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Reader's tip of the month - July 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 July 2013 at 9:29 am

Reader's tip of the month - July 2013

Mark Boulton is just completing his self-build eco-house: a timber frame / hemcrete construction on a passive slab near Chipping Campden.  The house has a 9.8kW solar PV system and solar thermal panels feeding into an 800 litre thermal store. It has a bespoke energy management system wit…

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Green deal to be delivered street by street with DECC funding

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 July 2013 at 10:26 am

Green deal to be delivered street by street with DECC funding

Plans by the government for energy efficiency experts to go street-by-street to encourage people to make their homes warmer and cheaper to heat have met with suspicion on Twitter. Concerns expressed are mainly about conmen and pressure sales. But how likely is that in reality? The local c…

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Mortgage lenders give tentative thumbs up to Green Deal homes

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 25 July 2013 at 10:38 am

Mortgage lenders give tentative thumbs up to Green Deal homes

If you’re considering taking out a green deal loan on a house you’re planning to sell in the future, your prospective buyers will not find it harder to secure a mortgage.  At least that’s the message the body which represents mortgage lenders is keen to get across. …

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Estimated RHI payments on a solar thermal installation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 July 2013 at 2:59 pm

Estimated RHI payments on a solar thermal installation

Domestic hot water generated by solar thermal panels will be eligible for the renewable heat incentive (RHI) when it starts in spring next year. The tariff rate will be at least 19.2p/kWh of heat generated (although it may be a higher - we should find out in the autumn). The RHI payments will…

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Why buyers should take care when investing in renewable heat

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 July 2013 at 9:41 am

Why buyers should take care when investing in renewable heat

Let me set my stall out: I'm a fan of renewable heat technologies if they are installed well in suitable buildings. I'm also delighted that details of the domestic renewable heat incentive scheme has finally been announced, and that the rates are higher than expected.  But, and g…

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7 questions to ask a heat pump installer before you buy

Posted by Graham Hazell on 19 July 2013 at 11:52 am

7 questions to ask a heat pump installer before you buy

With the details of the domestic renewable heat incentive now published, and renewable heat premium payments still available to help with the upfront cost, now is a good time to install renewable heat. But make sure you choose a good installer. Here are seven questions to help you choose a he…

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How to choose your biomass boiler installer

Posted by FairEnergy . on 18 July 2013 at 9:35 am

How to choose your biomass boiler installer

A biomass boiler is unlike any other type of boiler and there some very important considerations that your installer should understand and be able to explain to you. 1. Ask how long the company has been installing biomass boilers. 2. Find out how many installations the company has done an…

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RHI stands for really happy industry

Posted by Jennifer Arran on 16 July 2013 at 8:20 am

RHI stands for really happy industry

The domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has finally been unveiled, and the industry couldn’t be happier. This is the end of the beginning – the RHI represents the first step on the path to meeting the UK 2050 carbon targets. The tariff rates and the inclusion of hybrid systems…

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What the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive means for heat pumps

Posted by Chris Davis on 15 July 2013 at 11:06 am

What the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive means for heat pumps

After nearly 4 years of waiting, the Government has finally confirmed the details of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for domestic properties.  Cathy has already summarised the key details in her blog. This is great news for home owners looking to install renewable heating systems…

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Usability testers wanted for RHI accreditation system

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 July 2013 at 11:55 am

Usability testers wanted for RHI accreditation system

Ofgem has recently begun to build the IT system for accreditation on to the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme and hopes to start usability testing in the week commencing 22 July 2013. It aims to build a user-friendly system to ease the accreditation process for all, and needs help to…

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Details of the domestic renewable heat incentive finally announced

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 July 2013 at 10:25 am

After several delays, the details of the renewable heat incentive, originally announced in July 2010 have finally been announced. Its aim is to encourage the uptake of renewable heat technologies to cut carbon, help meet the renewables targets and to save money on energy bills. Who can apply …

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A company wants to install free cavity wall insulation in my block of flats: is it too good to be true?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 July 2013 at 9:35 am

A company wants to install free cavity wall insulation in my block of flats: is it too good to be true?

Q: I have been contacted by a company that is intent on installing cavity wall insulation in the block of flats that I stay in and they claim it's free under the 'hard to treat homes'! This I find hard to believe. I would greatly appreciate any information regarding this as the compan…

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Check you are eligible for RHI before installing renewable heat

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 July 2013 at 10:10 am

Check you are eligible for RHI before installing renewable heat

The renewable heat premium payments (RHPP) for biomass boilers and heat pumps are only available for properties that are off the mains gas network. Until the announcement on the full domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) is made this summer we won't know if this will also be the case for th…

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Do solar panels have to be turned off before cleaning?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 July 2013 at 10:40 am

Do solar panels have to be turned off before cleaning?

