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The world's first floating wind farm

Posted by Louisa Clarke on 24 July 2017 at 3:43 pm

The world's first floating wind farm

At YouGen we love keeping up to date with the fantastic advancements in UK offshore windfarms. Such as the world’s largest wind turbines, recently switched on off the coast of Liverpool. Or the dramatic increases in onshore wind generation. Now we bring you something even more extraordinary…

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Should you buy a battery & how do you choose the right one?

Posted by Ollie Gibbs on 20 July 2017 at 5:06 pm

Should you buy a battery & how do you choose the right one?

Why should you buy a battery? If you have a well-designed PV system you’ll probably have noticed that on some days your system is exporting large amounts of energy back to the grid. This is because your system’s generating more energy than your home is using at that particular tim…

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Is this the start of the electric car revolution?

Posted by Louisa Clarke on 18 July 2017 at 9:01 am

Is this the start of the electric car revolution?

Last year the number of electric cars reached 2 million globally, and the number continues to grow. Despite this, electric cars still only hold a small share of the global car stock (with an estimated 1.2 billion vehicles worldwide). However, recent news of Volvo’s transition to electric ca…

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How to reduce smoke emissions from domestic wood-burning appliances

Posted by Sandra Hayes on 13 July 2017 at 2:30 pm

How to reduce smoke emissions from domestic wood-burning appliances

Burning wood in a domestic stove or boiler can generally be regarded as a more sustainable approach to heating than traditional methods such as coal or gas heating. This is because the carbon dioxide (CO²) emissions produced as a result of burning wood fuel remain part of the carbon cycle, b…

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Can you switch energy supplier without it affecting your FiT?

Posted by Sandra Hayes on 11 July 2017 at 12:40 pm

Can you switch energy supplier without it affecting your FiT?

We have recently heard from readers with concerns about how switching energy supplier might affect their Feed in Tariff (FiT) payments. From personal experience I can confirm that this is not an issue, although it might help to explain why this is the case. Firstly, everyone receiving FiT pay…

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Carbon Coop leads the way to new models of retrofitting

Posted by Károly Gergely on 7 July 2017 at 11:30 am

Carbon Coop leads the way to new models of retrofitting

Community Green Deal, a project by Manchester-based social enterprise, Carbon Coop has provided useful learning in three areas: technical, social and business-models. A summary of the report can be found here and the full report here. Our Community Green Deal project ran f…

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UK renewable energy industry breaks another record! A look at other achievements across the world

Posted by Shanics Olton on 5 July 2017 at 4:35 pm

UK renewable energy industry breaks another record! A look at other achievements across the world

Despite lower wind speeds and less rainfall than in 2016, from January to March this year renewable energy contributed a record breaking 26% of the total electricity generated in the UK. Onshore wind accounted for the biggest increase from 6.4 TWh to 7.7 TWh with bioenergy, offshore wind, hydro a…

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Should cogeneration be considered a green energy technology?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 22 June 2017 at 3:01 pm

Should cogeneration be considered a green energy technology?

We consume energy in two main ways, as electricity and as heat. These are produced, distributed and used in very different ways. Most electricity is generated by centralised power stations, with a relatively small fraction being produced at the point of use. It is then distributed, potentially ov…

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Why buy a hybrid inverter for your solar PV system?

Posted by Aderanti Kudehinbu on 21 June 2017 at 9:45 am

Why buy a hybrid inverter for your solar PV system?

The initial cost of a hybrid inverter is quite high, but this is offset by the ability to use your generated power more flexibly, rather than having to buy energy from the grid when the solar panel isn’t generating. Hybrid inverters have proven reliability across various grid types. Modern …

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Condensation and ventilation: preventing damp in your home

Posted by Anna Carlini on 20 June 2017 at 4:50 pm

Condensation and ventilation: preventing damp in your home

Ventilation is a surprisingly important element in keeping your heating bills down. How? Because a home that can’t “breathe” is one which traps moisture on the inside and causes damp. Even if a home has high levels of insulation, a damp wall can lose up to 40% more heat than a d…

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Greener than most by leaving a lighter footprint

Posted by Chloe Lloyd on 19 June 2017 at 3:01 pm

Greener than most by leaving a lighter footprint

Have you ever considered the carbon footprint of a funeral? You may be thinking this is a bit of morbid topic for a YouGen blog, but believe it or not 0.2% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to a variety of modern day funeral methods. Although the environmental impact is likely to be the …

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How do you assess the efficiency of a ground source heat pump?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 13 June 2017 at 10:57 am

How do you assess the efficiency of a ground source heat pump?

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) extract heat from the ground, and use it to produce hot water. The temperature in the subsurface remains around 11-12oC throughout the year [1]. By burying pipes just a few metres below the ground you can take advantage of this readily available supply of thermal e…

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Solar Chimneys: Passive solar ventilation and electricity generation.

