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Readers' renewable energy tips of the month

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 May 2012 at 12:02 pm

We love reading your stories and tips of what works (and doesn't work) for you. Here are this month's favourites:

Where you site your air source heat pump is important, as this succinct message from Lizlaw confirms:
"Our heat pump warms the house and water consistently, reliably and saves us money. We are glad we had it installed, but also glad we sleep at the opposite end of the house so we don't hear it at night." Take note if you're planning to install one.

Simonr is a scientist with strong political and environmental interests. He is very interested in renewable technologies.

"I have a professionally installed PV system but also make my own PV panels from cells (may grid-connect these to add to the main system), have built a solar water heating system for a greenhouse and have a part-built small wind generator project. 

"Solar PV, while not cheap, has been made viable by the FIT (feed-in tariff).  Prices are dropping quickly and the savings on bills is good. I am planning to use FIT gains to invest in better insulation and other renewable technologies.  

"A major benefit is that having renewables encourages you to examine how you use energy and to look at ways to minimise waste usage. It also helps spark interest in other renewables.

"But research the installers and watch out for the cowboys. Identify questions that test the installers knowledge of the products they're selling (simple things like how shading affects output and do panels have bypass diodes and how do they work, are things that can catch them out and identify better companies). Ask them what make of panels and inverter they use and check these out for quality.

"I would avoid using those companies that make a big deal of the FITs and the profits you can make. Watch out, too, for companies that say that the system will perform well on East or West facing rooves or where you have obvious shading problems."

[You can search for recommended installers on YouGen, and we have tips to avoid the cowboys too - ed]

Robert Theobald is a retired Electronic Engineer. "We have now just moved into our new SIP house, and we are generally interested in energy conservation and reducing heating bills. We have underfloor heating driven from solar thermal or mains gas. Solar preheats a storage tank and a system gas boiler takes over when needed to keep domestic hot water up to temperature.

"I looked at several approaches, including ground source heat pumps and solar PV. My tip is first to concentrate on insulation, then look for simplicity and low cost. I felt that PV and heat pumps where wasted, having made the large saving with good insulation."

Photo by ntr23


If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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1 comments - read them below or add one


utility-exchangeComment left on: 29 May 2012 at 2:19 pm

Some interesting tips here. I'll definitely come back and look at suggested questions to ask installers if and when I install solar panels. Plus the noise a heat pump makes isn't something you'd think about before having it installed...I will now!

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