A reader asked whether solar panels needed to be turned off for cleaning. The following answers to this question were crowd-sourced from Twitter: @YouGenUK Even if you switch off the DC isolator next to the inverter the modules are still live. Do it at night if you are worried! said Stua…

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Use your Green Deal cashback to upgrade your appliances

Posted by Ross Lammas on 5 July 2013 at 11:17 am

Use your Green Deal cashback to upgrade your appliances

DECC has gone the whole hog in trying to make the economic argument for the Green Deal by offering ‘early adopters’ cashback as a sweetner. The Green Deal is the Government’s flagship carbon emissions policy designed to encourage people to make their homes more energy effici…

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How to read your Green Deal Advice Report: a case study

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 4 July 2013 at 2:39 pm

How to read your Green Deal Advice Report: a case study

YouGen user OldBarn had a less than satisfactory experience with the Green Deal and told his story in a comment on Cathy's blog. His comments are in italics - my responses are in plain text: Our house has oil fired central heating and reasonable energy efficiency (but hard to treat c…

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Electric vehicles can save businesses money

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 July 2013 at 9:09 am

Electric vehicles can save businesses money

The UK ranks 15th in Europe for uptake of electric vehicles, despite attractive financial benefits for companies, according to a recent report by the IPPR. France and Norway have bought the highest proportion of electric vehicles. The report reveals that businesses can save £3,755 over …

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Demand side management uncovered

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 1 July 2013 at 9:18 am

Demand side management uncovered

Demand side management of energy is not a new concept. It’s been around since the energy crises of the 1970s and refers to the management of consumer demand for energy. You may know it is energy efficiency or simply reducing your use of energy. However, it has become more relevant than ever…

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How to position your pole-mounted micro-wind turbine for best performance

Posted by Jason Hobbins on 28 June 2013 at 9:25 am

How to position your pole-mounted micro-wind turbine for best performance

Location is everything, according to Phil and Kirsty. This is especially true of wind turbines, which if sited correctly will be an electricity-generating workhorse that will have earned its keep in less than 7 years.  Variables including wind direction and wind energy levels means it&rs…

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How do I make my home more energy efficient? Green Deal or independent assessment

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 June 2013 at 8:34 am

How do I make my home more energy efficient? Green Deal or independent assessment

Our 1950s chalet bungalow home is cold and quite expensive to heat even though we have installed cavity wall and loft insulation, and it is double glazed. It would be warmer if we put the heating on longer, but it would also cost more to heat, and emit more carbon dioxide, and we're want to a…

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Energy efficiency can add up to £25k to the value of your home

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 June 2013 at 9:15 am

Energy efficiency can add up to £25k to the value of your home

Improving the energy efficiency of your home can increase its value by up to £25,000 depending on where you live. New research for DECC (the department of energy and climate change) found that increasing the energy performance certificate (EPC) of an average home in England from band G to E…

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How to get started with the green deal: my experience

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2013 at 11:37 am

How to get started with the green deal: my experience

The Green Deal is the government's scheme to encourage people to increase the energy efficiency of their homes, by taking away the barrier of upfront cost. While the government is keen to meet carbon emissions targets, the benefits for the rest of us are also warmer homes, and lower energy bi…

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Review of Elios4you energy management system

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 June 2013 at 9:25 am

Review of Elios4you energy management system

I'm often surprised about how much electricity my solar panels generate, even on a cloudy day. Despite it being June, I'm writing this wearing a thick fleece to keep warm, and looking out at around 90% cloud cover, yet my Elios4you device shows me that our 2kWp solar PV array has been ste…

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Revolutionary solid wall insulation system wins Ashden Gold Award

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 June 2013 at 9:17 am

Revolutionary solid wall insulation system wins Ashden Gold Award

Internal solid wall insulation is generally accepted to be pretty disruptive, with residents often moving out for up to a fortnight while their home is insulated. Not any more. A new system developed in partnership by the Sustainable Energy Academy (SEA) and social housing contractor United …

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What happens to excess solar power when the batteries are full?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 20 June 2013 at 9:25 am

What happens to excess solar power when the batteries are full?

Q: I want to find out how my solar panels deal with excess solar power when the batteries are fully charged. It is a 24 volt system: 4 x 165 watt panels  into 2 kW inverter   stand alone system. A: As an off grid, stand alone system, I assume your power usage is quite low if the bat…

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Win a copy of Old House Eco Handbook (worth £30)

Posted by Gilly Jones on 19 June 2013 at 9:10 am

Win a copy of Old House Eco Handbook (worth £30)

YouGen is giving away a copy of the brilliant Old House Eco Handbook worth £30. To thank you for Liking our Facebook page before the end July 2013, we will enter you in the draw to win. This guide, which is published in association with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Building…

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What happens to the feed-in tariff if I switch energy suppliers?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 June 2013 at 2:56 pm

What happens to the feed-in tariff if I switch energy suppliers?