Posted by Alex Barrett on 7 June 2017 at 3:15 pm

Solar Chimneys: Passive solar ventilation and electricity generation.

The solar chimney is designed to harness the fact that hot air rises, providing passive ventilation for a building. A solar chimney can be used to cool a house during warm weather, and generate heat during cold times of the year. There have also been efforts to build industrial scale solar chimne…

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What does biomass boiler maintenance involve?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 31 May 2017 at 11:50 am

What does biomass boiler maintenance involve?

If you are thinking of installing a biomass boiler, I'm sure you are thinking of how (and when) the boiler will be maintained. In the video below, SuperHomer Mark Brown tells us about the operation and maintenance of the KWB Easyfire wood pellet boiler fitted in 2009 in the five bedr…

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Exciting battery storage trial for Milton Keynes estate residents

Posted by Chloe Lloyd on 30 May 2017 at 10:40 am

Exciting battery storage trial for Milton Keynes estate residents

Everybody loves a freebie right? Especially when it involves sustainable energy. Western Power Distribution’s (WPD) Low Voltage (LV) Connect and Manage project is currently offering a free trial to residents in Furzton, Milton Keynes to help develop battery power technologies. Some hous…

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M & S Community Energy Fund applications now open!

Posted by Chloe Lloyd on 25 May 2017 at 10:30 am

M & S Community Energy Fund applications now open!

Last year we were able to bring you the good news of the Marks and Spencer Community Energy Fund and we’re happy to announce that for the third year running, the competition is back with a share of £300,000 for local community groups. Funding is available to support renewable energy p…

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A giant gain for wind power: World's biggest wind turbines go online near Liverpool

Posted by Richard Vale on 24 May 2017 at 9:51 am

A giant gain for wind power: World's biggest wind turbines go online near Liverpool

On a momentous day for renewable technology, the biggest and most powerful wind turbines in the world have begun generating electricity off the Liverpool coast. Dong Energy, from Denmark, has installed 32 turbines in Liverpool Bay, each standing at an impressive 195m tall. To put this into pe…

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Urban permaculture: farms in the city

Posted by Anna Carlini on 23 May 2017 at 12:21 pm

Urban permaculture: farms in the city

 “You can solve all the world's problems in a garden.”  ― Geoff Lawton Perhaps not completely, but it is certainly a good place to start. The ingredients in our meals travel thousands of miles just to get on to our plates. Our cities are physically and mentally…

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What are the financial pros and cons of a biomass boiler?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 17 May 2017 at 4:55 pm

What are the financial pros and cons of a biomass boiler?

The environmental case for biomass is unquestionable - we can grow more of it, unlike oil, gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). But what about the cost of a biomass boiler? The price of installation, fuel and maintenance are important considerations when choosing a new boiler. In this v…

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What plumbing does a biomass boiler need?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 10 May 2017 at 2:33 pm

What plumbing does a biomass boiler need?

Thinking of installing a biomass boiler? Have you considered the plumbing involved with this? In the video below, SuperHomer Mark Brown shows us the plumbing and 500 litre buffer tank installed for his wood pellet boiler. Mark chose this biomass boiler for the five bedroom house in South Buck…

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Are Infrared panel heaters a good way to heat a room?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 9 May 2017 at 2:50 pm

Are Infrared panel heaters a good way to heat a room?

Infrared panel heaters are a relatively new way to heat your house. They work very differently to radiators, and have some advantages when it comes to energy efficiency. Infrared panel heaters use radiation to heat the room instead of convection. This means that they deliver heat directly to …

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How green is Hydroelectricity?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 5 May 2017 at 4:24 pm

How green is Hydroelectricity?

Large hydropower schemes account for the majority of the world’s renewable energy supply. Unlike wind and solar, hydroelectricity can provide a constant stream of renewable power, regardless of the weather or the time of year. Hydroelectric dams can be used to store power, and can quickly b…

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Is it true that people in passive houses roast in summer?

Posted by Joanne Spurrell on 2 May 2017 at 2:45 pm

Is it true that people in passive houses roast in summer?

Passive House is a voluntary energy performance standard that results in buildings that are extremely airtight and have good levels of insulation. In such buildings, little energy is required for space heating and cooling so you can do away with conventional heating systems. But this begs the que…

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Are sunnier days always the best for solar PV generation?

Posted by James Page on 28 April 2017 at 11:35 am

Are sunnier days always the best for solar PV generation?

People often remark that solar panels do not need a sunny day to generate. Turns out a cloudy day can sometimes generate more than a sunny one. Three years ago, JoJu Solar installed a 10kW flat roof system on Artsadmin in Central London. It was the first project with panels facing East and We…

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Energy efficiency labels are changing (again!)

