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

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

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

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

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Home energy assessments: how can we make them more useful?

Posted by Alex Steeland on 30 March 2015 at 10:45 am

Home energy assessments: how can we make them more useful?

Accessing trusted and tailored advice on the full range of energy improving refurbishment options available can be far from easy. In partnership with Carbon Co-op, URBED and OpenEnergyMonitor, the National Energy Foundation is developing My Home Energy Planner, a tool to provide accurate, compreh…

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What questions should you ask when comparing solar PV quotes?

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

What questions should you ask when comparing solar PV quotes?

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

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Green Deal Home Improvement Fund runs out again!

Posted by NEF Gordon on 27 March 2015 at 5:55 pm

The latest release of Government money to fund home improvements via the Green Deal has once again run out of money.  The finance is released on a quarterly basis with this release of £70million opening on 16 March 2015. Whilst this is a great display of how popular the scheme is, …

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

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

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

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

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Biomass boiler vs heat pump : The fight is on!

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

Biomass boiler vs heat pump : The fight is on!

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

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Abstraction licence fees rise for small scale hydroelectric schemes

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

Abstraction licence fees rise for small scale hydroelectric schemes

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

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Companies to face huge fines for cold calling menace

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 March 2015 at 10:50 am

Companies to face huge fines for cold calling menace

With energy efficiency companies now topping the list of nuisance callers it's good to hear that the rules on cold calling are being tightened up. (About time too, some may say). Energy efficiency cowboys recently knocked those calling about compensation for missold PPI (payment protection in…

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Thermodynamic panels not eligible for RHI despite new MCS standards

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 March 2015 at 10:05 am

Thermodynamic panels not eligible for RHI despite new MCS standards

Standards for thermodynamic panels have now been agreed by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). While this means that people installing this technology can be confident that the panels are suitable for use in the UK and meet agreed standards, it does not mean that they will be eligible…

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RHI rate for domestic biomass boilers falls again

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 March 2015 at 10:55 am

RHI rate for domestic biomass boilers falls again

The popularity of biomass boilers has led to a second drop in the rate of the domestic renewable heat incentive. The rate fell 10 per cent from 12.2p per kWh to 10.98p on 1 January this year. Following a bumper number of installations in December, it will reduce again on 1 April 2015 - this time …

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Using the new Ace community energy projects support tool

Posted by Alex Steeland on 16 March 2015 at 11:45 am

Using the new Ace community energy projects support tool

If you’re thinking of setting up a community energy project, the Ace for Communities online tool is designed to help. This new tool, developed by the National Energy Foundation, provides detailed ideas, tips and real life case study examples on a wide range of community engagement activitie…

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

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

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

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

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Is third party ownership a good thing in the domestic RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 March 2015 at 1:10 pm

Is third party ownership a good thing in the domestic RHI?

My husband is a football fan. When I mentioned that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is exploring the possibility of third party ownership for the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) I didn’t need to explain what it is. He gave an immediate definition: “someone, …

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New 16 March deadline for Green Deal Home Improvement Fund applications

Posted by NEF Gordon on 5 March 2015 at 12:15 pm

New 16 March deadline for Green Deal Home Improvement Fund applications

The next deadline for applications to the government’s Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF) will be midday on 16 March 2015. The offer has been revised and householders can now apply for up to £5,600 to help with the costs of installing solid wall insulation and other energy savin…

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How do I set up a community energy project?

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

How do I set up a community energy project?

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

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Smart meters: love them or loathe them?

Posted by Emma Bailey on 27 February 2015 at 11:55 am

Smart meters: love them or loathe them?

Smart meters have proliferated rapidly in recent years. These devices enable the collection and analysis of detailed energy usage information from householders (and businesses). Proponents say that the data acquired from them could lead to increased efficiency, reduced electrical waste and, ultim…

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What's the difference between polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels?

Posted by Stuart Elmes on 25 February 2015 at 9:55 am

What's the difference between polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels?

