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Calculators shed light on renewable choices

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 March 2009 at 11:16 am

Comparing costs of different renewable technologies and working out potential savings in cash and carbon has just got a whole lot easier. Encraft has developed a range of calculators that help you work out all the figures, so that you can see what's best for your house much more easily. Anyone can use them free of charge by clicking on the calculator link on the Encraft home page. You just have to register to get access.

Encraft's chief executive Matthew Rhodes (also YouGen's wind expert) demonstrated some of the calculators to me at Ecobuild earlier this month. Now I've had a bit more of a play on them I'm fascinated. I started with the property heating calculator, which gave me a bit of a jolt. I always knew that it's expensive to heat your house with electricity, but I was staggered to find that it costs three times what I pay for gas.

But what I was really looking at is the renewable energy and energy efficiency aspects. You can alter settings to compare the difference with say loft or cavity wall insulation. I learned that my loft insulation saves me £257 a year, and that the cavity wall insulation saves an additional £313 in heating bills. However, if I swapped my bog standard double glazing for argon filled triple glazing with e-coating I'd only save £20 a year.

Next I moved on to solar, as my house faces south west. I can use the solar lookup by postcode to see how much solar energy is available in my area. The solar hot water calculator shows potential costs for the site, as well as payback in money and carbon terms. I could compare flate plate with evacuated tubes, and there's a similar one for solar electricity. Given that there's only enough room on my roof for one or the other, I'm pleased to see that the results tell me I was right to choose solar hot water!

The other calculator that fascinated me was the heat pump one. It shows me that heating my house with a heat pump would increase the cost by £100 more a year in heating bills, and reduce my carbon emissions by just 15 per cent. Not great for me, or for the environment. If, however, I was heating with electricity a heat pump would be a tremendous improvement on all fronts.

So, if you're thinking about which renewable energy would be best for your house I highly recommend a bit of a play on the Encraft calculators.

photo by ansik

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