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Staying FiT

22 June 2015

Learning from consumer experience of solar PV systems to inform the development of low-carbon policies

In 2011 Consumer Focus, our predecessor as statutory watchdog for energy consumers, published Keeping FiT, which looked at the consumer experience of installing microgeneration technologies using the Feed-in Tariff that had been launched in 2010.

In late 2014 Citizens Advice commissioned Future Climate and Purple Market Research to undertake follow-up research. In Staying FiT [ 400 kb], we summarise the results from examining  the consumer experience of solar PV systems almost five years on from the introduction of the Feed-in Tariff.

Policy Manager Zoe Laeder's blog

Make the most of the sun, be a savvy solar shopper

 

Overall, the consumer experience is positive and we can see that a greater range of households is installing solar PV. Where once installations of solar PV were undertaken by retirees in larger homes, the technology is increasingly installed by younger families with a wider range of incomes.  We also found that whilst consumers are still motivated primarily by financial benefits, they are increasingly motivated by a wish to reduce their impact on the environment.

However, the research has identified some emerging trends that have the potential to become bigger issues if not tackled. Most significantly we found that consumers are not shopping around enough before picking an installer and that when they do pick an installer they are not always sure they are fully accredited. With the prices of solar PV systems ranging widely consumers could be paying more than they need to, and if systems are poorly installed they will not get the benefits they expected.

Our report highlights the need for consumers to:

  • get a minimum of three quotes when seeking to install solar PV on their home whether purchasing outright, on finance or via a rent-a-roof scheme;

  • check their installer is MCS and RECC accredited online or call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234; and

  • research others’ experiences of the company’s work through family and friends, company references and online forums.

You can read the full report [ 3.7 mb] to Citizens Advice from Future Climate and Purple Market Research.