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A new approach to renewable energy is needed

Posted by Merlin Hyman on 9 October 2012 at 12:08 pm

A new approach to renewable energy is needed

The south west is one of the windiest parts of Europe and a pioneer of wind farms, with the first UK site at Delabole in Cornwall. Yet each new proposal for a wind farm faces strong opposition from a vocal minority. This toxic process slows the development of renewable energy and makes it more e…

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3 simple steps to recommending your installer on YouGen

Posted by Gilly Jones on 3 October 2012 at 3:15 pm

3 simple steps to recommending your installer on YouGen

Here at YouGen we help people to find good installers by publishing recommendations from people like you. That feedback also keeps companies on their toes, and helps them to improve their service. To let them know how they did: Step 1. Sign up on the site and log in. (We a…

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Heating controls often aren't used effectively

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

Heating controls often aren't used effectively

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

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Details of proposed domestic RHI now available

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

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

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Strong shortlist for SW Renewable Energy Installer of the Year

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

Strong shortlist for SW Renewable Energy Installer of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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Great discounts available for Solar Power UK seminars

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

Great discounts available for Solar Power UK seminars

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

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Feed-in tariff hits the Archers

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

Feed-in tariff hits the Archers

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

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Readers tips of the month - August

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 August 2012 at 3:28 pm

Readers tips of the month - August

Claire Tindel, who has installed solar PV, says "put your dishwasher and washing machine on in the middle of the day" (it's probably best to run them one after the other, rather than together unless you've got a large system, and the sun's shining stronly). Mike Beale is a 71 year old enthusiasti…

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Specialist energy companies give best feed-in tariff service; E.on gives worst

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 August 2012 at 2:16 pm

Specialist energy companies give best feed-in tariff service; E.on gives worst

Questions and complaints about energy companies and how the service they deliver to feed-in tariff (FIT) customers regularly pop up in our inbox and in comments on blogs. When people get solar panels, or other microgeneration technology, they often just sign up with their existing supplier. But o…

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Top tips for disposing of energy saving lightbulbs and other WEE

Posted by Liam Tarry on 22 August 2012 at 9:02 am

Top tips for disposing of energy saving lightbulbs and other WEE

Here in the UK we throw away a million tonnes of household electrical and electronic waste every year - and that’s just from our homes. If that figure wasn’t shocking enough, at least as much comes from non-household sources such as offices, factories, schools and hospitals. Waste electrical …

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10 techniques for marketing your renewable energy business

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 August 2012 at 8:53 am

10 techniques for marketing your renewable energy business

The first thing most people think of when they talk about marketing is advertising. However, there are lots of other ways of getting your renewable energy technology into domestic and commercial buildings, many of which are more cost effective than traditional advertising. But first, some bas…

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Open homes: see how others have improved their homes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 August 2012 at 9:35 am

Open homes: see how others have improved their homes

Every year there are more and more people opening up their homes, so others can see what measures they have taken to make them warmer, more comfortable, last but not least cheaper to heat. With energy bills on a steep upward trajectory, taking action to reduce your need for energy has never made so …

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Renewable energy market research: experiences of domestic consumers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 August 2012 at 9:39 am

Renewable energy market research: experiences of domestic consumers

The best market research I've seen on what drives consumers in the domestic market for renewable energy is an excellent publication from Consumer Focus. Although it is called Keeping FIT, it is subtitled consumers' attitudes and experiences of microgeneration. Inevitably most of the experience is ab…

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YouGen sponsors SW Installer of the Year Award

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 August 2012 at 9:07 am

YouGen sponsors SW Installer of the Year Award

At YouGen we are all about promoting quality and excellence, and helping put consumers in touch with the best installers. That's why we've decided to sponsor the south west Green Energy Awards 2012 Installer or Supplier of the Year category. Run by RegenSW, the awards are now in their 10th year. …

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7 top tips for getting your award entry noticed

Posted by Gilly Jones on 7 August 2012 at 9:06 am

7 top tips for getting your award entry noticed

Who doesn’t like being recognised for a job well done? Awards are brilliant for PR and marketing, and we know from personal experience here at YouGen, that even reaching the finals of any award creates a buzz, and as for winning, well..... We’d love your business to have that buzz too, so we…

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YouGen guide to marketing renewable energy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 August 2012 at 10:35 am

YouGen guide to marketing renewable energy

While many of the renewable energy technologies have been around for a long time, the market for renewable energy is still young. The products are  expensive, the government subsidies can be complicated and (in the case of solar PV) a moving feast. Buyers are generally pretty ignorant about how…