Q: I'd like to look for a different energy provider (my current one, nPower isn't paying its tax!). However, I don't want to lose my feed-in tariff (FIT) payments. Can I reapply for them with my new supplier and is it a complicated procedure? Or will my old supplier keep paying the FI…

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How can I future-proof my heating and hot water?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 17 June 2013 at 10:04 am

How can I future-proof my heating and hot water?

Q: I need to upgrade my heating and hot water system.  I am on mains gas and will move to an unvented system. I have looked at heat pumps but the size and location of my property does not seem to make this a sensible choice at the moment.  I even considered a thermodynamic solar pa…

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Risks identified for buyers as two-tier market for heat pumps emerges

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 14 June 2013 at 10:04 am

Risks identified for buyers as two-tier market for heat pumps emerges

With the uncertainty caused by another delay to the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme, we are seeing a two-tier market for heat pumps emerge, where some people are opting for the cheaper option of using products and installers who are not accredited under the microgeneration certific…

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How important is the efficiency of solar panel?

Posted by Chris Jardine on 13 June 2013 at 10:05 am

How important is the efficiency of solar panel?

A more efficient solar panel is a better one, right?  Well arguably, but it doesn’t necessarily make it the most appropriate choice for use in any given situation. That's why I'm starting my series on what is the ‘best’ solar panel by looking at the sometimes c…

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Is the UK low carbon heat industry ready to deliver? A case study of a customer who can't buy a heat pump

Posted by Jennifer Arran on 10 June 2013 at 9:16 am

Is the UK low carbon heat industry ready to deliver? A case study of a customer who can't buy a heat pump

Is the renewable heat industry ready to deliver? This critical question was raised by the most recent interviews in our on-going research program. The Microgen Insight Service carried out in-depth phone interviews with owner-occupiers on- and off-gas, including a a small number of …

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What is the feed-in tariff rate with inflation rise?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 June 2013 at 10:09 am

What is the feed-in tariff rate with inflation rise?

Q: My PV installation is now 2.5 years old. The feed-in tariff (FIT) is supposed to rise with inflation each year but wherever I search on the web I can only seem to find the rates for new installations. I am registered with Scottish and Southern who no longer provide a breakdown of payments and …

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Have pigeons been playing on your solar panels?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 June 2013 at 9:57 am

Have pigeons been playing on your solar panels?

See more recent entry here: Pigeons under the panels - what can you do to protect your roof-mounted solar PV? "We had our solar panels installed in January last year and are very pleased with their efficiency," writes a YouGen reader. "However, something that no-one mentio…

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What makes an energy efficient vaccum cleaner?

Posted by Ross Lammas on 3 June 2013 at 9:21 am

What makes an energy efficient vaccum cleaner?

We typically spend one hour a week vacuuming according. Although rather dull, this fact makes it easy to work out how much it costs in electricity usage.  You simply look for your vacuum cleaner's motor power, which is usually quoted in watts, then use Sust-it’s energy calculator t…

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Reader's tip of the month - May 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 May 2013 at 11:13 am

Reader's tip of the month - May 2013

Retired, and living in a detached dorma bungalow built in the 1960s with almost no insulation, Tony Seaford and his wife were interested in reducing their domestic carbon footprint as much as they could without moving. "After double glazing and cavity wall insulation, we spent £800…

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Which is the the best heat pump?

Posted by Graham Hazell on 30 May 2013 at 11:47 am

Which is the the best heat pump?

“Which is the best heat pump, in your view?” is the question I’m most frequently asked by callers to the Heat Pump Association's information desk. I usually turn the question back and ask them, in their view, which is the best car. Straight away they ask “what do you w…

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Can I charge my tenants for solar generated electricity?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 28 May 2013 at 9:01 am

Can I charge my tenants for solar generated electricity?

Q: I have a property which is a farmhouse with attached barn conversion. I live in the barn and I rent out the attached house to tenants. The two properties are on one electric supply and we have PV array on the barn roof with meters in both properties so we can monitor who uses how much electric…

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How does underfloor heating work? Your questions answered

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 24 May 2013 at 9:52 am

How does underfloor heating work? Your questions answered

What is underfloor heating? Underfloor heating can be either a system that pumps warm water through piping under the floor (a ‘wet’ system) or electric coils placed under the floor (a ‘dry’ system). Taking advantage of the basic principle that heat rises, warmth from u…

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What happens to the FIT if your solar panels are destroyed in a fire?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 May 2013 at 9:48 am

What happens to the FIT if your solar panels are destroyed in a fire?

