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View blog posts for category: Solar heat & hot water

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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Why it pays to use a recommended solar panel installer

Posted by Alex Barrett on 10 June 2016 at 4:05 pm

Why it pays to use a recommended solar panel installer

When you invest in solar panels, you want to know that you will be getting a good deal. Most installers deal reputably with their customers, but there will always be a few who do not. Sometimes a company might not be reliable, other times the deal they offer might actually be a con. Three fra…

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How do I get an MCS certificate if my installer went out of business?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 30 April 2014 at 10:53 am

How do I get an MCS certificate if my installer went out of business?

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) has launched its process for obtaining MCS certificates for homeowners whose installation companies have ceased trading or are no longer MCS certified. The paperwork-intensive process consists of filling in a form with details of yourself, your i…

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What is the real inflation rate for energy?

Posted by Stuart Elmes on 25 February 2014 at 12:01 pm

What is the real inflation rate for energy?

There’s been a lot of coverage of increasing energy bills in the media in recent months.  Also I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about the return on investment for solar thermal under the imminent domestic renewable heat incentive. (I like writing ‘imminent’ inst…

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New solar thermal calculation for domestic RHI increases returns

Posted by Stuart Elmes on 28 October 2013 at 9:26 am

New solar thermal calculation for domestic RHI increases returns

MCS recently published a new calculation method for predicting the energy benefits from solar water heating. The announcement has been eagerly awaited by the solar industry because it will be the way payments are calculated under the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. As we’ll see, the …

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What is the greenest way of heating our new studio?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 September 2013 at 10:46 am

What is the greenest way of heating our new studio?

Q: We have planning permission to replace existing garage with a fully insulated garage and studio. What is the greenest / most efficient way of providing hot water and heating to the studio? We have mains electricity; access to plenty of wood; oil (which we use as sparingly as possible); and…

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How do I know if my solar thermal panels are working correctly?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 September 2013 at 9:55 am

How do I know if my solar thermal panels are working correctly?

Q: We have had solar PV and solar thermal installed in 2010. While I'm very happy with the solar PV, the solar thermal has never worked particularly well. But as the boiler makes sure there is hot water mornings and evenings when we need it, we haven't really looked into it until now. …

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Check you are eligible for RHI before installing renewable heat

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 July 2013 at 10:10 am

Check you are eligible for RHI before installing renewable heat

The renewable heat premium payments (RHPP) for biomass boilers and heat pumps are only available for properties that are off the mains gas network. Until the announcement on the full domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) is made this summer we won't know if this will also be the case for th…

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Reader's tip of the month - May 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 May 2013 at 11:13 am

Reader's tip of the month - May 2013

Retired, and living in a detached dorma bungalow built in the 1960s with almost no insulation, Tony Seaford and his wife were interested in reducing their domestic carbon footprint as much as they could without moving. "After double glazing and cavity wall insulation, we spent £800…

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DECC doubles upfront grants for renewable heat technologies

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 May 2013 at 3:32 pm

More help with the upfront cost of installing renewable heat is now available as the Department of Energy and Climate Change announces a doubling of the Renewable Heat Premium Payments. These money off vouchers have been increased to: £2,300 for ground source heat pumps £2,0…

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When will I get renewable heat incentive (RHI) payments?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 April 2013 at 9:17 am

When will I get renewable heat incentive (RHI) payments?

A: As RHI (renewable heat incentive) payments have been delayed again till Spring 2014, do we have to wait till then to get our payment? So there will be no payment in 2013 then? Q: If you are what the government describes as a 'legacy' applicant, which means someone who has installed…

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How can I prevent my solar PV panels being stolen?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 April 2013 at 9:32 am

How can I prevent my solar PV panels being stolen?

Q: I have a holiday home in France and I'd love to install solar. my concern, however, is the risk of theft. The property is quite isolated and we won't be there a lot of the time. Is it easy to take down solar panels? Are there more portable panels that lend themselves to this bette…

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Renewable technologies work together at Devon vineyard

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 11 March 2013 at 10:50 am

Renewable technologies work together at Devon vineyard

Different renewables technologies can complement each other when used in tandem, as Pebblebed Vineyard’s Clyst St. George Vineyard in Devon shows. A solar thermal system became the farm's newest renewable energy installation in November 2011, adding to solar PV and a…

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Heat your home with passive solar energy

