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New tool to help detect problems in your solar panel performance

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 26 May 2015 at 10:30 am

New tool to help detect problems in your solar panel performance

Sheffield Solar Farm has developed an online tool to help you detect problems in your solar panel performance. The tool works by comparing the last six month’s data from your system with that of the surrounding hundred systems.  If the data from any one month differs from other loc…

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Can you have both cavity wall insulation and external or internal wall insulation?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 7 May 2015 at 9:35 am

Can you have both cavity wall insulation and external or internal wall insulation?

Got a cavity wall? Fill it. Got a solid wall? Then add internal or external wall insulation. This is the standard advice for people looking make their houses snugger and more energy efficient. But there are those who go one step further. Having filled the cavities in his mid-century detac…

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

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 24 April 2015 at 4:10 pm

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

1. Keep an eye on your generation meter   Check your generation meter once a week and keep a record of the figure. Your meter should clock up energy generation every day, even in dull weather. Keeping a regular eye on it will help you notice any variation over time that doesn’t seem …

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Air source heat pumps vs ground source. Which is best?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 22 April 2015 at 3:05 pm

Air source heat pumps vs ground source. Which is best?

Should I get an air source heat pump or a ground source heat pump? Heat pumps take heat from the ground, air or water and use it to heat space and water. They are like a fridge in reverse. The fridge takes heat from the food you put in it, and pumps that into the kitchen, keeping the food cold.…

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Solar power in a conservation area: how solar slate tiles pleased the planners

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 15 April 2015 at 2:15 pm

Solar power in a conservation area: how solar slate tiles pleased the planners

Whenever I see a petition designed to get solar panels removed from village roofs, I get a little twitchy. Not only is this, in my view, the worst kind of nimbyism, these petitions invariably cite the ugliness of the panels as a reason for their removal. How unsightly, I wonder, will these vi…

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Been offered a free biomass boiler? Proceed with caution, advises Ofgem

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 9 April 2015 at 2:35 pm

Been offered a free biomass boiler? Proceed with caution, advises Ofgem

Have you been approached by someone offering to install a free biomass boiler in your house? Is this an offer that seems too good to be true?  As the Department of Energy and Climate Change continues to work out how to regulate so called third party ownership under the Renewable…

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What questions should you ask when comparing solar PV quotes?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 30 March 2015 at 9:55 am

What questions should you ask when comparing solar PV quotes?

You’ve got a stack of quotes for solar PV but without the technical know-how it can be very hard to figure out which one is best. Following on from our blog about what should be included in your quote, we’ve come up with a list of questions you can ask to help you to sort the wheat fr…

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West Solent Solar: community at the heart of local energy project

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 27 March 2015 at 12:20 pm

West Solent Solar: community at the heart of local energy project

On the south coast of England, on a patch of land facing the Isle of Wight and the English Channel beyond, a sea breeze blows, cooling a solar array. Not everyone knows this but cool conditions improve a solar panel output. This is because electrons flow faster in cooler temperatures so a hig…

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Biomass boiler vs heat pump : The fight is on!

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 25 March 2015 at 10:55 am

Biomass boiler vs heat pump : The fight is on!

Domestic biomass installations now outstrip the entire heat pump industry in the UK. But is biomass always better? When might you choose a heat pump instead? We’ve pitted these two titans of the domestic renewable heating world against each other and here’s the fight in full: Rou…

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Abstraction licence fees rise for small scale hydroelectric schemes

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 23 March 2015 at 4:30 pm

Abstraction licence fees rise for small scale hydroelectric schemes

I was chatting with Peter Downs from Itteringham Mill about his hydroelectric project when the matter of abstraction licences came up. An abstraction licence is a legal requirement for anyone who removes more than 20 cubic metres of water from a public source per day. This covers pretty much …

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Heat pumps and hydro electricity: how to get your energy from a river

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 12 March 2015 at 12:25 pm

Heat pumps and hydro electricity: how to get your energy from a river

When a river runs right past your house, as in Liz and Peter Downs’s case, it makes sense to use that water to heat and power your home. The Downs bought Itteringham Mill, a 1778 Norfolk watermill in 2004 with the intention of turning it into a bed and breakfast with holiday cottages a…

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How do I set up a community energy project?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 4 March 2015 at 9:20 am

How do I set up a community energy project?