Q: We fitted  a 3.2kw solar panel system in August 2011 were on the higher levy (feed-in tariff rate). We had a house fire in March 2012 and rebuilt the house putting a complete new system on it. We notified British Gas, who we signed up with about the fire and they said notify them when we …

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How free biomass boiler deals may lose businesses £23k a year

Posted by Amanda Hobbins on 21 May 2013 at 10:37 am

How free biomass boiler deals may lose businesses £23k a year

Companies offering free biomass boilers to replace your oil- or LPG-fired boiler take the Government’s Non-Domestic RHI tariff payments instead of up-front payment for the installation. This is fine if you really can’t afford to buy your biomass boiler yourself, and you’ll still…

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DECC doubles upfront grants for renewable heat technologies

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 May 2013 at 3:32 pm

More help with the upfront cost of installing renewable heat is now available as the Department of Energy and Climate Change announces a doubling of the Renewable Heat Premium Payments. These money off vouchers have been increased to: £2,300 for ground source heat pumps £2,0…

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Will solar PV power my underfloor heating?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 20 May 2013 at 9:29 am

Will solar PV power my underfloor heating?

Q: We are having a 4kW solar pv system fitted. We are also considering electrical underfloor heating. After reading some very interesting pages on your site I am beginning to wonder if electrical underfloor heating is the best option as this will mainly run when it is dark? Is my thinking flawed …

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How do I find the best performing heat pump?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 May 2013 at 9:35 am

How do I find the best performing heat pump?

Q: There is a great deal of information on the Internet as regards heat pumps but no information about recommended manufacturers of ground source heat pumps. Please can you help me. I would like someone to recommend which ground source heat pump ie Kensa, Nibe Danfoss performs best. A: Good q…

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Old House Eco Handbook: a review

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 May 2013 at 11:15 am

Old House Eco Handbook: a review

Old houses can be green. This is the title of the first chapter of Old House Eco Handbook: a practical guide to retrofitting for energy-efficiency & sustainability by Marianne Suhr & Roger Hunt. It's an encouraging start, as not everyone believes it's possible, and as a result too…

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Who deals with claims on an inverter warranty?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 May 2013 at 10:52 am

Who deals with claims on an inverter warranty?

Q:I have a quote for the installation of solar panels. The quote says that the inverter is guaranteed for 10 years and that the guarantee is directly with the manufacturer; ie the installer does not wish to be involved in any guarantee claims. Is this normal? Is this contrary to the Sale of Goods…

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How voltage affects solar PV

Posted by James Page on 13 May 2013 at 9:40 am

How voltage affects solar PV

As most people will know mains voltage in the UK is  - nominally - 230V (it was 240V until we compromised with the European 220V supply).  But why does it change in both time and place even within mainland Britain? The answer to both stems from Ohm’s law. The voltage drop in t…

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Feed-in tariff rates for solar PV to fall by 3.5% from 1 July 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 May 2013 at 12:25 pm

Feed-in tariff rates for solar PV to fall by 3.5% from 1 July 2013

Feed-in tariff rates for all solar PV installations under 50kWp will fall by 3.5% from 1 July, even though the  levels of installation to trigger a fall has not been reached. Under the government's rules the three monthly degression can be skipped for two quarters if uptake is low, after…

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Small energy companies reluctant to offer Green Deal finance

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 8 May 2013 at 9:12 am

Small energy companies reluctant to offer Green Deal finance

If you are with a smaller energy supplier, you may have to switch companies in order to get Green Deal finance through your bill. Some smaller suppliers are signed up, but some are strongly against the Green Deal, while others are waiting to see how it goes before taking part. So which compan…

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Heat pumps a no brainer says property developer

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 May 2013 at 9:41 am

Heat pumps a no brainer says property developer

A property developer in North Wales has been so impressed with the amount of energy that air source heat pumps have saved his properties over the past few years that he installed one in his own home in Colwyn Bay. "I first started using ground and air source heat pumps in my development…

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Building Control regulations for solar installations in Northern Ireland

Posted by Andy Baird on 3 May 2013 at 9:15 am

Building Control regulations for solar installations in Northern Ireland

Building Regulations is one of the most common things we’re asked about during initial enquiry and survey stage. This isn’t the sexiest of subjects when discussing solar PV, but it is important to understand the rules from the outset. In most cases, and without exception if solar is t…

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How LED lighting can cut commercial electricity bills

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 2 May 2013 at 9:27 am

How LED lighting can cut commercial electricity bills

LED provides a more efficient method of producing light than other bulbs. This efficiency is because LEDs (light emitting diodes) produce light via through the movement of electrons. In contrast, traditional bulbs pass an electric current through a thin wire, halogen bulbs produce light via the c…

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Why isn't draught-proofing EPC's number one recommendation?