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Community-owned energy offers investment opportunities for all

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 July 2012 at 10:18 am

Community-owned energy offers investment opportunities for all

Banks are not the flavour of the month, and interest rates on traditional savings aren't attractive, so is investment in renewable energy a viable alternative? Even if you haven't got a suitable site (or the cash) to generate electricity yourself, you can benefit from the feed-in tariff, by investin…

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Feed-in tariff changes give hope for community energy projects

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 July 2012 at 2:48 pm

Feed-in tariff changes give hope for community energy projects

Community energy schemes should find it easier to get off the ground as the government has removed some of the barriers that they faced. Changes to the feed-in tariff scheme following the 2B consultation where announced on Friday, and will come into force from 1 December 2012. Key to the changes …

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Some useful facts about the cost of renewable energy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 July 2012 at 3:24 pm

Some useful facts about the cost of renewable energy

The press is full of misleading (often just downright wrong) information about the cost of renewable energy and the amount it contributes to our energy bills. So we should all be grateful to Merlin Hyman at RegenSW who had dug out the facts, and referenced them all. Here's an extract from a recent n…

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Is going to court the best way to get change for the better?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 July 2012 at 11:58 am

Is going to court the best way to get change for the better?

The people that enforce regulation are never popular and, as a result of all the government subsidy that goes into it, the renewable energy sector probably has more scrutiny and enforcement than most. But what makes a good regulator? I ask this question as a solar installer has recently filed a c…

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How to sell energy efficiency to domestic customers (with or without the Green Deal)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 July 2012 at 9:23 am

How to sell energy efficiency to domestic customers (with or without the Green Deal)

Cost savings are not the most effective way of selling energy efficiency measures  according to new research. In What's in it for me? Consumer Focus has analysed 15 projects that set out to increase energy efficiency behaviour in householders. It concludes that "saving money on bills is a usef…

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How to invest in renewable energy via your pension scheme

Posted by John Ditchfield on 17 July 2012 at 9:10 am

How to invest in renewable energy via your pension scheme

In my experience most people find the subject of pensions rather difficult to comprehend, with their wicked combination of technical complexity and the very long-term nature of most schemes; for most private investors pension schemes are a great turn-off. This is unfortunate because the tax benefits…

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SMEs can participate in the Green Deal on their own terms with launch of new organisation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 July 2012 at 8:53 am

SMEs can participate in the Green Deal on their own terms with launch of new organisation

What's in it for SMEs? is a regular lament about the Green Deal. Businesses are concerned that they will be given small pickings around the edges, and their margins will be squeezed to breaking point, and quality will fly out the window. Well all this doom mongering may not come to pass, as a gro…

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Time for an Energy Bill Revolution

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2012 at 10:53 am

Time for an Energy Bill Revolution

Energy bills take up a bigger and bigger proportion household income. They have risen by 140% in eight years,  and recently British Gas's boss promised that they will be continuing on their upward trajectory. High energy bills come with all sorts of associated problems, and this is why we've jo…

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Why the Renewable Heat Incentive is an opportunity too good to miss

Posted by Mark Henderson on 22 June 2012 at 9:47 am

Why the Renewable Heat Incentive  is an opportunity too good to miss

Despite attractive and near-certain returns on investment, take-up of the renewable heat incentive (RHI) far has been very low so far. If the opportunity is too good to miss, what is holding it back?  The world’s first renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme has been open to applican…

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45 measures, including renewables, eligible for Green Deal from launch

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 June 2012 at 6:14 pm

45 measures, including renewables, eligible for Green Deal from launch

**For the most up-to-date information about the Green Deal, please see our dedicated Green Deal information page.  Renewable energy technologies will be included in the Green Deal it was announced today. While they are unlikely to meet the Golden Rule (the cost of installation can be pai…

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Forget the feed-in tariff; it's all about energy

Posted by David Hunt on 11 June 2012 at 9:04 am

Forget the feed-in tariff; it's all about energy

In the last few years the UK went solar panel crazy, with fantastic return on investment opportunities businesses and home-owners alike fell in love with feed-in tariffs and their lovely shiny solar panels. In the main that was a good thing. Businesses grew in the sector, lots of lovely green ene…

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My electricity meter is running backwards: who is responsible?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 June 2012 at 10:05 am

My electricity meter is running backwards: who is responsible?

