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When to consider using an air source heat pump

Posted by John Lightfoot on 8 December 2010 at 2:07 pm

When to consider using an air source heat pump

Air source heat pumps can be used in many applications for heating water, be it domestic (tap) water or the water used in for space heating. The first part of the decision process of whether I should consider using an air source heat pump to heat my house starts with – "why I am doi…

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Ground source heat pumps don't need immersion heaters

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 6 December 2010 at 11:52 am

Ground source heat pumps don't need immersion heaters

Would you install an 11kW boiler into a building with a 20kW load? No.  The same should be true of ground source heat pumps. Due to the constraints of the UK National Grid there are a number of large properties with single phase electricity, where the upgrade cost to three phase sup…

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Green Deal - will the advice be good enough?

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 3 December 2010 at 9:15 am

Green Deal - will the advice be good enough?

You're probably painfully aware that there's a lot still to be decided about how the Green Deal will work.  According to DECC the Green Deal process starts with the provision of advice: "All households and businesses will be entitled to an energy efficiency assessment as part of Green …

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Why would anyone be interested in the Green Deal?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 December 2010 at 8:42 am

Why would anyone be interested in the Green Deal?

This question was asked of the Question Time panel at RegenSW's conference last week, and their answers weren't a ringing endorsement of the Green Deal, the government's flagship policy for making domestic housing more energy efficient. "I'm pessimistic that it will work," said Ian Marchant, chie…

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Renewable heat incentive - the latest news

Posted by Howard Johns on 30 November 2010 at 1:05 pm

Renewable heat incentive - the latest news

A policy document on the renewable heat incentive should be out by the end of the year. Room for negotiation around design and tariff levels is pretty much over and DECC will be seeking technical standards approval for the renewable heat incentive in January. The good response to the cons…

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Future of feed-in tariff still uncertain

Posted by Howard Johns on 26 November 2010 at 10:38 am

Future of feed-in tariff still uncertain

The uncertainty surounding the future of feed-in tariffs continues after yesterday’s meeting between energy minister Greg Barker and representatives of the PV industry and other stakeholders. Its purpose was to discuss the implications of the comprehensive spending review on the scheme. He confirm…

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Solar PV farms - are they good for the UK?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 November 2010 at 3:34 pm

Solar PV farms - are they good for the UK?

Whether large scale solar PV farms are relevant for the long term in the UK was one the first questions asked at RegenSW's Question Time debate this week. No, was the short answer from Sarah Rhodes, the head of land-based renewables at DECC, although she put it less baldly than that. Due to the …

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Win a GEO Minim energy meter

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 November 2010 at 11:37 am

Win a GEO Minim energy meter

What's the best energy efficiency measure you've taken at home. It may be the one that saved you the most off your heating bills, or the easy, quick fix that blocks off the draught that used to howl around your ankles while you watched TV. Or maybe it's the ingenious bodge job, that didn't cost you …

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Solar PV panels installed on 10thC Saxon Church

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 November 2010 at 8:39 am

Solar PV panels installed on 10thC Saxon Church

Solar PV panels have just been installed in the Grade 1 listed, Saxon church in Wing, Buckinghamshire. Inspired by seeing the Bishop of Lincoln switching on a solar PV installation on a Grade 1 Listed church in Sleaford on Songs of Praise, former church warden Martin Findlay thought "we could do …

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Is your fridge an electricity-gobbling monster?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 November 2010 at 8:46 am

Is your fridge an electricity-gobbling monster?

Did you know that 23% of domestic energy use comes from fridges? That's a big percentage of electricity bills. Aaargh! Is your fridge a guzzler? Have you got an A++++ rated fridge? Well that's great, but it isn't the only way to lower the consumption of your fridge. The energy ratings system mea…

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Choosing a wind turbine installer

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 19 November 2010 at 9:25 am

Choosing a wind turbine installer

If you are considering installing a small wind turbine on your property you want to want to make sure that you get the maximum financial benefit for the electricity produced. Choosing an installer that will ensure that the turbine works well is key. Here are a few things you should consider. 1. Bef…

