A useful guide to your renewable energy options

home energy saving tips

There are many ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home, like getting it insulated or installing an ‘A-rated’ boiler. But what about your renewable energy options? As more households consider them, we thought it would be useful to write this guide.

Households have a few choices, all are designed to make the home more environmentally friendly and cut the cost of energy bills.

Solar Power

A popular choice these days, and easy to get hold of and install. Solar power is completely natural, and emits zero carbon which makes it the greenest renewable energy option.

It works using solar panels to harness the sun’s energy to produce energy to heat water or even produce electricity. To work, solar panels require daylight so even if it is cloudy or overcast they will still produce energy. They are usually installed on the roof of a home, but whereabouts is crucial to maximize their productivity. For instance, installing them directly in the shade or under a large tree would limit the amount of energy generated.

Although the initial cost of installing them may be slightly tough on the wallet, once in, solar panels require little maintenance. Plus they will cut energy bills considerably as well as making a huge difference to your home’s carbon footprint.

Wind Turbines

According to studies, the UK has around 40% of Europe’s total wind energy. But we currently use less than a percent of this to generate our electricity. Wind energy is 100% natural and free, and because we have an abundance of it we can use it to cut our energy bills and our carbon emissions.

Many people think wind turbines are huge devices which require lots of space in order to work, but these days there are various compact versions ideal for the domestic market. Where you situate your wind turbine is essential, because wind energy increases with height, so the higher it is the more electricity it will generate.

Wind turbines work by harnessing the power of the wind to generate electricity for a home, so once yours is installed you will save considerably on your bills.

You could save even more by connecting to the National Grid, where you will receive money for the excess electricity your wind turbine produces. To find out more about this, visit the energy advisory website energysavingtrust.org.uk.

Heat Pumps

These are designed to pump heat from one place to the next. There are a few types available, and all are designed to lower your carbon footprint and save money on your energy bills.

Types of heat pump:

Ground Source

This cleverly works by using pipes under your garden to absorb heat from the ground and pump it to your radiators for heating and your taps for hot water. It’s also a good choice if you have under-floor heating.

You can also expect a constant heating supply, because beneath its surface the ground has a constant temperature, even during the winter months. A ground source heat pump works in a loop, which tends to be a pipe buried in your garden. Water and antifreeze is pumped around this loop by the heat pump, which along the way absorbs heat from the ground. The system requires electricity to work, which means it is not 100% carbon free; however the heat extracted from the ground is constantly being renewed naturally.

A ground source heat pump is pricey, with some of the more sophisticated systems costing up to £6,000 to install. They will however lower your carbon emissions by around 540kg per year.

Air Source

These work by drawing energy from the air to use for heating up a home and providing hot water. These can work even when temperatures are as low as minus 15 degrees, but like ground source heat pumps do require electricity to run.

They are easier to install than their ground source counterparts, but are not as effective. They will reduce your energy bills, and because they run on electricity they reduce your need for gas.

Water Source

These tend to be the most efficient. Here energy is absorbed from a body of water, like a stream. This is only suited if you have access to running water which makes them a limited domestic choice.

For further information about renewable energy options, visit energysavingtrust.org.uk.