Q: My solar PV clients are seeing their electricity meters running backward now that the days are longer, and they are unsure how they should treat this with their electricity supplier now that they have become aware. My understanding is that the supplier remains responsible for accurately m…

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How to switch your feed-in tariff (FIT) provider

Posted by Kate Turner on 1 June 2012 at 10:45 am

How to switch your feed-in tariff (FIT) provider

The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme has been running for over two years now, and more than 250,000 installations have been registered since it was launched in 2010. But what happens when the service from the FIT provider isn’t up to scratch and you decide to change your FIT provider? How easy is i…

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Win a GEO Minim Home Energy Monitor

Posted by Gilly Jones on 29 May 2012 at 11:50 am

Win a GEO Minim Home Energy Monitor

YouGen is giving away a GEO Minim Home Energy Monitor worth £20. To thank you for Liking our Facebook page before the end of June, we will enter you in the draw to win. Energy bills have risen by 140% in 8 years. But with bills arriving once a quarter, after you've used the electricity, it can…

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Step by step guide to rating your installer on YouGen

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 May 2012 at 10:50 am

Step by step guide to rating your installer on YouGen

Word of mouth is the best way to find good products and services, whatever the subject. Here at YouGen we aim to amplify word of mouth, by putting it on the internet. The more feedback a company gets, the better the picture prospective customers will have. So here's a guide to how to rate your in…

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Solar PV Installers can benefit twice if they invest in training to be a Domestic Energy Assessor.

Posted by Pete Roberts on 14 May 2012 at 9:40 am

Solar PV Installers can benefit twice if they invest in training to be a Domestic Energy Assessor.

With the Green Deal starting in October this year and the new EPC requirements for the feed-in tariffs, there is now more reason than ever to diversify and train to become a Domestic Energy Assessor. The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) requirement for feed-in tariffs came into force on 1 Apr…

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Readers tips of the month - April 2012

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 April 2012 at 11:10 am

Readers tips of the month - April 2012

We're always keen to hear your tips about you make your homes and businesses more energy efficient - and how you get the best out of your renewable energy. Here's our favourite tips and stories from the past month. Chemeng says: "Our PV system has reduced our annual grid electricity usage by a…

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Wattson Solar Plus helps me to get the most out of my solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 April 2012 at 7:45 am

Wattson Solar Plus helps me to get the most out of my solar PV

Key to getting the best out of your solar PV system is knowing when you are producing more electricity than you are using. This is the time to do things that use the most electricity. Of course, this isn't always possible. If you want to relax in front of the telly in the evening, the sun…

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The feed-in tariff is still alive & paying out - so why do so many people believe it's finished?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 April 2012 at 11:42 am

The feed-in tariff is still alive & paying out - so why do so many people believe it's finished?

The phones have stopped ringing for many solar PV companies, and my totally unscientific research indicates that the constant changes and media coverage of it are to blame for a widespread belief that the feed-in tariff is no longer available for solar PV. This couldn't be further from the tr…

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Take time out from your day to be inspired

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 April 2012 at 11:34 am

Take time out from your day to be inspired

Reading the papers or watching the news these days is pretty miserable. It brings a deluge of things that have gone wrong, and despite being a fervent news junkie, I find myself tuning out more and more often. So it was wonderful to spend last Friday being inspired by 20 amazing people who spend the…

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Prices of solar PV and other renewable energy vary significantly: always get three quotes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 April 2012 at 9:32 am

Prices of solar PV and other renewable energy vary significantly: always get three quotes

Getting three quotes was dinned into me in my first job. It was more than good practice - it was compulsory. Even though I was generally getting quotes from among the same pool of printers, I couldn't necessarily tell which would come in best on a particular job. It made sense, so it's something …

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Trust individuals and take more imaginative approach to consumer protection

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 30 March 2012 at 9:50 am

Trust individuals and take more imaginative approach to consumer protection

When markets have large numbers of small businesses, all innovating and desperate to compete and survive, consumer protection becomes much harder. DECC (the department of energy and climate change) can monitor and fine the big six utilities relatively easily, but it’s much harder to control a mark…

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Find the best renewable energy installers: 11 points to check before you invest

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 March 2012 at 1:03 am

Find the best renewable energy installers: 11 points to check before you invest

1.    If you want to benefit from the feed-in tariff or the renewable heat incentive (the Government’s financial incentives for renewable energy), you must ensure that both the installer you use, and the product they are installing are accredited under the Microgeneration Certificat…

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Campaign to root out cowboy solar installers launched today

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 March 2012 at 1:03 am

Campaign to root out cowboy solar installers launched today

A campaign is launched today to help people to avoid “unscrupulous” installers of solar panels and other renewable technologies seeking to cash in on confusion surrounding the Government’s feed-in-tariff and other incentives. We have developed the campaign as a result of stories we've heard…

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Got a feed-in tariff complaint? You may need this guide!