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FOI request reveals cost of paying feed-in tariffs to early adopters

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 November 2010 at 11:01 am

FOI request reveals cost of paying feed-in tariffs to early adopters

A freedom of information request has revealed the costs of paying early adopters of microgeneration the full feed-in tariff. DECC (the department of energy and climate change) estimates that: There are 4,936 installations affected. Annual cost in 2020 of allowing feed-in tariffs at …

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Feed-in tariff is proving a big success

Posted by David Hunt on 15 November 2010 at 9:01 am

Feed-in tariff is proving a big success

The government's feed-in tariff scheme has already got thousands of people generating their own electricity. When it launched the feed-in tariff scheme in April it was one of a range of policies aimed at inducing people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Now, just five months later, an…

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Eliminating the draughts that push up your heating bills

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 November 2010 at 4:58 pm

Eliminating the draughts that push up your heating bills

Leaks and draughts are a guaranteed way of increasing your heating bills. You might as well throw your money on the woodburner! But, the good news is that it's relatively easy to block the worst ones up, and now, with a new gadget it's very easy to find where the worst ones are. …

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An introduction to air source heat pumps

Posted by John Lightfoot on 12 November 2010 at 11:57 am

An introduction to air source heat pumps

I thought I would start my series of blogs on Air Source Heat Pumps with an explanation of how a heat pump works and how in particular how a Air Source Heat Pump works. If you want to look at the diagram alongside the text, double click on it to enlarge it. To start, just imagin…

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Renewable heat incentive: to wait, or go ahead?

Posted by Roger Croft on 10 November 2010 at 9:57 am

Renewable heat incentive: to wait, or go ahead?

Anyone considering a renewable heating technology such as: solar hot water, biomass, ground or air source heat pumps, may be best placed to wait for a detailed announcement on rates and technologies covered by the Renewable Heat Incentive. However, self builders, broken-down boilers…

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MCS and the use of subcontractors: how it all works

Posted by John Martin on 9 November 2010 at 10:46 am

MCS and the use of subcontractors: how it all works

Who needs to be MCS approved (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) and how do subcontractors fit in? These questions are often asked by participants on QMSA's national seminar programme. Under MCS it is the business that is approved and not the individual engineers. MCS allows a business to beco…

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Planning an energy efficient renovation

Posted by Tim Pullen on 8 November 2010 at 9:35 am

Planning an energy efficient renovation

Why is it that people starting renovation projects have "so much to think about it is difficult to know where to start"? I am yet to meet a self-builder undertaking a new build that makes that complaint. Maybe the answer is that renovation is not treated with the same consideration and respect a…

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Get ready for winter: make your house cosy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 November 2010 at 9:40 am

Get ready for winter: make your house cosy

Last winter was one of shivering on the sofa, extra jumpers, and exorbitant heating bills. If you haven't already done anything to make your house a bit cosier, and warmer for winter, now's the time to get on and do it. The great news is that there are lots of small, practical and cheap things t…

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Solar thermal and other questions: what we do and don't know about the Renewable Heat Incentive

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 November 2010 at 11:17 am

Solar thermal and other questions: what we do and don't know about the Renewable Heat Incentive

This is an extract from a blog by Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council on the renewable heat incentive: We do know: DECC has secured Treasury approval for the overall spending envelope for the RHI up to and including 2014/15 – £860m in total; these funds are 20%…

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14 things to ask your biomass boiler installer

Posted by Jon Edge on 3 November 2010 at 9:20 am

14 things to ask your biomass boiler installer

Biomass is still pretty new to a lot of people in the UK. However, it is a tried and tested technology, used successfully for many years in other countries. Biomass boilers are a modern and very low carbon alternative to fossil fuels, especially oil or LPG and will give you as much heat and hot w…

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Life gets cosy in social housing in Manchester

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 November 2010 at 12:55 pm

Life gets cosy in social housing in Manchester

Warm homes and lower energy bills for tenants have combined with lower carbon emissions from social housing managed by Ashden Award finalist Northwards Housing in Manchester. The company has gone well beyond the minimum standards of energy efficiency required by the Decent Homes programme which i…

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Heat pumps and underfloor heating: perfect partners?

