Whether you want to cut some bills down or you want to contribute to saving the environment, powering your house with renewable energy could help. We’ve listed a few ways to help you get on track, by finding out whether renewables, such as heat pumps, solar water heating, and biomass stoves and boilers are really right for your home.
Understanding renewable energy.
Understanding how renewable energy works can help you find out what’s best for your home.
Renewable energy is generated from natural sources, like the sun, wind, biomass and water. And these renewable energy sources are naturally replenished.
It's also often called ‘green energy’ and ‘clean energy’, as the process of generating energy from these renewable sources emits no (or hardly any) greenhouse gases.
This depends if you are taking a long term view. Renewable choices can be more expensive to install upfront, but the time it takes to get your money back on an investment in microgeneration will come down (1).
It may be helpful to know the government has launched the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) to pay you to generate renewable heat (2).
The best ways.
Solar power can now help use the sun to generate electricity for your home through solar thermal panels. They harness the power of sunlight to heat hot water and use the sun to heat the temperature of liquid in the panels. This is then used to heat water in a tank ready for you to use. The panels are best installed on south-facing roofs with no shadow.
This is usually cheaper to install than other renewable systems, but it’ll only heat water, so you’ll need another system to heat your home.
Generating your own clean electricity with solar panels gives you the ability to improve your home’s sustainability, one of the main advantages of solar energy.
Another use for solar energy is both hot water and heating all year round. Solar heating systems use solar panels, these can be fitted to your roof.
This heating system generates heated up water that’s stored in a hot water cylinder. You need at least five square metres of space that receives direct sunlight for the main part of the day (3).
If you want to use it to power your heating too, then you'll need larger panels, the size of these will be determined by the size of your home.
Air source heat pumps
An air source heat pump is a renewable energy system that uses the heat from the outside air to provide you with heating and hot water.
No, we're not just talking about farms! You can now install smaller wind turbines at home, either as a free-standing pole or installed on the building directly.
They generate electricity by the wind turning the blades, which drives the internal turbine and creates power. The Energy Saving Trust estimates a 6kW pole-mounted turbine could save you around £250 a year on electricity bills, as well as earning about £440 a year in SEG payments (4).
Biomass heating systems
Yep, another renewable way to generate heat! Biomass heating systems burn organic material in a wood burning stove or boiler to provide heat and hot water. They’re able to provide warmth in a single room or to power central heating and hot water boilers.
This is often one of the cheaper heating options. It’s estimated that a biomass system can save you up to £700 a year compared to an old electric heating system (5). However, it’s essential to bear in mind the price of wood fuel – it varies.
There are so many suitable options for your home, or even your business. Try taking those first few steps to living sustainably (and enjoy saving a few pennies!).