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 February 2012 at 7:53 am

Got a feed-in tariff complaint? You may need this guide!

I know from the number of questions we get about it, that working out who's responsible for what in the feed-in tariff isn't always easy. DECC (the department for energy and climate change) obviously realises it too. As part of it's latest consultation it's asking for feedback on …

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Feed-in tariff: your questions answered - updated

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 February 2012 at 11:12 am

Feed-in tariff: your questions answered - updated

The introduction of the feed-in tariff ushered in a new and exciting era for microgeneration, but it can be confusing. Here we answer some of the most common questions about the scheme. If you've got any more, please ask them in the comment section below and we'll do our best to answer. T…

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Time to stand up for renewables

Posted by Merlin Hyman on 16 February 2012 at 9:14 am

Time to stand up for renewables

The recent anti-wind letter from MPs and some of the coverage of the rapid cuts in the feed-in tariff are evidence of an unholy alliance of right wing tories and the elements of the press targeting renewable energy. Blaming energy bill price rises on renewable energy subsidies also provides a us…

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Coping with the feed-in tariff cuts

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 February 2012 at 7:54 am

Coping with the feed-in tariff cuts

The feed-in tariff rates (FiT) rates for solar installations have been cut by half. Since the announcement last year, many working in industry have prophesised that DECC has killed the industry dead. But has it? The ongoing saga and debate surrounding these changes shows just how it important …

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Get the best out of your renewable energy system: make sure your installer tells you how

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 January 2012 at 9:18 am

Get the best out of your renewable energy system: make sure your installer tells you how

Renewable energy installers are failing to help consumers understand the value of their system or how to get the best out of it (and thus maximise the return on their investment). Research by Consumer Focus and the Energy Saving Trust found that while value for money is more of an influence on ch…

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How the non-domestic RHI (renewable heat incentive) works: your questions answered

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 December 2011 at 3:58 pm

How the non-domestic RHI (renewable heat incentive) works: your questions answered

Can anyone in the UK benefit? No – just non-domestic installations in England, Scotland and Wales. A domestic version is expected to start in October 2012. Installations completed and commissioned on or after 15 July 2009 can apply as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. Those installed pr…

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£30m of new funding for energy efficiency in communities and public sector

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 December 2011 at 9:13 am

£30m of new funding for energy efficiency in communities and public sector

The good news: there's £10m worth of funding for local communities to use to assess the potential for energy efficiency and local renewable energy generation. The bad news is that the deadlines for applications are tight, and the work must be finished by the end of March 2012. There is also £20…

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'World's first RHI' launch over-shadowed by FITs debacle

Posted by Stewart Boyle on 7 December 2011 at 10:08 am

'World's first RHI' launch over-shadowed by FITs debacle

The long-awaited Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) officially ‘opened for business’ on 28th November. With £864 million available for the cashback scheme to support biomass boilers, solar water heating systems, heat pumps and bio-methane projects, it should have been a day of great celebration…

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Just another day in the Commons - where we merrily destroy the PV sector with spin

Posted by Howard Johns on 29 November 2011 at 9:31 am

Just another day in the Commons -  where we merrily destroy the PV sector with spin

Anyone working in the solar industry will have been appalled,  dismayed and almost certainly angered to watch the debate on their future and the feed in tariff that took place in the House of Commons. I was sat in the viewing gallery watching and despite the best efforts of Caroline Flint and m…

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Renewable Heat Incentive for non-domestic generators is open for applications

Posted by Gilly Jones on 28 November 2011 at 5:51 pm

Renewable Heat Incentive for non-domestic generators is open for applications

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Phase 1 for non-domestic generator is opened for applications. Heat is the biggest use of energy in the UK. Just under half of the UK's CO2 emissions are used on heating space and water. Heat in the UK is currently supplied predominantly by fossil fuels - with les…

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Homebuyer & sellers' guide to reading an EPC: part 2

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 25 November 2011 at 10:30 am

Homebuyer & sellers' guide to reading an EPC: part 2

Energy performance certificate (EPC) gives information that can be very helpful to both homebuyers and homesellers, but only if you know what to do with it. This article should be read in conjunction with previous guides to reading page one of the EPC for the buyers and renters, and for sellers. I w…

