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Five energy sources for heat pumps

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 10 May 2010 at 10:02 am

Five energy sources for heat pumps

A number of energy sources can be used as the heat source for heating buildings. Most commonly, heat pumps draw heat from the air or from the ground. The heat drawn from the ground is, in most cases, stored solar heat, and should not be confused with geothermal heat, though the latter wil…

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Long awaited Baxi Ecogen Micro-CHP unit launched

Posted by Gilly Jones on 6 May 2010 at 2:58 pm

Long awaited Baxi Ecogen Micro-CHP unit launched

See below for comments responding to this news. For the latest see our CHP information page and blogs from: 2015: Is 2015 the year of microCHP? 2011: Is domestic CHP dead and buried?                 …

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How to service your wind turbine

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 4 May 2010 at 10:45 am

How to service your wind turbine

Small wind turbines are designed to have a long life with very little maintenance. The actual servicing required will depend on the brand of turbine installed. Some are designed to have a 15 year service-free life. Most require a simple inspection service each year. You will need access to the tu…

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The future of home energy advice

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 30 April 2010 at 9:16 am

The future of home energy advice

Regulation of Home Energy Advisers (HEAs) is one of the recommendations of a recent strategy report from the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes has recommended. In addition, strategy document Warm homes, greener homes identified a need for well qualified, regulated HEAs to advise and encou…

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Avoiding the solar cowboys

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

Avoiding the solar cowboys

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

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Renewable Heat Incentive consultation: YouGen's response

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

Renewable Heat Incentive consultation: YouGen's response

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

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How much loft insulation is enough?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 19 April 2010 at 10:22 am

How much loft insulation is enough?

Everyone understands the need to insulate the loft but few people know how much is enough. The loft is second only to the walls in terms of the proportion of the heat lost at 25%, but it is by far the easiest to deal with. I often get told that the house is “super-insulated” as …

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Population pressures could make water shortages a UK crisis

Posted by Barry Nutley on 16 April 2010 at 9:20 am

Population pressures could make water shortages a UK crisis

We've had one of the wettest winters in history, and it would be easy to think that we have no issues with the level of potable water in this country. I've mentioned in previous blogs that there are other issues that suggest that water (or potential lack of it) is still a problem we need to address.…

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Does DIY double glazing work?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 14 April 2010 at 9:10 am

Does DIY double glazing work?

Q: Would attaching a 4mm polycarbonate sheet to a single glazed window with magnetic tape (giving an air gap of 3mm) be worthwhile as thermal insulation? Is a 3mm gap too small to be effective? A: A single glazed window will have a U-value of around 5.4W/m2K. A 4mm thick sheet of polycarbonate (a…

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Some questions for prospective parliamentary candidates

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 April 2010 at 9:22 am

Some questions for prospective parliamentary candidates

I know it's unlikely, but if you're short of questions to ask the people seeking your vote on 6 May, here are a few ideas from the combined forces of of the renewable energy industry's trade associations. They published Zero Carbon Switch: Joint Manifesto for Renewables last week, to coincide with t…

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How to buy renewable electricity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 April 2010 at 10:18 am

How to buy renewable electricity

Until recently the electricity market was flooded with 'green' tariffs, usually for a premium price, with no clear indication of what made them 'green'. Were they just packaging up the renewable energy that they are obliged  to produce under the government’s Renewables …

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How to read IV charts for PV solar panels

Posted by Chris Rudge on 6 April 2010 at 10:14 am

How to read IV charts for PV solar panels

Q: I'm being offered a Sharp 235w panel instead of Powerglaz 235w. The IV (current/voltage) charts look different. Can someone explain IV for me? A: I've just had a look at the charts for the Powerglaz polycrystalline 660235 against the Sharp NU235 Monocrystalline, and see that they do have diff…

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Wind farm in my backyard? Yes please

Posted by Gilly Jones on 31 March 2010 at 9:47 am

Wind farm in my backyard? Yes please

Two wind turbines constitute a wind farm. That's just one of the many facts I learned last week on a tour of the Roskrow Barton Wind Farm near Penryn in Cornwall, courtesy of the The Cornwall Light and Power Company (CLP).   Members of Sid Valley Energy Action Group (SVEAG) invited me…

