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Companies to face huge fines for cold calling menace

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 March 2015 at 10:50 am

Companies to face huge fines for cold calling menace

With energy efficiency companies now topping the list of nuisance callers it's good to hear that the rules on cold calling are being tightened up. (About time too, some may say). Energy efficiency cowboys recently knocked those calling about compensation for missold PPI (payment protection in…

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Thermodynamic panels not eligible for RHI despite new MCS standards

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 March 2015 at 10:05 am

Thermodynamic panels not eligible for RHI despite new MCS standards

Standards for thermodynamic panels have now been agreed by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). While this means that people installing this technology can be confident that the panels are suitable for use in the UK and meet agreed standards, it does not mean that they will be eligible…

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RHI rate for domestic biomass boilers falls again

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 March 2015 at 10:55 am

RHI rate for domestic biomass boilers falls again

The popularity of biomass boilers has led to a second drop in the rate of the domestic renewable heat incentive. The rate fell 10 per cent from 12.2p per kWh to 10.98p on 1 January this year. Following a bumper number of installations in December, it will reduce again on 1 April 2015 - this time …

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Is third party ownership a good thing in the domestic RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 March 2015 at 1:10 pm

Is third party ownership a good thing in the domestic RHI?

My husband is a football fan. When I mentioned that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is exploring the possibility of third party ownership for the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) I didn’t need to explain what it is. He gave an immediate definition: “someone, …

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Anyone else with a Klover BiFire stove no longer eligible for RHI payments?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 February 2015 at 11:40 am

Q: Today I received an email from Ofgem saying that my Klover Bifire stove which I installed last year (and for which I have received one payment under the Domestic Scheme) was incorrectly classed as eligible under the scheme. They have stopped all payments and advise that it is illegal for them …

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How to sell solar PV: tips for installers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 February 2015 at 10:05 am

How to sell solar PV: tips for installers

Build your reputation, do due diligence and change the way you sell solar says Rexel UK's energy solutions director Jerry Hamilton. Speaking at the Solar Energy UK Roadshow he advised installers that local reputation is far the best way of getting referrals and jobs. This is something we …

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Changes to regulations for domestic RHI now in force

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 February 2015 at 2:08 pm

Changes to regulations for domestic RHI now in force

Rules about the sustainability of biomass fuel and the following changes to the regulations for the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) came into force on 5 February 2015. Cooker stoves “Cooker stoves” are biomass stoves with a back boiler that are predominantly designed f…

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Feed-in tariff for Solar PV to decrease in April

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 February 2015 at 10:14 am

Feed-in tariff for Solar PV to decrease in April

The feed-in tariff rates from 1 April 2015 have now been announced. There has been a 1.6% cost of living increase across the board for those who are already receiving feed-in tariff payments.  There is a surprise reduction in the rate for most sizes of solar PV installed from 1 April 201…

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Two million children are growing up cold due to cold homes leaking heat

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 February 2015 at 10:39 am

Two million children are growing up cold due to cold homes leaking heat

Cold Homes Week begins today (2-6th Feb), and fuel poverty is again firmly back on the political agenda. The harsh reality is that thousands of people die because they simply can’t afford to turn on their heating. Two million children are growing up cold. They face twice the likelihood of c…

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Readers' tips of the month - January 2015

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 January 2015 at 9:57 am

Readers' tips of the month - January 2015

Mistakes are always one of the best learning opportunities, so we're always grateful when readers share theirs making it possible for the rest of you to get the learning without the pain of getting it wrong first. And pain is what this retired widow from Staffordshire experienced at the h…

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Does Chop-Cloc really reduce energy bills? A review

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 January 2015 at 9:58 am

Does Chop-Cloc really reduce energy bills? A review

What if there was a device that could knock up to 30 per cent off your heating bills without you even noticing the difference? The Chop-Cloc, which hit the market last year claims to do exactly that simply by turning off your heating for a period every hour. The idea is that your heating&rsqu…

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Book your discounted tickets for the Renewable Energy Marketplace now

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 January 2015 at 10:13 am

Book your discounted tickets for the Renewable Energy Marketplace now

The south west’s biggest energy event; everything you need to know about renewable energy, energy efficiency measures and generation. Join us for talks, demos and to meet the 100+ exhibitors at Westpoint Arena on Tuesday 21 April. This year, expert advice will be available in five dedic…

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Do I need to have a green deal assessment to apply for dRHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 January 2015 at 10:23 am

Do I need to have a green deal assessment to apply for dRHI?

