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Planning permission not needed for (most) external solid wall insulation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 January 2013 at 9:04 am

Planning permission not needed for (most) external solid wall insulation

In a welcome bit of joined-up government thinking, the departments of energy and climate change and of communities and local government have clarified that the installation of external solid wall insulation constitutes an 'improvement' to a house rather than an 'enlargement' or &#…

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Thermodynamic panels: your questions answered

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 January 2013 at 9:12 am

Thermodynamic panels: your questions answered

This blog was updated in February 2014. If someone told you that there's a new solar panel that could heat your hot water 24 hours a day, 365 days a year come rain, shine or snow, would you believe them? It sounds too good to be true, and that always makes me suspicious, but that's wh…

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Over 70% of E.on customers have problems getting FIT payments

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 December 2012 at 9:10 am

Over 70% of E.on customers have problems getting FIT payments

Earlier this year we found E.on had more disgruntled feed-in tariff customers than any other energy company. New research by Which?, with a bigger sample of 1,700 respondents, has come to the same conclusion. More than a third of their members had problems with their FIT supplier, and of thos…

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Gas or electric heater with solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 December 2012 at 11:25 am

Gas or electric heater with solar panels?

Q: In discussions of draught proofing a room I realise that a lot of heat must be drawn up the flue behind my gas fire & therefore wasted due to its inevitable escape to the environment. Would it be worth it to replace my gas fire in the lounge by an electric fire with resultant minimal loss …

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Ban deal on the day: open letter to Greg Barker MP and Jo Swinson MP

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 December 2012 at 2:16 pm

Ban deal on the day: open letter to Greg Barker MP and Jo Swinson MP

An open letter from Mike Stephenson, H2Eco  to the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Jo Swinson MP, and the Energy Minister, Greg Barker MP and the wider Renewable Energy Installation industry. Help reduce pressure selling in the home by banning ‘deal on the day.’ I would …

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Seven top tips for selling renewable heat technologies in the domestic market

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 December 2012 at 12:23 pm

Seven top tips for selling renewable heat technologies in the domestic market

A lot of work is needed to raise awareness among the British public of renewable heat technologies such as solar thermal, heat pumps and biomass boilers according to research by Delta Energy and Environment. Speaking at Renewable Energy Installer's business strategy conference in November…

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Will the domestic RHI incentivise installers to invest in training?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 December 2012 at 10:14 am

Will the domestic RHI incentivise installers to invest in training?

Renewable heat zones led by local authorities would provide the incentives necessary for heating engineers to invest in training and skills for renewable heat installation, according to Kelly Butler of BEAMA. Speaking at the Westminster Forum on Progress of the RHI last month, Butler pointed …

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What is the most profitable best kept secret in renewable energy?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 December 2012 at 12:17 pm

What is the most profitable best kept secret in renewable energy?

Developing a sustainable business in a field as dominated by politics as renewable energy is a hazardous undertaking. So how do you pick the route to the most stable market? Ask what the strategic policy drivers are, is the advice of Erich Scherer, an assistant director in the renewable energ…

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Have you been subject to pressure sales for solar?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 December 2012 at 2:30 pm

Have you been subject to pressure sales for solar?

A small minority of renewable energy companies are ignoring the rules on selling set down in the REAL Assurance consumer code, to which all MCS accredited installers must adhere.  This is the relevant section of the code: Sales employees and representatives, whether employed  di…

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Join our campaign to ban 'deal on the day' for renewable energy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 December 2012 at 4:20 pm

Join our campaign to ban 'deal on the day' for renewable energy

If you don't like being pressured to buy in your own home, then support our campaign to to stop renewable energy companies being able to sign up customers on the day of a sales visit. These are substantial investments which are not suitable for a 'deal on the day sale', and most reput…

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Why we are calling on ministers to ban 'deal on the day' for renewable energy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 December 2012 at 4:16 pm

Why we are calling on ministers to ban 'deal on the day' for renewable energy

There are occasions when signing a contract on the day with the first sales person you come into contact with is a good idea, but they are few and far between. An example might be when your boiler has broken down, and the plumber you know and trust comes to replace it. However, when a company has…

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Should I cancel my contract for solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 December 2012 at 12:32 pm

Should I cancel my contract for solar panels?