When I agreed to write an article on the difference between the two main types of photovoltaic solar panel, those based on monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon, I thought what could be easier?  You can find numerous articles on websites, all saying the same thing.  It usually goe…

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5 things to bear in mind when buying LED lightbulbs

Posted by Tom Bray on 23 February 2015 at 1:30 pm

5 things to bear in mind when buying LED lightbulbs

Over the last few years there has been a real shift in awareness and attitudes surrounding energy efficient lighting. LED lights are currently spearheading the way. Whether it’s a business or a family home, LEDs are being used all over with the promise of reducing energy consumption and ele…

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Anyone else with a Klover BiFire stove no longer eligible for RHI payments?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 February 2015 at 11:40 am

Q: Today I received an email from Ofgem saying that my Klover Bifire stove which I installed last year (and for which I have received one payment under the Domestic Scheme) was incorrectly classed as eligible under the scheme. They have stopped all payments and advise that it is illegal for them …

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How to sell solar PV: tips for installers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 February 2015 at 10:05 am

How to sell solar PV: tips for installers

Build your reputation, do due diligence and change the way you sell solar says Rexel UK's energy solutions director Jerry Hamilton. Speaking at the Solar Energy UK Roadshow he advised installers that local reputation is far the best way of getting referrals and jobs. This is something we …

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Changes to regulations for domestic RHI now in force

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 February 2015 at 2:08 pm

Changes to regulations for domestic RHI now in force

Rules about the sustainability of biomass fuel and the following changes to the regulations for the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) came into force on 5 February 2015. Cooker stoves “Cooker stoves” are biomass stoves with a back boiler that are predominantly designed f…

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Ten top tips for major energy saving home improvements

Posted by Jonathan Atkinson on 6 February 2015 at 8:12 am

Ten top tips for major energy saving home improvements

With a goal of reducing costs and carbon emissions by 80%, Carbon Co-op ran a 'deep retrofit' project for nine of our owner-occupier members last year. The Community Green Deal project was funded by DECC and run as a pilot.  Work on the first phase of houses took place last year,…

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Feed-in tariff for Solar PV to decrease in April

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 February 2015 at 10:14 am

Feed-in tariff for Solar PV to decrease in April

The feed-in tariff rates from 1 April 2015 have now been announced. There has been a 1.6% cost of living increase across the board for those who are already receiving feed-in tariff payments.  There is a surprise reduction in the rate for most sizes of solar PV installed from 1 April 201…

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Two million children are growing up cold due to cold homes leaking heat

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 February 2015 at 10:39 am

Two million children are growing up cold due to cold homes leaking heat

Cold Homes Week begins today (2-6th Feb), and fuel poverty is again firmly back on the political agenda. The harsh reality is that thousands of people die because they simply can’t afford to turn on their heating. Two million children are growing up cold. They face twice the likelihood of c…

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Readers' tips of the month - January 2015

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 January 2015 at 9:57 am

Readers' tips of the month - January 2015

Mistakes are always one of the best learning opportunities, so we're always grateful when readers share theirs making it possible for the rest of you to get the learning without the pain of getting it wrong first. And pain is what this retired widow from Staffordshire experienced at the h…

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How to benefit from solar hot water with a combi boiler

Posted by Stuart Elmes on 28 January 2015 at 9:34 am

How to benefit from solar hot water with a combi boiler

A combi boiler provides central heating and hot water. Hot water is heated on demand as cold water flows through a heat exchanger in the boiler on its way to the taps.  This type of boiler accounted for 77% of all new boilers sold in the UK in the last 12 months and around 50% of all homes n…

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Does Chop-Cloc really reduce energy bills? A review

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 January 2015 at 9:58 am

Does Chop-Cloc really reduce energy bills? A review

What if there was a device that could knock up to 30 per cent off your heating bills without you even noticing the difference? The Chop-Cloc, which hit the market last year claims to do exactly that simply by turning off your heating for a period every hour. The idea is that your heating&rsqu…

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Book your discounted tickets for the Renewable Energy Marketplace now

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 January 2015 at 10:13 am

Book your discounted tickets for the Renewable Energy Marketplace now

The south west’s biggest energy event; everything you need to know about renewable energy, energy efficiency measures and generation. Join us for talks, demos and to meet the 100+ exhibitors at Westpoint Arena on Tuesday 21 April. This year, expert advice will be available in five dedic…

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Do I need to have a green deal assessment to apply for dRHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 January 2015 at 10:23 am

Do I need to have a green deal assessment to apply for dRHI?

