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If you're not sure about renewables, nothing beats seeing them in situ

Posted by Gordon Glass on 31 August 2012 at 9:35 am

If you're not sure about renewables, nothing beats seeing them in situ

The unfamiliarity of a lot of new technologies such as biomass boilers, solid wall insulation, heat pumps and solar panels puts many people off the idea of installing one. Seeing one working in someone's home, and being able to ask questions about how they find it can make all the difference. …

Read More | 11 comments

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

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

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

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

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I'm getting solar panels: should I switch electricity supplier?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 August 2012 at 11:38 am

I'm getting solar panels: should I switch electricity supplier?

Q: Dear Cathy - From the customer side of things, I will have a brand new 4KW PV system shortly and am currently on a Scottish Power May 2013 fixed electricity only deal (with Econ7)  - no standing charge - with staged day rate tariff of first 225 kwh used each quarter @23.319p with r…

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How to use excess solar electricity for water heating

Posted by Stuart Houghton on 28 August 2012 at 2:02 pm

How to use excess solar electricity for water heating

I am asked again and again how to maximise the use of the generated electricity of my customers' solar PV systems. Apart from using your large appliances when the sun is shining bright, the largest benefit would be using the excess electricity to power your immersion heater. Un…

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7 easy wins to improve the energy efficiency of your home

Posted by greentomatoenergy . on 24 August 2012 at 9:19 am

7 easy wins to improve the energy efficiency of your home

With a lot of discussion about rising energy bills, many concerned homeowners now feel compelled to make a positive effort to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.  Easy wins are those measures which can be adopted without major cost or disruption and you can often instal…

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Top tips for disposing of energy saving lightbulbs and other WEE

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

Top tips for disposing of energy saving lightbulbs and other WEE

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

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10 techniques for marketing your renewable energy business

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

10 techniques for marketing your renewable energy business

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

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The five most common solar misconceptions I experience as a solar surveyor

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 17 August 2012 at 10:01 am

The five most common solar misconceptions I experience as a solar surveyor

Working in the renewable industry can be a challenging experience, particularly over the past six months or so with the confusion surrounding the feed-in tariff. Now the uncertainty has been resolved, it appears the industry is on the up. However, there are a number of misconceptions abou…

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Can I connect solar PV to my storage heaters?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 16 August 2012 at 8:37 am

Can I connect solar PV to my storage heaters?

Q: Can I connect my solar power to my storage heaters, and what are the pros and cons? A: I would strongly advise that unless you have a large (10kwP) solar PV system, having a diversion unit installed to re-direct excess power to a storage heater during the day will not be economic, ma…

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Open homes: see how others have improved their homes

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

Open homes: see how others have improved their homes

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

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Renewable energy market research: experiences of domestic consumers

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

Renewable energy market research: experiences of domestic consumers

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

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Can I get an EPC for my solar installation before I finish my renovation?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 August 2012 at 8:47 am

Can I get an EPC for my solar installation before I finish my renovation?

Q: I am carrying out a substantial renovation of our new family home. Prior to starting it  had a EPC (energy performance certificate) grade F. I have installed Solar but was not told of the rules on EPC for the feed-in tariff, nor did the survey etc pick it up prior to installation. It ha…

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Definition of hard to treat cavity wall for green deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 August 2012 at 9:35 am

Definition of hard to treat cavity wall for green deal

We know buildings with 'hard to treat' cavity walls will be eligible for funding under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), when it comes on line early next year. But how do you know if your walls count as hard to treat? Greg Barker made a written statement to house of commons on the …

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YouGen sponsors SW Installer of the Year Award

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

YouGen sponsors SW Installer of the Year Award

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

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7 top tips for getting your award entry noticed

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

7 top tips for getting your award entry noticed

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

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Solar Power UK announces seminar programme

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 August 2012 at 8:56 am

Solar Power UK is proud to announce its 2012 seminar programme. At Solar Power UK in 2012, you can gain access to more than 80 practical and valuable presentations in three dedicated seminar halls. Across 14 carefully constructed half day sessions you will hear from the industry's leading experts…

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YouGen guide to marketing renewable energy

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

YouGen guide to marketing renewable energy

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

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EPC software seems unable to handle eco improvements

Posted by Martin Hodnett on 2 August 2012 at 10:44 am

EPC software seems unable to handle eco improvements

Recently, we had to get an energy performance certificate (EPC) done to qualify for the feed-in tariff (FiT) for solar panels. We live in an old Devon longhouse constructed of cob. An Esse wood burning range cooker, a solar thermal panel system, and an oil-fired boiler (as backup for very cold we…

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Feed-in tariff rates for solar PV reduce today - but still offer good value

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 August 2012 at 9:29 am

Feed-in tariff rates for solar PV reduce today - but still offer good value

The feed-in tariff rates for solar PV fall today. This is part of a planned degression, which aims to keep the rate of return more or less the same, as prices within the industry fall. For installations from today the rates will be: 4kW or less: 16p per kWh (6.3% return on investment) …

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Community-owned energy offers investment opportunities for all

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

Community-owned energy offers investment opportunities for all

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

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Can I get the feed-in tariff for second hand equipment?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 July 2012 at 9:52 am

Can I get the feed-in tariff for second hand equipment?