Posted by Chloe Lloyd on 27 April 2017 at 10:03 am

Energy efficiency labels are changing (again!)

Have you upgraded any appliances in your home lately? If so, you may have noticed that items such as refrigerators or televisions are rated in terms of their energy efficiency between A +++ to G. Everyone hoped that these ratings would allow you make an informed choice to buy the most energy effi…

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Which devices are the most energy intensive?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 25 April 2017 at 3:31 pm

Which devices are the most energy intensive?

We live our lives surrounded by devices. We work on computers, carry phones and tablets with us wherever we go. Kitchens are full of fridges, freezers, microwaves and washing machines. Some are more energy intensive than others, but all of them are contributing to high energy bills, and higher ca…

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How important is solar shading to passive solar building design?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 24 April 2017 at 12:10 pm

How important is solar shading to passive solar building design?

Trying to get indoor spaces to be the right temperature is a constant struggle. During cold parts of the year we use large amounts of energy for heating, but when warm weather arrives we suddenly want to cool down our buildings, either with fans or air conditioning. There seem to be relatively fe…

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What cleaning and maintenance does a biomass boiler need?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 21 April 2017 at 2:26 pm

What cleaning and maintenance does a biomass boiler need?

If you are thinking about installing a biomass boiler, you’ll want to know how much cleaning and maintenance is involved. A biomass boiler needs regular cleaning and servicing as build-ups of ash and clinker can stop it working efficiently and even cause damage. Some of these tasks you …

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What is the most energy efficient form of transport?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 12 April 2017 at 1:40 pm

What is the most energy efficient form of transport?

Many of you will be planning a long journey this bank holiday weekend and it’s worth considering which method of transport will be the most environmentally friendly. As you are probably aware, some transport methods are much more energy intensive than others and some have higher greenhouse …

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Thermal Storage: How much could you save?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 10 April 2017 at 2:34 pm

Thermal Storage: How much could you save?

Storing the energy produced by solar panels is a hot topic. Developments in battery storage for solar photovoltaic systems are constantly improving, but when it comes to storing energy, thermal systems have a lot of advantages. Solar thermal systems work by pumping a mix of water and antifree…

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Soaring ahead: Gatwick Airport first in the world to turn waste into energy onsite

Posted by Richard Vale on 7 April 2017 at 12:03 pm

Soaring ahead: Gatwick Airport first in the world to turn waste into energy onsite

If you’re a fan of environmental waste management then fasten your seatbelt (and do not unbuckle until the landing light is switched off) because London Gatwick Airport and DHL supply chain have officially opened a new waste management plant, making it the first airport in the world to turn…

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Sunny weekend breaks UK solar record

Posted by Chloe Lloyd on 5 April 2017 at 12:59 pm

Sunny weekend breaks UK solar record

With days becoming longer and sunnier afternoons on the rise, now is the perfect time to be generating electricity from your solar PV panels. Cast your minds back to the weekend of the 25th March 2017, temperatures were rising and you were dusting the cobwebs off the barbeque. However, that weeke…

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Can living in a Smart House help us save energy?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 3 April 2017 at 3:30 pm

Can living in a Smart House help us save energy?

With the spread of smart phones a variety of options now exist to remotely control how electricity is used throughout your home. It is now possible to create a “smart house”, where all appliances and devices are connected to a wireless network, so that they can be monitored and contro…

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What makes an energy-friendly garden?

Posted by Anna Carlini on 30 March 2017 at 3:01 pm

What makes an energy-friendly garden?

Don’t we all dream of having a green garden? I know I do. The thought of lush green grass, vibrant leaves and sheltering trees makes me want to retreat into that sweet haven for the whole of spring. But saving water and energy in your garden is something we should all take more care to do. …

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Greenwashing: products that dont live up to the label

Posted by Anna Carlini on 29 March 2017 at 4:40 pm

Greenwashing: products that dont live up to the label

Here at YouGen we love products that are environmentally friendly, and use less energy. But we do expect them to live up to expectations. We have a problem with products that do not match what they promise on the tin. We’ve covered cases where products are misleadingly advertised in our blo…

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Can you charge your electric car from a lamp post?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 27 March 2017 at 5:09 pm

Can you charge your electric car from a lamp post?

Well actually you can’t, unless you happen to live in Onslow Gardens in Kensington, but some residents there can.  Back in December the Government made £2.5m of funding available via its On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, which enabled Local Authorities to install charge p…

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Show Homes will inspire domestic retrofit finds study

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 24 March 2017 at 2:40 pm

Show Homes will inspire domestic retrofit finds study

The main purpose of Show Homes is to inform and inspire. In a recent study, we found that they can be used very effectively to raise public awareness of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, and generate interest among visitors who might then go on to install similar measures in their …

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How Green are Biofuels?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 22 March 2017 at 5:15 pm

How Green are Biofuels?