Q: I have an EPC and a flat panel solar water heater.  I need a Green Deal Assessment number to complete my RHI (renewable heat incentive) claim. How do I go about getting one?    A: You will have to have a green deal assessment. This is based on the EPC, but goes into more det…

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Should I keep the heating on all day?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 January 2015 at 4:47 pm

Should I keep the heating on all day?

Q: We own quite a large old stone house and each winter we have the same discussion! Should we leave the oil heating turning over at a low temperature (we like a cool temp of around 18) or use it during 2 or 3 periods of the day? The same for underfloor electric heating in the bathroom? A: Ge…

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Should I divert excess solar energy into my hot water cylinder?

Posted by Chris Jardine on 20 January 2015 at 4:48 pm

Should I divert excess solar energy into my hot water cylinder?

Most people don't use all the electricity they generate from their solar panels. Any excess is exported into the grid for someone else to use. But there are ways to keep and use more of your own electricity by using the surplus electricity to heat your hot water cylinder.  Opinions d…

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Can a village hall get a grant for a biomass boiler and claim RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 January 2015 at 9:27 am

Can a village hall get a grant for a biomass boiler and claim RHI?

Q: I have recently taken over as treasurer of a local village hall. Our heating is all electric. We want to put in a biomass boiler. With donations only will we qualify for renewable heat incentive (RHI)? If we get grants will we qualify for RHI? If we get a lottery grant will we qualify for RHI?…

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Win new business in 2015 with Solar Energy UK Installer Roadshow

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 January 2015 at 2:25 pm

Win new business in 2015 with Solar Energy UK Installer Roadshow

Solar Energy UK Installer Roadshow is a series of half day seminars that provide an accessible, educational opportunity for SME and commercial installers to learn more about all the latest trade essentials for running a successful solar business in the upcoming year. YouGen members get a 20% disc…

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Guidance on acceptable third party finance for RHI available for trade

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 January 2015 at 10:24 am

Guidance on acceptable third party finance for RHI available for trade

Do your customers want to install renewable heat, but struggle with the upfront cost? Unlike the feed-in tariff, where rent a roof (FIT) schemes are possible because FIT payments can go to a third party, the rules of the domestic renewable heat incentive (d-RHI) do not currently allow third parti…

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Time is running out for 'legacy' applications to the RHI

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 January 2015 at 3:25 pm

If you installed an air source heat pump, ground source heat pump, wood pellet stove, biomass boiler or solar thermal system between 16 July 2009 and 8 April 2014 you may well be eligible to apply for the renewable heat incentive. This is the government's financial incentive to help homeowner…

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What should be included in a quote for solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 January 2015 at 11:28 am

What should be included in a quote for solar panels?

Q: I have read your 10 questions to ask a potential installer. You say 'Make sure the quotation is comprehensive - it should itemise all the equipment'.  How can you know what should be there and what might be missing?  Also you suggest asking 'Are they qualified electrician…

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Is my solar thermodynamic system eligible for RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 January 2015 at 11:46 am

Is my solar thermodynamic system eligible for RHI?

This blog was amended on 14 January 2014 in light of the comment from Celtic Renewable Energy below Q: I have a solar thermal installation ECO 200esm manufactured by Energie thermodynamics. I have applied for the RHI (renewable heat incentive) and been refused by Ofgem. I have a green deal ce…

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Solar trade must address ignorance and lack of trust to boost solar sales

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 January 2015 at 2:50 pm

Solar trade must address ignorance and lack of trust to boost solar sales

There is a healthy appetite for solar panels among home owners in the UK, but the findings of a recent survey indicate that the solar trade still has considerable work to do to ramp up domestic installations.  The good news (for solar installers, not homeowners!) is that 81% of UK a…

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What YouGen readers liked: top 10 blogs of 2014

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 January 2015 at 2:01 pm

What YouGen readers liked: top 10 blogs of 2014

With an election on the horizon it's hard to know what's going to happen in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors in 2015. Maybe the political parties (and others) will be able to take a hint about what important to householder by looking at our most popular blog last year. T…