Q: I have an EPC and a flat panel solar water heater.  I need a Green Deal Assessment number to complete my RHI (renewable heat incentive) claim. How do I go about getting one?    A: You will have to have a green deal assessment. This is based on the EPC, but goes into more det…

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Should I keep the heating on all day?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 January 2015 at 4:47 pm

Should I keep the heating on all day?

Q: We own quite a large old stone house and each winter we have the same discussion! Should we leave the oil heating turning over at a low temperature (we like a cool temp of around 18) or use it during 2 or 3 periods of the day? The same for underfloor electric heating in the bathroom? A: Ge…

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Can a village hall get a grant for a biomass boiler and claim RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 January 2015 at 9:27 am

Can a village hall get a grant for a biomass boiler and claim RHI?

Q: I have recently taken over as treasurer of a local village hall. Our heating is all electric. We want to put in a biomass boiler. With donations only will we qualify for renewable heat incentive (RHI)? If we get grants will we qualify for RHI? If we get a lottery grant will we qualify for RHI?…

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Win new business in 2015 with Solar Energy UK Installer Roadshow

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 January 2015 at 2:25 pm

Win new business in 2015 with Solar Energy UK Installer Roadshow

Solar Energy UK Installer Roadshow is a series of half day seminars that provide an accessible, educational opportunity for SME and commercial installers to learn more about all the latest trade essentials for running a successful solar business in the upcoming year. YouGen members get a 20% disc…

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Guidance on acceptable third party finance for RHI available for trade

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 January 2015 at 10:24 am

Guidance on acceptable third party finance for RHI available for trade

Do your customers want to install renewable heat, but struggle with the upfront cost? Unlike the feed-in tariff, where rent a roof (FIT) schemes are possible because FIT payments can go to a third party, the rules of the domestic renewable heat incentive (d-RHI) do not currently allow third parti…

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Time is running out for 'legacy' applications to the RHI

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 January 2015 at 3:25 pm

If you installed an air source heat pump, ground source heat pump, wood pellet stove, biomass boiler or solar thermal system between 16 July 2009 and 8 April 2014 you may well be eligible to apply for the renewable heat incentive. This is the government's financial incentive to help homeowner…

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What should be included in a quote for solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 January 2015 at 11:28 am

What should be included in a quote for solar panels?

Q: I have read your 10 questions to ask a potential installer. You say 'Make sure the quotation is comprehensive - it should itemise all the equipment'.  How can you know what should be there and what might be missing?  Also you suggest asking 'Are they qualified electrician…

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Is my solar thermodynamic system eligible for RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 January 2015 at 11:46 am

Is my solar thermodynamic system eligible for RHI?

This blog was amended on 14 January 2014 in light of the comment from Celtic Renewable Energy below Q: I have a solar thermal installation ECO 200esm manufactured by Energie thermodynamics. I have applied for the RHI (renewable heat incentive) and been refused by Ofgem. I have a green deal ce…

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Solar trade must address ignorance and lack of trust to boost solar sales

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 January 2015 at 2:50 pm

Solar trade must address ignorance and lack of trust to boost solar sales

There is a healthy appetite for solar panels among home owners in the UK, but the findings of a recent survey indicate that the solar trade still has considerable work to do to ramp up domestic installations.  The good news (for solar installers, not homeowners!) is that 81% of UK a…

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What YouGen readers liked: top 10 blogs of 2014

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 January 2015 at 2:01 pm

What YouGen readers liked: top 10 blogs of 2014

With an election on the horizon it's hard to know what's going to happen in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors in 2015. Maybe the political parties (and others) will be able to take a hint about what important to householder by looking at our most popular blog last year. T…

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How to ensure you get the best rate of Domestic RHI for biomass before 1 January 2015's fall

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 December 2014 at 9:28 am

How to ensure you get the best rate of Domestic RHI for biomass before 1 January 2015's fall

The rate of domestic renewable heat incentive (DRHI) for biomass boilers and stoves will decrease from 12.2p per kWh to 10.98p for all installations made on or after 1 January 2015. This is because, just six months after the DRHI launched, forecast expenditure for biomass has exceeded the gov…

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How can I store my solar generated electricity to use at night?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 December 2014 at 10:24 am

How can I store my solar generated electricity to use at night?

Q: How can solar power produced in the summer during the day be stored for use at night or in the winter? Converted to hydrogen or stored in batteries?  A: There are a number of options that you can take to use more of your solar generated power. Some are (relatively) cheap and chee…

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Can I believe this solar salesman?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 December 2014 at 3:09 pm

Can I believe this solar salesman?