Our society is addicted to oil. The International Energy Agency estimates that the world will use 96 million barrels of oil (152 billion litres) a day throughout 2016 [1]. Our oil usage shows no sign of slowing down, so we desperately need an alternative for this non-renewable resource.   …

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Is it a problem that my solar PV reads 280 volts?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 17 March 2017 at 4:50 pm

Is it a problem that my solar PV reads 280 volts?

Q. I have 12 solar panels, six facing east and six facing west. I have two inverters, one of which is a 'Sunnyboy', but I don't know which model. It was checked today and I was told its voltage is 281 when it should be around 240 volts. Is this a problem? Do I need something to reduce…

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Are smart meters overcharging?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 14 March 2017 at 11:23 am

Are smart meters overcharging?

I know I have written much about how great smart meters could be. They will help us to get rid of the antiquated idea of estimated bills, they will make is easier for everyone to see where they are using energy and they will make it much much easier for people to switch supplier.  But all of…

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What should you consider when going off the grid?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 13 March 2017 at 10:45 am

What should you consider when going off the grid?

Every wanted to cut your ties with the electricity grid and rely entirely on renewable power? In this article we’ll consider a few of the things to consider before setting up an off grid system. The first thing to consider is why you want to go off grid in the first place. Off grid syst…

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Solar PV-T systems - what are the pros and cons?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 10 March 2017 at 10:45 am

Solar PV-T systems - what are the pros and cons?

There are two main ways to collect energy from sunlight. Both have their advantages and both are increasingly being used by households and industry across the world. A hybrid or PV-T system combines the two approaches into the same panel. Solar PV Solar Photovoltaics (Solar PV) are possib…

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External vs internal wall insulation: Which is best?

Posted by Aderanti Kudehinbu on 7 March 2017 at 10:05 am

External vs internal wall insulation: Which is best?

Heating a house with solid walls can be quite a challenge. Solid walls lack a cavity, so the most common form of wall insulation isn’t viable, but they can still be insulated with either internal or external insulation. The effectiveness of an insulating material is represented by a U-v…

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Green open homes are inspiring people to action

Posted by Gordon Glass on 3 March 2017 at 11:40 am

Green open homes are inspiring people to action

The inspirational value of SuperHomes and other green open home initiatives was crystalized this week following a UK Green Building Council report. As reported by the BBC, 25 million UK homes must be insulated to achieve the government’s stated goal of an 80% cut in UK carbon emissions …

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Can nanotechnology make solar PV 80% efficient?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 28 February 2017 at 10:05 am

Can nanotechnology make solar PV 80% efficient?

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems are a great way to produce renewable power by converting the energy in sunlight into electricity. However sunlight comes in a wide range of wavelengths, both visible and invisible. The current generation of solar panels are only able to harness a fraction of the po…

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How do I handle the ash from my biomass boiler?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 27 February 2017 at 2:05 pm

How do I handle the ash from my biomass boiler?

In this video SuperHomer Mark Brown reveals the suprisingly small amount of ash produced by his wood pellet boiler after burning through around  4.5 tonnes of wood pellets each year. Mark lives in a five bedroom house in South Buckinghamshire with wife Liya and their children. The house was …

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Why zone your heating?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 24 February 2017 at 10:40 am

Why zone your heating?

Central heating systems are great for keeping the house warm during the cold winter months. Even in the spring and summer they can frequently come in handy. But it does cost a lot of energy to heat your home. As much as 60% of domestic energy consumption is used for space heating [1]. So how can …

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How do I get the best burn from my wood burning stove?

Posted by Stewart Mcilroy on 21 February 2017 at 9:55 am

How do I get the best burn from my wood burning stove?

To get the best burn from you wood burning stove, it's vital to use your stove's secondary air supply correctly... You might be thinking that now you have got your wood burner installed, you can happily burn as much wood as you like safe in the knowledge that you have done your bit fo…

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What is the best way to insulate a loft conversion?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 20 February 2017 at 12:15 pm

What is the best way to insulate a loft conversion?

A loft conversion can be a great way to increase your family’s living space without moving house. However, not all lofts are viable. You’ll need at least 2 metres clear head height and enough floor space to make a useable room. During a loft conversion you will need to add intern…

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What made new LEDs so much better?

Posted by Arthur Smith on 17 February 2017 at 12:05 pm

What made new LEDs so much better?

