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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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The feed-in tariff still offers good rates of return - so why have solar PV installations dried up?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 April 2012 at 11:02 am

The feed-in tariff still offers good rates of return - so why have solar PV installations dried up?

Since the beginning of April solar PV installations have fallen off a cliff. The only time they have been lower over the past 15 months was after the Christmas 2011 feed-in tariff deadline. In this time five companies have resigned their YouGen membership - two going into liquidation, one ceased …

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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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Retrofit of Victorian terrace house reduces energy bills by 89%

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 April 2012 at 7:38 am

Retrofit of Victorian terrace house reduces energy bills by 89%

Described as a "labour of love" by designers Green Tomato Energy the conversion of a Victorian mid-terrace, built in approximately 1870 with solid brick walls, to PassivHaus standard has significantly improved comfort and reduced energy bills. Due to planning restrictions in the local conservatio…

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New feed-in tariff rate from July "probably won't be 13p"

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 April 2012 at 3:15 pm

New feed-in tariff rate from July "probably won't be 13p"

"We have probably overestimated" the cost reductions for solar PV going forward, admitted head of the feed-in tariff review at DECC, Rachel Solomon-Williams, yesterday. Speaking at RegenSW's event on the current feed-in tariff consultations, she also gave a ray hope for feed-in tariff (FIT…

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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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A cautionary tale of a heat pump gone wrong

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 April 2012 at 9:06 am

A cautionary tale of a heat pump gone wrong

"Our Peak district farm offers self-catering accommodation in eco-renovated barns," write Paul & Elspeth Walker. "When we recently developed an adjoining building as a venue for courses and public events it was an opportunity to enhance the alternative energy potential of the site. "So in 20…

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Energy efficiency of TVs rises by 60%

Posted by Ross Lammas on 11 April 2012 at 9:02 am

Energy efficiency of TVs rises by 60%

When plasma and LCD TVs first arrived in the shops, we were dazzled by their stunning picture quality and screen size, and overlooked the fact that, compared with most tube televisions, these beasts were energy guzzlers. This was something the salesman, wowing us with bright colours and a 42 inch sc…

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Help: I'm getting conflicting advice about split aspect solar PV and inverters

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 April 2012 at 9:01 am

Help: I'm getting conflicting advice about split aspect solar PV and inverters

Q: I have had 3 consultants for solar PV and now I am confused. I already have a 2kW system, and wanted to get another 3kW installed. One company said they could not do it, the next said I would get rid of my bill and was going to do split aspects on one inverter. The third one said that I couldn't …

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Feed-in tariff eligibility dates: make sure you get your application in on time

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 April 2012 at 9:01 am

Feed-in tariff eligibility dates: make sure you get your application in on time

Q: The Guardian recently reported that 30,735 homeowners and businesses who installed solar panels after a 12 December cut-off date and before 3 March will now be eligible for the previous, higher feed-in tariff (Fit) of 43p per kWh of energy generated. I hoped and expected that the Government w…

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What to look for when buying a woodburning stove

Posted by Laurence Jones on 4 April 2012 at 9:20 am

What to look for when buying a woodburning stove

It is often hard to distinguish between one woodburning stove and another at face value.  But behind the stylish façade of a modern appliance there are a few key factors to consider before making your decision.  Output This calculator should give you a very rough ide…

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Accuracy of predicted solar PV generation set to increase

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 April 2012 at 9:09 am

Accuracy of predicted solar PV generation set to increase

The amount of sunshine in Sheffield is currently used as the basis for all predictions of solar generation, where ever you live. This means that people in the south are likely to be delighted when their new system produces more electricity than promised. The outcome isn't so good for people in north…

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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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How do I ensure the solar PV for our new build gets 21p FITS rate?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 March 2012 at 1:13 pm

How do I ensure the solar PV for our new build gets 21p FITS rate?

Q: We are at the start of a new build in Buxton Derbyshire. The foundations are in place and the walls start to go up at the end of April with a completion date of mid July for the build (excluding the internal fitting out of kitchen, bathroom etc). When would we need to have a solar PV system commi…

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When is an EPC not required for solar PV feed-in tariffs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 March 2012 at 2:38 pm

When is an EPC not required for solar PV feed-in tariffs

The new energy efficiency requirement for the feed-in tariff (FiTs) for solar PV kicks in on 1 April 2012. This means that the full FITs rate is only available for buildings which have an Energy Performance Certificate of band D or above. This is currently a bit less than half the UK housing stoc…

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Renewable Heat Premium Payments scheme is extended; RHI delayed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 March 2012 at 10:35 am

Renewable Heat Premium Payments scheme is extended; RHI delayed

The domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) remains elusive, as the government announced a second phase of the renewable heat premium payments (RHPP) scheme yesterday. The domestic RHI, which will reward people who switch to renewable sources of heat with regular payments for and anticipated …

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Legal battle over solar feed-in tariff ends in defeat for DECC

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 March 2012 at 11:31 am

Legal battle over solar feed-in tariff ends in defeat for DECC

Solar installations made between 12 December 2011 and 3 March 2012 will get the higher rate of feed-in tariff (43.3p for up to 4kW systems) as the Supreme Court rejected DECC's appeal on Friday. The industry has been dogged with uncertainty since the legal battle began in December last year. Frie…

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Can I use a compressor to boost my solar hot water?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 22 March 2012 at 12:44 pm

Can I use a compressor to boost my solar hot water?

Q. I’ve been looking at different websites about solar hot water and you all basically say the same thing, “a supplementary heat source will be needed at some point”. Has anyone thought of using a small compressor in between the collector(s) and the hot water tank to heat the transfer fluid to…

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Readers tips of the month: biomass and air source heat pump

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 March 2012 at 9:02 am

Readers tips of the month: biomass and air source heat pump

When people register on YouGen we ask them about their renewable energy, and any tips they have for others. Here are our favourites this month: Drumrossie is retired, and lives in a large, old and difficult to heat house. He has installed a log burning boiler with a 60kW output and with 4,000 lit…

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