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

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

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

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

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Conservative energy policy is a damp squib for renewables

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 March 2010 at 9:30 am

Conservative energy policy is a damp squib for renewables

Twelve actions "to put our energy system back on its feet" are at the heart of the long awaited Conservative energy policy which was finally launched last Friday. Of them, three relate directly to domestic renewable energy and energy efficiency, but it's difficult to see that they add much new to th…

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Renewable Heat Incentive: A homeowners guide

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 March 2010 at 2:09 pm

Renewable Heat Incentive: A homeowners guide

Heat is the biggest use of energy in the UK. Just under half of the UK's CO2 emissions and 60% of domestic energy bills are used on heating space and water. Heat in the UK is currently supplied predominantly by fossil fuels - less than 1% comes from renewable sources. The proposed renewable h…

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Seven steps for servicing your solar thermal system

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

Seven steps for servicing your solar thermal system

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

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Renewable Heat Incentive is welcomed by industry

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 March 2010 at 10:42 am

Renewable Heat Incentive is welcomed by industry

Ambitious and far-reaching were just some of the words delegates used to welcome the Renewable Heat Incentive proposals at yesterday's consultation event organised by RegenSW. However, they said that more education about renewable heat is needed if the Renewable Heat Incentive is going to suc…

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Is a heat pump suitable for my home? 3 key checks

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 15 March 2010 at 9:59 am

Is a heat pump suitable for my home? 3 key checks

Heat pumps are one of the most talked about renewable technologies - on television, in newspapers and magazines. The way they are portrayed they seem to be the answer to all our problems and will suit all properties. But is this true? Heat pumps (ground, air or water) suit only certain applicatio…

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EDM adds weight to campaign for equal rates for microgeneration pioneers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 March 2010 at 9:29 am

EDM adds weight to campaign for equal rates for microgeneration pioneers

Sixty seven MPs have signed early day motion 953 calling for equal clean energy cashback (feed-in tariff) for pioneer microgenerators. You can check whether your MP is one of them on the parliament website. If not, why not ask them to sign it. The easiest way to do this is at Write to Them. The m…

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Generating my own electricity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 March 2010 at 9:05 pm

Generating my own electricity

Our new photovoltaic solar panels started generating electricity a month ago today. It was dusk on a cold February day when the system was all ready to go, so I was suprised to see the light flashing on the generation meter and the inverter showing that, even in such poor light, it was making a lit…

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5 tips on choosing a home energy advisor

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 8 March 2010 at 9:35 am

5 tips on choosing a home energy advisor

Every home is different so a visit from a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) or Home Energy Advisor is the best way to get energy efficiency advice. However, choosing the right advisor can be a challenge. A DEA can provide the same energy audit that is legally required if you are selling or l…

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Rainwater harvesting: where are the incentives?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 5 March 2010 at 9:06 am

Rainwater harvesting: where are the incentives?

The recent announcements surrounding the feed-in tariff (FIT) and renwable heat incentive (RHI), are (generally) fantastic news for the renewable industry. But the Government seems to have forgotten about rainwater harvesting. Whilst technically not a renewable technology, water is still an impor…

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Warm homes, greener homes: the government's vision for 2020

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 March 2010 at 9:32 pm

Warm homes, greener homes: the government's vision for 2020

Reduced energy use, savings on energy bills and more comfortable homes in cold weather are the benefits claimed by government of its household energy management strategy, Warm Homes, Greener Homes launched on Tuesday at Ecobuild by Ed Miliband. Its aims are that: Every home, where practic…

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Energy efficiency a priority: call to politicians

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 March 2010 at 10:05 am

Energy efficiency a priority: call to politicians

Companies and NGOs set a benchmark to measure energy efficiency policy against with the release of an energy efficiency statement yesterday. Signatories included Cooperative Group, Friends of the Earth, Green Building Council, Marks & Spencer, the TUC and YouGen. The statement said: We are fa…

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Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

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

Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

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

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Will shadow flicker affect a wind planning application?