Rather to my surprise the recent consultation on the feed-in tariff (FIT) decided not to make any changes to the rules on whether second-hand technology was eligible for the government incentive. My surprise wasn't that they decided not to make any changes, but to find that any second hand equip…

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Readers tips of the month - insulation and condensation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 July 2012 at 10:33 am

Readers tips of the month - insulation and condensation

Insulation and condensation often appear in the same sentence - but you surely don't want them to appear together in your house. So my favourite tip from YouGen readers is the following sage advice from Harmsy who says: "Before insulating in the loft to 'modern standards' do check that …

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Check to make sure that your solar panels are mounted correctly

Posted by Stuart Houghton on 26 July 2012 at 9:06 am

Check to make sure that your solar panels are mounted correctly

As we recently completed a solar PV installation, the customer watched intently as we measured and set up the rails to mount the solar modules on. As always we took our time to get all the measurements right and doubled checked before the first bracket was installed. "Surely the spacing of the r…

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It's a bit of a sun trap: installing a 10kW domestic solar PV system

Posted by Andy Barrowcliffe on 25 July 2012 at 9:54 am

It's a bit of a sun trap: installing a 10kW domestic solar PV system

Last summer, I was having a BBQ in my back garden when one of the guests commented that the garden was a 'bit of a sun trap'. I knew this already from time spent outside, but it triggered a thought about installing solar PV.   I had recently picked up an electric car as part of a 12 …

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Changes to the feed-in tariff from 1 December 2012

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 July 2012 at 3:07 pm

Changes to the feed-in tariff from 1 December 2012

On Friday the Department of Energy and Climate Change DECC announced the changes to the feed-in tariff that will come into play on 1 December 2012. Here are the main points that impact on domestic, community and SME installations. Changes to tariffs DECC has capped the rate of generation t…

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Feed-in tariff changes give hope for community energy projects

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

Feed-in tariff changes give hope for community energy projects

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

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Can I take my solar panels with me when I move and still get FITs?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 July 2012 at 9:59 am

Can I take my solar panels with me when I move and still get FITs?

Q: What happens if you have PV installed on your house and you move, and take the PV with you and reinstall it on your new house: do you continue to receive your original feed-in tariff rate? A: I'm afraid not. Worse that that, you don't get any feed-in tariff at all. If you reinstall your solar …

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Online retailers flout legal requirement to display energy labels

Posted by Ross Lammas on 20 July 2012 at 11:57 am

Online retailers flout legal requirement to display energy labels

More than half of online retailers are not displaying full energy label information - yet it’s a legal obligation for them to do so! Wherever you purchase a washing machine, TV or other electrical appliance, energy efficiency information should be displayed, whether you buy it from the …

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Some useful facts about the cost of renewable energy

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

Some useful facts about the cost of renewable energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to invest in renewable energy via your pension scheme

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

How to invest in renewable energy via your pension scheme

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

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An introduction to water source heat pumps and how they work

Posted by John Barker-Brown on 12 July 2012 at 9:36 am

An introduction to water source heat pumps and how they work

The majority of heat pumps sold within the UK are either ground source or air source. However, water is another source of energy which can sometimes be used for heat pumps. Using water as your energy source has a number of advantages when compared to air or ground source: • The…

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Is your condensing boiler actually condensing?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 July 2012 at 9:23 am

Is your condensing boiler actually condensing?

"The majority of condensing combi boilers don't condense in hot water mode" said a speaker at a conference I attended recently. I pricked up my ears. Is this a problem? Are people being conned? How much does that affect their performance? I wanted to know. And I also wanted to know …

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Sizing a heat pump correctly is vital for good performance

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 9 July 2012 at 9:17 am

Sizing a heat pump correctly is vital for good performance

Unlike a conventional fossil fuel boiler it is essential that a heat pump is sized accurately to meet the heat demand of the property. The reason for this is because over-sizing will significantly increase the capital cost for little operational savings. It will also mean that the heat pump oper…

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Making your house more energy efficient: where do we start?

Posted by greentomatoenergy . on 6 July 2012 at 9:50 am

Making your house more energy efficient: where do we start?

