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Bright idea for energy; Fitting solar panels can be kind to your wallet as well as the planet - and sunshine's not required.

* OOKING for a fail-safe way to dramatically cut your energy bills? Then a little ray of sunshine is all it takes. For solar power can shave up to 50 per cent off your gas and electricity bills every year.

Popular in both Europe and America, solar panels have been harnessing the power of the sun for decades.

But while early models were bulky and difficult to fit, today's sleek and sophisticated designs have revolutionised the industry.

Over the past two years alone, there has been an explosion of installations in Scotland, especially as no planning permission is required in most cases.

Thanks to the Government's Feed-In Tariff Scheme, hundreds of thousands of homeowners have experienced first-hand just how beneficial solar power can be.

And despite recent changes to the innovative scheme, it still makes financial sense to invest in the eco-friendly energy.

Solar power specialist Jim Kirkland, who owns Solar Electricity Systems, explained: "As soon as solar panels are fitted, customers start making their own energy.

"As a rough estimate, the rate of monetary return can be anywhere between eight and 12 per cent tax-free every year, indexed linked for 25 years.

"We are in a unique position in that where most companies offer Chinese solar panels, Solar Electricity Systems have aligned themselves with one of Europe's top solar panel companies - Antaris.

"Through them, we are able to offer a unique 30-year guarantee along with a choice of both silver and black panels to complement your home.

"Everybody hates seeing their energy bills rise and some energy companies have increased their costs to the customer by up to 30 per cent in the past five years.

"But those who install renewable energy can inflation-proof their bills, say goodbye to hefty electricity prices and enjoy the benefits of being paid for what they themselves produce. Remember, it doesn't have to be sunny to make you money."

For nearly three years, Jim and his highly qualified team of 40 staff have been fitting state-of-the-art solar panel systems all over Scotland.

His firm were also one of the first in Scotland to gain full Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) Certification to design and install Photovoltaic panels. Already, they have more than 1000 satisfied customers in Scotland alone.

Photovoltaic or PV solar panels generate electricity, which can then run appliances and lighting in your home.

Although initial installation can cost anything between pounds 6000 to pounds 11,000, these complex panels are built to last and can go as long as 40 years without needing to be replaced.

Once in position, they will save you thousands of pounds over the years.

Solar water heating panels are another option to consider. Instead of running your electricity, these panels heat your hot water.

Even on cloudy or overcast days, the panels will collect heat from the sun and use it to warm water stored in a hot water cylinder. An immersion heater or boiler then makes the water even hotter and suitable for everyday use. With these panels, you can enjoy hot water throughout the year and dramatically reduce the amount of money you spend on energy bills.

Costing about pounds 5000 to pounds 8000 to install, these super-efficient panels can run for years and years.

When government legislation is put in place later this year, Solar Electricity Systems will again be one of the first MCS-accredited companies to offer these systems in Scotland. No matter what type of panel you choose, there's no need to worry about constant maintenance. Advancements in technology now mean most panels can be installed within a matter of hours and require the minimum of upkeep.

Jim added: "The sun really is a universal energy source and fitting solar panels can completely change the way a house runs. We are seeing more and more customers opting for panels - not only because they can save money but because they can also make some through the Feed-In Tariff Scheme."

With so many benefits to be had, it's no wonder solar panels are becoming an increasingly common sight through the country. Clean, renewable and eco-friendly solar energy is sure to have a bright and sunny future.

For more advice on solar power and for free and impartial advice visit or call 0800 8497555.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 7, 2012
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