AS FAR as Peter Roberts is concerned, putting solar panels on the roof of his family’s Basingstoke home was definitely a bright idea.

Mr Roberts installed 16 solar panels on the roof in Scotney Road, Oakridge, in December 2011.

The 62-year-old took advantage of the high Government Feed-in Tariffs being offered at the time, an initiative in which he is paid for the electricity he and his family generate – even if they use it.

It means the father-of-four’s home earns 45p per kilowatt hour – a rate that can only increase over the next 24 years and will mean the solar panels will be paid off within seven years.

Although the Feed-in Tariffs have now reduced, so have the cost of solar panels.

Mr Roberts, a business development manager, paid £10,500 to install his solar panels, whereas the average cost now for a domestic solar panel system is around £7,600.

He said: “It saves money and earns money. The green factor is a bonus. It generates income and reduces electricity bills.”

Any energy not used by Mr Roberts and his family is exported to the National Grid, for which he is paid.

Solar panels work by capturing the sun’s energy using photovoltaic cells, which can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. The cells convert sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.

This means that once the initial installation is paid for, any electricity generated is free, therefore reducing electricity bills.

The benefit of installing solar panels for individuals and businesses is clear, but they are also helping to cut our carbon footprint.

Solar electricity is green and renewable and it does not release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants.

Mr Roberts has a Bluetooth device inside his home which tells him how much electricity is being generated each day, and how much carbon dioxide it is saving. A typical home solar panel system could save more than a ton of carbon dioxide each year.

Mr Roberts said: “I think that developers should have to install solar panels on to new buildings. They don’t even need to put a roof up, because they have solar panels now that can replace a roof.”

For more information about solar panels, visit