When I came to the energy efficiency business three years ago, I didn’t know anything about the technologies involved or the technical detail that goes behind them. What I did know, is that people like me wanted to save energy at home.   The thing preventing me and many others from…

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Green Deal is set to be a great success!

Posted by Adrian Wright on 5 July 2012 at 11:03 am

Green Deal is set to be a great success!

Sorry! I had to start the blog with a positive title about Green Deal in the hope that it may make it into my daily "green deal" Google alert email to counter all of the depressing negativity that usually fills the headlines.   Every man and his dog has jumped on the &lsq…

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

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 July 2012 at 9:08 am

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

See more recent article: I'm selling my house with solar panels - how do I get the most value? I recently spoke to someone who installed solar PV when the feed-in tariff rate was 43p per kWh for small systems. They had been told by an EDF customer service person that when they sold …

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

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

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

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

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Why you should service your biomass boiler

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 29 June 2012 at 9:40 am

Why you should service your biomass boiler

A biomass boiler is classed as a solid fuel appliance and as such produces a waste product, apart from flue emissions, this waste is ash. Ash production is around 3% for wood chips at 30% moisture content and much lower for pellets at around 1%. Ash is a highly insulative material and due…

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Finance is available for businesses to install renewable heat

Posted by Mark Henderson on 28 June 2012 at 10:31 am

Finance is available for businesses to install renewable heat

Finance for the up-front costs of installing renewable heat technologies is now available for businesses and other organisations thanks to a new collaboration between The Carbon Trust and Siemens. The Energy Efficiency Financing (EEF) scheme offers low-cost leases, loans and other financing opti…

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Solar thermal and other renewable technologies: what our readers say

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 June 2012 at 12:05 pm

Solar thermal and other renewable technologies: what our readers say

This month the stories from readers that I like best all talk about solar thermal in some way or another. During the feed-in tariff frenzy it somehow became the poor relation to solar PV, whereas before FiTs it was the better seller. What comes over loud and clear below is that once you've got solar…

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The UK's power-hungry secrets are revealed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 June 2012 at 9:16 am

The UK's power-hungry secrets are revealed

Two really can live as cheaply as one when it comes to electricity bills. New research published today by the Energy Saving Trust found that one person households use as much, and sometimes more, energy as typical families on particular appliances. These include cooking and laundry. Powering the …

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Time for an Energy Bill Revolution

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

Time for an Energy Bill Revolution

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

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Wattson Solar Plus brings electricity use and generation to life

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2012 at 9:36 am

Wattson Solar Plus brings electricity use and generation to life

Earlier this year I wrote about how the Wattson* Solar Plus energy monitor helps me make the most of my solar generated electricity by letting me know when I'm generating more electricity than I'm using. I just have to look over, see if it's glowing green, and if so I turn on the washing machine. Re…

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

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

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

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

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Eco guest house is first business in Wales to benefit from RHI

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 June 2012 at 10:17 am

Eco guest house is first business in Wales to benefit from RHI

A biomass boiler, solar PV and solar thermal are all the result of a Welsh guest house's belief that you should be able to enjoy a holiday without damaging the environment. Installation of the boiler means the guest house has become the first business in Wales to benefit from the Renewable Heat Ince…

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Air source heat pumps make sense without the RHI!

Posted by Chris Davis on 18 June 2012 at 9:09 am

Air source heat pumps make sense without the RHI!

The delay of the domestic portion of the renewable heat incentive (RHI) to summer 2013 may have been disappointing for some customers looking for this as a call to action to upgrade their ageing heating systems. However, with oil prices continuing to rise, increasingly the financial argument for…

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Financial help is available for wood burning boilers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 June 2012 at 10:04 am

Financial help is available for wood burning boilers

Q: Could you point us in the right direction in regards to having an external wood burning boiler installed (for heat and hot water), and would it be covered under a FIT scheme like our solar PV system? A:  Interest in wood burning boilers - also known as biomass boilers - is on the increase…

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Why is solar PV marketed on efficiency, not yield?

Posted by Ian Smith on 14 June 2012 at 11:06 am

Why is solar PV marketed on efficiency, not yield?

I was struck going round Ecobuild in March, not just by the sheer number of exhibitors of PV panels, but by their marketing.  The vast majority were prominently promoting the efficiency of their cells or panels but very few were promoting energy yield at all - and none that I could see for …

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Permitted development rules for non-domestic solar are open to interpretation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 June 2012 at 3:15 pm

Permitted development rules for non-domestic solar are open to interpretation

Q: The wording of the permitted development legislation for non-domestic solar installations 2012, No 748, paragraph 43. A1 (c ) says that development is not permitted if: the solar PV or solar thermal equipment would be installed on a roof and within 1m of the external edge of that roof. It's not …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Does solar hot water work with a combi-boiler?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 8 June 2012 at 9:05 am

Does solar hot water work with a combi-boiler?