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 29 April 2013 at 10:44 am

Why isn't draught-proofing EPC's number one recommendation?

Q: I've been wondering about how often the EPC suggests-draught proofing and extreme draught-proofing as the number 1 recommendation? 

Most homes built before the 1950s are really draughty, even if the new builds have low U values for walls, floors etc or good thick insulation, it is rat…

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Readers tips of the month - April 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 April 2013 at 9:30 am

Readers tips of the month - April 2013

"Most cost effective measures are to improve thermal performance of property with good insulation generally," says architect Clinton. "But watch natural ventilation/airtightness to avoid condensation problems unless you are installing a mechanical ventilation system. Use as man…

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Which solar panels are best?

Posted by Chris Jardine on 25 April 2013 at 12:10 pm

Which solar panels are best?

Choosing the best solar panel is a bit like choosing the best sandwich for your lunch. What’s better for you – a BLT or a cheese and pickle sandwich? Well, the cheese sandwich wins in terms of lower calories and lower fat, but the BLT contains more protein and more vitamins and nutrie…

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DECC explains how green deal and feed-in tariffs work together

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 April 2013 at 12:09 pm

DECC explains how green deal and feed-in tariffs work together

You can use Green Deal finance to help meet the costs of installing solar PV, wind or even microCHP* on your property and receive the Feed In Tariff (FIT) as well. Hydro generation and anaerobic digestion receive FIT but are not eligible for Green Deal finance. The amount you can finance thro…

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When will I get renewable heat incentive (RHI) payments?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 April 2013 at 9:17 am

When will I get renewable heat incentive (RHI) payments?

A: As RHI (renewable heat incentive) payments have been delayed again till Spring 2014, do we have to wait till then to get our payment? So there will be no payment in 2013 then? Q: If you are what the government describes as a 'legacy' applicant, which means someone who has installed…

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Infrared panel heating: your questions answered

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 19 April 2013 at 9:30 am

Infrared panel heating: your questions answered

What are infrared panels?  Infrared panels emit a very high ratio of heat as radiant heat. This heats objects directly, rather than warming the air (which is what convection heat does). Other examples of high-radiant heaters include portable halogen heaters, infrared outdoor patio heatin…

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REAL Code becomes Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 April 2013 at 9:21 am

REAL Code becomes Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC)

The consumer code for the domestic renewable energy sector has changed its name from the ‘REAL Consumer Code’ to the ‘Renewable Energy Consumer Code’ (RECC). The new name better describes the nature and purpose of the Code, and better reflects the fact that the Code is jus…

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How can I prevent my solar PV panels being stolen?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 April 2013 at 9:32 am

How can I prevent my solar PV panels being stolen?

Q: I have a holiday home in France and I'd love to install solar. my concern, however, is the risk of theft. The property is quite isolated and we won't be there a lot of the time. Is it easy to take down solar panels? Are there more portable panels that lend themselves to this bette…

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And the winner is .....

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 16 April 2013 at 9:30 am

And the winner is .....

YouGen's energy saving and renewables photo competition has ended, and with a great selection of submissions from across the country. We had photos of DIY, wood-burning stoves, solar panels and windmills. Some of the photos were funny, and some artistic, but they all inspired energy effi…

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Key things to consider before installing a heat pump

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 16 April 2013 at 8:52 am

Key things to consider before installing a heat pump

Unlike fossil fuel boilers, heat pumps are unforgiving when it comes to sizing. With a fossil fuel boiler increasing the size to add a safety factor is generally acceptable. The cost difference between a 20kW or 30kW boiler is not large. However, increasing the size of a ground source heat pump c…

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Miscanthus: a sustainable alternative to wood fuel

Posted by FairEnergy . on 15 April 2013 at 9:27 am

Miscanthus: a sustainable alternative to wood fuel

Concerns that we will eventually run out of biomass wood fuel have been refuted by the Forestry Commission which says it that the wood fuel industry will be sustainable for many years yet. It estimates that the woodfuel industry could generate £1 billion and support more than 15,000 job…

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Fear and cost are the main barriers to investment in renewable energy

Posted by Jennifer Arran on 11 April 2013 at 9:48 am

Fear and cost are the main barriers to investment in renewable energy

Awareness of microgeneration has increased since last year, but fear has become a much stronger barrier to uptake according to our new research. Our Microgen Insight Service team held focus groups of owner occumpiers last month as part of our ongoing research programme. Some customers said fe…