Posted by Tim Pullen on 26 February 2013 at 11:01 am

Heat your home with passive solar energy

It is quite possible to benefit from solar energy without the need for external mechanical means such as solar panels. It is closely related to architecture and was well understood in the ancient world. The Chinese, Greeks, Romans and North Africans have been building houses that use solar energy…

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Review of Amelec Intelligent Solar Switch

Posted by Chris Rudge on 17 December 2012 at 9:27 am

Review of Amelec Intelligent Solar Switch

For the cost, this looks to be really good value. The Amelec Eco2 Solar Switch is housed in a standard electrical housing such as used for consumer units and the like. As can be seen from the photo, it also has a standard DIN rail for fitting your selection of MCB/ RCD depending on application …

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I'm on mains gas, am I eligible for the domestic RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 November 2012 at 3:06 pm

I'm on mains gas, am I eligible for the domestic RHI?

Q: I am very interested in the RHI (renewable heat incentive) but a little confused! I would love a biomass boiler or air source heat pump but I have read somewhere that if I have gas and disconnect from the gas mains I still can't claim RHI? Is this true? Are biomass and ASHP RHI payments only for …

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Solar Power UK opens tomorrow!

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 October 2012 at 9:14 am

Solar Power UK opens tomorrow!

Don’t miss out on the UK’s largest solar dedicated event! Whether you are already involved or new to the solar sector, make sure you visit Solar Power UK and discover exactly what the hype is all about. Connecting you with over 180 of the world’s leading product and service suppliers, Sola…

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Solar thermal and the RHI: find out the latest at SPUK 2012

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 September 2012 at 11:02 am

Solar thermal and the RHI: find out the latest at SPUK 2012

Solar thermal installers who want to know more about the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) can get the latest updates straight from the horse's mouth at Solar Power UK on 2 October. Announcements of two consultations on the RHI - one on the domestic scheme, and the other on changes t…

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Solar PV or solar thermal: which is best for heating water?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 6 September 2012 at 9:46 am

Solar PV or solar thermal: which is best for heating water?

When I started Eco2Solar in 2007 it was clear where the growth area was in the market. Fuelled by rising energy prices, increased awareness of climate change and fuel security, as well as new targets such as Code for Sustainable Homes or Merton Rule (10% of energy from renewables) for new build …

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Readers tips of the month - August

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 August 2012 at 3:28 pm

Readers tips of the month - August

Claire Tindel, who has installed solar PV, says "put your dishwasher and washing machine on in the middle of the day" (it's probably best to run them one after the other, rather than together unless you've got a large system, and the sun's shining stronly). Mike Beale is a 71 year old enthusiasti…

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Finance is available for businesses to install renewable heat

Posted by Mark Henderson on 28 June 2012 at 10:31 am

Finance is available for businesses to install renewable heat

Finance for the up-front costs of installing renewable heat technologies is now available for businesses and other organisations thanks to a new collaboration between The Carbon Trust and Siemens. The Energy Efficiency Financing (EEF) scheme offers low-cost leases, loans and other financing opti…

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Solar thermal and other renewable technologies: what our readers say

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 June 2012 at 12:05 pm

Solar thermal and other renewable technologies: what our readers say

This month the stories from readers that I like best all talk about solar thermal in some way or another. During the feed-in tariff frenzy it somehow became the poor relation to solar PV, whereas before FiTs it was the better seller. What comes over loud and clear below is that once you've got solar…

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Eco guest house is first business in Wales to benefit from RHI

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 June 2012 at 10:17 am

Eco guest house is first business in Wales to benefit from RHI

A biomass boiler, solar PV and solar thermal are all the result of a Welsh guest house's belief that you should be able to enjoy a holiday without damaging the environment. Installation of the boiler means the guest house has become the first business in Wales to benefit from the Renewable Heat Ince…

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Does solar hot water work with a combi-boiler?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 8 June 2012 at 9:05 am

Does solar hot water work with a combi-boiler?