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 1 November 2010 at 11:01 am

Heat pumps and underfloor heating: perfect partners?

Underfloor heating is often portrayed as the perfect partner for heat pumps. With its large heat emitting area and low input temperature requirements it seems to provide the ideal choice to offer the maximum efficiency from the heat pump. However, is that always the case? With any underfl…

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Schools lead the way on energy efficiency

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

Schools lead the way on energy efficiency

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

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Deeming export of electricity for feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 October 2010 at 9:05 am

Deeming export of electricity for feed-in tariff

Deeming is usually associated with the proposed renewable heat incentive, but it is also used in the feed-in tariff to estimate the amount of electricity that is exported to the grid by microgeneration systems. We recently received the following question: "It would be interesting and informative …

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12 things you may not know about the Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 October 2010 at 12:35 pm

12 things you may not know about the Green Deal

The Green Deal is aiming high, with a goal of retrofitting 14m homes in a decade. Minister of state for energy and climate change, Greg Barker spoke in detail about plans at today's online question time event organised by Great British Refurb. Here's some of what was revealed. 1. The green deal w…

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Spending review: a solar industry view

Posted by Howard Johns on 21 October 2010 at 10:07 am

Spending review: a solar industry view

Well it is the day after the spending review and I can’t help feeling the renewables sector has been very lucky. The Feed in Tariff (FiT) will remain and we are going to have a renewable heat incentive (RHI). After months of campaigning and ups and downs the waiting game is over and the solar indu…

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Spending review: what it means for home owners

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 October 2010 at 4:27 pm

Spending review: what it means for home owners

Given the dread with which most of the renewables world has anticipated the comprehensive spending review, it has been quite a good day. The Chancellor confirmed that there will be a renewable heat incentive and that he (probably) won't be tinkering with the feed-in tariff before the first scheduled…

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Solar PV: check whether it's suitable for your house

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 October 2010 at 2:10 pm

With the feed-in tariff, solar PV panels are more accessible than they have ever been, but you still need to make sure you've got a suitable site before you install them. In this video, Stuart Houghton of Abacus Renewable Energy talks through the key things to check: …

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Uncertainty over renewable heat is delaying installations

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 October 2010 at 12:37 pm

Uncertainty over renewable heat is delaying installations

People are delaying installing renewable heat technologies such as solar hot water panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps until they know whether or not the renewable heat incentive is going ahead according to our new poll. 85% of respondents to a YouGen poll said they are waiting until they know wh…

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Common problems with Ground Source Heat Pumps

Posted by on 14 October 2010 at 10:14 am

Common problems with Ground Source Heat Pumps

A poorly designed and installed ground source heat pump system will, effectively, be heating a property on electricity alone, which is by far the most expensive solution on a unit-by-unit basis. So what are the common problems that befall GSHPs? 1.  Slinkies. A slinky, in heat pump…

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MPs come out in favour of renewable heat

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 October 2010 at 12:57 pm

MPs come out in favour of renewable heat

MPs from all parties demonstrated their support for renewable heat yesterday, at an event organised by Friends of the Earth and the Renewable Energy Association. Zac Goldsmith, Caroline Lucas and Alan Whitehead were some of the 47 MPs photographed in front of the Houses of Parliament and unde…

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Radical ideas to change the energy sector wanted

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 October 2010 at 12:22 pm

Radical ideas to change the energy sector wanted

Have you ever had an idea about how we could do things better? Well now's your chance to feed-in to what the future of energy generation, distribution, storage and use might look like. Ideas tend to come when your mind's not on them. When you're out for a walk, having a shower, cooking the tea. N…

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Is there a limit on solar PV generation? Q&A

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 11 October 2010 at 9:27 am

Is there a limit on solar PV generation? Q&A

Q:  I am about to install a solar PV panel system on my roof and have come across a problem with my Distribution Network Operator (DNO). I want to take full advantage of the feed-in tariff and was planning a 3.995Kwh system on my roof. Unfortunately the DNO insist on increasing the cost to incl…

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Solar thermal panels: flat plate or evacuated tube?

