Climate change is a challenge we are all aware of and many of us worry about and that challenge is now having a very real impact on our day to day lives with exponential rises in energy costs. Many of us feel powerless in the face of these future hardships but the good news is that there are positive steps we can take now to minimise the financial and environmental impacts on the horizon.
Renewable energy is becoming more affordable and gives us the opportunity to heat and power our homes free from external suppliers. From solar panels and wind turbines to biomass boilers and heat pumps, there are a whole host of solutions to suit different needs, homes, buildings and land.
Generating ‘homegrown’ energy greatly reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, lowers energy costs and can protect families and communities against future price hikes. It’s even possible to see a financial return from renewables through the sale of excess energy or current Renewable Heat Incentives.
Investment in renewable energy technology will…
Renewable energy is heat and/or electricity generated from sources that are constantly replenished like sun, wind and water. Our focus is on generating heat to keep your home warm and there are a number of Heat Pump Technologies available to generate heat for your home as well as Government schemes to help with the costs of purchase and installation. Read on to find out more about the help available and the different kinds of heat pumps currently available.
Households that purchase a heat pump system, biomass boiler or solar water heating system may be eligible for a grant paid in instalments over a seven-year period. The amount of this grant is dependent on the type of heating system you purchase, your energy usage and your living and financial arrangements.
This scheme is due to end April 2022 and will be replaced by a new Government Grant Scheme so it may be worth waiting to apply however the Renewable Heat Incentives scheme can potentially award more than the £5000 – £6000 available on the new scheme. You can apply for the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme here.
The LAD scheme aims to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes and homes with low energy performance. The focus is on homes with an energy performance rating of E, F or G.
The UK Government is allocating £500 million to Local Authorities through the Local Authority delivery scheme (LAD) to improve energy efficiency in the homes of low-income households. The scheme is part of the Governments commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and aims to reduce fuel poverty and phase out fossil fuel heating systems.
As of April 2022, the majority of homeowners, public and private landlords in England and Wales will be able to apply for a Government Grant scheme designed to increase the uptake of heat pumps as an alternative to traditional boilers.
The idea of the scheme is to reduce the cost of heat pump installation to a similar cost as a fossil fuel boiler. The grant will not be available to those in social housing or new build properties unless building your own home.
Households installing air source heat pumps will benefit from a £5000 grant while those requiring a ground source heat pump will receive £6000 towards the more expensive system.
The grant is unlikely to cover the full installation costs and households will need to pay the shortfall, depending on the supplier, outstanding balances may be payable in instalments. Currently, heat pumps cost on average between £10,000 and £12,000 for supply and installation. The price will depend on the size of your home or property, the supplier you choose and the type of heat pump you require.
How to Apply for the new Grant Scheme
Individual households will not apply directly for the grant scheme, instead, you will need to approach a heat pump installer who will then apply to the energy regulator Ofgem on your behalf. If your application is accepted, Ofgem will issue a voucher confirming your grant amount.
Your installer will then need to set an amount of time to complete installation from the issue date of your grant voucher, this is likely to be within 3 months for most installations.
Following installation your installer will generate a ‘Microgeneration Certificate’ that confirms all eligibility criteria has been met, once submitted to Ofgem, the regulator will pay the grant amount directly to the installer at which time you will be billed for the outstanding amount.
Heat pumps are looking to be the main replacement for traditional fossil fuel boilers, particularly with new Government Grant schemes to help fund their installation so it’s important that homeowners and Landlords have a good understanding of this low carbon technology.
This is a system that absorbs heat from the air outside. The heat is then used to heat water, radiators, underfloor heating and warm air convectors. ASHP’s can take heat from the air even when temperatures get as low as -25oC.
ASHP’s use the latent heat in the air outside to heat refrigerant and create a high-temperature gas that then passes heat into primary water. The primary water just like in a traditional boiler can then be used to heat your home and domestic hot water.
There are two main types of ASHP’s:
ASHP’s are installed outside your home either on a wall or placed on the ground. They require plenty of space around them to ensure they have good airflow. ASHP’s require regular maintenance to ensure they are free from debris and plants but should operate for 20 years.
These systems use buried pipes to extract heat from the ground. The heat can be used to heat water, radiators, underfloor heating systems and warm air heating systems.
GSHP’s circulate water and antifreeze around a looped pipe, heat from the ground is absorbed into the fluid and a heat exchanger transfers the heat into the heat pump. Ground temperatures stay relatively consistent so GSHP’s can be used throughout the year. The length of ground loops depends on the size of your home and your usage. Longer loops can draw more heat but need more space, if space is limited a borehole can be used instead.
This system can provide heat to homes near rivers, streams and lakes. Heat can be extracted from open water including seawater.
Maintenance for both GSHP and WSHP is relatively low and these systems do not require regular safety checks. You can expect your GSHP or WSHP to operate for 20 years.
Solar Panels generate green electricity from sunlight and there are currently 900,000 homes across the UK already benefitting from clean, affordable solar power.
Solar Photovoltaic (Solar PV) modules absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. They don’t need direct sunlight to work and can still generate electricity on a cloudy day. Solar PV modules are sealed units with specific voltage and wattage ratings.
To produce electricity for a building, solar PV modules are combined into a system with other components including inverters, wiring and roof mounting kits. The modules come in a variety of shapes and sizes, panels can fit on top of existing roof tiles or you can choose solar tiles for your system.
Planning permission is not needed for solar PV systems unless your property is listed. In conservation areas and World Heritage sites Solar PV equipment must be installed on the roof and not on walls that would be visible from roads.
Often, consumers choose to include battery storage as part of their Solar PV systems as this improves performance by capturing and storing surplus energy for later.
Solar PV systems can reduce your energy bills, cut your carbon footprint, reduce reliance on the National Grid and even provide an opportunity to earn money by selling surplus energy back to the grid.
Solar PV systems are low maintenance, the Solar panels need to be kept relatively clean and should not be overshadowed. Following the installation of a Solar PV system by a certified MCS Installer, you are provided with detailed maintenance checks to be carried out including details of fault signals and key troubleshooting guidance.
With good maintenance, Solar Panels should last 25 years or more but inverters may need replacing more frequently.
As previously mentioned, heat pump installers need to generate Microgeneration certificates following the installation of low carbon heating systems. The MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) is a recognised mark of quality demonstrating the adherence of low carbon products and installations to recognised industry standards.
MCS ensures high quality and compliance with all relevant legislation and regulations and gives you the peace of mind that your new low carbon heating system has been supplied and installed by a competent installer.