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How to ensure you get the best rate of Domestic RHI for biomass before 1 January 2015's fall

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 December 2014 at 9:28 am

How to ensure you get the best rate of Domestic RHI for biomass before 1 January 2015's fall

The rate of domestic renewable heat incentive (DRHI) for biomass boilers and stoves will decrease from 12.2p per kWh to 10.98p for all installations made on or after 1 January 2015. This is because, just six months after the DRHI launched, forecast expenditure for biomass has exceeded the gov…

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How can I store my solar generated electricity to use at night?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 December 2014 at 10:24 am

How can I store my solar generated electricity to use at night?

Q: How can solar power produced in the summer during the day be stored for use at night or in the winter? Converted to hydrogen or stored in batteries?  A: There are a number of options that you can take to use more of your solar generated power. Some are (relatively) cheap and chee…

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Can I believe this solar salesman?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 December 2014 at 3:09 pm

Can I believe this solar salesman?

Q: We had a salesman/assessor  around last week. I was quite impressed with his spiel, but I did not sign up on the spot, as I wanted to do some research. Reviews of the company are mixed. The poor reviews seem to be mainly based on the pushiness and the hard sell of the salesman, but o…

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Can you insulate a steel framed house?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 December 2014 at 3:23 pm

Can you insulate a steel framed house?

Q: My question relates to the bead type of insulation. We own a steel frame property and had the insulation put in a few years ago. There have been no issues with it for us but we are hoping to sell our property.  However, the buyer is making the insulation a big issue as they have heard tha…

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GDHIF for solid wall insulation runs out in less than two days

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 December 2014 at 3:39 pm

GDHIF for solid wall insulation runs out in less than two days

Just a day and a half after the green deal home improvement fund opened for applications at 9am yesterday, the £24m worth of funding for solid wall insulation has all been allocated.  Applications for solid wall insulation have now closed. However, it is still possible for househol…

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Why have wood pellet prices for biomass boilers risen so much?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 December 2014 at 9:44 am

Why have wood pellet prices for biomass boilers risen so much?

Q: I installed a Grant wood pellet boiler in May 2013. Prior to installation, I monitored Enplus A1 pellet prices for about a year. They seemed to hover around the £230 a tonne for 10kg bags. Since installing the price has crept up to £262 (Liverpool fuels balcas brites). I have been …

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Grants of up to £5,600 available for insulation and other home improvements

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 December 2014 at 10:35 am

Grants of up to £5,600 available for insulation and other home improvements

STOP PRESS: the £24m available for solid wall insulation ran out after a day and a half. Get your skates on! Up to £30m of grants is available with a new release of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF). This next tranche of funding will open to new applications tomorrow (9…

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Which is best: solar thermal or solar PV with a immersion switch?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 December 2014 at 9:07 am

Which is best: solar thermal or solar PV with a immersion switch?

Q: My question is whether solar thermal or solar panels would be the best investment. We have a large unshaded roof, facing less than 5 degrees from due south. Its a 3 bed semi with solid walls and a new gas boiler with insulated pipes and a dual coil cylinder in the loft. We have cold fill appli…

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Why aren't there more solar panels on industrial roofs?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 December 2014 at 2:40 pm

Why aren't there more solar panels on industrial roofs?

We have had a number of questions from readers recently asking why there aren't more solar panels on industrial roofs, and suggesting that they would be more suitable places for solar farms than green fields. It's a good question, especially as I've lost count of how many times I'…

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How is solar generation spread across the year?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 December 2014 at 11:35 am

How is solar generation spread across the year?

Q: Approximately what is the increase in available light for generation of electricity in April to September compared to the winter months of October to March? A: While I haven't been able to lay my hands on details of the available light I can illustrate the variations in generation that…

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Readers' tip of the month

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 November 2014 at 3:04 pm

Readers' tip of the month

A ground source heat pump with underfloor heating provide the warmth in DeriM's new-build house which was constructed in 2008. But it's not all been a bed of roses, heat-wise. Here's what he's learned: "Having had some fairly massive electricity bills (c.£300) …

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