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Why people choose their renewable energy installer (infographic)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 April 2013 at 8:10 am

  Customers are looking for installers who are: Knowledgeable about the product Provide information about the products and the installation Are good value for money Seem experienced at installing Seem friendly when discussing the quote / install …

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I'm ringing on behalf of the government says rogue Green Deal company

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 April 2013 at 9:44 am

I'm ringing on behalf of the government says rogue Green Deal company

MPs receive more letters and emails about unwanted phone calls than anything else, culture minister Ed Vaizey told Parliament last week. Well Ed and my MP are about to get another one about the dodgy callers that pretend they are calling with the government's blessing. Last week I had a c…

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Radiator reflectors and boosters can keep you warmer

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 5 April 2013 at 4:21 pm

Radiator reflectors and boosters can keep you warmer

More efficient heating doesn’t always have to come with a big investment, as these two simple devices for your radiators show.  Radiator reflectors* work by reflecting the heat emitted from the back side of the radiator toward the wall back into the room. Depending on your circumst…

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How do I pay for energy efficiency improvements to my home?

Posted by Adam Hewson on 5 April 2013 at 12:36 pm

How do I pay for energy efficiency improvements to my home?

This is a very simple question and, a bit like Murphy’s Law, a pretty complicated answer. But, here are a few, hopefully helpful, thoughts. When we go to buy something, we all make conscious and subconscious decisions about why, when and how we do this. We often don’t realise that…

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Eco showerhead can save money, energy and water

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 4 April 2013 at 9:14 am

Eco showerhead can save money, energy and water

While most of us are aware that we’ll pay higher water bills for longer showers, many people don’t realise that heating water for taps and bathing represents close to a third of the average home’s heating bill, or around £200 per year (Energy Saving Trust). Simple water sa…

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A bad week for renewable energy

Posted by Stewart Boyle on 3 April 2013 at 3:54 pm

A bad week for renewable energy

Last week was a bad week for renewable heat, and biomass especially. The announcement that there would be a significant further delay to the introduction of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI-2) scheme finally came. With RHI payments due to start no earlier than Spring 2014, this will mak…

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Underfloor insulation can dramatically improve comfort

Posted by greentomatoenergy . on 2 April 2013 at 10:04 am

Underfloor insulation can dramatically improve comfort

Now that we’re (almost) through winter, we have had a number of calls from clients who felt the cold through their wooden floors and have asked us about insulating them. 
The first thing to say is that underfloor insulation can make a dramatic difference to comfort levels, particular…

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One way to find out where your home leaks heat and stay warm

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 28 March 2013 at 9:17 am

One way to find out where your home leaks heat and stay warm

Heat loss is one of the main causes of higher than necessary energy bills in the UK. In a survey NASA did of its buildings, 50% of heat loss was attributed to 5% of the surface area, what they referred to as like a prick in a balloon - all of the heat will eventually leave from even the smallest …

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Special offer: Heat pump manufacturer offers free site survey, system design and handover meeting

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 March 2013 at 9:11 am

Special offer: Heat pump manufacturer offers free site survey, system design and handover meeting

Sponsored blog post For over 80 years in 72 countries Stiebel Eltron has been one of the world’s leading manufacturers of green heating technologies such as heat pumps, solar panels and energy saving water heaters. With a wide range of products designed for the UK market we provide unma…

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New blow to domestic renewable heat as RHI is delayed (again)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 March 2013 at 10:29 am

New blow to domestic renewable heat as RHI is delayed (again)

The domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI), which was first announced in 2009, has been delayed again. Following last year's consultation, an announcement on the detail of how it would work was expected now, with the scheme starting this summer. However, yesterday it was delayed again. Y…

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Manufacturers can play a key role in preventing problems with heat pumps

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 March 2013 at 10:13 am

Manufacturers can play a key role in preventing problems with heat pumps

Heat pumps can be a great way of heating a building if (and it's a big if) they are designed, specified, installed and commissioned right, and the building owner is given good, clear instructions about how to use the system and what the different controls do. The reason I say it's a b…

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Feed-in tariff increases by RPI from 1 April 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 March 2013 at 9:08 am

Feed-in tariff increases by RPI from 1 April 2013

Most existing recipients of the feed-in tariff and the renewable heat incentive will receive an  increase in their tariff rates in line with the retail price index from 1 April 2013. However, for some recent recipients of the feed-in tariff of solar PV the first RPI increase will not happen …

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Is my roof strong enough to take solar PV?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 25 March 2013 at 9:33 am

Is my roof strong enough to take solar PV?