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What happens to the feed-in tariff when you sell your house

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 November 2011 at 4:53 am

What happens to the feed-in tariff when you sell your house

Can I continue to receive the feed-in tariff payments on a solar PV or wind turbine installation after I've sold the house, is a question I'm being asked more often. My understanding of the original plans for feed-in tariffs (Labour's document) was that when someone sells their house they would sell…

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Future of feed-in tariff leaks out early

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 October 2011 at 9:57 am

The consultation on the review of the feed-in tariff for solar PV is due to be announced in parliament on Monday 31 October. However, the significant element for the domestic market has leaked out early: the new rate to be consulted on is 21p per kWh (compared to a current rate of 43.3p). This will …

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Future of feed-in tariff to be announced next week

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 October 2011 at 6:10 am

Future of feed-in tariff to be announced next week

"I haven't come here to kill the [feed-in] tariff scheme, I want to fix it, enhance it and put the whole industry on a sustainable, credible economic path to a bright and exciting future," said energy and climate change minister Greg Barker yesterday, speaking at the Solar Power UK conference in Bir…

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Solar PV tiles: the pros and cons explained

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 14 October 2011 at 9:06 am

Solar PV tiles: the pros and cons explained

Q: We are currently in the planning process to build our own house and have lots of questions regarding the use of solar roof tiles. 1. Do you generate as much electricity with these roof tiles with the equivalent amount of panel space ? 2. I have noticed you can have panels that heat water an…

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More clean green energy and less energy waste is the recipe for lower UK energy bills

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 October 2011 at 9:32 am

More clean green energy and less energy waste is the recipe for lower UK energy bills

Consumers are being misled about the causes of energy bill increases according to Friends of the Earth. The charity points the finger at the Big Six energy companies, saying that energy bills are rocketing mainly because the energy companies have us hooked on ever more expensive imports of gas, coal…

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Your experience of small scale renewable energy is needed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 September 2011 at 8:32 am

Your experience of small scale renewable energy is needed

Have you installed small scale renewable energy such as solar panels or a wind turbine in the past 18 months? If so, Consumer Focus would like to hear how it went for you. Consumer Focus will use the findings of its research to feed into the government's consultation on the future of the feed-in …

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How the REAL code aims to protect consumers from pressure sales

Posted by John Martin on 12 September 2011 at 9:03 am

How the REAL code aims to protect consumers from pressure sales

As previously explained the REAL consumer code requires clear information to be provided in a consistent manner, it also places other constraints and conditions on businesses regarding their conduct such as: The member (company) is responsible for the conduct and behaviour of its representatives…

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Bicton Earth - a case study of building a renewable energy training centre

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 September 2011 at 9:09 am

Bicton Earth - a case study of building a renewable energy training centre

A wide range of renewable technologies will be used in the new installer training centre and community interpretation centre at Bicton College in Devon. Old agricultural barns are being converted into a state-of-the-art centre. The heating will be set up to take first from the solar thermal panel…

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How can we stop the Green Deal being the preserve of a few big companies?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 September 2011 at 9:13 am

How can we stop the Green Deal being the preserve of a few big companies?

Energy minister Greg Barker released an article yesterday outlining how the coalition is meeting its pledge to be the greenest goverment ever. It started well: "Being green and transforming our economy away from dependence on expensive fossil fuels to one powered by low carbon energy is no 'tree …

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Are 4kW solar PV installations a thing of the past as network operaters tighten the rules?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 August 2011 at 5:43 pm

Are 4kW solar PV installations a thing of the past as network operaters tighten the rules?

Q: I want to install a 4kWp solar PV system to maximise my return from the feed-in tariff, but my installer says that Western Power will only let him install a 3.68kWp system. Why is that? A: As more and more people install solar panels, the district network operators (DNOs) are having to wo…

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Strict enforcement of G83/1 restricts installation of 4kWp solar PV

Posted by Chris Rudge on 30 August 2011 at 9:54 am

Strict enforcement of G83/1 restricts installation of 4kWp solar PV

Many installers may have already encountered the newly enforced grid connected inverter G83/1 requirements recently. In simple terms, all the District Network Operators (DNO's) have finally got together and are now insisting that all installations should completely comply with G83/1 requireme…

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How competent are renewable energy installers?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 August 2011 at 10:36 am

How competent are renewable energy installers?