Q: We had a salesman/assessor  around last week. I was quite impressed with his spiel, but I did not sign up on the spot, as I wanted to do some research. Reviews of the company are mixed. The poor reviews seem to be mainly based on the pushiness and the hard sell of the salesman, but o…

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Can you insulate a steel framed house?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 December 2014 at 3:23 pm

Can you insulate a steel framed house?

Q: My question relates to the bead type of insulation. We own a steel frame property and had the insulation put in a few years ago. There have been no issues with it for us but we are hoping to sell our property.  However, the buyer is making the insulation a big issue as they have heard tha…

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GDHIF for solid wall insulation runs out in less than two days

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 December 2014 at 3:39 pm

GDHIF for solid wall insulation runs out in less than two days

Just a day and a half after the green deal home improvement fund opened for applications at 9am yesterday, the £24m worth of funding for solid wall insulation has all been allocated.  Applications for solid wall insulation have now closed. However, it is still possible for househol…

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Why have wood pellet prices for biomass boilers risen so much?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 December 2014 at 9:44 am

Why have wood pellet prices for biomass boilers risen so much?

Q: I installed a Grant wood pellet boiler in May 2013. Prior to installation, I monitored Enplus A1 pellet prices for about a year. They seemed to hover around the £230 a tonne for 10kg bags. Since installing the price has crept up to £262 (Liverpool fuels balcas brites). I have been …

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Grants of up to £5,600 available for insulation and other home improvements

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 December 2014 at 10:35 am

Grants of up to £5,600 available for insulation and other home improvements

STOP PRESS: the £24m available for solid wall insulation ran out after a day and a half. Get your skates on! Up to £30m of grants is available with a new release of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF). This next tranche of funding will open to new applications tomorrow (9…

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Which is best: solar thermal or solar PV with a immersion switch?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 December 2014 at 9:07 am

Which is best: solar thermal or solar PV with a immersion switch?

Q: My question is whether solar thermal or solar panels would be the best investment. We have a large unshaded roof, facing less than 5 degrees from due south. Its a 3 bed semi with solid walls and a new gas boiler with insulated pipes and a dual coil cylinder in the loft. We have cold fill appli…

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Why aren't there more solar panels on industrial roofs?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 December 2014 at 2:40 pm

Why aren't there more solar panels on industrial roofs?

We have had a number of questions from readers recently asking why there aren't more solar panels on industrial roofs, and suggesting that they would be more suitable places for solar farms than green fields. It's a good question, especially as I've lost count of how many times I'…

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How is solar generation spread across the year?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 December 2014 at 11:35 am

How is solar generation spread across the year?

Q: Approximately what is the increase in available light for generation of electricity in April to September compared to the winter months of October to March? A: While I haven't been able to lay my hands on details of the available light I can illustrate the variations in generation that…

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Readers' tip of the month

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 November 2014 at 3:04 pm

Readers' tip of the month

A ground source heat pump with underfloor heating provide the warmth in DeriM's new-build house which was constructed in 2008. But it's not all been a bed of roses, heat-wise. Here's what he's learned: "Having had some fairly massive electricity bills (c.£300) …

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Why are people who are eligible for renewable heat incentive failing to apply?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 November 2014 at 3:01 pm

Why are people who are eligible for renewable heat incentive failing to apply?

Have you installed a renewable heating system since 15 July 2009? If so, you are probably eligible to apply for the renewable heat incentive (RHI), a government scheme to encourage take up of air and groundsource heat pumps, solar water heating and biomass stoves and boilers. The scheme, which is…

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Have I got cavity wall insulation?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 November 2014 at 9:33 am

Have I got cavity wall insulation?

Q: We moved into this property 4 years ago, last year the outside wall felt very cold. We think we have got insulation in them, but can they be topped up if so. A: Cavity wall insulation, done right in a suitable property, can make a significant difference to warmth and comfort as it stops th…

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I've lost my MCS certificate. Can I still claim FITs/RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 November 2014 at 9:48 am

I've lost my MCS certificate. Can I still claim FITs/RHI?

MCS certificates are vital if you want to claim the feed-in tariff or the renewable heat incentive. If you have lost yours - or your installer never gave you one, and has gone out of business - don't despair. There is a way around it. As long as the installation was originally carried out…

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FITS to degress in January for all solar PV of 50kW or less

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 November 2014 at 2:42 pm

The feed-in tariff for solar PV panels will reduce by 3.5% from 1 January 2015 for all new installations of up to, but not exceeding, 50kW.  This is as part of the government's planned degression for the feed-in tariff.  Changes to FIT rates from 1 January 2015 …

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Can I power infrared heating from my solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 November 2014 at 10:11 am

Can I power infrared heating from my solar panels?

