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Solar panel retailer warned over claims

New Zealand Home Services has been warned to stop talking up the financial benefit of installing solar panels. The Commerce Commission said the company's claims made on its website and at sales representations were likely to have breached the Fair Trading Act.

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The solar retailer told people a solar power system was "a financial product" capable of generating annual returns of 10 to 30% and installing one increased the average property value by 3 to 4%. It also said the cost of power had gone up 2.5 to 7% each year for 20 years.

The commission's head of investigations Ritchie Hutton said materials provided as evidence to support the company's claims "were of varying degrees of reliability, were from overseas sources not relevant to the representations made about the New Zealand market, or were created or compiled after the representations were made".

We've advised our members to check a solar power system is right for their situation. They can make economic sense for some households with high levels of daytime energy use or that can shift a significant proportion of their energy use to daytime hours. But improving energy efficiency is a cheaper way of reducing your power bill and should be considered before looking at solar.

We recommend using the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority's calculator to estimate how much value you could get from installing a solar PV system.

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