Because I have been immersed in all things renewable energy for the past three years, I had almost forgotten just how young the industry still is. Reading the Microgeneration Strategy bought home to me that much of the infrastructure that you kind of assume is in place, just isn't yet. Training i…

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Does MCS certification deliver the protection consumers expect?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 August 2011 at 9:54 am

 Does MCS certification deliver the protection consumers expect?

What do you think of when you hear that a company has received its sector's accreditation? Call me naive, but I'd assumed that it meant that there was a thorough check on its ability to do the job it is there to do. That it means I'll get a high quality service. That the staff are trained to a certa…

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Beware: receiving grants from public funds may make you ineligible for feed-in tariffs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 August 2011 at 8:52 am

Beware: receiving grants from public funds may make you ineligible for feed-in tariffs

The feed-in tariff is intended to replace grants from public funds as the main way of incentivising microgeneration. So anyone awarded a public grant to install or buy generating equipment is in danger of not being eligible for the feed-in tariff (unless they repay the grant). There are some exem…

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How to get a grant for solar panels: tips from a community shop

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 July 2011 at 9:46 am

How to get a grant for solar panels: tips from a community shop

Solar PV panels have cut energy bills by around 15% at Dalwood Community Shop in Devon. With four freezers to run, energy bills are its largest outgoing, so the long and involved process of seeking grants to install them was worthwhile according to co-ordinator Shelagh Beak. As well as lower bill…

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Why join YouGen?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 July 2011 at 9:55 am

Why join YouGen?

What YouGen membership offers you Tools to help you raise your profile and generate business: YouGen local site search Your customers' recommendations displayed on our independent site Special offers and discounts Links back to your website Detailed compan…

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Smart meter introduction moves into phase 2

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 July 2011 at 11:31 am

Smart meter introduction moves into phase 2

Mass installation of smart meters into every house and business in the UK is planned to start in 2014 and complete in 2019. Between now and then, 'early mover' suppliers such as British Gas will begin installing smart meters as part of a testing and foundation phase of the plan. Smart meters will…

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Why bother optimise voltage?

Posted by Matt Cody on 13 July 2011 at 9:12 am

Why bother optimise voltage?

This is an often-asked question. The simple answer is that it prevents energy waste that virtually all homes in the UK suffer as a result of electricity typically being provided at the higher end of the statutory range - and therefore saves energy, reduces carbon emissions and saves money. …

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Will Renewable Heat Premium Payments kick start the domestic market?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 July 2011 at 9:47 am

Will Renewable Heat Premium Payments kick start the domestic market?

The government is putting up £15m for the renewable heat premium payments between September (probably) and October 2012 when the domestic version of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is due to start. In essence they are a grant to help with the capital cost of installation; but will they kick sta…

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Solar PV has quartered school's electricity bills

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 July 2011 at 9:39 am

Solar PV has quartered school's electricity bills

Solar PV panels have made a 'huge difference financially to Shute Community Primary School, a small school in rural East Devon. Based in an old draughty building, and with a portacabin heated solely by electricity, the school's bills were 'horrific' says administrator Jenny Hardiman. Much to…

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Solar PV: how to complain if you've been mis-sold

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 July 2011 at 9:25 am

Solar PV: how to complain if you've been mis-sold

Q: I just received a call from Anglian (0845 296 9668) who were offering an incredible 40% discount on their products. They were claiming you don't need direct sunlight for solar PV, only daylight and that PV can be placed on a north facing roof. Is there someone who I could complain to, as I…

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What is the aim of the feed-in tariff? And what do you think it should be?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 June 2011 at 12:20 pm

What is the aim of the feed-in tariff? And what do you think it should be?

Ask 10 people what the aim of the feed-in tariff is, and you'll probably get 10 different answers, at least that's the impression I got at this week's MicrogenerationUK conference. DECC officials were speaking about the renewable heat incentive and the feed-in tariff at a session on financing…

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International renewable energy projects to inspire

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 June 2011 at 9:27 am

International renewable energy projects to inspire

Africa is full of entrepreneurs with good ideas - they don't want hand outs - they just want the same access to finance that we have in the west. So said Suraj Wahab Ologburo, the founder and chief executive of Toyola Energy from Ghana, one of the international finalists in this year's Ashden Awards…

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Planning permission and building regulations: the rules for solar installations explained

Posted by David Hunt on 14 June 2011 at 9:50 am

Planning permission and building regulations: the rules for solar installations explained

Councils asking for planning permission, or building regulations applications for solar panel installations has been much in the press of late. Indeed much of that press has been linked to the campaign by YouGen and ourselves. The campaign has been picked up and supported by shadow climate change…

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Shadow energy minister puts pressure on government over planning for solar panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 June 2011 at 10:50 am

Shadow energy minister puts pressure on government over planning for solar panels

Shadow Energy Minister Huw Irranca-Davies has secured a commitment from DECC Minister Greg Barker to examine the issue of councils delaying the installation of household solar panels.  Following concerns raised with him and fellow Shadow Minister Luciana Berger, by Eco-Environments a…

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Is your council blocking your solar PV installation?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 May 2011 at 11:05 am

Is your council blocking your solar PV installation?