Q: I had a visit Thursday evening from Ecohome Renewables. They quoted me £15,560 for a 16 panel 230w system, gave me a discount down to £10,560 but guaranteed me a tariff inflator to inflate my PV FIT system to 40p for 20 years. I had to agree then and there and signed a contract for…

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Biomass boiler means house is warm for the first time

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 November 2012 at 4:10 pm

Biomass boiler means house is warm for the first time

"It's the first time in the history of our house that we've had a warm house. Last year we were scraping ice off the inside of the windows." Anyone who lives in an old, leaky farmhouse and heats it with oil will probably prick up their ears at a quote like that and want to k…

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YouGen wins WWF Green Game-Changer award

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 November 2012 at 2:16 pm

YouGen wins WWF Green Game-Changer award

YouGen was announced the winner of the WWF Green Game Changer Award in the International Green Awards 2012 last week in a glitzy presentation at Battersea Power Station. The Green Game-Changer category was new this year in a tie up with WWF-UK. It was looking for innovations in products, serv…

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Government's new energy efficiency strategy is flawed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 November 2012 at 10:31 am

Government's new energy efficiency strategy is flawed

The Government published its new Energy Efficiency Strategy earlier this week, setting out its ambition to save up to 22 power stations-worth of energy by 2020.  The Strategy is aimed at saving energy in housing, transport and manufacturing.  New energy saving initiatives announced toda…

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Will customer awareness of the domestic RHI be great enough?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 November 2012 at 9:16 am

Will customer awareness of the domestic RHI be great enough?

Government needs to take action to ensure customer awareness of the renewable heat incentive (RHI), said Peter Connor, senior lecturer in renewable energy policy at the University of Exeter. He was speaking at the Westminster Forum seminar on delivering the RHI earlier this week. This was somethi…

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Metering is biggest challenge to RHI

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 November 2012 at 3:09 pm

Metering is biggest challenge to RHI

The biggest challenges in the RHI are around metering, according to Lindsay Goater, senior manager, RHI generation at Ofgem. Speaking at the Westminster Forum seminar, Delivering the Renewable Heat Incentive, earlier this week he said that the main problem is meters not installing them to the man…

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Delivering the Renewable Heat Incentive - speech to Westminster Forum

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 November 2012 at 9:44 am

Delivering the Renewable Heat Incentive - speech to Westminster Forum

This is my speech to the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum seminar on Delivering the Renewable Heat Incentive: controlling costs suppporting new technologies and moving towards the domestic roll out on Tuesday 13 November 2012. YouGen is a information website for home and sm…

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Domestic or not? Where's the divide for the Renewable Heat Incentive?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 November 2012 at 9:03 am

Domestic or not? Where's the divide for the Renewable Heat Incentive?

Businesses that run from home can experience complications when claiming the renewable heat incentive. Do they count as  domestic or commercial for the purposes of the RHI? It's an important question, as the two versions of the scheme are quite different. The non-domestic renewable h…

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Free, comprehensive guide to farm energy saving

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 November 2012 at 9:57 am

Free, comprehensive guide to farm energy saving

Keeping the costs of energy down is a must for most farms, but the challenge is often knowing where to start. As in most businesses it's easy to let the urgent take priority over the important, but as the writers of a detailed new guide to energy efficiency say, if you don't start planning change no…

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Feed-in tariff for solar PV falls, but ROI increases

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 November 2012 at 10:09 am

Feed-in tariff for solar PV falls, but ROI increases

The first automatic degression of the solar PV feed-in tariff rate occurred yesterday. To put that in plain English, the rate for new installations fell by 3.5 per cent for all installations of 150kW and below. For a 4kW installation that meant a reduction in tariff from 16p per kWh to 15.44p.&nb…

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How can we best use our solar generated electricity?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 November 2012 at 9:34 am

How can we best use our solar generated electricity?

Q: We have just installed PV solar panels, rated at max output of 2.25 kW. Very pleased so far (3 weeks). Careful use of daytime electricity and a woodburning stove for cooking means our energy is only costing an average of around 50p per day. (We collect waste wood to burn and we do most of our co…

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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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How to choose an installer - October's reader tip of the month

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 October 2012 at 11:15 am

How to choose an installer - October's reader tip of the month

Wise words on choosing an installer from Dax: "Beware the cold callers and their convenient ability to reduce the cost by a) working locally so can install at a reduced cost b) ringing the director when you continue to say 'NO' as there are commercial installations at business …

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Should the RHI aim to raise performance of renewable heat technologies?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 October 2012 at 8:58 am

Should the RHI aim to raise performance of renewable heat technologies?