First things first: the fact that you’re even asking this shows you’re ambitious and that is good. You are embarking on a thorny and complicated journey and there will be many challenges along the way. But take heart! It is a journey many others have successfully trodden before and he…

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YouGen's 10 top tips for a warm, energy efficient winter

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 14 October 2014 at 9:18 am

YouGen's 10 top tips for a warm, energy efficient winter

Brrr. Did you feel that? After such a balmy summer the sudden appearance of autumn is a bit of a shock, right? Now it’s turn on the heating time in many UK homes, here are our top tips to keeping the heating bills down this winter without compromising on warmth. 1. Buy a new woolly! It&…

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Readers' tips of the month

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 30 September 2014 at 9:01 am

Readers' tips of the month

Here are some of the tips, observations and appeals for information that have come our newest members over the last month. Welcome to each of you - we hope you enjoy the site!  If you want to join the hallowed ranks of YouGen members it's absolutely free and gives you access to co…

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Will insulating my cavity walls cause damp?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 29 September 2014 at 9:01 am

Q. I have a 1930s bungalow with brick outside skin and breeze block inner skin. Following a visual scoping by the prospective cavity insulation installers, I have removed some bricks and manually removed rubble. But I can’t easily get to the rubble at the very bottom of the cavity. The rubb…

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How will feed-in tariffs be affected by the smart meter revolution?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 25 September 2014 at 7:05 am

How will feed-in tariffs be affected by the smart meter revolution?

Q. Can users who have smart meters use their export values from the meter for FIT payments, rather than the standard deemed 50 per cent? A. Your question refers to the way in which the export payments element of the feed-in tariff is calculated. You are right that for most domestic solar …

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Homebuilding and renovating show big ticket giveaway!

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 23 September 2014 at 9:04 am

Homebuilding and renovating show big ticket giveaway!

Planning to build an eco home? Considering installing a heat pump? Need help navigating the muddy waters of eco funding and grants? These problems and more will be unpicked and solved at the Homebuilding and Renovating Show in London this weekend.  Running from 26th-28th September at…

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YouGen attends the People's Climate March 2014. And we liked it!

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 22 September 2014 at 8:52 am

YouGen attends the People's Climate March 2014. And we liked it!

It started as a light tinkling, like the sound of a thousand distantly splintering light bulbs. Then it gathered as it neared us, part wind, part wave, part force of sound. It wasn’t until the roar was upon us and around us and then, in a second, past us, that it was recognisable for what i…

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YouGen supports the green innovations of 2014

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 18 September 2014 at 7:15 am

YouGen supports the green innovations of 2014

YouGen are very excited to be sponsoring a category at this year’s Energy Efficiency and Renewables Awards. The awards, organised by Renewable Energy Installer (REI) magazine celebrate the best in renewable energy in the UK. We are sponsoring the Green Innovation of the year categor…

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Is MCS-accreditation worth it?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 17 September 2014 at 9:01 am

Is MCS-accreditation worth it?

We’ve noticed that some installers of solar thermal are now offering to fit solar hot water systems outside existing quality assurance schemes. One installer is claiming to be able to save their customers up to £2000 by not putting their installation through the rigorous…

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Green deal is a 'disappointing failure', says committee of MPs

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 15 September 2014 at 9:30 am

Green deal is a 'disappointing failure', says committee of MPs

The green deal has been a ‘disappointing failure’ which has caused ‘frustration and confusion for both consumers and businesses’, an influential cross party Westminster committee has concluded today. The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee said that better insul…

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Making an old property energy efficient: the SuperHomes effect

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 11 September 2014 at 7:50 am

Making an old property energy efficient: the SuperHomes effect

Thinking of making your old home more energy efficient but don’t know where to begin? Then learn from someone who does. This weekend you can visit one of 180 houses across the UK whose owners have succeeded in reducing their energy consumption by at least 60 per cent. The owners of …

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How to make a 1920s terrace property warm and energy efficient

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 26 August 2014 at 10:17 am

How to make a 1920s terrace property warm and energy efficient

Making a leaky 1920s house energy efficient is a daunting prospect. But it was experience renovating their previous home – a barge – that gave Jurgen Huber and Zoe Allen the confidence to take on the task.  "The practical experience I gained of altering, fitting out, and…

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Tenants can switch to a green energy supplier too

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 20 August 2014 at 4:25 pm

Tenants can switch to a green energy supplier too

Three quarters of people living in rented accommodation have never switched electricity suppliers, new research by Ofgem has found.  Compared to 55 per cent of homeowners, this research shows a worrying lack of awareness among tenants of their freedom to choose who supplies their electri…

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Is my home renovation classed as a self-build for claiming RHI?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 18 August 2014 at 8:52 am

Is my home renovation classed as a self-build for claiming RHI?

Q. We have recently renovated and extended a 200-year old cottage into a 4-bed home with an air source heat pump. Prior to our moving in the property was empty for more than two years and uninhabitable.  Do we need a green deal assessment or are we classed as self builders for the p…

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Can I get another EPC done if I think my first one is incorrect?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 14 August 2014 at 6:41 am

Can I get another EPC done if I think my first one is incorrect?