LED lighting has really come on over the last 5 years and deserves a 10/10 for improvement. So, what exactly what changed? Developments in light-emitting diode (LED) lighting technology have been spectacular over the last five years. The efficiency of LEDs has dramatically improved, the pric…

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Free electric vehicle smart chargers offered as part of regional trial

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 16 February 2017 at 12:31 pm

Free electric vehicle smart chargers offered as part of regional trial

Have you just jumped on the electric vehicle bandwagon? Are you not quite there yet, but interested to get involved? Perhaps you have an electric hybrid vehicle and would like a smart charger at home. A new project is recruiting owners of a range of makes and models of electric vehicles (EVs)…

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Buying your own woodland - what is involved?

Posted by Stewart Mcilroy on 9 February 2017 at 11:30 am

Buying your own woodland - what is involved?

A year ago, my good wife and I summoned up the courage, and finance, to purchase our own woodland - five acres (just over two hectares) of beech woods in the Chilterns. It’s classified as PAWS (Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site) because it’s been continuously wooded since 1650 (know…

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SWITCH your energy supplier if you do not like it!

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 7 February 2017 at 11:50 am

SWITCH your energy supplier if you do not like it!

I could have written a blog here where I spent the majority of my time damning the big six energy suppliers and their price increases, but that wouldn’t be news to you. Some of the major suppliers are sneaking out little increases (EDF), others (npower) are going a bit further. The rise ann…

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Solar PV made my electricity meter run backwards

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 3 February 2017 at 1:50 pm

Solar PV made my electricity meter run backwards

They found me, I don’t know how, but they found me.  Yes, I know, it’s a quote from Back to the Future and of course I do know how they found me. My energy supplier finally worked out that my meter was running backwards because I have a PV system.  I had a 3.01kWp sy…

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Can I service my biomass boiler myself?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 31 January 2017 at 11:10 am

Can I service my biomass boiler myself?

Biomass boilers that burn wood logs, chips or pellets require more attention than gas or oil boilers as build-ups of ash and clinker can stop the boiler working efficiently. Some of these tasks you will need to do yourself, such as regular cleaning and checking. As with servicing your car, be…

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Pay-as-you-save home refurb set for relaunch after sale of Green Deal loan book?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 26 January 2017 at 1:21 pm

Pay-as-you-save home refurb set for relaunch after sale of Green Deal loan book?

I can’t remember how many blogs have a written on Green Deal, but I know it’s an awful lot.  I was heavily involved with it in the early days, working with big organisations who intended to become Green Deal Providers, working with DECC (now BEIS) to help them to analyse how all …

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Will tomorrow's solar panels generate electricity from rain?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 24 January 2017 at 10:15 am

Will tomorrow's solar panels generate electricity from rain?

There are potential sources of energy all around us. Any natural system contains energy and in theory we can tap into that energy to generate electricity or work. Something that we don’t currently harness is rain. Unfortunately rainfall doesn’t generate a sufficient volume of water to…

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How will data collected from smart meters help us?

Posted by Jason Ramsdale on 20 January 2017 at 11:50 am

How will data collected from smart meters help us?

The smart grid revolution is coming, whether you like it or not. With smart meters due in every home by 2020 some of us may be wondering why all this data needed, who will benefit and what risks come with it? We've tried to answer some of these kinds of questions in this blog. What is in …

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Can I install a wood burning stove or biomass boiler if I live in a Smoke Control Area?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 18 January 2017 at 10:30 am

Can I install a wood burning stove or biomass boiler if I live in a Smoke Control Area?

The answer is yes, but only an approved model. This is because many areas of the country have air quality problems which affect human health and, although pollutant emissions from biomass boilers are lower than from coal, if you live in a smoke control area there are restrictions on the type of b…

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As halogen bulbs are phased out will LEDs steal the limelight?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 16 January 2017 at 11:30 am

As halogen bulbs are phased out will LEDs steal the limelight?

As of 1 September 2016 directional halogen bulbs (GU10 spotlights) are being phased out across Europe. Other types of halogens are due to disappear from September 2018. However, many consumers are unaware of the ban and are unsure about LED alternatives. Recent research1 by an online LED ligh…

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Does my biomass boiler have to comply with Building Regulations?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 13 January 2017 at 3:30 pm

Does my biomass boiler have to comply with Building Regulations?

The answer is Yes. Building Regulations apply if you change buildings in certain ways, including installing a biomass boiler. The regulations cover a range of issues, including safety, fire protection, and energy efficiency. How do I get Building Regulations’ approval for my biomass boi…

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A fridge in reverse: the air source heat pump

Posted by Anna Carlini on 11 January 2017 at 12:10 pm

A fridge in reverse: the air source heat pump

What is an air source heat pump? Air source heat pumps allow us to generate hot water or warm air, by making the most of the free heat in the air outside our house. But how exactly do they work? This informative video produced by YouGen member, Nu-Heat, explains the process the air source hea…

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What does embodied energy mean?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 9 January 2017 at 1:30 pm

What does embodied energy mean?

