|In theory excess electricity can be sold back to the grid|
Inside Out investigate one South West company who have been taking
the shine out of solar power.
The solar power industry is growing fast;
an increasingly popular option for households who want to reduce their energy
bills and do their bit for the environment.
But, as we found out, just
because a product is green, doesn't necessarily mean that you can trust the people
For the past four months we have been investigated Solar Technik,
a Dorset company operating across the South West.
We uncovered people in
the region who have been charged up to £10,000 above the market rate for
solar water heating systems and asked to cough up a third of the total cost there
Solar Technik sends out leaflets inviting you to call them for
a "free no-obligation survey".
So we did just that.
secretly filmed the sales rep for the Bournemouth based Solar Technik making misleading
claims and telling lies to try to sell a solar system to an undercover journalist,
posing as an environmentally friendly widow.
Solar Energy expert Nick Backhouse
surveyed the 'widow's' house before the Solar Technik salesman arrives.
judged that the house is not appropriate for solar panels because the boiler is
not compatible and the south facing roof is too small.
|Solar Technik: False Claims?|
To help sell his solar system, the salesman claims that his own
domestic solar system gives him nearly a 100% of his hot water requirements, something
which the programme's expert says is impossible.
We called in to his house
to see his system and discovered that, surprise surprise, he does not have one.
He also claims that Solar Technik customers could save up to 57% of their
total energy bill; the Energy Saving Trust reckons the true figure should be around
Dorset Trading Standards manager, Ivan Hancock, says that anybody
claiming that their water heating solar system would save over 30% of their total
energy bill may be in breach of the Trade Descriptions Act, which is a criminal
Despite the house not being suitable for solar panels with its
current boiler, the salesman quotes our undercover journalist £12,800 for
The majority of solar systems
on the market work alongside your current water heater to provide hot water.
to the Solar Trade Association the average household system should cost between
£2000 and £5000 including installation.
The Energy Savings Trust
says that hot water accounts for a quarter of household energy usage.
can provide up to 70% of that hot water which means that with a good system you
can expect to save around 17-20% of your total energy bill.
says that the figure of 57% given by the Solar Technik sales rep is seriously
No Cooling Off
If you have responded to
an advertisement in the paper, or a flyer through your door, you will not be entitled
to any cancellation rights and the contract will be legally binding at the time
it is signed.
This can be an expensive mistake and another reason to give
yourself some time to think before you sign up for anything.
Hancock from Dorset Trading Standards offers some good advice to consumers.
"Shop around. Never sign up for something unless you've had at least one
"Also, check that the company you are using is accredited
by the Solar Trade Association. Accredited companies have to fulfil strict criteria."
"Be very cautious when someone is trying to sell you something in your
own home. Remember it's a business decision and not a social chat.
your home you are likely to be relaxed and your guard is down. Wherever possible
have another person with you during the sales pitch, its helpful to have a second
"Be bold enough to tell the sales person when you've had enough.
If you feel you've had all the information you need, be abrupt and ask them to
"If you do pay a deposit and then change your mind, and you
have no cooling off period you still have options.
"A deposit shouldn't
be more than 10%. If it's any more than this you may be able to get it back through
a small claims court."
Where to get help
Direct on 08454 040506 can advise you on your rights.
"Solar Technik is a young UK company in a growing
market with a large sales and installation workforce. It currently installs hundreds
of domestic solar energy heating systems a year based on very high quality German
solar collector technology which was originally developed on a Daimler Benz project.
"Our installations have proven to be very reliable and there are hundreds
of satisfied customers enjoying savings on their fuel bills that Inside Out has
chosen not to include on its programme.
"Solar Technik takes its responsibilities
towards its customers seriously but inevitably, things do not always go according
to plan. Such occurrences are rare. To deal with them, Solar technik has a strict
code of conduct governing the behaviour of its sales team and where its internal
code is broken, disciplinary action is taken.
"We understand that
Inside Out features one of our current salesmen who may have broken our internal
code of conduct. This is regrettable and is not a reflection of Solar Technik's
policy or the service we provide."
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