Q: We are about to install a new combi boiler. We also want to install a solar water and CH system. Would like to use an unvented solar store with heat exchanger coil to CH flow on combi (with temperature controlled diverter valve) and the mains pressure cold feed through a heat exchanger in solar s…

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Readers' renewable energy tips of the month

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

Readers' renewable energy tips of the month

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 m…

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RHI makes some commercial solar hot water systems very attractive

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 21 May 2012 at 9:39 am

RHI makes some commercial solar hot water systems very attractive

Solar thermal was by far the most cost effective renewable energy technology on the market a few years ago. Since the government support schemes have been introduced, first for renewable electricity generating systems via the feed-in tariff and now through the renewable heat incentive (RHI) for non-…

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Renewable Heat Premium Payments scheme is extended; RHI delayed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 March 2012 at 10:35 am

Renewable Heat Premium Payments scheme is extended; RHI delayed

The domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) remains elusive, as the government announced a second phase of the renewable heat premium payments (RHPP) scheme yesterday. The domestic RHI, which will reward people who switch to renewable sources of heat with regular payments for and anticipated …

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Can I use a compressor to boost my solar hot water?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 22 March 2012 at 12:44 pm

Can I use a compressor to boost my solar hot water?

Q. I’ve been looking at different websites about solar hot water and you all basically say the same thing, “a supplementary heat source will be needed at some point”. Has anyone thought of using a small compressor in between the collector(s) and the hot water tank to heat the transfer fluid to…

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Solar hot water and the missing washing machine

Posted by Alister Scott on 9 March 2012 at 10:20 am

Solar hot water and the missing washing machine

Ten years ago we installed solar hot water heating. It's been great, particularly as energy prices have gone up.  When we did it, I had one professor of environmental policy (who shall remain nameless) look down his nose at me and say "but surely it'll never be economic?" That was te…

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Readers tips of the month - biomass and solar

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 February 2012 at 12:39 pm

Readers tips of the month - biomass and solar

This month's first tip comes from Lewis, a retired university lecturer who is still active as a runner, orienteer, and log collector. He has installed a wood burning stove for hot water and three radiators (gravity circulation). He self-installed solar hot water in 2010 (which means he won't be e…

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Solar hot water: readers' tip of the month

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 December 2011 at 2:34 pm

Solar hot water: readers' tip of the month

My wife and I have been considering installing some form of renewable energy for several years. With teenagers in the house, a boiler and hot water tank that needed replacing we opted to install a solar heated hot water system. Since the installation of a 30 tube collector and a 300 litre dual co…

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Solar is not just about the feed-in tariffs

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 9 December 2011 at 9:57 am

Solar is not just about the feed-in tariffs

There has been much talk and debate about solar panels recently; most of it about solar PV and the Feed-in Tariffs (FIT). However, there is another game in town and it is potentially far larger than solar PV. Space and water heating in buildings accounts for nearly 70% of the energy consumed by the…

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Solar Thermal - a guide to life expectancy and maintenance

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 7 November 2011 at 4:15 am

Solar Thermal - a guide to life expectancy and maintenance

The UK will see a huge increase in solar hot water (solar thermal) installations, with the recent announcement on the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). When you’re investing in a new technology, you want to be sure that it’s going to be reliable and not over-costly in terms of maintenance and repa…

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Five key ways to get the best from your solar hot water system

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 October 2011 at 1:17 am

Five key ways to get the best from your solar hot water system

Solar hot water systems work best when the user takes control of them, yet only 36 per cent of the householders taking part in the Energy Saving Trust's solar hot water field trial said that their installer gave them information on how they might make best use of their system.   When they di…

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User control is vital for best performing solar water heating

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 October 2011 at 3:23 am

User control is vital for best performing solar water heating

The way householders use their solar thermal system is critical to getting the best results from solar water heating systems, according to new research. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) is calling on installers to give better advice to users on how to control their solar water heating: in terms of volu…

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Is my solar thermal system safe while I'm away on holiday?

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 10 October 2011 at 9:37 am

Is my solar thermal system safe while I'm away on holiday?

Q: I’m going away for two months. Is there anything I should do to my solar thermal system while the house is empty?  A: It’s always important to look at the relevant part in your solar thermal user manual, but the most important advice is to leave your system turned on. It has been des…

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REAL's top tips to avoid being ripped off by solar cowboys

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 October 2011 at 8:36 am

REAL's top tips to avoid being ripped off by solar cowboys

The REAL Assurance Scheme* has received a surge of complaints about solar PV installers, leading it to assert that rogue traders are taking advantage of the expanding solar panel market to make a killing before the Government adjusts the Feed-In Tariff in the spring. While they haven't yet specifi…

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Can solar panels improve the efficiency of your ground source heat pump?

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 3 October 2011 at 5:05 am

Can solar panels improve the efficiency of your ground source heat pump?