We often worry about how much energy it takes to use an appliance or gadget. We can save a considerable amount of energy by being careful how we use our devices, but domestic energy use is just one part of a much larger problem. What about the energy it takes to make that gadget in the first plac…

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Does filling your fridge make it more efficient?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 6 January 2017 at 5:10 pm

Does filling your fridge make it more efficient?

It has been suggested that a full fridge is more energy efficient than an empty one. Many advice sites actually recommend filling up the excess space in your fridge with bottles of water in order to make it run more efficiently. Unfortunately this is a myth. Let’s examine why this is, and w…

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Workouts to watts: does all the energy we produce in exercise have to go to waste?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 5 January 2017 at 1:05 pm

Workouts to watts: does all the energy we produce in exercise have to go to waste?

It’s 2017 and for many of us the number one New Year’s resolution is to get fit or at least burn off the Christmas excesses. But should all that energy we produce in exercise go to waste? As new gym memberships peak in January YouGen is taking a timely look at the potential for gyms t…

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Hygge, happiness and the real wood fire experience

Posted by Stewart Mcilroy on 4 January 2017 at 12:05 pm

Hygge, happiness and the real wood fire experience

Hygge (pronounced hooga) as you may know is the Danish word for a certain sort of happiness. This is not the happiness from buying new stuff (if, in fact, that actually makes you happy) or the happiness from winning at sport, but a type of contentment happiness where one has a warm glow and is at…

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Do I need planning permission to install a biomass boiler?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 29 December 2016 at 12:05 pm

Do I need planning permission to install a biomass boiler?

In a few cases you will need planning permission to install a biomass boiler. Biomass heating systems do not generally require planning permission as they are deemed ‘permitted developments’, but in some cases the visual impact of the flue or alterations to the building may …

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Changes to Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs from Spring 2017

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 20 December 2016 at 11:20 am

Changes to Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs from Spring 2017

On 14 December the government (BEIS) published its response to the March 2016 consultation on reform of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This includes changes to the tariffs and conditions of the domestic and non-domestic RHI schemes. These will apply, according to the response, from spring 20…

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House inside a greenhouse adds solar gain in winter

Posted by Alex Barrett on 19 December 2016 at 11:15 am

House inside a greenhouse adds solar gain in winter

Many of us use greenhouses to keep our plants warm through the winter. It turns out we could use the same technology to keep warm ourselves. Marie Granmar and Charles Sacilotto live near Stockholm in Sweden. They have built a massive greenhouse that entirely surrounds their home. This keeps the h…

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Domestic biomass RHI tariff to rise by 53% on 1 Apr 2017

Posted by Gordon Glass on 16 December 2016 at 9:30 am

Domestic biomass RHI tariff to rise by 53% on 1 Apr 2017

The domestic biomass RHI tariff will rise to 6.44p/kWh from 1 Apr 2017 – a 53% increase from the tariff of 4.21p/kWh already set for the period Jan-Mar 2017! We expect the new tariff to be available for applications made from 1 April to support the installation of biomass pellet boilers and…

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Changes to Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs from 1 January 2017

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 14 December 2016 at 10:30 am

Changes to Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs from 1 January 2017

On 30 November the government (BEIS) announced reductions to the Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs for certain new domestic and non-domestic installations with applications approved on or after 1 January 2017. The percentage reductions in domestic and non-domestic RHI tariffs are as follows: …

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Should I get my chimney swept before using my wood burner?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 12 December 2016 at 12:30 pm

Should I get my chimney swept before using my wood burner?

Is your chimney clean enough for Santa to avoid getting stuck this year? Nobody wants smoke coming back down into the room, so getting the chimney and flue swept to free them of obstructions is a must if you want a safer, more efficient burn this winter. Whatever fuel you are using, people of…

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Could transparent wood soon bring more light into our homes?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 9 December 2016 at 3:15 pm

Could transparent wood soon bring more light into our homes?

Transparent wood could soon provide a new building material which will allow us to brighten up our homes by making wooden parts of the structure translucent. It could have applications for building design and as a transparent coating for solar cells. Wood remains one of the most commonly used…

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What does a biomass boiler annual service involve?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 7 December 2016 at 12:30 pm

What does a biomass boiler annual service involve?

Biomass boilers that burn wood logs, chips or pellets, require more attention than gas or oil boilers when it comes to filling, cleaning and fuel delivery. They should also be cleaned and serviced regularly as build-ups of ash and clinker can stop the boiler working efficiently. Some of these tas…

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Kite sails: Can we return to wind powered shipping?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 6 December 2016 at 11:40 am

Kite sails: Can we return to wind powered shipping?