If the renewable heat incentive (RHI) is to meet its stated goals of generating more energy from renewable sources and reducing carbon emissions, it is important that the installations subsidised by it are efficient and high performing. This requires good design and installation and owners who know …

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Proposals aim to make the energy market clearer and fairer

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 October 2012 at 9:22 am

Proposals aim to make the energy market clearer and fairer

Simpler, clearer and fairer is how Ofgem describes its proposals to reform the energy market. It aims to put an end to the confusion of complex (impenetrably so in most cases) tariffs, thus making the market more competitive. Ofgem is proposing simplifying the market by limiting each supplier to…

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Solar power is most popular energy for the future

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 October 2012 at 3:30 pm

Solar power is most popular energy for the future

While the message from government seems to be focusing on a dash for gas and fracking, the public has just demonstrated that it's way ahead of government in its support for future powered by renewable energy. Results of a new poll from YouGov found that people would like to see more investment in so…

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DECC announces cashback scheme to incentivise energy saving improvements

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 October 2012 at 2:59 pm

DECC announces cashback scheme to incentivise energy saving improvements

Householders making energy saving improvements to their home will be able to claim up to half the cost back under a new cashback scheme. The government has put aside £125m to help kick start its flagship Green Deal scheme which will provide finance for energy efficiency measures from 28 January nex…

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Industry asked to support national solar campaign

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 October 2012 at 1:25 pm

Industry asked to support national solar campaign

Solar PV still offers attractive returns, yet domestic sales have slowed radically. I've heard many theories about why, and much hand wringing, but not much about solutions. Until now. I'm delighted to hear that the industry is launching a positive nationwide solar campaign to highlight the benefits…

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Loyalty card scheme aims to boost take up of energy saving measures

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 October 2012 at 9:14 am

Loyalty card scheme aims to boost take up of energy saving measures

Loyalty cards have been around for ages. Most airlines and supermarkets have them. But so far, they haven't played much of a part in the energy market. This is all set to change with the launch of the National Energy Card which will be piloted with solar PV, and is due to start in November this year…

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How to keep your solar panels clean

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 October 2012 at 9:01 am

How to keep your solar panels clean

We're often asked whether you should clean your solar panels so I was interested to see two very different methods of keeping them in tip top generating condition at the Solar Power UK exhibition last week. Anything that blocks the light transmission to your solar PV (or thermal) panels has t…

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Storage system for domestic solar electricity launched

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 October 2012 at 9:48 am

Storage system for domestic solar electricity launched

With a large discrepancy between the cost of buying and selling electricity, the owners of domestic solar PV systems are always asking how they can use more of it on site. So it was exciting to speak with the inventors of the first fully integrated storage system for domestic Solar PV at Solar Po…

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Conservation officer asks home owner to remove solar panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 October 2012 at 10:16 am

Conservation officer asks home owner to remove solar panels

Solar PV is a permitted development, however that doesn't stop problems with planning cropping up. Individual councils are left to interpret the rules as they see fit.  We have just heard of a recent example in Dacorum Borough Council in Hertfordshire. A YouGen reader had a 3kw system instal…

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Two energy companies raise their prices today

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 October 2012 at 4:08 pm

Two energy companies raise their prices today

British Gas announced today that electricity and gas prices would be increasing by 6% for their customers. Npower followed suit with a 8.8% hike for gas and 9.1% for electricity. The price increase comes at a time when there are already 6 million households in fuel poverty across the UK, sp…

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Solar panels make your house more attractive to buyers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 October 2012 at 6:52 pm

Solar panels make your house more attractive to buyers

Solar panels are one of the most desirable 'deal-sealers' for people buying a new house according to new research. Logic says that solar panels should add value to a property, especially as most installations currently come with 20 or more years of feed-in tariff income attached. However, research o…

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Why the RHI probably won't encourage domestic solar thermal installations

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 October 2012 at 12:12 pm

Why the RHI probably won't encourage domestic solar thermal installations

New announcements about the solar water heating calculation for domestic RHI render this blog no longer relevant. For the latest information click here. Unlike the feed-in tariff, the RHI (renewable heat incentive) is not designed to provide a specific rate of return. It is intended as a boil…

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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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Reader tip of the month - turn it off!

