Back in 2015 Google launched something called 'Project Sunroof', a tool designed to help people figure out whether it was worth installing solar panels on their roofs. Google's now expanding that service to other countries, and it's hitting the UK in association with Eon.
Project Sunroof, like many of Google's recent endeavours, uses machine learning to work out how much solar potential a property has - using data from Google Earth and Maps to work everything out. That data includes things like roof angle and area, weather data, and sun positioning. Obviously it's not the first company to offer this, but as BBC News points out those companies require extra information before they can offer a quote. The fact that Google's system is built into the Eon website is also an added bonus, since you can get everything sorted directly with an energy company.
Getting a quote sorted is remarkably easy. You head to the Eon Solar homepage and hit the 'Start Solar Calculator' button to get going. You'll need to handover your postcode and house number, naturally, but once the system has your house identified it'll get to work. The automated system works out the roof area and all the complicated stuff you might not be able to measure yourself, leaving you to fill in a form detailing how many people live in the house, how much power you use, and when you primarily use it.
Sunroof doesn't work for every property, however, as I found when trying to get a quote for the house I live in. Apparently it's currently available in select regions like Birmingham, Brighton, Liverpool, Newcastle, Reading, and parts of London. But even in those places it's not universal since Google said my area wasn't covered yet, forcing me to go through a series of screens to input a bunch of data manually.
That said, according to whatever unverified data I threw in, it thinks I could cut my annual electricity bill in half using solar panels alone. Throw a storage battery into the mix and it jumps up to a 75% saving, which is quite nice. The obvious downside being that it quoted me £4,895 to install solar panels and £8,895 for a solar/battery combo. That's going to be too much money for a lot of people, especially the landlords that dominate the housing market and try to spend as little money as possible.
So if you have a house it's another option that you can look into, designed to help you save money on your electricity bill. And that can only be a good thing, seeing as how prices seem to go up all the time. It's probably an extra boost to your house's value, too. [BBC News]