At one time all shipping was powered by renewable wind energy, but sailing ships didn’t survive long into the era of coal and diesel. Now sailing, in a modified form, could be seeing a return in commercial shipping. The modern shipping industry is a large contributor to greenhouse gas e…

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Help - what do I do if I am a GB Energy customer?

Posted by NEF Gabby on 2 December 2016 at 5:15 pm

Help - what do I do if I am a GB Energy customer?

If you are (or were) one of the 160,000 customers of GB Energy, which went bust just over a week ago, you will be pleased to hear that Ofgem has now approved Co-operative Energy to take on all GB Energy's customers.  What does this mean for me? your gas and electricity supply…

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Earth sheltered houses: Past, present and future

Posted by Alex Barrett on 1 December 2016 at 12:40 pm

Earth sheltered houses: Past, present and future

We have a long history of living in earth sheltered houses. Some of the earliest human dwellings made use of caves, and throughout human history there have been occasions where building your house into a hillside proved far more effective than leaving it exposed. The ground is a good insulati…

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Calling installers - biomass boiler push. Are you with us?

Posted by Gordon Glass on 28 November 2016 at 11:30 am

Calling installers - biomass boiler push. Are you with us?

You are a biomass installer on the MCS register, but how will you fair in our 10 second quiz on your specialist subject. Stopwatch at the ready... When you type ‘Biomass Boiler’ into Google: Q1. Who ranks Top 3?* Q2. How many views do you need to rank Top 3? Q3. What does…

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Self-driving cars could save energy

Posted by Alex Barrett on 23 November 2016 at 11:30 am

Self-driving cars could save energy

In 2014 transport accounted for 38% of the UK’s final energy consumption [1]. The majority of this was due to the use of road vehicles, both for private transport and for business. Cars account for a considerable fraction of the greenhouse gasses we emit. As roads get more congested the…

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Was switching my energy supplier worth it?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 21 November 2016 at 11:05 am

Was switching my energy supplier worth it?

OK, so I switched a little while ago and I wanted to tell you how painless it has all been. The new supplier, Bulb, wrote to me almost immediately to welcome me to their new community. They introduced me to their website where I will be able to post meter readings to keep track of my usage (w…

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Biomass boiler installation: what's involved?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 16 November 2016 at 10:30 am

Biomass boiler installation: what's involved?

In 2009 SuperHomer Mark Brown had a biomass boiler installed to heat his 1980s five bedroom detached family home. In this video he gives us an overview of the installation process. We also fast forward to 2014 to see how it looks five years later. At the time of installation it took Mark…

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Heat Pumps: Air source or ground source?

Posted by Aderanti Kudehinbu on 15 November 2016 at 10:30 am

Heat Pumps: Air source or ground source?

Heat pumps are devices that use a small amount of energy to move heat from one place to another. During cold weather they extract heat from outside sources and pump it indoors. This process can be reversed during summer in order to act as an air conditioning system. The heat pump circulates a…

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How will degree days help you measure energy savings from heating and insulation improvements?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 14 November 2016 at 11:01 am

How will degree days help you measure energy savings from heating and insulation improvements?

Suppose you are retrofitting your house, improving its insulation or installing a more energy efficient heating system. You will want to know how much energy you are saving, but with heating costs this can be tricky to figure out. This is where "degree days" can help. Temperature, a…

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Can we generate 100% of our energy from renewables?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 11 November 2016 at 11:46 am

Can we generate 100% of our energy from renewables?

In early May of 2016 Portugal covered all of its electricity demand for four days using only renewable sources, energy prices in Germany briefly turned negative, as renewables met almost all of the demand for a day, and the UK didn't use any coal fired power stations at all during several low…

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How does a full log box keep you and your wood stove happy?

Posted by Stewart Mcilroy on 9 November 2016 at 11:15 am

How does a full log box keep you and your wood stove happy?

Good preparation is important if you want to heat your home efficiently with a wood stove. What you want is ‘maximisation of heat out’ and ‘minimisation of effort in’. The practical and psychological benefits of advance preparation are clear to me. Practical benef…

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Should you open windows in winter?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 7 November 2016 at 11:15 am

Should you open windows in winter?

When it comes to energy saving the less heat your house loses the better. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by draught proofing. By stopping warm air from leaking out of your house you prevent heat loss and so reduce the amount of energy you have to use for heating. This suggests that fo…

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What are the basics of a modern biomass boiler?

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 4 November 2016 at 5:05 pm

What are the basics of a modern biomass boiler?

