Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Renewable Energy Options for your Home

Last week I profiled the Green Deal as a way to fund home improvements that will reduce your energy bills. This week I'm staying on this theme by explaining the options out there for generating your own energy.

Most of us will be aware of domestic wind and solar power technologies, but I want to feature some of the other domestic energy generation technologies that are available.  The majority of these technologies have been around for a number of years and have proven to be robust and highly efficient.  But for whatever reason, they have not been embraced in the UK to the extent that they have elsewhere.  This is a great shame, because there are some really superb systems out there that can greatly reduce your energy costs.

micro combined heat and power systems
The first technology I would like to profile is micro combined heat and power (also called micro-CHP or cogeneration) systems.  Micro-CHP systems generate both electricity and heat, using natural gas as a fuel.  Whilst not strictly a renewable energy generation equipment, these systems deserve attention as they are highly efficient and will substantially reduce your energy costs.

Industry experts expect Micro-CHP systems to supplant the domestic boiler to become the norm in our homes in the coming years.

When my boiler has come to the end of its life I will definitely be looking to replace it with a Micro-CHP system.

biomass boilers
Staying on the boiler theme, the second technology that I would like to highlight is the biomass boiler.   This is basically a wood burner connected to a home's central heating or boiler.  Biomass boilers work by burning the wood fuel and then storing the heated water produced, which then feeds into the central heating when required.

Your biomass boiler could also earn you money under the Government's Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

ground or air source heating
Ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps operate by extracting heat (either from the ground or air around your home) and turning it into hot water in a water cylinder. The generated hot water can then be used to heat your home.

A great benefit of heat pumps is that they double up as cooling devices, and can be used to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home on warm summer days.  Heat pumps are also highly efficient and require little maintenance.  Heat pumps can be used in tandem with underfloor heating to dramatically reduce your heating bills.

home hydroelectric systems
Hydroelectric systems (or Hydropower systems) convert running water, usually a nearby river or stream, into electricity.  Installation costs can be high (expect to pay £25,000 or upwards!), but maintenance costs are low as hydro systems are highly reliable.

Not many people can say that they have an HEP source at the bottom of their garden.  So these devices may be expensive but they make a great status symbol! If I had the money, and lived next to a river, I would certainly be looking into installing one.

further information
The purpose of this piece is to highlight that there are options out there beyond solar panels and wind turbines.  Over the coming weeks I will be assessing these technologies in greater detail.

I will also be flagging up the potential sources of funding (beyond the Green Deal) to help pay for their installation.

The regularly updated House-Saver website will also continue to be a great source of advice on domestic renewable energy and energy efficiency home improvements.

In the meantime if you have any comments on these technologies, or if there are any renewable energy technologies that I have not mentioned that warrant attention, please let us know.


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