If you have followed the advice to create an energy efficient home and you are keen to reduce your energy bills further you may be considering harnessing renewable energy.
Renewable energy comes from naturally unlimited sources, for example from the sun, wind or waves. Examples include wind turbines, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, solar hot water panels, and hydroelectricity. Low carbon sources of energy such as air or ground source heat pumps, biomass or biofuel heating, and combined heat and power systems are sometimes also considered as a form of renewable energy, even though they may require some energy input to run them.
Once you have invested in the harnessing technology, the energy you receive will usually be free. Although the initial outlay for the technology can be fairly high, the energy savings you will make can pay back the cost of the technology over its lifetime. The benefit to using renewable energy is that it does not come from fossil fuels and therefore does not cause the emission of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It also enables you to have security of energy supply, and can even provide power if you are not connected to the national grid. For more information on renewable energy, contact the Energy Saving Trust on 0300 123 1234.
If you are looking at installing renewable technologies, you can search for approved installers who are registered under the 'Microgeneration Certification Scheme' (MCS). This is an independent scheme that certifies 'microgeneration' (renewable generation) products and installers in accordance with consistent standards, in order to provide greater protection for consumers. For more information on the MCS visit their website. You can also find MCS certified installers in your area through the Energy Saving Trust or on the MCS website.
Consumer Focus have also produced a set of guidance and 'frequently-asked questions' for people interested in microgeneration which covers a background to microgeneration as well as details of what to consider and questions to ask installers and suppliers when considering installing microgeneration technologies.
Feed-in Tariffs, or FITs, are a government incentive which became available in April 2010. The scheme is known as 'clean energy cashback' as it means that householders, communities and businesses who generate their own electricity from renewable or low carbon sources can receive a payment from their energy supplier per unit of electricity they generate. For a full explanation of the scheme visit the Energy Saving Trust's Feed In Tariff page. Consumer Focus also provides some guidance on things to consider when looking at installing renewable technologies. Please note, FITs have replaced the grants which were previously available through the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. However, there are some other sources of grant funding available, see our Sustainable Communities page for details.
Renewable Heat Incentive and Renewable Heat Premium Payments
The Renewable Heat Incentive, or RHI, is a government incentive similar to the Feed-in Tariffs, but rather than applying to electricity-generating renewables it applies to heat-generating renewables. The scheme was recently opened for applications from big heat users in the non-domestic sectors (industrial, business and public sector). For the most recent announcements about the scheme visit the DECC website.
A scheme has been set up in advance of the RHI, known as Renewable Heat Premium Payments. This scheme gives a one-off payments of up to £1250 to people installing heat generating renewables such as solar panels, heat pumps, and biomass boilers who fulfil certain criteria. For full details on both of the above schemes, visit the Energy Saving Trust website.
The Green Deal
The Green Deal is due to provide funding for renewable and low carbon technologies for both homes and businesses, which can be paid for by a long term loan repaid by a charge on your energy bill. To read more about the Green Deal visit our grants & funding page.