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

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

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Common problems with Air Source Heat Pumps

Posted by on 6 October 2010 at 9:35 am

Common problems with Air Source Heat Pumps

An Air Source Heat Pump is generally a simpler, more straightforward system, than its ground source cousin. An air source heat pump is best suited to houses that do not have sufficient room for ground collectors, have an outdoor pool or generally have a smaller heating requirement. Well i…

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'Free' solar panels are not a great deal, says Which?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 October 2010 at 2:10 pm

'Free' solar panels are not a great deal, says Which?

Installations companies stand to benefit more than consumers from 'free' solar pv panels according to new research from Which?. They found that householders could save as much as £10,500 over the next 25 years by buying their own solar pv panels (to generate electricity) instead of signing up to…

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How to insulate your loft conversion - Q&A

Posted by Tim Pullen on 4 October 2010 at 9:35 am

How to insulate your loft conversion - Q&A

Q: The house I bought recently has the loft converted into extra rooms. Should I pay a company to take down the plasterboards on the wall and ceilings and install insulation such as Kingspan boards, as there is only 10cm of insulation according to the blueprints? A: To answer this question di…

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

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

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

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Do solar panels affect house sales?

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

Do solar panels affect house sales?

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

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Wind and solar electricity: a practical DIY guide

Posted by Max Sillars on 27 September 2010 at 9:34 am

Wind and solar electricity: a practical DIY guide

So many guides to wind and solar electricity repeat the same high level principles that by now we all know, and then fizzle out into lists of pricey sounding specialist consultancies. Not Andy Reynolds! This is definitely the best guide I've read over the last decade. The layout of the informati…

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Feed-in tariffs: make sure your installer is accredited

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 September 2010 at 8:53 am

Feed-in tariffs: make sure your installer is accredited

Feed-in tariffs are only available if you are installing an MCS accredited product and using an MCS accredited installer. There's no margin for error on this, so it's worth checking that this is the case before going ahead with an installation. Without the feed-in tariff the return on your investmen…

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7 days left to register for feed-in tariff (from ROCs)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 September 2010 at 2:22 pm

7 days left to register for feed-in tariff (from ROCs)

Around 1,500 early adopters of microgeneration haven't yet transferred from the renewable obligation (RO) scheme to feed-in tariffs. All microgenerators with a solar PV, wind or micro-hydro system of less than 50 kW) that was registered under the renewable obligation MUST fill out a form and return …

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Heat pumps: 7 top tips for installers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 September 2010 at 9:08 am

Heat pumps: 7 top tips for installers

"Many heat pumps appeared to be installed incorrectly." reports the Energy Saving Trust in its recent report on field trials into 83 installations of air source and ground source heat pumps. This is disheartening news, and we thoroughly endorse its recommendation that guidance to, and training of, i…

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Renewable heat incentive: uncertainty lessens a bit

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 September 2010 at 4:12 pm

Renewable heat incentive: uncertainty lessens a bit

Chris Huhne admitted that he and Oliver Letwin had forgotten about the renewable heat incentive when they were drafting the coalition agreement - and so take some responsibility for the uncertainty around it. He also said "we see heat as being an absolutely essential part of meeting our renew…

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Heat pump field trial: good or bad?

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 21 September 2010 at 12:02 pm

Heat pump field trial: good or bad?

Heat pumps don't work, so scrap the RHI, or Heat pump technology works well and we must pursue it. These are the two completely opposite views generated by the Energy Savings Trust's (EST) Heat Pump field trial. The report, Getting Warmer; a field trail of heat pumps has finally been relea…

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Chris Huhne breaks promise to microgeneration pioneers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 September 2010 at 10:06 am

Chris Huhne breaks promise to microgeneration pioneers

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green):  Will the Government backdate the clean energy cashback scheme and any future renewable heat incentive to ensure that those who pioneer the technology are properly rewarded and supported? Chris Huhne: The hon. Lady makes a point that is dear to m…

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Are your PV panels keeping up with the Jones'?