Q: Having had solar panels installed a few years ago, the same company is trying to sell me infrared heating for inside the house which will use electricity generated by the panels. Do you have any advice about infra red heating? I currently have gas central heating using a combi boiler. …

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How can I register as a self-supplier of biomass fuel for the RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 November 2014 at 8:58 am

How can I register as a self-supplier of biomass fuel for the RHI?

Q: How and with whom does one register as a self-supplier of biomass material. A: To register as a self-supplier of biomass material you need to register using this form on the gov.uk website. You can download a detailed supplier question and answer document from the biomass suppliers li…

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How do I distinguish between two solar PV quotes?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 November 2014 at 10:01 am

How do I distinguish between two solar PV quotes?

Q: I am considering two quotes both similar in price. I live in merseyside and have a south east facing and south west facing roof. There is a chimney on the southwest facing roof and so there are some shading issues. The first quote is for LG monocrystalline panels, 250watts, with 15.6% effi…

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MCS strengthens procedures - but will it kill the cowboys?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 November 2014 at 12:10 pm

MCS strengthens procedures - but will it kill the cowboys?

Knowing that your installer (and the product they are installing) is going to do a good job is always important. In a new industry, with unfamiliar products and taxpayers money available to support it, it's even more important.  This is exactly what the Microgeneration Certification …

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Changes to eligibility for domestic renewable heat incentive announced

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 November 2014 at 9:54 am

Changes to eligibility for domestic renewable heat incentive announced

Some welcome changes to eligibility for the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) were announced this month by the Department of Energy & Climate Change. Subject to parliamentary process and approval of draft regulations they should come into force in spring 2015. Also coming in spring is t…

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Are there solar PV tiles to match clay roofs?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 November 2014 at 11:13 am

Are there solar PV tiles to match clay roofs?

Q: We are going to build a house. We want to use solar/photovoltaic tiles but may have to use clay tiles for the roof. There seem only to be slate photovoltaic tiles. Are there any that look like clay? Any advice very welcome. A: At the moment the vast majority of solar tiles are blue. Howeve…

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Legacy application make up the bulk of first 10,000 RHI accreditations

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 November 2014 at 3:22 pm

Legacy application make up the bulk of first 10,000 RHI accreditations

South west England has the most accreditations (1,847) under the new domestic renewable heat incentive (dRHI) according to new statistics from Ofgem. Renewable heat was nearly as popular in Scotland (1,596 accreditations), with south east England next. Not surprisingly London was the region with …

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Musa 22 and Club 22 Hydro wood pellet stoves removed from MCS list

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 November 2014 at 11:30 am

Musa 22 and Club 22 Hydro wood pellet stoves removed from MCS list

Homeowners who have installed a Musa 22 or Club 22 Hydro wood pellet stove manufactured by Italian MCZ Group received a letter from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) last week advising them of potential faults and advising them not to use them.  The MCS warns that it has bee…

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Readers' tips of the month

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 October 2014 at 5:34 pm

Readers' tips of the month

With the clocks going back, I'm kicking off this month's tips with one from House-Saver. "We hang a thick curtain over our draughty french doors during winter months," he writes. "We keep the curtain opened during the day to allow sun light to heat the living room and then …

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TV researchers help couple to design eco renovation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 October 2014 at 9:12 am

TV researchers help couple to design eco renovation

Does bringing in the TV cameras benefit a new build or renovation project? As a fan of Grand Designs, it's something I've often wondered. While I see that the architects and builders involved gain publicity, for your average home owner it seems more likely to add to the stress. So, it…

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£310 million available for those in finding it difficult to keep warm this winter

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 October 2014 at 9:25 am

£310 million available for those in finding it difficult to keep warm this winter

Now that the clocks have gone back, the nights are darker and the heating is more likely to be on. So it's a good time to think about how you can keep your heating bills down. If you are on a low income there may be help available from the Home Heat Helpline. The coalition between energy …

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How do I run my underfloor heating system efficiency?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 October 2014 at 9:19 am

How do I run my underfloor heating system efficiency?

