Install renewable energy systems at home

If you own your home, producing your own energy is a great way to save money and carbon. You can find advice online to help you make the right investment.

Why?

Moving away from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources is an important part of reducing our carbon emissions on a national level. There are a number of different types of renewable energy systems that will be suitable for different types of property and different budgets.

How?

There are different ways to generate and store energy in your home. First of all you need to decide what sort of energy you want to generate: Electricity or heat.

Electricity

The most common way to generate electricity at home is by installing solar panels. However, depending on the size of your land and electricity demand you might also consider other options like wind.

The Energy Saving Trust provides a good overview of the common renewable energy generation options here.

Solar panels

This video gives an introduction into how solar panels generate electricity:

The average cost of a domestic solar PV system in England is £6,200 (for 4kWp).

More background information on solar panels is available through the Energy Saving Trust.

Smart Export Guarantee

The UK Government encourages households to invest in renewable electricity generation not by providing support with the investment, but by offering a ‘Smart Export Guarantee’: once the system is installed and they start producing more energy than the household needs, participants receive a payment for every unit they feed into the grid. You can find out more about the scheme and how to apply here.

Heating

There are a number of different ways to generate heat from renewable sources on your property. The Energy Saving Trust provides a good overview of the most common options here.

Biomass

Biomass systems burn wood pellets, chips or logs to provide warmth in a single room or to power central heating and hot water boilers. A wood-fuelled biomass boiler could save you up to £700 a year compared to an old electric heating system.

Find out more about Biomass via the Energy Saving Trust website.

Ground source heat pumps

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) use pipes that are buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground. This heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor or warm air heating systems and hot water in your home.

Find out more about GSHPs via the Energy Saving Trust website.

Air source heat pumps

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) absorb heat from the outside air to heat your home and hot water. They can still extract heat when air temperatures are as low as -15°C. ASHPs need electricity to run, but because they are extracting renewable heat from the environment, they generate more heat energy than the electrical energy needed to power them.

Find out more about ASHPs via the Energy Saving Trust website.

Solar water heating

Also known as ‘solar thermal’ systems, this technology uses free heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water.

Find out more about solar water heating via the Energy Saving Trust website.

Thermal stores

Thermal stores are becoming increasingly common as a means of storing excess heat generated. They are used with either an individual renewable heating technology or else they combine different renewable heating technologies. Thermal stores can also be used with a conventional boiler or immersion heater.

Find out more about thermal stores via the Energy Saving Trust website.

Renewable Heat Incentive

To encourage households to invest in renewable energy systems the UK Government has created the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. A household that installs a renewable energy system and meets all the scheme requirements, can be paid for every unit of renewable heat they produce for a number of years. How high this annual payment is, depends highly on the heating system and other characteristics of your dwelling, but is roughly between £150 and £400 for solar thermal panels. The scheme comes with strict guidelines, but can be highly profitable.

Simple Energy Advice and Ofgem both provide more information on the scheme.

Installation

The Energy Saving Trust provides a useful guide on how to install renewable energy systems here.

This provides helpful tips for finding a reputable installer and getting a quote, but also for checking planning permission and building warrants as well as insurance policies and financial support options.