FAMILIES across the county are already working hard to achieve a greener and brighter future for our planet.

From reducing the amount of plastic we use, to encouraging parents to walk their children to school rather than driving, there have been a number of recent campaigns promoted to reduce the amount of impact humans are having on the environment.

Now, homeowners can take this eco campaign further by registering in a solar panel group buying scheme.

Essex County Council has, in partnership with iChoosr, launched Solar Together Essex.

People who are interested in having solar panels can register their interests and then solar companies compete against each other to offer the best price to carry out the work.

The more people who register, the better the price that will be offered.

When the auction closes residents are sent personalised offers from the winning supplier.

Then they will have the option should they wish to continue with the work.

Diane Butterfield, who lives with her wife Donna Scott, bought a house in Clacton four and a half years ago which has solar panels.

She said: “The house having solar panels was definitely a selling point because it is something I had been considering, but they cost quite a lot.

“I have a device similar to a smart meter which tells me how much energy the solar panels are putting into the system and how much we are using.

“When it goes into the minus that means we are only using what the solar panels are providing.

“So that is when the washing machine goes on, the dishwasher and everything gets charged up.”

She said there are huge financial benefits of having the solar panel fitted.

She currently pays just £80 per month for her gas and electricity in a four bedroom, semi-detached house.

They also get paid £600 per year for the amount of electricity the solar panels create.

This energy gets put back into the national grid to be distributed among other households.

As well as the financial benefits, the solar panels are also much better for the environment.

Solar energy is renewable, meaning there is a never-ending supply.

This is in contrast to other electricity sources, such as fossil fuels, which are non-renewable, meaning that we will not be able to create electricity in this way forever.

Solar panels also reduce air pollution, as other energy sources produce polluting substances, such as carbon dioxide and methane.

Additionally, the panels reduce water pollution, as water is used a lot in the process of getting electricity using other sources, but is not used for solar electricity.

Mrs Butterfield added: “We are all responsible for looking after the planet.

“I don’t think we are doing enough to look after the environment.”

Cabinet member for Environment and Waste, councillor Simon Walsh, echoed her sentiment.

He said: “Having solar panels installed is one way that we can all contribute to achieving a greener and brighter future for our county. They can also help save money on energy bills and generate clean electricity too.”

If you are interested, you can register until August 22 on the Essex County Council website

If you register, you are under no obligation to continue. A supplier “auction” will be held on 22 August.

This is when the approved solar suppliers will bid for the work.

The more people that register, the better the deal should be for each household.

From September 10, those who registered will be contacted with a personalised offer, based on the specifications of your roof. This includes your costs and return on the investment of a solar panel installation.

You then have until October 19 to decide and will be invited to visit an information session. If you accept the offer, the winning supplier will contact you to survey your roof and set an installation date.

All installations are planned to be completed by the end of March 2019. To register and for more information visit essex.gov.uk/solartogether