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 26 February 2010 at 10:20 am

Will shadow flicker affect a wind planning application?

In a recent planning application I was asked to comment on shadow flicker for a very small turbine installation. The turbine in question had a rotor diameter of only 1.7 m. Shadow flicker is caused by the blades of a wind turbine passing in front of the sun and causing an effect similar to drivin…

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Three ways we could improve UK feed in tariffs

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

Three ways we could improve UK feed in tariffs

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

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How much space do I need for a wood pellet stove?

Posted by Mike Mackmurdie on 22 February 2010 at 9:32 am

How much space do I need for a wood pellet stove?

A wood pellet stove which which gives full central heating capability is roughly the same size as one which just heats the room that it's in. The amount of space you need to install one, varies between manufacturers, but on average you're looking at: 520mm width, 1055mm height, 700mm …

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Conservatives support fair treatment for all microgenerators

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 February 2010 at 9:07 am

Conservatives support fair treatment for all microgenerators

If elected, the Conservatives will pay early adopters of microgeneration technologies the same rate of Clean Energy Cashback (the government's new financial incentive for renewable generation) as new installers according to a new campaigning website. Charles Hendry, the shadow minister for energy…

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How to use heating controls to reduce your energy bill

Posted by Tim Pullen on 15 February 2010 at 9:27 am

How to use heating controls to reduce your energy bill

The importance of good controls on the heating system cannot be over-emphasised. There are two main reasons: 1. An analogue room thermostat in the lounge or hall will make the heating system heat the whole house to the same temperature as the air around the thermostat, for the whole time the heat…

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Energy efficiency a priority for M&S home insurance

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 February 2010 at 9:41 am

Energy efficiency a priority for M&S home insurance

Recently I asked whether renewable energy affects your house insurance. In the twittering that followed the blog's publication I discovered a home insurance policy that stands out from the crowd for the approach it takes to energy efficiency. Ever since Stuart Rose announced its Plan A, M&S h…

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What's the best mounting for solar panels?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 10 February 2010 at 9:07 am

What's the best mounting for solar panels?

Flush fitting of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system to generate electricity has both benefits and downsides over the more popular 'on roof' mounting. The benefit is a PV array that is more integrated-looking, although to keep that essential cooling airflow to ensure the system works at maximum effi…

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Feed-in tariff scheme is shortsighted

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 February 2010 at 12:46 pm

Feed-in tariff scheme is shortsighted

A last, we've got our foot firmly on the road to making renewable energy part of the UK's energy mix. Yes, the Feed-in Tariff rates could be higher. The government's goals for microgeneration could have been more ambitious. But the rates are probably attractive enough, especially in the current e…

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Feed-in tariff: your questions answered

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 February 2010 at 12:02 pm

Feed-in tariff: your questions answered

Read the updated version of this article here. The introduction of the feed-in tariff (known as Clean Energy Cashback scheme) opens a new and exciting era for microgeneration. Here we answer some of the most common questions on the new scheme. If you've got any more, please add a comment bel…

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Feed-in tariff explained in video

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 February 2010 at 3:41 pm

For those of you who prefer your information visually, here's a great video from Solar Century.   …

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12 fascinating facts about wood pellet fuel

Posted by Mike Mackmurdie on 3 February 2010 at 10:52 am

12 fascinating facts about wood pellet fuel

Wood pellets for use with stoves for room heating and for those which give full central heating capability are the subject of my first blog. 1. Wood pellets are manufactured by hot-extruding compressed sawdust which is produced during the working of natural dried wood. The compactness of the …

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Feed-in tariff rates: the headline figures

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 February 2010 at 12:57 pm

Feed-in tariff rates: the headline figures

At last the uncertainty is over - we now know what the rates are for the Clean Energy Cashback (feed-in tariff) which starts on 1 April 2010. Its purpose is to encourage installations of wind turbines, solar photovoltaic panels, micro hydro and microCHP schemes of up to 5MW capacity to produce low …

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500 households to try Pay As You Save schemes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 February 2010 at 8:53 am