Q: I have just had a wet underfloor heating system installed in my new extension activated from my boiler. My builder has set it and sent me a link for the instructions on how to use it but he did not answer my basic question. With ordinary radiators you have to have your heating switched on and …

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Stop SAP penalising domestic users of biomass boilers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 October 2014 at 12:09 pm

Stop SAP penalising domestic users of biomass boilers

In an ideal world government departments would speak to each other and harmonise what they are doing. Sadly, those of us who've been around renewable energy for any time know that's often not the case. We've just had an email that beautifully illustrates the way one department'…

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Suppliers list for sustainable biomass is now open

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 October 2014 at 7:10 am

Suppliers list for sustainable biomass is now open

Last month the biomass suppliers list opened. The website will enable people with biomass boilers and stoves to find local approved suppliers of wood pellet, wood chip, logs and briquettes. Use of an approved supplier was expected to become mandatory for those claiming RHI this autumn. Howeve…

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Extra £100m announced for home energy efficiency improvements

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 October 2014 at 9:10 am

Extra £100m announced for home energy efficiency improvements

There will be an additional £100m available to improve domestic energy efficiency before the end of November according to an announcement this week by Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Davey. This will be administered through a new phase of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF). V…

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Why is SSE taking so long to process my feed-in tariff application?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 June 2014 at 10:27 am

Why is SSE taking so long to process my feed-in tariff application?

Q: We were not told by anyone of the delay from commissioning to registration [for the feed-in tariff] write Graham and Marion. SSE had my completed application within 2 days of installation and that was 3 months and 3 days ago. Looking at the Ofgem website, this seems to be typical. I do ho…

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Can I get preliminary accreditation for the feed-in tariff for our solar system?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 June 2014 at 12:53 pm

Can I get preliminary accreditation for the feed-in tariff for our solar system?

Q: My enquiry is about the preliminary accreditation of a 150kW solar pv system. We have been granted planning permission and have accepted and paid the DNO's firm quotation. I am aware that if we can get preliminary accreditation this will buy us 6 months of time to get the in…

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How do we know what size of biomass boiler to buy?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 June 2014 at 4:20 pm

How do we know what size of biomass boiler to buy?

Q: We have had 8 assessments and quotes from local companies to install a biomass boiler. Our barn was converted in 2002 is 346m2 and has 30 radiators and 6 bedrooms. We are confused because we have quotes ranging from 18Kw to 45 Kw wood pellet boilers and 700ltrs to 1500ltrs buffer tanks. We hav…

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Invaluable advice if you're thinking of installing a heat pump

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 May 2014 at 10:22 am

Invaluable advice if you're thinking of installing a heat pump

If you’re considering installing a ground- or an air-source heat pump you should consider the following excellent advice from the Renewable Energy Consumer Code: • make sure you take account of any additional work you need to do, such as drilling a vertical well or preparing a hori…

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Will my solar panels power an air source heat pump?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 May 2014 at 8:54 am

Will my solar panels power an air source heat pump?

Q: I have a 4kW solar PV system on my roof and am thinking of installing an air source heat pump. How much electricity would the solar panels contribute to the cost of running the heat pump? A: At first glance this seems like the ideal combination. You are probably generating more solar elecr…

Read More | 2 comments

Why are my feed-in tariff payments taking so long?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 May 2014 at 10:45 am

Why are my feed-in tariff payments taking so long?

Q: I'm with SSE and my feed-in tariff (FIT) payments were always supposed to be within 28 days of the meter reading. This has never happened, but after complaining each time I get my payment about a week later. Last time I gave my meter reading the SSE FITs office told me that the 28 day…

Read More | 6 comments

When should I have my green deal assessment for RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 May 2014 at 8:59 am

When should I have my green deal assessment for RHI?

Q: I am installing an air source heat pump (ASHP) later this year, and will be applying for the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI). Do I need to have the green deal assessment BEFORE the system is commissioned to be eligible for the RHI? And secondly, does the green deal advice report h…

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Are thermodynamic panels eligible for the RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 May 2014 at 9:05 am

Are thermodynamic panels eligible for the RHI?

Q: Are thermodynamic panels for hot water and central heating included in the renewable heat incentive (RHI)? I installed the panels last summer on the understanding it was close to being authorised and that it would be backdated. A:It sounds as if your installer was misleading you. It is tru…

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Reader's tip of the month - April 2014

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 April 2014 at 9:09 am

Reader's tip of the month - April 2014

This month's tip comes from Lehigh51 who has installed solar PV, solar thermal, a ground source heat pump and rainwater harvesting. "Truly everything has worked as well as I could hope and I am very pleased. My expenditure is within acceptable parameters. My electricity bill is …

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Homebuilding and renovating show - the good, the bad and the ugly

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 April 2014 at 10:59 am

Homebuilding and renovating show - the good, the bad and the ugly

From the sublime to the ridiculous, there were all sorts of goodies vying for attention at the Homebuilding & Renovating Show in Birmingham at the end of March. Tasha and I both visited and here's a summary of some the things we found interesting. Cathy's favourites Did you kn…

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What are the rules about extending my solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 April 2014 at 11:28 am

What are the rules about extending my solar panels?