Q: I live in an old stone cottage (c 1830) with roof rafters that I'm sure wouldn't pass current building regs for strength, even though they're not the original ones. The walls seem sound enough though. Would it be possible to put up a solar pv array that was supported on the 2 end w…

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Why heat pumps are ideal for underfloor heating

Posted by Jason Hobbins on 22 March 2013 at 9:46 am

Why heat pumps are ideal for underfloor heating


Heat pumps are the most efficient way to power wet underfloor heating systems. Unlike a gas or oil boiler, which heats water to between 65 and 85°C, a heat pump generates hot water at around 40 degrees.  Walking on a 65°C floor will scald your feet and crack your floor coverin…

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Five reasons why now is a really good time to install solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 March 2013 at 9:46 am

Five reasons why now is a really good time to install solar PV

If you want to generate your own electricity there's not likely to be a better time than now to install solar PV panels. Global oversupply of solar panels has led to tumbling prices - but experts predict that this may not last. The feed-in tariff - the government's incentive for the t…

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Find out how well solar PV works in bad weather

Posted by Chris Jardine on 19 March 2013 at 9:11 am

Find out how well solar PV works in bad weather

Snow in March? Last summer was dreadful, and seemed to rain constantly. Seems like we’ve had bad weather for ages now, and a period of prolonged sunshine seems eons ago.  So we might expect the performance of solar PV systems to be equally poor over the same period of time.  But j…

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Enthusiasm and a warm welcome at Renewable Energy Marketplace

Posted by Alison Griffiths on 19 March 2013 at 9:02 am

Enthusiasm and a warm welcome at Renewable Energy Marketplace

Walking around the Renewable Energy Marketplace at Westpoint in 2012 I was struck by the sheer energy and enthusiasm of the exhibitors. As a business writer covering a myriad of subjects I have visited many shows and almost without fail the exhibitors tend to be a mix of the enthusiastic, the &qu…

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The shock of the new: a poet's response to a solar field

Posted by Chloe Uden on 18 March 2013 at 9:27 am

The shock of the new: a poet's response to a solar field

Those of us who think renewables are a good idea are usually really keen that everybody else would share our views, and often disappointed when they don’t for whatever reason. It can be tempting to think that if only we were more logical, or more convincing, or more impervious to detractors…

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Find out what it's like to live in an energy efficient home this weekend

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 15 March 2013 at 10:16 am

Find out what it's like to live in an energy efficient home this weekend

The owners of energy saving homes throw open the doors to the public from tomorrow as part of SuperHomes week (from 16-24 March 2013). This is your chance to see eco renovation at its best as pioneering owners offer tours of their homes. Admission is free and, wherever you live, there is probably…

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Why isn't energy efficiency higher up the business agenda?

Posted by Alison Griffiths on 12 March 2013 at 12:44 pm

Why isn't energy efficiency higher up the business agenda?

When the Government issued the UK’s Energy Efficiency Strategy in late 2012, the measures received broad support from many including the CBI. Designed to "maximise the benefits of existing policy and to realise the wider energy efficiency potential across the UK economy" the strat…

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Renewable technologies work together at Devon vineyard

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 11 March 2013 at 10:50 am

Renewable technologies work together at Devon vineyard

Different renewables technologies can complement each other when used in tandem, as Pebblebed Vineyard’s Clyst St. George Vineyard in Devon shows. A solar thermal system became the farm's newest renewable energy installation in November 2011, adding to solar PV and a…

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Dishwasher vs hand washing: which is most energy efficient?

Posted by Ross Lammas on 6 March 2013 at 10:03 am

Dishwasher vs hand washing: which is most energy efficient?

A simple internet search shows that the dishwasher versus washing up by hand debate can be the subject of much debate and heated argument.  In the dishwasher’s favour, research carried out by Bonn University in 2003, found that, when used efficiently (ie run fully loaded) dishwashe…

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How our air to air heat pump keeps the house warm and bills low

Posted by Keith Searle on 5 March 2013 at 9:04 am

How our air to air heat pump keeps the house warm and bills low

Our entire house has been nice and warm since we installed our air source heat pump in December 2011, and on the odd hot day in the summer it has cooled the living room. We leave it switched on 24hrs per day and it keeps on blowing out warm air at about 35 degrees-even on below freezing…

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Which energy saving measures qualify for lower VAT rates?

Posted by Colin Lothian on 1 March 2013 at 9:12 am

Which energy saving measures qualify for lower VAT rates?

