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New lithium battery technology to store energy from solar PV panels

Posted by Gordon Glass on 13 May 2015 at 10:30 am

New lithium battery technology to store energy from solar PV panels

A houseowner in Lewes has become one of the first in the area to use state-of-the-art lithium battery technology to store energy from solar PV panels. Jill Goulder has installed a lithium battery storage system linked to her solar PV panels. These recharge during sunlight hours and provide po…

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Top tips for setting up a community solar PV project

Posted by Alex Steeland on 11 May 2015 at 10:15 am

Top tips for setting up a community solar PV project

Have you ever wondered how successful community solar PV projects started out? What if you could pick a social entrepreneur’s brain to find out exactly what was involved and the lessons they learned along the way? Well, lucky for you, a new series of action packs has just been launched whic…

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Fuel poor in Scotland should see more support in September 2015

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 8 May 2015 at 4:05 pm

Fuel poor in Scotland should see more support in September 2015

A new scheme has been announced to support those in Fuel Poverty living in Scotland. Whilst the details are yet to be announced the £224 million over seven years is anticipated to help as many as 28,000 fuel poor or vulnerable households. The scheme will provide installations of insulat…

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Can you have both cavity wall insulation and external or internal wall insulation?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 7 May 2015 at 9:35 am

Can you have both cavity wall insulation and external or internal wall insulation?

Got a cavity wall? Fill it. Got a solid wall? Then add internal or external wall insulation. This is the standard advice for people looking make their houses snugger and more energy efficient. But there are those who go one step further. Having filled the cavities in his mid-century detac…

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Could new batteries take you off grid?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 5 May 2015 at 11:05 am

Could new batteries take you off grid?

For many years we have wondered about the problem of storing our PV generation.  In fact many customers install PV, thinking that they may be protecting themselves from future power cuts, without realising that the grid is required for their system to function. A new development from Tes…

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How far could more energy efficient windows reduce energy use in existing homes by 2050?

Posted by Federico Seguro on 27 April 2015 at 12:15 pm

How far could more energy efficient windows reduce energy use in existing homes by 2050?

There is a common perception that glass is the weakest point of the building fabric, where heat loss is more likely to occur. As a result, there has been a tendency to minimise the transparent envelope of buildings, especially in cold climates where the building energy demand for space heating is…

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How do I know if my solar panels are working correctly?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 24 April 2015 at 4:10 pm

How do I know if my solar panels are working correctly?

1. Keep an eye on your generation meter   Check your generation meter once a week and keep a record of the figure. Your meter should clock up energy generation every day, even in dull weather. Keeping a regular eye on it will help you notice any variation over time that doesn’t seem …

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Air source heat pumps vs ground source. Which is best?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 22 April 2015 at 3:05 pm

Air source heat pumps vs ground source. Which is best?

Should I get an air source heat pump or a ground source heat pump? Heat pumps take heat from the ground, air or water and use it to heat space and water. They are like a fridge in reverse. The fridge takes heat from the food you put in it, and pumps that into the kitchen, keeping the food cold.…

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Election update - energy efficiency off the media radar?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 20 April 2015 at 3:30 pm

Election update - energy efficiency off the media radar?

How are the political parties going to promote energy efficiency, alleviate fuel poverty or increase renewable energy generation?  Are you interested in finding out before you vote on 7th May? What do you think about the Green party’s commitment to a nationwide retrofit insulation…

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DECC launch renewable heat incentive calculator

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 17 April 2015 at 4:30 pm

DECC launch renewable heat incentive calculator

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has just launched a new renewable heat incentive calculator.  It is designed to give you an idea of how much you could get in RHI payments if you were to install a renewable heating system. This applies to solar thermal (for hot water) a…

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Draughty house? What an airtightness test can tell you

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 17 April 2015 at 12:30 pm

Draughty house? What an airtightness test can tell you

What does an airtightness test involve? I recently had an air tightness test done on my home. The goal was to get a good idea of where my house may be leaking air - especially when the heating is on. The conventional blower door test was used.  This requires a large fan to be placed…

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Solar power in a conservation area: how solar slate tiles pleased the planners

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 15 April 2015 at 2:15 pm

Solar power in a conservation area: how solar slate tiles pleased the planners

Whenever I see a petition designed to get solar panels removed from village roofs, I get a little twitchy. Not only is this, in my view, the worst kind of nimbyism, these petitions invariably cite the ugliness of the panels as a reason for their removal. How unsightly, I wonder, will these vi…

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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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