Posted by Lisa Clark on 19 September 2010 at 5:45 pm

Are your PV panels keeping up with the Jones'?

Ten years ago, awkward dinner conversations focused on one-upmanship around mobile technology.  Nowadays, conversations might turn to how much power your neighbour's solar PV panels are generating compared to your own.  One might start quoting panel specifications, IV curves and inverter e…

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Government breaks feed-in tariff promise for early adopters

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 September 2010 at 5:44 pm

Government breaks feed-in tariff promise for early adopters

Tories and LibDems both promised equal feed-in tariff rates to early adopters of renewable energy in the run up to the general election. Now the coalition government has broken that promise and we're calling on early adopters, and others that care about the shift to renewable energy, to let their M…

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Heat pumps: 12 tips for people thinking of installing one

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 September 2010 at 10:03 am

Heat pumps: 12 tips for people thinking of installing one

Heat pumps are worth considering if your home is one of the 5 million or so that is off the gas grid, or in new build properties, according to new field trials from the Energy Saving Trust (EST). It offers the following advice for people thinking of installing a heat pump. 1.    Th…

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Heat pumps: field trials reveal good and bad installations

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 September 2010 at 9:17 am

Heat pumps: field trials reveal good and bad installations

The good news is that heat pumps can operate well in the UK, as long as they are well-designed and installed, and the customer understands how to use the controls. The bad news is that the Energy Saving Trust’s (EST) field trial of 83 heat pumps found that isn’t always the case. System effici…

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Find out what an energy efficient home really looks like

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 September 2010 at 2:22 pm

Find out what an energy efficient home really looks like

SuperHome owners across the country are throwing open their doors this month to inspire others to reduce the energy needed to run their house. These aren't high tech new builds, but old homes, that the owners have renovated to reduce carbon emissions by at least 60%. Convinced that seeing is beli…

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Solar PV across different facing roofs

Posted by Chris Rudge on 3 September 2010 at 12:59 pm

Solar PV across different facing roofs

Q: I'm thinking of installing solar PV panels on two roof aspects, one south facing the other east. Can you please explain in layman's language what is meant by 'series' and 'parallel'. Different installers are recommending one or the other or both!  A: Unlike battery charging PV systems, a…

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Feed-in tariff registration: why is it taking so long?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 September 2010 at 9:55 am

Feed-in tariff registration: why is it taking so long?

I've heard a number of complaints from people about how long it's taking to register their solar or wind installation for the feed-in tariff, so when I was talking to Ofgem about grants this week, I asked about that too. It appears that the delay is mostly in migrating installations that were reg…

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Good news on grants and feed-in tariffs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 September 2010 at 2:22 pm

Good news on grants and feed-in tariffs

Many schools and community groups are being told they can claim the feed-in tariff and keep grants received under the Low Carbon Building Programme, following months of uncertainty. Under threat of having to pay back their grant many organisations faced financial difficulty. Their calculations pr…

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

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

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

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Solar thermal panels are possible with a combi boiler

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

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

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Is there enough wood in the UK for biomass?

Posted by Jon Edge on 24 August 2010 at 5:02 pm

Is there enough wood in the UK for biomass?

As the market for biomass boilers grows in the UK, there is concern that the wood supply will not be able to meet this demand, now and in the future. There are many factors that affect the answer to this question, but the short answer is yes, there is enough wood for a local UK biomass industry. …

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Poll reveals Government is on the wrong track with Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 August 2010 at 12:01 pm

Poll reveals Government is on the wrong track with Green Deal

The Government is talking to big national retailers about delivering the Green Deal, yet our poll on YouGen found that 84% of people would trust locally-based, specialist suppliers more than national retailers such as M&S, Tesco (15%). The idea for the poll came from Greg Barker saying that "…

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Selling the electricity you generate to the grid

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 August 2010 at 10:13 am

Selling the electricity you generate to the grid

The feed-in tariff has made it simpler to sell the electricity you generate, but don't use in the house, back to the grid. It has set standard rates to be paid for electricity generated which are dependent on type of technology and size of system, and all exported electricity is paid at 3p per kWh. …

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

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

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

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

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Biogas -an inspiring tale from the Ashden Awards

