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Today's energy saving tip ...

Next time you need to replace a broken appliance or gadget look for the EU energy label which rates how efficient the product is. Devices rated A are the most efficient and G the least.

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Using solar energy at home ...

Solar panel heating is one of the most efficient renewable energy technologies available and the solar energy saving tips below will help you to find the right products for your home.

Solar panel systems generate electricity and heat water for your home with little maintenance. A good system will reduce your heating bills and increase the value of your property.

Domestic solar panels are fitted to your roof and convert the suns light into electricity or to heat water. As heating your home is one of the major contributors to your bills, solar technology is also one of the most effective ways of cutting your fuel bills now and in the future.

There are currently two types of solar panels you can buy; Hot Water and Photovoltaic panels.

Hot Water Solar Panels
This is the most common solar energy system and uses panels to collect the sun's energy which is connected by pipes to a hot water storage device such as a hot water cylinder. The hot water cylinder stores the water heated during the day and supplies it for use when required.

Photovoltaic Solar Panels
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels generate electricity to power lighting and appliances in your home and for business users. These systems are more costly than Hot Water solar panels but can be connected to the National Grid allowing you to sell surplus energy back to suppliers.

How much does a solar energy system cost?

Prices will vary depending upon the amount of energy you need and the size of the panels required.

Domestic hot water solar energy systems cost between 2,400 and 5,000 installed. DIY hot water heating kits are available which cost about 1,500. Photovoltaic systems are more expensive costing from 5,000 to around 9,000 installed.

Solar energy grants

The Government's Green Deal scheme is more of a repayment plan than a grant and replaces the upfront cost of energy saving technologies with regular payments funded from the energy savings you make. Repayments are made through your electricity bill.

To be eligible for the Green Deal scheme you'll need to have an assessment of your property and use an accredited provider.

How much can a solar energy system save you?

An average UK household will save about 50% of its annual hot water bill using solar panels.

The payback time for solar water heating now makes solar energy financially viable for the majority of domestic applications. An extra financial incentive is that your property will increase in value by installing a solar energy system and you will be less affected by future energy price rises.

Other ways to use solar power at home

You don't have to spend thousands to start using Solar Power around your home & garden. Here a just a few ways you can get started with little money and reap the rewards by saving money and helping the environment.

1. Use Solar Garden Lights to light your pathways and garden. They are easy to install and an attractive way to use Solar Power. They charge during the day and automatically turn on at dusk.

2. Solar Water fountains can be a great addition to a garden pond and are easy to install. Having a fountain can keep your pond healthy and the sound of running water is also known to relieve stress.

3. Solar Battery Chargers are a cheap way to charge the batteries for all your gadgets such as mobile phone or Ipod wirelessly wherever you are. You can get a solar charger specifically designed for the Ipod.

Solar power suppliers

There are a growing number of suppliers selling solar energy systems and products in the UK. For a comprehensive list please visit the solar energy suppliers page.

Energy Saving Tip: Consider replacing any old lightbulbs with the latest energy saving versions. They can use up to 80% less energy and last around ten times longer.