500 households to try Pay As You Save schemes

Talk on how to finance making your house more energy efficient has turned to action - that's the good news. The bad news is that it's a small scheme that will only reach about 500 households in five areas of England between December 2009 and April 2011. Households in Birmingham, Sunderland, Londo…

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How to find the best energy efficiency information and advice for your home

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 29 January 2010 at 9:24 am

How to find the best energy efficiency information and advice for your home

Making your home as energy efficient as possible makes sense for many reasons. Whether it's keeping warm, reducing bills or reducing carbon pollution emitted. YouGen is a first resource for many householders, but it's worth looking at where else you can go for help and advice on energy ef…

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Public wants ambitious support for microgeneration

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 January 2010 at 9:32 am

Public wants ambitious support for microgeneration

Renewable energy in homes, communities and businesses got a public vote of confidence this week, but needs ambitious goals and support from government to succeed. A new survey found that people are prepared to pay higher energy bills to support a stronger feed-in tariff. Two thirds of the pop…

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Generating energy from scrap materials

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 January 2010 at 10:27 am

Generating energy from scrap materials

Renewable energy really comes into its own when it's applied at village level in developing countries. While in the UK we argue about whether or microgeneration is eco-bling, there are 1.6 billion people in the world for whom it is the difference between light or dark in the evenings. So it's gre…

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Does renewable energy affect your house insurance?

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

Does renewable energy affect your house insurance?

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

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Four reasons the renewable energy grants system is failing

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 January 2010 at 9:31 am

Four reasons the renewable energy grants system is failing

The Low Carbon Building Programme started out with worthy goals for domestic microgeneration. Sadly it is failing to achieve most of them, according to research from the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University1. Goal 1: support a more holistic approach to reducing carbon emissions by …

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How do rainwater harvesting systems cope with frost and snow

Posted by Barry Nutley on 20 January 2010 at 9:07 am

How do rainwater harvesting systems cope with frost and snow

As the snow and frost begin to thaw we look at the impact that has on rainwater harvesting, and what to do about it. Underground tank: 1. As far as the tank, and any components housed within it are concerned, very little, if any, extra care is needed. The temperature of the ground at …

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What will 2010 bring for microgeneration?

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 18 January 2010 at 9:39 am

What will 2010 bring for microgeneration?

I have a growing feeling that 2010 will mark a watershed in the development of microgeneration in the UK . The introduction of feed-in tariffs (FiTs) from April marks a sea change in established attitudes to small scale renewables, and a very belated attempt by the UK to catch up with the rest of…

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Is my roof too shaded for solar PV panels?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 14 January 2010 at 7:10 am

Is my roof too shaded for solar PV panels?

If you are thinking of having a solar electricity  system installed in 2010 to take advantage of the last chances of getting a lump sum grant before the Feed In Tariff starts in April, the first thing to do is look for a good location to install it. Traditionally for domestic Solar PV (photo…

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Close your curtains to keep warm (and reduce bills)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 January 2010 at 1:21 pm

Close your curtains to keep warm (and reduce bills)

Walking home from a friend's house last night I was surprised to see how many people hadn't closed their curtains, despite sub zero temperatures. Hanging curtains, and closing them at dusk, can make a significant difference to the warmth of your house, and to how much you spend on hea…

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How to deal with snow on solar PV modules

Posted by Chris Rudge on 7 January 2010 at 11:36 am

How to deal with snow on solar PV modules

This past weeks little deluge of snow may have provided a nice seasonal blanket of white over your solar PV modules. While the glass in most modules has self cleaning properties, the adhesion of snow means it will cover the modules until the temperature rises. In the case of a ground mounted system,…

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Six steps to claiming £400 for a new boiler

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 January 2010 at 12:10 pm

Six steps to claiming £400 for a new boiler

Households with inefficient, old boilers (G-rated) can get £400 off the price of a new A-rated boiler thanks to the new boiler scrappage scheme launched yesterday by Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband. You can also put the money towards a renewable heating system such as a biomass boiler or heat pump. …

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Is it worth insulating under the floor boards?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 4 January 2010 at 12:20 pm

Is it worth insulating under the floor boards?