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 August 2010 at 10:56 am

Biogas -an inspiring tale from the Ashden Awards

Inspiring is the only word to describe a day at the Ashden Awards 2010. Sustainable energy champions from around the UK and from the all over the world are recognised for the work they do, and it’s a great privilege to hear them describing the difference they make to people’s lives. The overs…

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Overcoming obstacles to microgeneration part 4: consumer confidence

Posted by on 13 August 2010 at 9:26 am

Overcoming obstacles to microgeneration part 4: consumer confidence

Anyone investing in microgeneration will need between £4,000 and £25,000 to get set up. This is significant expenditure for any household and the homeowner wants peace of mind that they are opting for the right technology at the right scale and the right people to install it. Our survey confirm…

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Free solar panels: is it too good to be true?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 August 2010 at 8:54 am

Free solar panels: is it too good to be true?

Solar PV panels worth £10-12,000, installed on your roof, free of charge - it sounds too good to be true, but is it really? The 'rent a roof' model, as it is known, is proving attractive to installers and investors. A Shade Greener, Homesun and Isis Solar are just three of compa…

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Renewable heat incentive: deeming explained part 2

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 9 August 2010 at 2:11 pm

Renewable heat incentive: deeming explained part 2

In the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) consultation published by the last administration, the incentive will be paid to households against a "deemed" amount of heat, rather than the heat actually used. Put simply, deeming is a method used to estimate how much heat is required to provide comfortab…

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Feed-in tariff for early adopters: an update

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 August 2010 at 10:28 am

Feed-in tariff for early adopters: an update

Prior to the general election, the Conservatives promised that early adopters of microgeneration technologies would receive full feed-in tariffs (and not the much lower 9p rate currently on offer). Since the coalition government formed there has been a deafening silence from Whitehall on the subject…

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Inverters for solar PV panels: your questions answered

Posted by Chris Rudge on 6 August 2010 at 8:52 am

Inverters for solar PV panels: your questions answered

See recent article: Solar PV Inverter: Should you replace it?   Q1: I hear that inverters for solar PV systems typically last a maximum of 5 years, (Sunnyboy ones seem to fall over in Cambridge after a year, because of the way the grid is here). At £1,000 a pop, that makes…

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Smelly brown water from my rainwater tank!!

Posted by Barry Nutley on 4 August 2010 at 8:30 am

Smelly brown water from my rainwater tank!!

Q: Smelly brown water is coming through my rainwater harvesting system. I have been advised to add chlorine to the underground tank. What do you think? A: Whilst that will work. It's not the ideal solution. Adding chlorine will probably solve the problem in the short term, but realistically you …

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What types of solar PV panels are there?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 2 August 2010 at 9:58 am

What types of solar PV panels are there?

Photovoltaic solar panels (PV) come in many different forms. Do you know your polycrystalline from your mono, or thin film from hybrid? No - I thought not, and frankly I do not think I would if I were not in the industry! There are a number of different types of solar photovoltaic systems…

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Feed-in tariffs boost growth of UK solar panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 July 2010 at 9:15 am

Feed-in tariffs boost growth of UK solar panels

The feed-in tariff is expected to boost growth of solar panels on British roofs fivefold this year, and 30 times over by 2015 according to a report from Price Waterhouse Coopers. By 2015, the researchers estimate that 1,000 MW of electricity will be generated by solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Ev…

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An introduction to community wind power

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 21 July 2010 at 9:37 am

An introduction to community wind power

The feed-in tariff has certainly had an impact on this industry and kept us busy over the last months, so it's been a while since I have blogged on this website. A number of people have asked about setting up a community wind turbine. A number of community wind farms have been set up using large …

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Solar hot water delivered quicker and cheaper

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

Solar hot water delivered quicker and cheaper

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

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Why solar PV panels don't work so well in the heat

Posted by Chris Rudge on 19 July 2010 at 9:32 am

Why solar PV panels don't work so well in the heat

During these last few weeks of hot sun, which are a welcome change from the rain of previous  few years, we have been getting calls from customers asking why the output from their solar PV panels is down, even though there is bright sun beaming down onto it. The simple answer is solar heatin…

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Solar panels are now an investment opportunity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 July 2010 at 11:40 am

Solar panels are now an investment opportunity

There are lots of reasons people install solar panels on their roof. It may be to protect themselves from rising energy prices, a desire to reduce their carbon footprint, or concern about energy security. Until recently, it certainly wasn't to make money. However, two things have changed. The int…

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Is water the new carbon?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 15 July 2010 at 11:20 am

Is water the new carbon?