Q. I am considering installing a biomass boiler. I have had a green deal assessment done including the energy performance certificate in preparation for claiming domestic renewable heat incentive. I'm not quite sure that the assessment of my annual energy needs (kWH) is as high as it could be…

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Does my landlord have to ensure my home is energy efficient?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 12 August 2014 at 9:01 am

Does my landlord have to ensure my home is energy efficient?

There are currently has 4.2m privately rented households in the UK and Wales and a shameful 11 per cent of those, or nearly half a million, have the lowest EPC ratings of band F or G.  If you live in one of these properties what is your landlord required to do to improve your situation? …

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Should I get a green deal assessment before or after I install?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 7 August 2014 at 8:52 am

Should I get a green deal assessment before or after I install?

Q. I am looking to install a heat pump and I hope to apply for the renewable heat incentive. I know I need to have green deal assessment but should this be done before or after the heat pump is installed? A. You are right that all renewable heat incentive (RHI) applicants (with the exception …

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How much will I earn from my renewable heating system?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 4 August 2014 at 8:46 am

How much will I earn from my renewable heating system?

If you’re wondering how much you could earn in government incentives from a renewable heating system in your home then an answer is at hand. The Department of Energy and Climate Change have launched their online domestic renewable heat incentive calculator which allows you to estimate t…

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Help CAT celebrate their 40th birthday!

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 1 August 2014 at 6:22 am

Help CAT celebrate their 40th birthday!

If you’re in Wales this weekend you could do worse than pop along to the incomparable Centre for Alternative Technology’s 40th birthday carnival.  The carnival runs from 10am-5.30pm tomorrow (Saturday 2 August) and will be a great opportunity to have a look at all the work ac…

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UK community energy awards entries due in!

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 30 July 2014 at 9:01 am

UK community energy awards entries due in!

The deadline for making a nomination to the UK Community Energy awards is tomorrow. The awards are free to enter and open to any UK-based not-for-profit organisation, group or individual working or volunteering inthe community energy sector. There are 15 different categories, such as ener…

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Domestic renewable heat incentive LIVE online Q&A!

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 28 July 2014 at 9:23 am

Domestic renewable heat incentive LIVE online Q&A!

The online Q&A is now closed. Massive thanks to everyone who took part. If you have any more questions about domestic RHI then please have a look at our renewable heat incentive information pages and at our renewable heat incentive: your questions answered blog. We will no longer be answering…

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Questions asked around sudden closure of green deal home improvement scheme

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 25 July 2014 at 9:33 am

Questions asked around sudden closure of green deal home improvement scheme

The government has announced that applications to the green deal home improvement fund have closed with immediate effect. Following a ‘surge in applications’ over the last two days, the GDHIF budget was reached and breached and in a surprise move, the government last night pulled …

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Solid wall insulation funding slashed amid enthusiastic take up of incentive scheme

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 25 July 2014 at 8:57 am

Solid wall insulation funding slashed amid enthusiastic take up of incentive scheme

UPDATE: The government has announced that applications to the green deal home improvement fund have closed with immediate effect. Following a ‘surge in applications’ over the last two days, the GDHIF budget was reached and breached and in a surprise move, the government last night…

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Do I need a green deal assessment to get the green deal home improvement fund?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 21 July 2014 at 8:54 am

Do I need a green deal assessment to get the green deal home improvement fund?

Q. Do I need a green deal assessment to get money from the green deal home improvement fund? And if not, why bother with a green deal assessment at all? A. Here’s a funny thing – no you don’t! Among the many confusing and overlapping features of the current government&rs…

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I have been offered a free biomass boiler by a company who wants my RHI payments. Should I accept?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 18 July 2014 at 8:18 am

I have been offered a free biomass boiler by a company who wants my RHI payments. Should I accept?

Q. I can’t afford to install a biomass boiler myself. However, I have approached by a company who have offered me a free biomass boiler so long as I assign the domestic renewable heat incentive payments to them. Should I accept? A. One of the features of the early days of the feed-in ta…

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My heat pump isn't on Ofgem's product eligibility list. Can I still claim RHI?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 16 July 2014 at 10:08 am

My heat pump isn't on Ofgem's product eligibility list. Can I still claim RHI?

Q My heat pump does not appear on Ofgem’s product eligibility list (PEL) for the renewable heat incentive (RHI) and I do not have an MCS certificate for the installation. Can I apply for RHI?  I installed a Stiebel Eltron (WPL 16 AS) ASHP in 2010. It does not appear in the list of…

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I need solid wall insulation in my home. Are there any grants to help me fund it?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 14 July 2014 at 9:43 am

I need solid wall insulation in my home. Are there any grants to help me fund it?