There is a growing interest in using solar panels to deposit heat within the ground during the summer periods and then using a ground source heat pump to extract this deposited heat during the winter. These systems are commonly called inter-seasonal storage systems and can usually be classed as:- …

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Renewable Heat Premium Payment rates confirmed - but are they enough to kickstart renewable heat?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 July 2011 at 11:22 am

Renewable Heat Premium Payment rates confirmed - but are they enough to kickstart renewable heat?

Capital grants to help with the cost of installing renewable heat technologies will be available from 1 August. Any householder in England, Scotland or Wales can apply for the £300 renewable heat premium payment for solar thermal panels. However, payments for biomass boilers (£950), air sou…

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Renewable energy may be included in the Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 June 2011 at 9:08 am

Renewable energy may be included in the Green Deal

The Government's announcement last week on measures being considered for inclusion in the Green Deal, and its thinking on consumer protection, went some way to allay criticisms of the scheme. The Green Deal is expected to offer loans of up to £10,000 over a period of up to 25 years. To qualify f…

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Using solar PV to heat your domestic hot water

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 26 May 2011 at 10:25 am

Using solar PV to heat your domestic hot water

Q: Having recently installed Solar PV, I will soon be replacing our old boiler and hot water cylinder. The heating and water run on gas. Does it now make sense to use electricity to heat the hot water for the house? A: This is a really interesting conundrum - well I think it is - but maybe I …

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Do I need a new cylinder for solar hot water?

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 27 January 2011 at 3:13 pm

This video blog explains how to size a cylinder for solar thermal, and whether you need to install a new one. …

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Get the best out of your solar thermal system

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 11 January 2011 at 9:04 am

Installing the solar thermal panels on your roof is just the first step. It's very important to know and work with your system to get the best out of it. Key to maximising the amount of water heated by the sol…

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Why using a solar quote site may cost you more than going direct

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 January 2011 at 3:17 pm

Why using a solar quote site may cost you more than going direct

Put solar energy into a search engine and you can almost guarantee that some of the results you get will be solar quote sites. If they aren't in the top 10, they will be in the ads at the side and top of the page. But did you know that you will almost certainly end up paying more for your solar pane…

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Can I use solar thermal panels to heat my house?

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 15 December 2010 at 9:06 am

Generally solar thermal panels are only used for space heating in new build properties in the UK, and not retrofitted into existing houses. This video tells why (with an abbreviated transcript if you prefer to read): On the continent almost 30% of systems a…

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Schools lead the way on energy efficiency

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 October 2010 at 3:14 pm

Schools lead the way on energy efficiency

Electricity consumption has halved at an award-winning Devon school thanks to the energy saving measures it has introduced. Okehampton College’s good practice and leadership role was recognised as it was a finalist at the 2010 Ashden Awards. The college has replaced 3,000 fluorescent lights wit…

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Solar thermal panels: flat plate or evacuated tube?

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 8 October 2010 at 9:08 am

Which type of solar water heating system works best. Watch this video to weigh up the pros and cons of flat panel versus evacuated tubes. The main difference comes down to the efficiency. With evacuated tubes, the vacuum provides almost perfect insulation. A fl…

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Solar hot water panels: 7 things to check before you install

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 1 October 2010 at 9:18 am

This video blog highlights 7 things to check before you install a solar hot water system. 1.  The most important thing is to have a suitable roof for the collectors (panels). South-facing is idea, but anywhere between south east and south west is ok.&n…

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Do solar panels affect house sales?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 September 2010 at 3:35 pm

Do solar panels affect house sales?

A solar panel installation should make a house more desirable, shouldn't it? There's the saving on energy bills from using home-generated electricity, and even at the lower early adopters feed-in rate the combination of generation rate and export rate begin to add up to a nice bit of extra income. …

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Solar hot water: It's the best thing I ever did

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 August 2010 at 9:53 am

Solar thermal panels are a no-brainer for John Wood of East Devon, as he explains in this video: …

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Solar thermal panels are possible with a combi boiler

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 27 August 2010 at 9:56 am

You will find more up to date information on this subject in this blog (28/1/15).  Solar hot water panels require a cylinder, but it is possible to use them with a combi boiler. This video explains how it works. And for those who prefer to read the information, here's a sum…

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Are council planning departments making it difficult to install solar panels?

Posted by Rob Palgrave on 18 August 2010 at 9:27 am

Are council planning departments making it difficult to install solar panels?

