It was with some trepidation that I went into the cellar this week to take some meter readings in order to find out how the solar panels we had fitted on our house exactly a year ago have been performing. Was the hefty sum of £8,500 we forked out last year a good investment or a waste of money?

Well, the news is better than I had expected. We, a family of four, have produced 92% of our electricity usage from the roof of a century-old terraced house in south-east London - laying to rest the idea that Britain is not sunny enough for solar power. It also disproves any suggestion this sort of technology only works in state-of-the-art, modern detached houses.

What is particularly annoying about all this is that in Germany, where a proper system of support has boosted volumes - the Germans kitted out 130,000 houses with solar PV last year, while the UK managed less than 300 - costs have fallen dramatically and a system like mine would only cost about £9,000 without a grant.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/apr/19/householdbills.consumeraffairs2