Around 15% of the heat leaving a house exits through the ground floor. And that does not account for the draughts coming up through the floor. So the simple answer is Yes - it is worth insulating under the floor boards. The problem is that, unless you have space to get under the floor boards, it …

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Happy Christmas

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 December 2009 at 12:21 pm

Happy Christmas

Seasons Greetings to all our visitors. Our office is now closed until the 4 January 2010. We look forward to seeing you again then. Photo by Jenny Downing …

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Give the gift of light this Christmas

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 December 2009 at 1:51 pm

Give the gift of light this Christmas

We talk about fuel poverty here in the UK, but it's nothing compared to places like Africa, where people spend 15 to 20% of their income on kerosene. Not only is it expensive, but kerosene is also the main source of poison in Africa. Solar power has the potential to bring the gift of light to ma…

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Can you heat a house with a wind turbine?

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 18 December 2009 at 9:39 am

Can you heat a house with a wind turbine?

A reader has asked if it is possible to heat a house with a wind turbine. The simple answer is that it is possible, but it's unlikely to be the best solution. Heating demand depends on the construction of the home and the weather. A home requiring a 13kW boiler will need a maximum of 13 x 24 kWh …

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Potential for energy bill savings are huge

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 16 December 2009 at 9:32 am

Potential for energy bill savings are huge

If new boilers were installed in all homes sold in a year, where recommended in the energy performance certificate, it would lead to total cash savings of almost £80 million on energy bills. On the same day last week that the Chancellor announced the boiler scrappage scheme in his pre-budget rep…

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The wettest winter for years

Posted by Barry Nutley on 14 December 2009 at 10:20 am

The wettest winter for years

With all the rain we've had recently, it's difficult to convince people that water really is in short supply for some of us. However, what we need to consider is where does it all go, and why, if it's so wet, is it scarce? To answer those questions very briefly: 1. Population is increasing, as…

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Win a GEO Minim Home Energy Hub

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 December 2009 at 4:56 pm

Win a GEO Minim Home Energy Hub

YouGen will be giving away a GEO Minim Home Energy Hub every month for the next year, to thank people who recommend their renewable energy installer on the site. Everyone who makes a recommendation in the month will be entered in the draw. We're especially pleased to be able to offer a Mi…

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Back UK jobs, innovation and manufacturing through renewable energy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 December 2009 at 10:25 am

Back UK jobs, innovation and manufacturing through renewable energy

With the announcement of the final feed-in tariff rates postponed until (probably mid) January, a frenzy of lobbying has erupted for a more ambitious settlement that will deliver more renewable energy, and more British jobs in manufacturing and installing. If you want to join in, here are some sugge…

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Test may lead to fall in cost of running a fridge

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 December 2009 at 9:52 am

Test may lead to fall in cost of running a fridge

Fridges and freezers tend are some of the most expensive home appliances to run,  and least energy efficient, as they constantly draw electricity. A new trial aims to manage the amount of electricity used to reduce carbon emissions associated with fridge use.  Appliances fitted with dyn…

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Solar PV industry uncertainty as grants pot runs out

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 December 2009 at 9:23 am

Solar PV industry uncertainty as grants pot runs out

The solar industry faces another phase of uncertainty as the grants money to support installation of photovoltaic panels in public sector buildings and charities has run out again. The Low Carbon Buildings Programme Phase 2 grant pot was topped up with £35m earlier this year, of which £13m was …

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An introduction to solid wall insulation

Posted by Tim Pullen on 3 December 2009 at 2:13 pm

An introduction to solid wall insulation

A third of the heat lost from a house is through the walls according to the Energy Saving Trust. An uninsulated, 225mm solid brick wall will have a U-value of 2.23W/m2. Adding just 50mm of PUR (Kingspan or similar) insulation will reduce that to just 0.4W/m2. Bear in mind that the current buildin…

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Pedal power

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 December 2009 at 10:46 am

Pedal power

I've written before about how difficult it is to get a grip on energy, and understand how much it takes to do different things. Well, you really find out when you try to power a whole house for 24 hours just using cycle power. Luckily for those of us whose muscles don't  feel up to the task,…