Installing solar PV panels should be easier for home-owners since a planning appeal confirmed what is allowed under permitted development. Planning departments at some councils in England seem to want to make it difficult for householders to install photovoltaic solar panels. But as a result …

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Solar hot water delivered quicker and cheaper

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 July 2010 at 9:10 am

Solar hot water delivered quicker and cheaper

A system that delivers solar water heating at a lower cost, quicker installation and with no need to buy a new cylinder was one of the finalists in the 2010 Ashden Awards for sustainable energy. John Willis invented the Willis Solasyphon because he found that the cost and disruption of installing…

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Renewable Heat Incentive: yes please, but with changes

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 9 July 2010 at 11:16 am

Renewable Heat Incentive: yes please, but with changes

First let's get something straight. I think the renewable heat incentive (RHI) is a good idea. Rewarding people for their contribution to reducing carbon emissions is great and will stimulate the market. However, in its current form the RHI may not reduce emissions, and due to lack of Government cla…

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Six tips to save you from solar panel cowboys

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 28 June 2010 at 9:07 am

Six tips to save you from solar panel cowboys

Solar hot water is intrinsically an ethical industry. We all want to save the planet don't we? So we need to ensure that unscrupulous companies do not thrive and give us all a bad name! When there is a chance of making a buck or two it will always attract the greedy and less scrupulous businesses…

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DIY solar panel installation: a case study

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2010 at 3:22 pm

Thank you to fuelexplorer for this article:  I did my own solar thermal panel installation, on the slate roof of an old Victorian house, with not the most accessible roof in the world!  Am I pleased with the result? Yes. Could I have designed the system better? Yes. I did quite …

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Renewable Heat Incentive: 'deeming' explained

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 22 June 2010 at 10:53 am

Renewable Heat Incentive: 'deeming' explained

In the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), the calculation of how much will be paid for renewable heat production depends on the installation type, as follows: Small scale installation, such as in a home: each installation's entitlement is calculated by multiplying the payment per kW…

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How to avoid bugs in your solar hot water

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 21 June 2010 at 9:07 am

How to avoid bugs in your solar hot water

The plumbing, heating and solar industry is paranoid about legionella and bacterial infections in hot water systems. This is right and proper as the consequences of legionella infection can be fatal in vulnerable people - but it is actually very rare and I am told there are no recorded cases linked …

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Renewable heat incentive: important, but with dangers

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 17 June 2010 at 1:03 pm

Renewable heat incentive: important, but with dangers

The uptake of renewable heat technologies has really dropped off with the renewable heat incentive (RHI) still looming, but no confirmation of the final tariffs or criteria, and the recent removal of the LCBP grants. No doubt things will pick up once the RHI details have been announced there.…

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Ask your MP for clarity about the Renewable Heat Incentive

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 June 2010 at 9:44 am

Ask your MP for clarity about the Renewable Heat Incentive

No one can confidently say that renewable heat is a good investment right now, as we don't know whether or not the promised renewable heat incentive will be introduced in April 2011 as laid out by the former Labour government. Making a significant investment when you can't confidently calculate the …

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Uncertainty ahead as Low Carbon Building Programme is cut

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 May 2010 at 12:31 pm

Uncertainty ahead as Low Carbon Building Programme is cut

The Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) grants scheme closed to new applications on Monday. We're calling on the Government to act quickly to eliminate the state of uncertainty facing  consumers and the renewable heat industry as a result. The cut came as part of the Department of Energ…

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MCS explained, plus quick guide for wannabe installers

Posted by John Martin on 14 May 2010 at 9:58 am

MCS explained, plus quick guide for wannabe installers

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) appears to be suffering in a similar way as the Gas accreditation scheme did  when it was introduced. It is shrouded in mystery, with rumour-mongers spreading the word that 'none shall pass' and that 'its only for large companies'. This situatio…

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Avoiding the solar cowboys

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 April 2010 at 10:01 am

Avoiding the solar cowboys

Only one of 14 solar thermal salespeople proved worthy of recommendation in Which?'s recent investigation into solar panel companies. This is devastating news both for the industry and, more importantly, for people wanting to switch to solar hot water systems. Ten of the companies misled research…

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Renewable Heat Incentive consultation: YouGen's response

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 April 2010 at 10:29 am

Renewable Heat Incentive consultation: YouGen's response

The Renewable Heat Incentive consultation closes today. Here is YouGen's response. If you want to respond yourself, you can email DECC's renewable financial incentives team. Key Issues We strongly ask you to reconsider your policy of excluding those who had systems installed prior to July …

