Solar panels have been around for a very long time. Here in Australia one of the oldest of these companies is Solarhart hot water systems. It has been around for around 40 years, and yes I can remember the business being set up in shops close to my home when I was a teenager. Of course in Australia there is more chance of these solar panels working but in the U.K.? Or even parts of the U.S.A. where they have extremely cold conditions? Give me a break!!
The climate change scaremongering has cost a lot of people a lot of money, and in this particular story the focus is on the selling of solar panels as being a super efficient means of cutting utility bills. Wendy Hammett is one of the pensioners that has been ripped off by salesmen claiming that solar panels are so efficient:
Now here is the reason that has led to the increase in the complaints about solar panel companies:
The system, she was promised, would slash her gas and electric bills by 70 per cent. It was a lie.
'It has ended up costing me more,' she said. She is not alone. Other elderly customers of Simplee Solar suffered a similar fate.
Solar panelling, in fact, is the new double glazing.
To date, about 100,000 households in the country have solar thermal installations.
Over the next ten years, the figure, analysts predict, will reach 1million - a tenfold increase.
From next year, government grants will be available to anyone who wants to install them in their homes.
It's one of the few areas of the economy which is expanding, fuelled by the soaring cost of gas and electricity as well as fears about global warming.
Hence the reason why salesmen such as Lee Comer are thriving.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) received a staggering 1,000 complaints about the sector last year.
The disturbing trend was underlined by a recent investigation by consumer watchdog Which? which found that ten out of 14 companies investigated exaggerated claims about the effectiveness and potential savings of solar panels.
In fact a typical system, which uses the sun's rays to provide hot water, costs around £5,500 and will cut about 10 per cent (just £55 a year) from your bill.
Another way of putting it, of course, is that it would take 100 years - the so called 'payback time' - to recoup your £5,500 investment, based on current fuel prices.
In other words, the benefits are environmental, not financial - despite what you might be told by the man in a shiny suit on the doorstep, or in flyers through your letterbox.
The experience of retired gardening centre boss Chris Barrington and his wife Marilyn epitomises the worst of the industry - at least 200 solar thermal companies are now operating in Britain.
'We were promised constant hot water without any additional heating from the boiler, even in dull conditions,' said Mr Barrington, 61, from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, in West Wales.
'We had an immersion tank to heat our water and it was expensive but the salesman assured me I would never need one again because the system we had chosen was superefficient.'
The Barrington's soon realised they had been duped.
'For much of the year it is absolutely useless, so we're having to spend £150 a month getting hot water from our old electric immersion tank.'
Mr Barrington began legal action to get his £250 deposit returned and also refused to pay the £5,850 balance.
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