Q: I have a 3kw solar PV system installed for 3 years now. Originally the roof suffered from shading but I have now removed a tree so could fit another one or two panels. I purchased an extra two panels originally as spares. Could I fit these (using an accredited fitter) and claim the feed-i…

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Domestic renewable heat incentive: your questions answered

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 April 2014 at 1:14 pm

Domestic renewable heat incentive: your questions answered

This blog was originally published on 21 September 2012, substantially updated on 25 July 2013, and updated again on 9 & 19 December 2013 and 10 April 2014 and 10 November 2014 and 5 March 2015. We hosted a live online Q&A with the Department of Environment and Climate Change on 28 Ju…

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Clever heating controls may be the must-have new gadgets

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 April 2014 at 10:23 am

Clever heating controls may be the must-have new gadgets

For most of us controlling our home heating involves setting a timer for the heating to come on morning and evening, setting a room thermostat, and that's about it. We might adjust the thermostat occasionally, or twiddle the individual radiator thermostats every now and then, but mostly the h…

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My heat pump heats two properties, is it eligible for domestic RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 April 2014 at 10:03 am

My heat pump heats two properties, is it eligible for domestic RHI?

Q: My property is made up of the principal property that I live in (The Mill), it also has a flat that I rent out (Mill Studio) that is part of the same building but has a separate entrance, electric meter and council tax bill. I fitted 1 x Nibe F1245 water source heat pump replacing 2 x oil boil…

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Renewable Energy Marketplace - get your YouGen discount tickets

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 March 2014 at 2:25 pm

Renewable Energy Marketplace - get your YouGen discount tickets

Test drive a green car, quiz a renewable energy installer and find out about the renewable heat incentive direct from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Ofgem. These are just some of the treats on offer at the south west's largest energy efficiency and renewable energy show. …

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The slow progress of the domestic RHI: a rough timetable

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 March 2014 at 4:01 pm

Lots of us were hoping that the domestic RHI would go live on 1 April this year. Sadly, that doesn't look possible now. The good news is that I understand that department for environment and climate change (DECC) officials are still confident that it will launch in spring (real spring that is…

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How installers can demonstrate their expertise

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 March 2014 at 8:47 am

How installers can demonstrate their expertise

Demonstrating your expertise and establishing trust with potential customers is always good for sales, but how do you do it? As all renewable energy installers in the domestic and small scale markets must be MCS accredited, it's no good for helping you stand out from the crowd. Testimonials f…

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Are new build houses eligible for the RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 March 2014 at 9:16 am

Are new build houses eligible for the RHI?

Q: We moved into our new home last April, a new build, can we claim for the RHI as we have an air source heat pump. A: Well, it depends. If you are a self builder, then the answer is yes. You can claim the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI). You will need an energy performance certi…

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Significant increase in green deal support for solid wall insulation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 February 2014 at 9:19 am

Significant increase in green deal support for solid wall insulation

Tricky and expensive home insulation work is now eligible for more financial help from the government under changes made to the green deal cashback scheme announced this week. Up to £4,000 is now available for solid wall insulation (up from £650). Up to £1,000 is available f…

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Feed-in tariff rates from 1 April announced

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 February 2014 at 9:50 am

Feed-in tariff rates from 1 April announced

The new feed-in tariffs from 1 April 2014 are now available. For new applicants after that date the rate will degress (reduce) for the first time since July last year. New installations of 4kW or less will get 14.38p per kWh. Existing recipients of the feed-in tariff will get their annual cost of…

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There is risk in being an early adopter of renewable energy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 February 2014 at 9:01 am

There is risk in being an early adopter of renewable energy

Q: We installed a ground source heat pump about 4 years ago and have been waiting to claim RHI to help pay for the cost. We now may have to sell our house before we can claim, and certainly before the full payment has been made. It seems wrong that the benefit passes to the new owner when we…

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Speakers and sponsor confirmed for Solar Energy UK installer roadshow

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 January 2014 at 9:01 am

Speakers and sponsor confirmed for Solar Energy UK installer roadshow

Natural Sparx powered by Rexel Energy Solutions have confirmed as headline sponsors for this year’s Solar Energy UK (SEUK) Roadshow (previously branded as Solar Power UK Roadshow) taking place in six locations across the UK in February. The roadshow, now in its third year, is a series o…

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Domestic RHI: how do we know which products are eligible?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 January 2014 at 9:41 am

Domestic RHI: how do we know which products are eligible?