In this video SuperHomer Mark Brown introduces us to the wood pellet boiler he chose to get installed in his 1980s five bedroom detached family home in 2009. Mark's boiler is substantially larger than the usual gas boiler and is installed in the garage. Some boiler models do not take…

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I switched energy supplier and saved

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 3 November 2016 at 10:05 am

I switched energy supplier and saved

The first thing I had to do was work out how much energy I had used last year. That wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be as, rather helpfully, my current energy provider does give me an annual statement and puts on each month’s bill a note of my previous year’s energy us…

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Petition rallies support for onshore wind energy

Posted by Trish O'Flynn on 28 October 2016 at 10:31 am

Petition rallies support for onshore wind energy

Thousands of people across the UK have signed a petition in support of clean energy – will you join them? 10:10 are asking members of the public to sign a petition to let Philip Hammond know that they object to policies that favour fossil fuels over clean energy. The charity says th…

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Energy vampires are real and exist in your home!

Posted by Jason Ramsdale on 28 October 2016 at 9:50 am

Energy vampires are real and exist in your home!

Vampire draw, phantom loads and no-load power are all terms used to refer to the phenomenon of electricity being consumed by appliances that are “switched off” or in "stand-by mode". These appliances can run up your electricity bill and can easily add up to a hundred po…

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How should I season and store wood for my stove?

Posted by Anna Carlini on 26 October 2016 at 12:05 pm

How should I season and store wood for my stove?

What are the aims of wood storage and why it is so important? I spoke to Stewart McIlroy, SuperHomer and wood stove owner about his advice for wood storage. Stewart says that the main aim of storing wood is to ‘season’ it. Newly chopped wood contains a high percentage of water whi…

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It is energy switching time again

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 24 October 2016 at 2:20 pm

It is energy switching time again

As we approach winter, and most of you will already have turned your heating on, I wonder how many of you are thinking about switching.  Why would you want to have your most costly months on that stupidly high tariff you are paying because you haven’t bothered to shop around? In the su…

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Does plastic have to come from oil?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 21 October 2016 at 10:30 am

Does plastic have to come from oil?

Plastic is all around us. Over the course of the 20th century it has become one of the most commonly used materials for all manner of goods and appliances. It is estimated that 288 million tons of plastic were produced in 2012 [1]. But plastic is made from oil, the same non-renewable crude oil re…

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Heat pump tumble dryers: Eco-friendly or not?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 20 October 2016 at 9:45 am

Heat pump tumble dryers: Eco-friendly or not?

It is no secret that tumble dryers are not especially environmentally friendly. They use quite a lot of energy and are certainly less energy efficient than hanging your washing out to dry. Several types of dryer claim to be more environmentally friendly. In particular heat pump tumble dryers …

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Will energy scavenging be the next big thing? Let's stomp!

Posted by Alex Barrett on 18 October 2016 at 1:05 pm

Will energy scavenging be the next big thing? Let's stomp!

The field of “energy scavenging” or “harvesting” is all about capturing the small amounts of energy that are constantly going to waste [1, 2]. Most tasks produce excess heat, light, vibrations and movement, which mostly goes to waste. A variety of innovative technologies h…

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Draught proofing - how much could you save?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 14 October 2016 at 1:40 pm

Draught proofing - how much could you save?

Leaky buildings cost a lot of energy. Draughts allow hot air to escape from even the best insulated houses, and can be uncomfortable for those inside. Historic England report that older buildings lose 15-20% of their heat through draughts [1]. Fortunately this can be solved by draught proofing, w…

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Are sunpipes the solution to dark rooms and stairwells?

Posted by Anna Carlini on 11 October 2016 at 10:30 am

Are sunpipes the solution to dark rooms and stairwells?

Sunpipes are cylindrical tubes which channel natural sunlight from a transparent dome on the roof to bring it to areas that wouldn’t otherwise get natural light. Many of us have dark stairwells and rooms that get little sunlight in our homes. Sunpipes (sometimes called solarpipes) are a low…

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How easy is it to get a new electricity meter installed?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 7 October 2016 at 4:40 pm

How easy is it to get a new electricity meter installed?

That was another saga. Firstly the letter they sent to say that my meter may be faulty gave the contact details of a third party that they had commissioned to do their meter installs. I emailed and asked for some more info. How long would the install take? Did I really need to be at home, as the …

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Is the future of wind energy as high as a kite?

Posted by Jason Ramsdale on 4 October 2016 at 12:05 pm

Is the future of wind energy as high as a kite?

Wind energy is often criticised for being unreliable. However, there is almost always wind blowing in the UK - it's just a little higher up than we currently reach. High above the friction with the ground, high altitude winds are stronger and much more stable than those close to gro…

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How far can motion sensors save energy used for lighting?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 30 September 2016 at 12:45 pm

How far can motion sensors save energy used for lighting?

It is well known that switching off unused lights can save a large amount of energy. Around three percent of home energy usage comes from lighting [1]. While energy use can thus be reduced by switching to energy efficient light bulbs, there is no substitute for ensuring that lights are switc…

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