I've mentioned the importance of water saving in previous blogs, but is it set to become the most talked about environmental issue? I recently read an article eluding to this: David Symons, director of consultancy WSP Environment & Energy, before his presentation at IWEX on Wednesday, Is w…

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Can Greg Barker, and his Green Deal, make insulation sexy?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 July 2010 at 10:56 am

Can Greg Barker, and his Green Deal, make insulation sexy?

Energy efficiency has been the poor relation of British energy policy, according to Greg Barker, minister for climate change in the coalition government. Speaking in the debate on energy efficiency on 30 June, he outlined how he plans to raise its status. He will: 1.    Introduce t…

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The Green Deal: who would you prefer to deliver it?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 July 2010 at 10:56 am

The Green Deal: who would you prefer to deliver it?

For mass take-up of energy saving measures we need effective financing schemes, so we welcome the glimpses of detail on the Green Deal that Greg Barker gave us at the end of June. However, it’s not enough to get a clear view of how the scheme will work. How will it be delivered? Barker said…

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Greg Barker launches microgeneration consultation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 July 2010 at 1:01 pm

Greg Barker launches microgeneration consultation

The government launched the first stage of its strategy to help communities become more self sufficient in how they use heat and power yesterday. “I want to see more homes, communities and businesses generating their own energy. We can literally bring power back to the people," said Greg Ba…

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Early adopters and the feed-in tariff: an update

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 July 2010 at 10:05 am

Early adopters and the feed-in tariff: an update

The Conservative party promised, prior to the election, that early adopters of microgeneration will get the feed-in tariffs. Since the election the silence on the subject has been deafening. Until now. An early adopter has just sent me this letter from DECC: "As set out in the Coalition Progr…

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Renewable Heat Incentive: yes please, but with changes

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

Renewable Heat Incentive: yes please, but with changes

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

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Can I get the feed-in tariff and a grant?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 July 2010 at 12:15 pm

Can I get the feed-in tariff and a grant?

Community groups and schools that received Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) phase 2 grants have been told that if they want to receive the feed-in tariff they will have to pay the grant back.  As many of them went ahead and installed in the belief that they would be entitled to the feed-in …

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Scottish home renewables grants expected to close in 3 weeks

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 July 2010 at 10:01 am

Scottish home renewables grants expected to close in 3 weeks

Scottish householders are being urged to snap up grants for home renewables before the cash runs out. Grants are still available for 30% of the cost, up to a maximum of £4,000 for heating technologies like wood pellet boilers, heat pumps or solar water heating. (The LCBP grants in England is alread…

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Feed-in tariffs: how to claim them

Posted by John Martin on 5 July 2010 at 9:39 am

Feed-in tariffs: how to claim them

Feed-in tariffs are now up and running and many people are keen to take advantage of the potential returns. This is a guide to how to qualify and apply to receive these payments. If you are applying for an installation commissioned after 1 April 2010 you will need to ensure the following: …

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Ashden Award winner an inspiration for community energy schemes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 July 2010 at 12:12 pm

Ashden Award winner an inspiration for community energy schemes

Energy use on the Isle of Eigg is half the national average and carbon emissions have fallen by 47% since the islanders switched to renewable energy. The islanders' pioneering approach has won them the 2010 UK Ashden Award, and you can watch the video case study here. Until Febuary 2008 each …

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Eco-renovation transforms Devon village hall

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 June 2010 at 9:02 am

Eco-renovation transforms Devon village hall

With thick insulation, ground source heat pumps feeding underfloor heating, and solar panels on the roof to power the heat pump, Branscombe village hall in East Devon must be one of the most energy efficient in the country. However, managing an ambitious project like this wasn't an easy task. It …