A new campaign is calling for local councils to stop making it difficult for householders to install renewable energy. Government policy says that in most cases domestic renewable energy installations are permitted development. Yet this isn't stopping councils like Eden Valley in Cumbria from ma…

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Microgeneration pioneers continue their fight for equal feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 May 2011 at 10:35 am

Microgeneration pioneers continue their fight for equal feed-in tariff

While DECC is said to be discussing compensation of up to £3m for solar entrepreneurs set to lose out from the recently announced fast track review of feed-in tariffs for large scale installations, the early adopters of domestic scale solar and wind power are still struggling to be heard. Repres…

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Community-owned solar power station opens up share offer

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 May 2011 at 9:59 am

Community-owned solar power station opens up share offer

Lewes-based energy services company, Ovesco, has raised three quarters of the £307,000 it needs to build the UK's first community owned solar power station.  So far, virtually all the pledges and investments have come from local people. However, as they are racing to get the panels ordered …

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Share issue for UK's first community-owned power station launches

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 April 2011 at 9:06 am

Share issue for UK's first community-owned power station launches

Lewes-based energy company Ovesco is racing to get the country's first community-owned solar power station up and running before the feed-in tariff rates are slashed on 1 August. The not-for-profit industrial and provident society has teamed up with East Sussex brewery, Harveys, to install 544 so…

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Windmills everywhere, but Mallorcan renewable energy potential seems untapped

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 April 2011 at 9:03 am

Windmills everywhere, but Mallorcan renewable energy potential seems untapped

One of the first things that struck me as we arrived in Mallorca was the number of windmills everywhere. Sadly they are mostly derelict, with a few tarted up to promote restaurants or other tourist attractions. Modern wind turbines, generating electricity, are surprisingly few and far between - w…

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Buildings don't use energy: people do

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 April 2011 at 10:46 am

Buildings don't use energy: people do

Smart buildings aren't the solution to reducing energy use, smart people are, according to research by Kathryn Janda of the UK Energy Research Centre.  Architects can specify "zero-energy" homes, which are designed to be energy efficient and produce their own energy through solar power, but …

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Interest in renewable heat is high - but price expectations are not realistic

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 April 2011 at 11:25 am

Interest in renewable heat is high - but price expectations are not realistic

If their boiler broke down tomorrow, 85 per cent of people would consider a renewable alternative, according to our new survey by YouGen. However, the amount they are prepared to pay falls short of what most renewable heat systems actually cost. We ran the survey following the recent announcement…

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Servicing your solar water heating panels

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 5 April 2011 at 10:56 am

With summer coming, solar thermal panels will be working harder, so if you haven't had yours serviced recently, now's the time to think about getting it done. This video talks through what a  service involves for solar thermal panels: both evacuated tubes and flat plate. …

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Import and export meters and the feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 March 2011 at 9:59 am

Import and export meters and the feed-in tariff

I've been a bit confused about export meters for the feed-in tariff. When my solar PV panels were installed my installer put in two meters. One measures the total amount of electricity generated. The other measures the amount I export. The meters are identical. So identical that they even…

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Has the purpose of the feed-in tariff changed?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 March 2011 at 12:07 pm

Has the purpose of the feed-in tariff changed?