Q: We received an email yesterday from MCS which had the following paragraph: RHI Products Reminder: The MCS Helpdesk has been receiving an increasing number of phone calls regarding what products will be eligible for the RHI and whether all MCS products do qualify.  Please be a…

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Register for TWO FREE tickets to the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show worth £34*

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 January 2014 at 9:08 am

Register for TWO FREE tickets to the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show worth £34*



Whether you’re planning to build your own home, add an airy new loft conversion, create a family-friendly kitchen, fit a green heating system or replace tired windows and doors – help is at hand. A visit to The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show will give you all the pr…

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35% of domestic solar systems may be underperforming

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 January 2014 at 11:23 am

35% of domestic solar systems may be underperforming

Some homeowners are getting a significantly lower return on investment from their solar panels than expected according to PassivSystems. The company found that a third of residential solar panels monitored by its home energy management systems are not generating as much electricity as promised. I…

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Which brand of biomass boiler is best?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 January 2014 at 9:52 am

Which brand of biomass boiler is best?

Q: We are going to put in a log gasification biomass boiler, and while there seem to be many companies out there that can do the job, none of them can provide us with unbiased advice on what is the best boiler. They have one brand /manufacturer that they deal with and proceed to sl…

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Readers' tips of the month - December

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 December 2013 at 10:16 am

Readers' tips of the month - December

"Cut energy first by improved insulation, air tightness and appliance energy efficiency, then install renewables," is the tip from chartered building services engineer, Gary Bennett.  "You will spend less overall to acheive a better end result," he adds. He practices …

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Can I get RHI for my biomass boiler if it's not recommended by the green deal?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 December 2013 at 12:20 pm

Can I get RHI for my biomass boiler if it's not recommended by the green deal?

Q: I have just taken a call from a lady who is considering installing a biomass boiler to replace her current LPG boiler.  A couple of green deal assessors have told her that she will only be eligible for domestic RHI (renewable heat incentive) if her green deal assessment report recommends …

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Is my boiler stove eligible for the renewable heat incentive?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 December 2013 at 9:20 am

Is my boiler stove eligible for the renewable heat incentive?

Q: I own and am having installed a Aquatherm ECoF34V boiler stove‏ which seems an extremely substantial piece of Italian kit that should meet MCS criteria but the machine is not MCS certified. There is a considerable amount of money at stake for me personally, and I'm sure the machine wil…

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If I install a biomass boiler now will I definitely get the RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 December 2013 at 11:50 am

If I install a biomass boiler now will I definitely get the RHI?

Q: I have had my green deal assessment done and have an EPC and report with my heat requirements. I want to install a log gasification boiler. I seem to be stuck in that the installer wants a 20% deposit to go ahead but I can't seem to get a firm guarantee that I will receive £x for my …

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When can I apply to the domestic RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 December 2013 at 10:30 am

When can I apply to the domestic RHI?

People with renewable heating systems installed since 15 July 2009 may have to wait to apply for the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI). Last week the government announced its plans to phase the process.  Phasing will enable those who installed without support from the renewable hea…

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Politics wins the day as Government waters down green levy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 December 2013 at 10:41 am

Politics wins the day as Government waters down green levy

The government has just announced a series of measures that it claims will reduce the average energy bill by £50, without slashing the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) which adds about £47 to every energy bill.  While we're glad that they haven't done away with ECO t…

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Readers' tips of the month - solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 November 2013 at 9:33 am

Readers' tips of the month - solar PV

We always advocate a bit of rigour in choosing a renewable energy installer and we're not surprised to find that also being recommended by a a retired environmental scientist and chartered town planner.  Steven Shuttleworth installed 16 x 250KWh solar panels last month. They are in t…

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Watch a solar PV installation in double quick time

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 November 2013 at 10:47 am

If you've ever wondered what's involved in a solar PV installation, these timelapse videos made by GenFit will give you a good idea of the process and some of the situations that they can be installed in: Solar PV on a timber shelter at Upton Heath Primary School   4…

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Insulating under the floor - a photo case study

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 November 2013 at 10:16 am

When insulation is mentioned we tend to think about lofts and walls, but insulating under the floor can make a significant difference too. When we did up our house, we didn't do anything to most of the floors - except lift the carpets and sand them. Since then, annoyed by the howling drau…

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10 cheap and easy ways to make your home warmer this winter

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 November 2013 at 4:08 pm

10 cheap and easy ways to make your home warmer this winter

The start of this winter's first cold snap really contentrates the mind on ways to keep warm. While you can just turn the heating on for longer, or turn the thermostat up, that's a very expensive way of managing the problem. Luckily, there are other ways of improving the energy efficiency…