Q. I need to install solid wall insulation in my home. Are there any grants to help me pay for it? A. If solid wall insulation has been recommended on an energy performance certificate then you could be eligible for the Green Dean Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF). This fund provides up to £…

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Community group funding available to help spread the energy saving word

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 11 July 2014 at 10:15 am

Community group funding available to help spread the energy saving word

Parish councils, community energy groups, charities and social landlords are among the groups being invited to bid for funding to provide energy saving advice in their local communties. The government has announced that £1m is being made available for charities and community organisatio…

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Is there a limit to how much feed-in tariffs I can get for my solar panels?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 9 July 2014 at 10:50 am

Is there a limit to how much feed-in tariffs I can get for my solar panels?

Q: My question is in relation to feed-in tariffs for solar pv panels. We have a massive, south-facing roof which could accommodate an 8kw system. We are away from the UK for several months of the year and therefore our entire electricity production could go back to the grid. As we have a smart me…

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Should I recalculate my heat pump's SPF? My renewable heat incentive journey part 2

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 4 July 2014 at 9:03 am

Should I recalculate my heat pump's SPF? My renewable heat incentive journey part 2

As the owner of an air source heat pump who received a renewable heat premium payment grant prior to 20 May 2013, I am in the second tranche of applicants being invited to apply for the renewable heat incentive.  The date from which the group is eligible to apply – July 9, 2014 &nd…

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Help! My RHI application has gone for manual review. What should I do?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 2 July 2014 at 9:01 am

Help! My RHI application has gone for manual review. What should I do?

You’ve been told that the online application for the renewable heat incentive is straightforward process, and you should expect an instant decision on the amount of money you will receive.  But with around 62 per cent of applications currently being referred to so-called manual rev…

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Great LED light giveaway!

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 27 June 2014 at 9:40 am

Great LED light giveaway!

This competition has now closed. I'm delighted to announce the winners  are Helen & Laurie. Congratulations - your vouchers are in their way. Let there be light! Everyone knows the theory: that replacing your lightbulbs with low energy ones, such as LEDs can shave pounds off …

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My cavity wall insulation is soaking wet. What can I do?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 13 June 2014 at 10:30 am

My cavity wall insulation is soaking wet. What can I do?

Q: We bought a 1930s house which we have been updating including installing french doors. Late last year serious damp patches started spreading on each side and across top of doors, as well as in many other places on this wall both upstairs and down. The house has cavity walls which have been fil…

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How do I apply for the green deal home improvement fund?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 11 June 2014 at 8:26 am

How do I apply for the green deal home improvement fund?

This week the government has launched the green deal home improvement fund (GDHIF). The fund is a stash of cash (£120m to be precise) to be given in grants –that’s free money, people! – to anyone who has made eligible energy saving improvements to their home. To get th…

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Can cavity wall insulation be topped up or refilled?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 9 June 2014 at 10:10 am

Can cavity wall insulation be topped up or refilled?

Q: We had cavity wall insulation pumped into out walls about 30 years ago. Over the last 10 years or so it has been shedding the beads through air-bricks and any holes drilled in the walls to such an extent that I now question it's efficacy. Is it possible to have it refilled? A…

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Solar panels and subsidies mean payday on Northern Ireland farm

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 29 May 2014 at 9:08 am

Solar panels and subsidies mean payday on Northern Ireland farm

It’s five am and 75 cows are jostling their way into the milking shed at Stewart Watson’s dairy farm in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The mooing and stomping of the cattle as they funnel into their stalls is a familiar sound in this part of Ireland where multiple dairy farms ch…

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Biomass suppliers must register to prove fuel is sustainable

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 21 May 2014 at 10:46 am

Biomass suppliers must register to prove fuel is sustainable

Producers and suppliers of biomass woodfuel are being urged to register their business on the government’s newly launched biomass suppliers list (BSL).  From October 2014, only fuel bought from a registered supplier can be used in biomass boilers, if their owners wish to claim the …

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Seasonal performance factors and RHI: should I get a reassessment?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 9 May 2014 at 9:50 am

Seasonal performance factors and RHI: should I get a reassessment?

You've had a heat pump installed (prior to the launch of the RHI), you've had your green deal assessment, you've got your MCS certificate and you're poised to apply for the government's newly-launched renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme. But hold on - what's thi…

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Green deal installers should register so customers can access home improvements grants

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 8 May 2014 at 10:40 am

Green deal installers should register so customers can access home improvements grants

Green deal installers and providers are being invited to register to be able to offer new cash incentives to their customers. The government’s newly announced green deal home improvement fund (GDHIF) offers homeowners grants of up to £6,000 for solid wall insulation and/or up to &…

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