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Renewable Heat Incentive: join the campaign for equal treatment for existing generators

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 March 2010 at 10:19 am

Renewable Heat Incentive: join the campaign for equal treatment for existing generators

More and more people are calling for the renewable heat incentive (also known as the Clean Energy Cashback) to treat existing microgenerators equally. At RegenSW's consultation conference in Bristol earlier this month property developers and installers were flagging it up as important for the scheme…

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Seven steps for servicing your solar thermal system

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 19 March 2010 at 10:09 am

Seven steps for servicing your solar thermal system

How to service a solar thermal system is a really common question asked by many of our customers and prospective customers. Unfortunately there isn't really a definitive answer. It depends on how technically minded you are and how much peace of mind you need. So here are some guidelines: 1. Solar…

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Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 March 2010 at 10:31 am

Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

"I'm just popping down to Tesco for a solar panel" doesn't sound right somehow. Maybe it's just me, but I not sure that the entry of the supermarkets into the renewable energy market is a good thing.  Sainsbury is first out of the starting gates. It opened Home Energy Centres in three of its…

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Three ways we could improve UK feed in tariffs

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 22 February 2010 at 9:17 pm

Three ways we could improve UK feed in tariffs

I am a stalwart supporter of feed in tariffs, and anticipate a revolution in UK microgeneration in the next few months as a result. Their introduction is long overdue. However, on Monday I sat through a lengthy discussion both of feed in tariffs (FiTs) and the proposed renewable heat incentiv…

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Does renewable energy affect your house insurance?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 January 2010 at 10:20 am

Does renewable energy affect your house insurance?

We've had solar hot water panels for a couple of years now, but it was only recently, when asked by a visitor to this site, that I wondered what, if any implication they had for my house insurance. Happily, a quick call to the insurance company (NFU Mutual) was all I needed to find that it makes …

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YouGen Energy Expert wins installer of the year

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 November 2009 at 9:13 am

YouGen Energy Expert wins installer of the year

Congratulations to everyone at SunGift Solar which has won Installer of the Year in RegenSW's Green Energy Awards. Company founder Gabriel Wandrausch is one of YouGen's volunteer Energy Experts, contributing articles on solar hot water to the YouGen blog. SunGift Solar, which started as a solar t…

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Renewable heat soon to join the energy revolution

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 6 November 2009 at 9:13 am

Renewable heat soon to join the energy revolution

Until a few months ago, solar thermal hot water heating has been the most cost effective way for people to generate their own renewable energy - for every pound invested it has usually delivered the highest units of energy. The reason for this is that solar thermal systems have always been the most…

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Are roof mounted turbines any good?

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 24 September 2009 at 10:43 am

Are roof mounted turbines any good?

Roof-mounted turbines were very popular a year ago or two. However, over the last few months a couple of reports have been published that suggest building-mounted turbines may not deliver as much electricity as hoped. One of the major manufacturers has just closed and stopped supplying turbines to …

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Controlling solar thermal systems

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 10 September 2009 at 9:43 am

Controlling solar thermal systems

The controllers used in solar thermal systems come in many different shapes and sizes and offer a variety of different options. The most basic controllers just have a differential control - this activates the solar pump when the temperature at the sensor on the collector is at a higher temperature t…

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Welsh ease planning rules for renewable energy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 August 2009 at 9:40 am

Welsh ease planning rules for renewable energy

Welsh planning rules for domestic renewable energy installations have been changed to make it easier for homeowners to generate their own heat and electricity. Following Scotland's lead, the Welsh Assembly has announced new regulations which mean that some microgeneration technologies will no lon…

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What is the best solar hot water panel for a small space?

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 31 July 2009 at 8:47 am

What is the best solar hot water panel for a small space?

Question from YouGen user: I have a 7 year old Solartwin panel on my roof which I believe is performing poorly and is not metered. The company say that the harder water is likely to be too much for the panel and that it needs an indirect panel. Thus I feel I need to replace it. It is a landscape sha…

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Old homes can be energy efficient: visit a superhome and be inspired

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 July 2009 at 9:08 am

Old homes can be energy efficient: visit a superhome and be inspired

Old homes tend to be the worst offenders when it comes to leaking hot air out into the atmosphere. This means higher than average energy bills, and correspondingly high carbon emissions. Often labelled 'hard to treat', older homes can be more complicated when it comes to installing energy eff…

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BBC's Freefall points to solar sales danger