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 September 2012 at 4:22 pm

Reader tip of the month - turn it off!

We talk about technology a lot on the website, but technology by itself is not enough - it's the user that makes the most difference. It's no good having the most efficient boiler, if you turn the thermostat up high, and then open the windows when it gets too hot.  User-behaviour was the the…

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Energy efficiency is the answer to rising fuel bills

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 September 2012 at 9:27 am

Energy efficiency is the answer to rising fuel bills

Four of the Big Six UK energy providers are expected to increase energy prices by the end of this year after Scottish and Southern Electric (SSE) announced plans to increase domestic gas and electricity prices by an average of 9 per cent from October 15. The price rise, set to affect 5 million el…

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Heating controls often aren't used effectively

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 September 2012 at 9:21 am

Heating controls often aren't used effectively

Difficulties using heating controls are widespread according to Consumer Focus which has reviewed a wide range of research on the subject (click here to download the full research results). Displays are difficult to see, buttons difficult to use, they don't tend to be intuitive to use, they are ofte…

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Details of proposed domestic RHI now available

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 September 2012 at 2:19 pm

The long-awaited proposals for support for householders who install renewable heating systems have been announced today. People changing their heating to technologies such as biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal receive a financial incentive along the same lines as the feed-in tariff…

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Strong shortlist for SW Renewable Energy Installer of the Year

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 September 2012 at 12:23 pm

Strong shortlist for SW Renewable Energy Installer of the Year

Judges will have a hard time choosing a winner in the Installer of the Year category of the South West Green Energy Awards sponsored by us at YouGen, and organised by RegenSW.  Our mission is to help people to get the right renewable or energy saving solution for their home or business. Know…

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Review: Home Energy Handbook: A guide to saving and generating energy in your home and community

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 September 2012 at 9:38 am

Review: Home Energy Handbook: A guide to saving and generating energy in your home and community

I've read a lot about energy in the past four years: how to save it, and how to generate it. But I until now I haven't found any one source that explains how we use energy in our homes, and how to use it more effectively, as well as the Home Energy Handbook. Published a couple of months ago by th…

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Lightning strikes and solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 September 2012 at 9:36 am

Lightning strikes and solar PV

YouGen reader Alan Drever lives on the south west coast of Isle of Skye. This part of Scotland has a higher than average lightning incidence, so when considering installation of a solar PV system it was something he wanted to take into consideration. The risk of lightning strike is not just theor…

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Installers may not be doing adequate solar PV tests

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 September 2012 at 12:31 pm

Installers may not be doing adequate solar PV tests

Shocking results of a recent survey suggest that many MCS Solar PV installers may not be doing key PV array tests. Writing in his blog on Solar Power Portal  yesterday, Sundog Energy founder Martin Cotterell said: "Every PV installer accredited under MCS should know how to test a completed PV s…

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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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Davey upbeat about continued green growth

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 September 2012 at 11:27 am

Davey upbeat about continued green growth

The green economy is the engine of growth according to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey. Speaking yesterday at a Sustainable Energy Reception organised by RegenSW and hosted by Duncan Hames MP, he was upbeat about the contribution the renewable energy sector will make. We wo…

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Great discounts available for Solar Power UK seminars

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 September 2012 at 8:15 am

Great discounts available for Solar Power UK seminars

YouGen has teamed up with Solar Power UK to support UK renewable energy installers. If you are an MCS accredited installer and want to expand your product knowledge, learn more about how the right business model can boost your business or are considering expanding into the commercial sized market; t…

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Feed-in tariff hits the Archers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 September 2012 at 11:24 am

Feed-in tariff hits the Archers

Last night grumpy old Adam Macy on Radio 4's The Archers acknowledged that his step father Brian had made a good move building an anaerobic digestion system. "It's the one part I do buy into. Even with the tariff cuts the figures do look pretty good. ... It's going to produce a lot more power than w…

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How to send a simple signal that energy efficiency is important

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 September 2012 at 10:49 am

How to send a simple signal that energy efficiency is important

We can bang on about the importance of energy effiiciency as much and as loudly as we want, but maybe there are more subtle ways of stating its importance and raising it up people's consciousness. On my recent holiday in France I saw two examples of simple, yet really effective awareness (and consci…

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