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Prices vary hugely between renewable energy installers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 November 2009 at 11:17 am

Prices vary hugely between renewable energy installers

Prices for renewable energy installations vary wildly, making buying decisions difficult for homeowners, according to Power from the People, a new study by researchers at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. In addition, there is little correlation between price and the gener…

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Feed-in rate announcement may be delayed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 November 2009 at 4:07 pm

Feed-in rate announcement may be delayed

The much awaited results of the consultation on feed-in tariffs may take a little longer than hoped. Internal wrangling between government departments is to blame according to the Guardian, and it's not clear when we're going to find out. Ed Milliband had apparently hoped to have the policy i…

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YouGen Energy Expert wins installer of the year

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

YouGen Energy Expert wins installer of the year

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

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Green party promises best finance scheme for microgeneration

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 November 2009 at 11:59 am

Green party promises best finance scheme for microgeneration

Proper insulation for every home and interest-free loans for domestic renewable energy are just some of the policies promised by the Green party if they win the next election. While it would be expensive, says Paula Black, Totnes councillor, and prospective Green Party parliamentary candidate for Ex…

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Solar panels fall in price

Posted by Chris Rudge on 11 November 2009 at 10:30 am

Solar panels fall in price

There is both good news and bad news in the solar PV (photovoltaic) installation world. Over the last few months, the cost of solar electricity modules has fallen by anything up to 10%. This is due to an early year slump in demand throughout Europe in caused by the credit crisis. There had also b…

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Learn how to build your own wind turbine

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 November 2009 at 8:22 am

Learn how to build your own wind turbine

As a nation of DIY fanatics it's surprising that more of us aren't getting out there and building our own renewable energy. Given the rapid increase in energy prices this century, and that DIY solar hot water kits and courses are popular in Austria and Germany, I'd expect more people to be doing it.…

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Renewable heat soon to join the energy revolution

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

Renewable heat soon to join the energy revolution

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

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Sash windows can be made energy efficient

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 November 2009 at 11:24 am

Sash windows can be made energy efficient

Traditional timber sash windows are often associated with howling draughts, and are under threat as people replace them with plastic double glazed units. But before you throw yours on the scrapheap, read English Heritage's research which shows that simple repairs and basic improvements can significa…

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How noisy are wind turbines really?

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 2 November 2009 at 9:50 am

How noisy are wind turbines really?

When discussing noise and wind turbines it is important to be clear what size of turbine you are thinking about. The noise from large, commercial wind turbines is very different to that generated by smaller turbines installed at homes, offices and schools. The rotors on smaller turbines rotate much…

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Act now if you want to measure wind speed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 October 2009 at 11:45 am

Act now if you want to measure wind speed

Measuring the wind speed on your potential site is the only sure fire way of knowing how good an investment a wind turbine will be as regular readers of the YouGen renewable energy blog will know.  Until recently this wasn't either cheap or easy, but that changed earlier this year with the l…

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Will it cost me more to harvest rainwater?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 26 October 2009 at 2:32 pm

Will it cost me more to harvest rainwater?

Rainwater harvesting systems tend to be pumped, causing people to ask the following questions : 1. "Does the cost of running the pump negate any savings made?" 2. "By running a pump, are we increasing our carbon emissions, and negating any environmental benefits?" Well, to answer those…

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At last some vision and ambition from a government scheme

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 21 October 2009 at 4:10 pm

At last some vision and ambition from a government scheme

Encraft is fortunate enough to be involved in the government's Retrofit for the Future competition. This is a national scheme to find innovative ways of reducing carbon emissions from housing by 80% or more – something we urgently must to do to deliver the carbon dioxide reductions we need. Wha…

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Energy: out of sight, out of mind?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 October 2009 at 10:17 am

Energy: out of sight, out of mind?