Q. I have had an air pump system installed by Ice Energy, very helpful and efficient company. However, to meet the radiator specifications I had to change all my radiators for larger ones. Ice Energy do not supply radiators so I had to buy locally. This did not qualify for the reduced VAT for ene…

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Win a home energy saving pack worth £157 in YouGen's photo competition

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 28 February 2013 at 9:22 am

Win a home energy saving pack worth £157 in YouGen's photo competition

There's a reason for the old maxim that a picture is worth a thousand words. While we write lots about how to save energy in your home and businesses, we think that the stories told by people who've done stuff and what inspires others to give it a go. And pictures tell a great story. …

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Readers tips of the month disagree about solar switching devices

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 28 February 2013 at 9:02 am

Readers tips of the month disagree about solar switching devices

This month, our readers have given some conflicting tips about solar heater switching devices. Ted from Cornwall installed an Immersun system to route surplus power from the solar panels into the immersion on the cylinder. He is happy and says ‘even in February the panels are…

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Don't limit your solar PV system to 4kWp

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 27 February 2013 at 9:37 am

Don't limit your solar PV system to 4kWp

During a typical week at SunGift Solar I can visit a huge range of people. From young professional couples eager to gain an additional income from the feed-in-tariff, through middle aged families looking for security against increasing electricity costs, to Eco-warrior pensioners who want to save…

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How solid wall insulation cut my energy bills to a fraction of the UK average

Posted by Eric Blakeley on 27 February 2013 at 9:10 am

How solid wall insulation cut my energy bills to a fraction of the UK average

My  house is mid-terrace with three bedrooms and is south facing. It was built in 1920. Our solid walls were exterior insulated under a government grant scheme for the over 70s three years ago. The insulation is 50mm Phenolic foam, rendered then painted. Electricity consumed from 9/11/20…

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Heat your home with passive solar energy

Posted by Tim Pullen on 26 February 2013 at 11:01 am

Heat your home with passive solar energy

It is quite possible to benefit from solar energy without the need for external mechanical means such as solar panels. It is closely related to architecture and was well understood in the ancient world. The Chinese, Greeks, Romans and North Africans have been building houses that use solar energy…

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Is the Green Deal right for me?

Posted by Chris Newman on 25 February 2013 at 9:13 am

Is the Green Deal right for me?

Here at Parity, we are getting more and more calls from people who start the conversation with some variation on the theme of “is the Green Deal any good for me?”. Given the bad press it’s had over recent weeks and months, you’d be forgiven for thinking that was a pretty e…

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How renewable energy installers can deliver better service (infographic)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 February 2013 at 10:39 am

  After warranties, an instruction booklet is the most important feature of after sales service that you can offer microgeneration customers according to research by Delta Energy and Environment. This offers installers a great opportunity to shine and to differentiate themselves fro…

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Superhome status reached via 25 years of incremental home improvements

Posted by Keith Searle on 19 February 2013 at 3:20 pm

Superhome status reached via 25 years of incremental home improvements

I was interested in saving energy long before I had ever heard of Superhomes.  It just seemed like good old common-sense to me. My philosophy has always been to insulate first, reduce what you consume, and then worry about the power source.   A lot of the early work I did mysel…

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Get YouGen discounts for the South West's biggest renewables and energy efficiency event

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 18 February 2013 at 2:37 pm

Get YouGen discounts for the South West's biggest renewables and energy efficiency event

The Renewable Energy Marketplace (REM) is the Southwest's biggest energy event covering renewables, energy efficiency and generation. It returns to Westpoint, Exeter on 19 March 2013. Whether you're a homeowner considering a solar installation, a business owner looking to cut energy …

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Green Deal finance will work with FITs and RHI

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 February 2013 at 9:59 am

Green Deal finance will work with FITs and RHI

Mixed messages have been circulating about how - or whether - Green Deal will work with the government's financial incentives for renewable heat and electricity generation. Last week the Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed in a letter to installers that householders can claim a …

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How to optimise electricity supply in your business

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 18 February 2013 at 9:33 am

How to optimise electricity supply in your business

There are a number of technologies available to cut energy demand and reduce electricity bills for businesses. The first that I would like to talk about is one that optimises and harmonises your electricity supply. It is relatively straightforward and very robust technology with few moving parts.…

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The business significance of the Government's solar step change

Posted by Phil Nelms on 14 February 2013 at 8:34 am

The business significance of the Government's solar step change

The addition of Solar PV to the government’s Renewables Roadmap is highly significant. After a year dominated by cuts, consultations and legal challenges in the solar industry, as well as rising fossil fuel prices for everyone else, that there has been an attitude shift within the corridors…

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Air source heat pumps keep hotel guests happy, warm, and intrigued

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 12 February 2013 at 9:02 am

Air source heat pumps keep hotel guests happy, warm, and intrigued

An air source heat pump system has proven a positive alternative to LPG at Wirral’s award winning Mere Brook House Hotel. Mere Brook  is a converted Edwardian country house which offers high quality bed and breakfast and facilities. When they were renovating their premises, the owners …

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