Advice for homeowners

Harry

Meet your
FENSA Advisor

This is Harry.

You might recognise him from our TV ad.

Harry works for a FENSA Approved installation company. He's on a mission to help professionalise installers and protect homeowners across the UK, so he started this advice column.

Let's Grab Some Rays

Solar energy as the name suggests is energy obtained directly from the sun. We use the heat from the sun to dry the washing on the line, grow crops and have a very nice holiday  but what about the opportunities that solar provides in terms of power?

 

Lets look at a few solar facts that might surprise you

 

  • The Sun is 150 million kilometres away but just the tiny fraction of the Suns energy that hits the Earth is enough to meet all our power needs
  • Every minute, enough energy arrives at the Earth to meet our demands for a whole year
  • Only about half of the incoming solar energy actually reached the Earths surface. It is reflected back out in to space or absorbed by clouds and oceans.
  • So with this abundant energy available why do we worry about energy efficiency and conservation?

 

The simple answer is we need to be able to harness that energy. The tricky question is how do we go about it?

 

There are three main ways we can harness that solar energy

 

Solar cells that convert light directly in to electricity. A really simple but effective use of this is the humble calculator. Satellites run on energy from solar cells, providing us with many everyday essentials such as telephones, navigation, weather forecasting, the internet and TV channels.

 

Solar water heating where energy from the sun is used to heat water in glass panels on your roof. This means you reduce the amount of gas or electricity used to heat the water in your home, thereby saving on your energy bills. This system works better in areas with a sunny climate.

 

Solar panels can be fitted to south facing roofs. These can be expensive to install but the government can pay you for any extra energy you produce and feed back into the National Grid.

 

So summing up what we know about solar energy, it seems too good not to take advantage of. After all it is free, clean, waste free and renewable. However, it has its limitations. It is no good at night and it can be expensive to set up the equipment needed to harness the energy. The amount of energy that can be harnessed depends on the distance from the equator.

 

Here in the UK, with our cloudy skies and dull weather, technology is starting to make the use of solar energy more viable.

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What to check before appointing an installer

Check that you use a FENSA Approved Installer but also check the following:

  • Ask family and friends who have used installers about their satisfaction and whether they got a FENSA certificate.
  • Check the installer's references by talking to their previous customers.
  • Get at least three quotes and check you are being quoted like for like.
  • Cheapest is not always best and good contractors are always in demand.
  • Get quotes, timeframes and the fact that you will get a FENSA certificate all in writing. A proper written contract with an agreed completion date will help prevent confusion later on
  • Check the warranty on the installer's work and ensure they have enough insurance to cover their warranty. Domestic glazing installers that are registered with a competent person scheme like FENSA are legally obliged to provide warranty insurance to cover your installation should the company cease to trade within the life of the warranty.
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