or look out for recycling points coming soon.

What are your biggest issues with recycling? What are your top tips? Let me know in comments! 

*This is a collaborative post.

Eco-Friendly Tiny House Styles: Guest Post by Rose Burke

There are many reasons people decide to join the tiny house community. Some are looking for an off the grid lifestyle while others want the freedom to travel with their house in tow. Without a doubt, the most common reason people opt for living in a tiny house is that they want to reduce their carbon footprint. Ultimately, occupying a small space forces you to be more eco-friendly, even if that wasn’t your original intention. If you’re interested in changing your lifestyle by reducing the number of resources you use each day, find inspiration in these eco-friendly tiny house styles…

Eco-Friendly Tiny House Styles text with tiny house in side of hill image

Solar Powered Tiny House

When a tiny house is built on wheels or in an isolated area, you can’t always get electricity by plugging into the power grid. This factor has inspired members of the tiny house community to come up with some incredibly unique eco-friendly options. One of the most popular electrical alternatives for tiny houses is solar power. While the initial setup can be expensive, they can significantly reduce your electric bill. Over time, they pay for themselves while providing your tiny house with electricity.

Solar powered tiny house

Wind Turbine Powered Tiny House

Since solar power can sometimes be unreliable, it’s essential to have a backup plan. For this reason, those who are designing an eco-friendly home will often use both wind and solar power. Wind turbines can provide your tiny house with electricity during storms and cloudy days when your solar panels might not be getting enough sunlight. Of course, there are more reliable backup options such as a generator for those who can’t go without electricity.

Wind turbine tiny house

Tiny House Natural Lighting

A tiny house with an open design plan offers natural light during the day, eliminating the need for powered lamps until the sun goes down. While some houses do this with wall-length windows, an outdoor porch can have the same effect. Allowing natural light into your tiny house will also give the illusion that it’s larger than it really is.

Natural light

Tiny House Bathrooms Using Composting Toilets

Composting toilets are ideal for the eco-friendly members of the tiny house community, as they’re waterless. While it’s possible to hook up a traditional toilet, that would require being hooked up to a sewage system. If you’re taking your tiny house on the road or want to save some water, then a composting toilet is definitely the best option. They’ve advanced to the point where they can feel no different than being in any other bathroom. Here are the composting toilet options:

• Split systems which secure the composting tank carrying the waste below the toilet and is considered separate from the unit.

• Self-contained systems which store waste in the pedestal of the toilet.

• Continuous systems which allow waste to run out into a compost pile continually.

• Batch systems which separate the waste, composting them at different times.

Bathroom

Tiny House Community Vegetable Gardens

When you’re living off the grid, you can’t just hop in your car and make a trip to the supermarket. The same goes for those who like to travel. For this reason, having a personal vegetable garden has become a popular trend in the tiny house community. Someone with a stationary home will have more room to build their garden, but that doesn’t mean those who keep their house on wheels can’t participate as well. Additionally, many tiny house dwellers who rent pieces of the same land will come together to build a community garden. This allows people to work for their food, but also to have the freedom to pack up their house and move on when they want.

Tiny house veg garden

 

Tiny House Built Out Of Recycled Materials

Since most tiny homes are made on a budget, it only makes sense that they would be created from recycled materials. While some tiny house builders use wood or sheet metal from old and demolished structures, others repurpose storage containers, train cars, school buses, or anything else they can get their hands on. And that’s just the exterior. The interior tends to be eco-friendly as well. Everything from the house’s insulation to the lighting fixtures are often made of recycled or repurposed materials. Even those without a creative bone in their body will find themselves working on a few DIY projects if it means staying on budget.

Recycled house

Summary

As you can see, when it comes to choosing a tiny house style that’s most suitable for your needs, there are a number of eco-friendly options to choose from. To what degree you decide to reduce your mark on the environment is ultimately up to you. By taking on a tiny lifestyle, you’re already taking a big step in the right direction!

*This is a guest post.

Energy saving tips: Are solar panels right for my home?

On paper, the prospect of using solar panels – otherwise known as solar photovoltaic or solar PV panels – to meet your home’s energy needs looks very promising. Imagine always having a stream of free electricity on tap, with its availability affected only by the sun.

This is the ideal, anyway – but, in practice, not all of this would be borne out. There are various issues to consider if you are undecided about whether to opt for solar panels…

Energy saving tips: Are solar panels right for my home?

Do you have a suitable roof?

Thinking about whether or not to have solar panels fitted could essentially be pointless if your roof wouldn’t be suitable for them anyway. You should rule out solar panels for a north-facing roof, as it won’t get enough direct sunlight, warns the Energy Saving Trust.

Your roof also needs to be sufficiently strong to hold up PV panels,as they are heavy, Which? cautions. A roofing North East firm could strengthen your roof if you live in the local area.

Do you primarily aim to save carbon or money?

People tend to decide on solar panel installation due to the possibility of trimming the household’s greenhouse gas emissions or its financial expenditure on energy.

In your case, you need to decide which of the two is more important to you. Though you could yearly save as much as two tonnes of carbon, the financial savings are not always so clear-cut, as the installation would typically cost over £5,000 and so could take a disconcerting while to pay for itself.

The feed-in tariff is getting slowly reduced

In an attempt to somewhat make up for the initial financial blow of a solar PV installation, you could apply for the feed-in-tariff (FiT), a government scheme that pays you to make your own electricity.

However, in July 2018, the government revealed its intent to bar new applications to FiT from April 2019. You would only be exempt if you both commission your installation and get a complete MCS certificate issued prior to 31 March 2019; you could apply for FiT until 31 January 2020, Which? says.

Investigate whether you would need planning permission

The good news is that, for the majority of domestic solar panels, planning permission isn’t necessary – provided that these panels are below a particular size. However, we still urge you to get in touch with your council to learn for certain.

You would require planning permission if, for example, you want solar panels added to a listed building or a building either in a conservation area or on a World Heritage Site.

Solar panels

Are there other costs to consider?

Once a solar PV system is in place, you shouldn’t expect to have to spend a lot of time on maintaining it due to its relative simplicity and absence of moving parts. Still, within 25 years, you would have to replace the inverter at a cost of roughly £1,000 in many instances. There is evidence that you might even need to replace it much sooner than that.

*This is a collaborative post.