This week is Energy Saving Week, so it seems as good a time as any to think about energy and what it means to us. Despite the constant calls on us to be more energy efficient, the reality for most people is that we know next to nothing about our energy consumption. Most of us have a grasp of how …

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Scots pilot loan scheme for energy efficiency

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 October 2009 at 9:43 am

Scots pilot loan scheme for energy efficiency

Homeowners in Scotland can apply for interest free loans to improve their insulation, replace inefficient boilers or install small scale renewables thanks to a new government pilot scheme. The £2m Energy Saving Scotland home loans scheme is being administered by the Energy Saving Trust in Scotla…

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Making the most of passive solar energy

Posted by Tim Pullen on 14 October 2009 at 9:24 am

Making the most of passive solar energy

Using passive solar energy is a matter of design. To put it another way, if you don't design the house to use passive solar energy, it is difficult to use it well. So pretty much the same as any other form of energy then. What you need is three things; thermal mass (something to absorb …

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Whole house approach to energy efficiency needed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 October 2009 at 4:32 pm

Whole house approach to energy efficiency needed

Government must make a major shift in policy to transform the energy efficiency of our residential housing stock according to the Committee on Climate Change's first annual report. A whole house, street by street approach in which  households are offered an energy audit, with a follow up pac…

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Learn how to generate your own electricity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 October 2009 at 2:19 pm

Learn how to generate your own electricity

Wind farms - you either love them or you loathe them. I'm on the side of love. Ever since the first time I drove down the A395 in Cornwall, and they loomed, eerie and magnificent in the bleak dusk, I've been a wind turbine fan. So I'm excited to hear about Good Energy's Power from the People day …

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Building a thermal store - experience sought

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 October 2009 at 9:35 am

Building a thermal store - experience sought

Can anyone help Jeff B with this query: I am thinking of having a very large thermal store (of the order of 2000 litres capacity) to use with my 30kw wood pellet boiler. Due to space restrictions this would have to be located just outside the house. Does anyone have experience of making a wel…

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Rainwater harvesting: small is beautiful

Posted by Barry Nutley on 5 October 2009 at 11:49 am

Rainwater harvesting: small is beautiful

When we think of rainwater harvesting, we tend to envisage a full scale domestic system with a large tank, say 4000 litres, buried underground, providing water to the toilets, washing machine et al. This can be a costly business (especially if it's a retrofit project) with not much change from £7,0…

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Equal feed-in tariff for existing generation has heavyweight support

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 September 2009 at 10:10 am

Equal feed-in tariff for existing generation has heavyweight support

Support for equal feed-in rates for those who already have small solar PV, wind turbines or hydro came from diverse parts of the renewable energy sector at yesterday's RegenSW conference in Bristol. Sponsor Christine Griffiths of Aeolus Power got her passionate call in early in the day - to be me…

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Island grid increases energy security aspect of microgeneration

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 September 2009 at 10:04 am

Island grid increases energy security aspect of microgeneration

Security of electricity supply is one of the main reasons that people install their own solar panels or wind turbine. However, a system that is connected to the national grid currently doesn't afford total control. The benefit of grid connection is that you can sell any excess you generate to the…

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Solar PV: how to tell the difference between panel types

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 September 2009 at 9:50 am

Solar PV: how to tell the difference between panel types

Solar PV (photovoltaic) panels come in lots of different types - mostly with long and complicated names - so it's not easy to know what the difference is. Last night I went to an excellent evening organised by the Sid Valley Energy Action Group - a group of enthusiastic volunteers who promote ene…

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Are roof mounted turbines any good?

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

Are roof mounted turbines any good?

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

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Is Carlos Tevez a green god?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 September 2009 at 9:36 am

Is Carlos Tevez a green god?

Manchester City's Carlos Tevez has "signed for the greens", according to the Daily Star following his move into "the country's most environmentally friendly superhome". A claim in the article that this makes him "probably the greenest footballer in the country" overlooks  David James' long-s…

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Low carbon UK is well down the pecking order

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 September 2009 at 11:35 am

Low carbon UK is well down the pecking order

How much does the government really care about shifting the UK to a low carbon economy? Not a lot is the only conclusion I can come to from its spending figures. Yesterday's Guardian published a wonderfully simple, easy to read, chart called the definitive atlas of UK government spending, created…

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Existing generators angry at feed-in cuts to income