Do you know what the purpose of the feed-in tariff is? I thought that I did. I thought that it was about lowering the country's carbon emissions, to help us meet our EU carbon emission reduction targets. But, apparently not.  According to Alasdair Grainger, the DECC official speaking at yes…

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Win a copy of Earth from the Air (worth £25)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 March 2011 at 10:38 am

Win a copy of Earth from the Air (worth £25)

With the renewable heat incentive domestic installations still shrouded in mystery, we're keen to know how much ordinary householders know about renewable heat. So please do our short survey - it's just nine questions and will only take a minute or two (honestly) - and we'll enter you in a draw to w…

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Interest-free loans available for renewable energy in Scotland

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 March 2011 at 8:33 am

Interest-free loans available for renewable energy in Scotland

Scotland is leading the game when it comes to UK investment in renewable energy, and last Friday it demonstrated that again. Energy minister Jim Mather announced that people living north of the border can apply for interest-free loans of up to £2,000 each, to help install a range of renewable energ…

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New feed-in tariff rates from April 2011

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 March 2011 at 9:12 am

New feed-in tariff rates from April 2011

The feed-in tariff is linked to the retail price index, so rates will increase (or decrease) each year in line with inflation. The rates for the year commencing 1 April 2011 will be as follows: Combined heat and power (CHP) CHP with electrical capacity of 2kW or less: up 0.5p, to 10.5p per kW…

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Grants will be available for renewable heat as interim measure

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 March 2011 at 10:57 am

Grants will be available for renewable heat as interim measure

Domestic installations of renewable heat will be eligible for a grant, while we wait for the full renewable heat incentive scheme to be introduced in October 2012.  From July 2011 RHI Premium Payments will be available. These will be a one-off payment to help with installation costs - essent…

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A quarter of first year renewable heat incentive budget will be spent on homes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 March 2011 at 11:57 am

A quarter of first year renewable heat incentive budget will be spent on homes

Up to 25,000 domestic renewable heat installations will be supported by an RHI Premium Payment from July this year, according to today's announcement by DECC (the department for energy and climate change). This is an interim measure until the RHI proper is introduced for homes in October 2012. To…

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World's first Renewable Heat Incentive launched to reduce emissions - 10 March 2011

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 March 2011 at 10:20 am

World's first Renewable Heat Incentive launched to reduce emissions - 10 March 2011

The detail of the much anticipated renewable heat incentive has just been announced by Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary. This is the summary from the DECC website. Full detail and analysis will follow later. £860m government scheme expected to increase green capital inv…

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Would you consider renewable heat for your home?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 March 2011 at 3:59 pm

Would you consider renewable heat for your home?

If your boiler broke down tomorrow, would you just get another one? Or might you consider one of the various types of renewable heat that are now available? I ask, because the final details of the renewable heat incentive are released this month. This is the government's scheme to encourage us to…

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The REAL consumer code - what it means for installers

Posted by John Martin on 2 March 2011 at 9:15 am

The REAL consumer code - what it means for installers

As an microgeneration certification scheme (MCS) approved business you must currently also be a member of the REAL Assurance scheme and work to their consumer code. The purpose of this code is primarily to protect the consumer from unscrupulous business/sales practices and ensure a consistent app…

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Renewable heat incentive - consumers beware

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 February 2011 at 11:54 am

Renewable heat incentive - consumers beware

We're still waiting for the detail of the renewable heat incentive, and today the Renewable Energy Association has written to Chris Huhne (again), calling on him to publish the details without delay. But until he does, if you're considering installing solar hot water, a heat pump or a biomass boiler…

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"Onshore wind is the future, and it works" - Chris Huhne

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 February 2011 at 11:32 am

"Onshore wind is the future, and it works" - Chris Huhne

Chris Huhne expressed his strong support for onshore wind at yesterday's launch for the repowering of Good Energy's Delabole wind farm: "I wish our fellow country people were more open-minded about onshore wind. It is the most competitive of renewable technologies, on a base with nuclear. And at …

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Feed-in tariff review: an update

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 February 2011 at 1:44 pm

Feed-in tariff review: an update

Concern that large-scale solar is set to take a significant quantity of the set amount of funding is the main driver of the feed-in tariff review, according to RegenSW chief executive Merlin Hyman, who recently met Greg Barker MP, the minister responsible for feed-in tariffs at DECC. Barker is de…

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Could energy pricing structures drive energy efficiency?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 February 2011 at 9:15 am

Could energy pricing structures drive energy efficiency?

I've just listened to a discussion on Radio 4's Today programme about energy prices. At the moment they are structured so that the first X units are the most expensive, and after that, the price per kWh goes down. The argument was that this penalises people on low incomes. Obviously, being Radio …

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First review of feed-in tariff announced

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 February 2011 at 8:08 am

First review of feed-in tariff announced

Energy secretary, Chris Huhne has announced a comprehensive review of the feed-in tariff to take place this year - a year earlier than scheduled. Rates are expected to stay the same until April 2012. Since the introduction of the feed-in tariff in 2010, more than 21,000 installations have been re…

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