Sun Savings: How Solar Panels Can Reduce Your Bills

Published on 11 June 2024

Did you turn off the immersion? That’s a familiar refrain to most Irish families, who have always had to watch our energy consumption. Despite recent price reductions, electricity in Ireland continues to be one of our biggest annual expenses, with the typical Irish family paying around €2000 a year to keep the lights on at home. 

The good news is that there are lots of ways to bring that figure down, and one of the most effective is to install solar panels. If you’re thinking of making the leap, you’re not alone: almost 60,000 residential homes had solar panels on their rooftops last year, with some 500 houses more being added every week. 

To help you understand how they might help reduce your bills, we’ve put together a quick guide to solar panels in Ireland.

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels are designed to absorb the sun's rays as a source of energy for generating electricity or heating. They work by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Simply put, they convert sunlight into electricity. That said, you don’t need to live on the Costa Brava to make solar panels work: research shows that cloudy days work well, so Irish weather is fine too. 

Solar PV panels capture light from the sun to power everything from your oven to your phone charger. A Solar PV system usually carries a 25-year performance warranty, meaning you’ll be getting free electricity for at least that period and actually longer. 

What are the benefits of solar energy?

The main benefit of solar energy is the reduction of electricity bills in the home. The Eco Experts say that solar panels can save you up to €426 per year on average and reduce your annual carbon footprint by half a tonne of CO2. 

Solar PV helps reduce emissions into the atmosphere and lower the need for fossil fuels, on which Ireland is very dependent. This all helps to contribute a more sustainable future and a healthier, happier planet for this generation and the next. 

As well as generating electricity for all your electrical goods, when there is any excess of supply, it will heat your water before being exported to the grid. So that means hot showers for everyone in the home. You may eventually even be able to sell your excess energy back to the grid. 

How much do solar panels cost to install?

The cost of a domestic solar PV system will vary according to the provider, but they tend to start at around €1,500 - €2,000 per kW installed. states that this means a 4 kW solar generation system could cost around €8,000. 

The good news is that The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is now offering grants for solar photovoltaic panels for homeowners and agricultural units. With up to €2,100 available, it means that now might be the time to finally take the leap into installing a long-term solution to the rising costs of energy in Europe.

 According to calculations by the Energy Experts, the grant “reduces the average homeowner’s break-even point to 9.6 years”, meaning that you’ll have paid off the investment and start reaping the real cost benefits within a decade.

How much would solar panels save me?

This will depend very much on your home, your family size, your usage and your choice of system, but have done the sums, estimating that a 4 Kw solar system on a three-bedroom house could potentially “take up to 80% off your annual electricity bill and save you over €1,000 every year.” 

It’s important to remember too that solar panels are a lower maintenance energy source — they only need to be serviced on average once every three years, in comparison to once a year for boilers. 

When installed correctly, solar panels can be expected to last over 20 years. It’s also worth noting solar panels can increase the value of your home, if you’re considering selling in the future.

What should I do to get started?

If you’re thinking about installing solar panels in your home, you should start by speaking to experts, including representatives from reputable companies. They can help advise you about what you will need to install to meet your household needs, how much it might cost and what savings you can expect to see over the long run. 

Generally speaking, you won't need planning permission on solar panels taking up less than 50% of the total area of the roof (i.e, the average six panel system), but it’s best to check the most recent guidelines available.

You should also make sure you qualify for the SEAI grant and use an installation company that meets the SEAI requirements. After that, all you need to do is to decide whether or not to take the plunge!