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 September 2009 at 8:32 am

Existing generators angry at feed-in cuts to income

Feed-in tariffs are designed to incentivise people to invest in renewable sources of energy generation. Yet, the government's proposals will give much lower rates to existing microgenerators, leading to a cut in income for many. This seems a perverse move from government. The numbers of micro wi…

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Controlling solar thermal systems

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

Controlling solar thermal systems

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

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Warm Front leaves many households cold

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 August 2009 at 2:29 pm

Warm Front leaves many households cold

The Warm Front scheme may be failing the poorest and most vulnerable households according to a report from the Public Accounts Committee published last month. Warm Front is meant to  improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty through installing heating and insulation in eligible house…

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Wind turbines: is vertical or horizontal best?

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 24 August 2009 at 12:05 pm

Wind turbines: is vertical or horizontal best?

There are two main categories of small wind turbines you will see as you travel around the UK today. Horizontal axis turbines look like traditional wind turbines and typically have two or three blades. Vertical axis turbines come in a number of designs, a spiral or some paddles blowing around in …

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The case for secondary double glazing

Posted by Tim Pullen on 21 August 2009 at 12:08 pm

The case for secondary double glazing

I recently helped a lady refurbishing a typical 1960s three-bedroom semi with energy efficiency issues. A quick heat loss calculation gave a peak heat load of 8.5kW which should have equated to a use of about 10,000kWh of gas per year. Her actual gas consumption was 15,000kWh p.a. which was used…

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Solutions to common rainwater harvesting problems

Posted by Barry Nutley on 19 August 2009 at 2:30 pm

Solutions to common rainwater harvesting problems

This months blog offers solution to some of the possible problems people with rainwater harvesting systems may encounter. Some may appear obvious, but... 1) Toilet cisterns do not refill after flushing. i. Possible power failure to pump. Check power supply is OK.ii. Pressure switch fail…

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Off-grid versus on-grid microgeneration in practice

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 17 August 2009 at 11:57 am

Off-grid versus on-grid microgeneration in practice

I really needed a holiday this year. So when we arrived at the holiday cottage we had rented in Orkney and saw the 6kW wind turbine outside my heart sank a little. We had accidentally opted for two weeks of off-grid existence – and slightly dodgily designed off-grid existence at that – with only…

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Feed-in tariffs are not fair to renewable energy pioneers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 August 2009 at 9:17 am

Feed-in tariffs are not fair to renewable energy pioneers

Renewable energy pioneers have been dealt a dismal hand by DECC's proposed rates for the feed-in tariff. Existing microgenerators (whose installation has been accredited under the Renewable Obligation) will be automatically transferred to the feed-in tariff on a rate of 9p per kWh (kilowatt hours)…

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Welsh ease planning rules for renewable energy

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

Welsh ease planning rules for renewable energy

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

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Solar panels have never been so attractive

Posted by Chris Rudge on 10 August 2009 at 10:50 am

Solar panels have never been so attractive

With the feed-in tariff due to start in April 2010 (after a short consultation period to October) the benefits of installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on our houses before the end of the 2009 are probably better than we will ever have again. Simply put, if you have a PV installation befor…

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Will feed in tariffs change the market?

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 7 August 2009 at 9:03 am

Will feed in tariffs change the market?

The announcement by the Government last month of proposed feed-in tariffs (FiTs) for renewables from next April marks a fundamental change in the way small scale renewables are incentivised in the UK, and is long overdue. There is no question that feed-in tariffs are the right mechanism to use. …

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Measure the wind before you install a turbine

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 August 2009 at 9:08 am

Measure the wind before you install a turbine

Product and installation standards for domestic wind turbines are needed, as are improved wind speed prediction and better site assessments. These are some of the key conclusions of the Energy Saving Trust's microwind research published in July. On measuring the wind speed, EST recommends that, …

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Siting your PV panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 August 2009 at 3:58 pm

Siting your PV panels

When buying photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate electricity for their home, most people put them on the roof. However, this isn't the only place, and may not be the one that gives the best results. Below is John Smith's story about his decision to site his solar panels in the corner of a field…

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