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 July 2009 at 12:37 pm

BBC's Freefall points to solar sales danger

Dodgy salesmen, and the terrible impact they can have on their victim’s lives, was one aspect of last night’s powerful BBC drama Freefall (catch it here for a week). It took a look at the financial disaster we’re all in from three points of view: a City trader packaging up sub prime mor…

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Wind power without the guesswork

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 June 2009 at 11:01 am

Wind power without the guesswork

Measuring wind power to see whether it makes sense to get a wind turbine has, until now, been either expensive or inaccurate. Now with the launch of the Power Predictor, it’s possible to take the risk out of what is a significant investment. The device is the invention of Toby Hammond, managing…

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Solar photo competition

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 June 2009 at 10:09 am

Solar photo competition

We Support Solar is running a photography competition to celebrate daylight in the UK. The campaign group is a network of organisations (including YouGen) and individuals who want solar power to be an important part of the renewable energy mix in the UK. To enter the competition you need to take…

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Solar thermal for space heating

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 21 May 2009 at 10:23 am

Solar thermal for space heating

I am often asked whether a solar thermal system can be used for space heating as well as for hot water. Technically, it can.  However in most cases it is neither cost effective nor energy efficient to do so.  The cost of upgrading the system to work with space heating as well as hot w…

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Support for solar hot water in Warwick

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 May 2009 at 10:18 am

Support for solar hot water in Warwick

Doubling the number of solar hot water systems installed homes in Warwick District is the aim of a great new project to support homeowners. The Solar 300 Challenge was launched last week by Action 21, a social enterprise which helps people live more sustainably. Their aim is to encourage more p…

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Calculators shed light on renewable choices

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

Calculators shed light on renewable choices

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 u…

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Planning for solar panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 March 2009 at 11:59 am

Planning for solar panels

Living in a listed building or conservation area doesn't mean that you can't have solar panels, as Anne Robbins' experience shows. You may, however, need determination and energy, and money for an appeal, if you want to leap over all the planning hurdles. Anne lives in a conservation area in Gre…

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Scots make renewable energy easier

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 February 2009 at 11:06 am

Scots make renewable energy easier

The Scottish Government has made it easier for people to get renewable energy for their home following a consultation on planning reform. The aim of the consultation was to increase renewable energy generation and cut carbon emissions. The result is that anyone living in Scotland will be able to ins…

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Storing your solar heat

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 20 February 2009 at 8:42 am

Storing your solar heat

A vital part of a solar thermal system is storage. The sun is not always shining when you need your hot water! On larger systems molten salt is sometimes used as the storage medium for the heat. Generally however, the heat is stored in water, especially if the purpose of the system is to provi…

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Evacuated tubes: make sure you don’t get burnt

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 4 February 2009 at 8:34 am

Evacuated tubes: make sure you donât get burnt

Evacuated tube collectors are the Formula One of the solar thermal world. They are more efficient than other types of collector as they are almost perfectly insulated, and heat cannot pass through a vacuum. As the tubes are cylindrical, they are always perpendicular to the sun reducing the amount of…

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Microgeneration makes you feel good

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 January 2009 at 10:55 am

Microgeneration makes you feel good

What makes you feel good? For me, the sun is one of many things. When it pops it's head out on a cloudy day life just perks up. When it streams through my office window on a winter's afternoon, not only am I warmer, but I feel better, and I think I get more done. Watching it light up the hills as i…

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Five ways to recognise a solar shark ... and make sure they don't eat you

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 December 2008 at 10:51 am

Five ways to recognise a solar shark ... and make sure they don't eat you

It used to be double glazing that was renowned for dodgy salesman. Now some of the techniques they used are being kept alive by companies selling solar thermal panels, heat pumps and wind turbines. The BBC and the Mail on Sunday are just two of the media who have been watching out for fins. T…

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Getting the best out of solar panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 December 2008 at 4:20 pm

Get a few people with solar panels together (as happened this weekend) and inevitably there's discussion about how to get the most out of your solar thermal system. This is probably because the amount of hot water generated by solar thermal systems is dependent on how we use the system (as was confi…

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How much of my hot water can I get from the sun?

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 13 December 2008 at 9:01 am

Have you ever wondered how much energy falls on your roof each year? Well probably not, but it is really quite interesting. The average UK house with a south facing roof of 30m² will be exposed to around 30,000KwH of the sun’s radiation every year. When you compare that to the amou…

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