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Six tips to save you from solar panel cowboys

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

Six tips to save you from solar panel cowboys

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

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DIY solar panel installation: a case study

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

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

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Energy efficiency is focus of the Coalition's Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2010 at 9:09 am

Energy efficiency is focus of the Coalition's Green Deal

Domestic insulation is top of Chris Huhne's plans for A Green Deal for housing he said yesterday at the Economist UK Energy Summit. He also touched on the (much awaited) renewable heat incentive as he revealed measures in the pipeline from the self-acclaimed "greenest government ever". To summarise…

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England's World Cup match powered by wind farm

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 June 2010 at 9:20 am

England's World Cup match powered by wind farm

Electricity from South Africa's first commercial wind turbine will be given to the Nelson Mandela Bay football stadium (where England play Slovenia tonight) for the World Cup. Electrawinds, a Belgian company, has installed the first of an expected 24 Vestas V90, 1.8MW wind turbines in Port Elizab…

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Renewable Heat Incentive: 'deeming' explained

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

Renewable Heat Incentive: 'deeming' explained

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

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How to avoid bugs in your solar hot water

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

How to avoid bugs in your solar hot water

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

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Renewable heat incentive: important, but with dangers

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

Renewable heat incentive: important, but with dangers

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

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Ecotricity offers the best tariff for pioneer microgenerators

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 June 2010 at 9:25 am

Ecotricity offers the best tariff for pioneer microgenerators

The best generation rates for early adopters of solar electricity and micro electricity who installed their system before the 15 June 2009 cut offs for feed-in tariffs are available from Ecotricity.  The green electricity provider has introduced a new Microtricity scheme that pays 16p a …

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Ask your MP for clarity about the Renewable Heat Incentive

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

Ask your MP for clarity about the Renewable Heat Incentive

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

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Overcoming obstacles to microgeneration part 3: planning

Posted by on 11 June 2010 at 9:32 am

Overcoming obstacles to microgeneration part 3: planning

Planning permission for renewable energy and microgeneration brings up such a wide range of issues that we're worried you might fall asleep at your computer if we covered them all. So, in this blog, we focus on: The process of planning application and approval Planning directives The pr…

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Introduction to draught proofing your home

Posted by Tim Pullen on 9 June 2010 at 8:37 am

Introduction to draught proofing your home

Have you insulated your house, yet some of the rooms are still cold? Draught proofing may be the answer. Two clients I saw in recently both had this complaint and the solution was the same for both. The complaint; a room that has been insulated is still cold. In one case the problem was immedia…

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Tell Dave and Nick what you think of their energy plans

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 June 2010 at 9:22 am

Tell Dave and Nick what you think of their energy plans

The government is asking for our views on its programme for government. We've had a look at its proposed measures for energy and climate change, and our response is below. You can comment too - but get your skates on, they want to hear from us by Thursday 10 June. Our first thought is of motherho…

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10 tips for choosing a good solar PV installer

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 June 2010 at 2:43 pm

Choosing an installer is always a tricky business, so I asked Stuart Houghton, of Abacus Renewable Energy, who installed our photovoltaic solar panels, what his top tips are. Watch the video, or read on, to find out: 1. Find out ho…

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Barriers to microgeneration part 2: finance

Posted by on 31 May 2010 at 9:37 pm

Barriers to microgeneration part 2: finance

Initial capital outlay is a major barrier to installing microgeneration systems, whatever someone's motivation. Renewable energy installations can cost from £4,000 to £25,000. Access to sums of capital of this size is not realistic for most UK homeowners. So how do we get around this? Especiall…

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Rainwater harvesting: how to avoid sharks

Posted by Barry Nutley on 28 May 2010 at 9:31 am

Rainwater harvesting: how to avoid sharks

A recent report by Which?, suggested that there are many "solar sharks" in the industry. We have been asked if there is a similar problem in the rainwater harvesting industry? And what to look out for? Firstly, let me say that I don't believe that there is the same sort of problem in the industry…

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