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Research reveals key opportunities for selling energy efficient improvements

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 November 2013 at 10:16 am

Research reveals key opportunities for selling energy efficient improvements

The challenge for green deal providers and installers is to "sell or package" energy efficiency measures as a solution to the trials and tribulations of domestic life according to research published earlier this year by the UK Energy Research Centre.  Researchers debunked the i…

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Can I get the feed-in tariff for more than one renewable technology

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 November 2013 at 11:41 am

Can I get the feed-in tariff for more than one renewable technology

Q: I have already have installed a solar PV system for which I get a feed-in tariff payment. If I install a micro CHP (combined heat and power) unit, I can get the feed-in tariff for that too? A: Yes, you are eligible to apply for the feed-in tariff for as many renewable energy technologies a…

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Will I get the same feed-in tariff rate if my solar panels are storm damaged?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 November 2013 at 10:01 am

Will I get the same feed-in tariff rate if my solar panels are storm damaged?

Q: Following on from the 'storm', I was wondering what would happen if any existing registered solar panels were damaged and needed to be replaced. Would they slot into the existing feed-in tariff (we got on to the higher rate before it was changed), or would they be under the new lower r…

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What help can I get with heating under the Affordable Warmth scheme?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 November 2013 at 9:21 am

What help can I get with heating under the Affordable Warmth scheme?

Q: I have a typical 60s semi. Unfortunately I don't have a central heating system (warm air broken down). I am now retired and on pension credit. I have tried to get something done via the Affordable Warmth scheme but all they seem interested in is replacing boilers which I don't have! …

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How do I find a recommended installer on YouGen?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 October 2013 at 12:47 pm

How do I find a recommended installer on YouGen?

One of the key barriers to investing in renewable energy that I identified before I started YouGen is finding an installer that you trust to do a good job. How do you evaluate what they are saying, and compare them. Our response is to invite installers to become YouGen members. This means they ca…

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Are green deal providers quoting on reports from independent advisors?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 October 2013 at 10:59 am

Are green deal providers quoting on reports from independent advisors?

Getting a green deal assessment is meant to be like getting a new prescription for your glasses. Once you have the prescription you can shop around for the style of frames you want and have your prescription made up by any provider.  So, the idea is that you invite a green deal advisor r…

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SMA goes zero carbon - how green are your suppliers?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 October 2013 at 9:21 am

SMA goes zero carbon - how green are your suppliers?

While the empasis on selling solar panels over the past few years has been on the financial benefits, I also find it very satisfactory to think about the environmental benefits. It's great that I'm generating free electricity, but I also like knowing that I've reduced the carbon emiss…

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What happens to the feed-in tariff if I move energy supplier?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 October 2013 at 11:31 am

What happens to the feed-in tariff if I move energy supplier?

Q: If I choose to change my present energy supplier (dual fuel), will I be able to leave my feed-in tariff (FiT) payment liability with my original supplier or must I take it with me to the new supplier. In either case will I still receive the same FIT rate as I currently receive.  A: Th…

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MCS deadline for registering legacy renewable heat systems - an update

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 October 2013 at 10:29 am

MCS deadline for registering legacy renewable heat systems - an update

Tomorrow is the deadline by which people who have installed a renewable heating system since 15 July 2009 must ensure that it is registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) if they want to receive the renewable heat incentive. Yet, a quick check this morning reveals th…

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Do self builders need a green deal assessment to claim RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 October 2013 at 9:55 am

Do self builders need a green deal assessment to claim RHI?

Q: We have had a single new house built for us this year and have an air source heat pump. Naturally we would like to apply for the renewable heat incentive when it comes in next year. You said in your blog of 25 July 2013 that you need a green deal assessment to apply unless you are a self-build…

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I've got RHPP - is it worth applying for RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 October 2013 at 10:07 am

I've got RHPP - is it worth applying for RHI?

Q: I am trying to calculate whether it is going to be worth us applying for RHI (renewable heat incentive) since we have already obtained RHPP (renewable heat premium payment). Am I right in thinking that those with a high efficiency construction, requiring a smaller boiler, will we get less…

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How good a deal are solar panels from Ikea?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 October 2013 at 10:46 am

How good a deal are solar panels from Ikea?

Famous for flat-pack furniture and its clean, Scandinavian design, Ikea is a surprise entrant into the solar PV market. With 18 massive stores in the UK it's known for value for money household goods (some would say cheap) and jokes about Allen keys. So would you trust it to sell you solar pa…

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