Q: We are about to install a new combi boiler. We also want to install a solar water and CH system. Would like to use an unvented solar store with heat exchanger coil to CH flow on combi (with temperature controlled diverter valve) and the mains pressure cold feed through a heat exchanger in solar s…

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My electricity meter is running backwards: who is responsible?

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

My electricity meter is running backwards: who is responsible?

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

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

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

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

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

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Monitor and check: one of the key lessons for the Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 May 2012 at 11:49 am

Green Deal measures must be checked and monitored after installation to ensure that the quality is good and they are achieving the expected levels of performance. Speaking at yesterday's FLASH Green Deal Conference, organised by the Institute of Sustainability, Paul Ruyssevelt of the Technology S…

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Quit whingeing and make the Green Deal work!

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 May 2012 at 9:37 am

Quit whingeing and make the Green Deal work!

OK, the words in the headline are mine but, as Peter Rickaby of energy and environmental consultants Rickaby Thompson pointed out yesterday, the Green Deal is "the only game in town. "It's probably not perfect," he said. "It will take us a while to get it right; and it's up to us to make it happe…

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Win a GEO Minim Home Energy Monitor

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

Win a GEO Minim Home Energy Monitor

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

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The impact of the new feed-in tariff rates for small scale solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 May 2012 at 1:09 pm

The impact of the new feed-in tariff rates for small scale solar PV

Feed-in tariff rates for solar PV installations of 4kW or less will fall from 21p to 16p per kWh from 1 August 2012. This was just one of the changes announced by energy minister Greg Barker in the House of Commons today. He also announced that from 1 August the export rate will increase from 3.…

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Readers' renewable energy tips of the month

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 May 2012 at 12:02 pm

Readers' renewable energy tips of the month

We love reading your stories and tips of what works (and doesn't work) for you. Here are this month's favourites: Where you site your air source heat pump is important, as this succinct message from Lizlaw confirms: "Our heat pump warms the house and water consistently, reliably and saves us m…

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How free solar panels can affect your mortgage

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 May 2012 at 9:07 am

How free solar panels can affect your mortgage

Q: Will installing solar panels impact on my mortgage? A: Recently the Guardian published an article about a couple that had been refused a mortgage by a number of lenders as they had installed "free" solar panels on their roof, through a "rent-a-roof" scheme. This couple thought they had don…

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Step by step guide to rating your installer on YouGen

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

Step by step guide to rating your installer on YouGen

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

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RHI makes some commercial solar hot water systems very attractive

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 21 May 2012 at 9:39 am

RHI makes some commercial solar hot water systems very attractive

Solar thermal was by far the most cost effective renewable energy technology on the market a few years ago. Since the government support schemes have been introduced, first for renewable electricity generating systems via the feed-in tariff and now through the renewable heat incentive (RHI) for non-…

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Buyer beware: don't believe everything a cold caller tells you about solar PV!

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 May 2012 at 10:10 am

Buyer beware: don't believe everything a cold caller tells you about solar PV!

Do you know what the difference is between daylight and sunlight? Is there one? I was under the impression that we only have daylight thanks to the sun. Not according to a solar PV salesman who rang me recently. I'm on the telephone preference service, so I don't get many unsolicited phone calls.…

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Solar PV remains one of the best investments around say trade bodies

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 May 2012 at 8:40 am

Solar PV remains one of the best investments around say trade bodies

Thanks to drastically falling costs, solar PV remains one of the best investments around, according to the four trade bodies which represent the British solar industry. They have joined together to debunk the myth that it is no longer attractive. The reasons they give for that claim is that it shiel…

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

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

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

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

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How to choose a tumble dryer: vented or condenser?

Posted by Ross Lammas on 11 May 2012 at 9:21 am

How to choose a tumble dryer: vented or condenser?

OK, we know the most energy efficient way to dry our clothes is outdoors, but modern lifestyles don’t always allow for this, and a tumble dryer, for a busy family, is often seen as a necessity. But should you choose a vented or a condenser tumble dryer? And what else should you look for? …

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How to choose the best low energy lighting

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 May 2012 at 9:14 am

How to choose the best low energy lighting

Traditionally we've measured the strength of our lightbulbs in watts. A 40 watt incandescent light bulb was dim, a 100 watt one was bright. However, that measure was misleading. Watts are a measure of power consumption, not of light. A 100 watt incandescent bulb needed 100 watts of electricity to…

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Comparing light bulbs: upfront costs vs running costs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 May 2012 at 9:10 am

Comparing light bulbs: upfront costs vs running costs

Do you know the difference in annual energy costs of an LED (light emitting diode) lightbulb and a halogen bulb? You probably know that halogens are cheaper to buy, and more expensive to run, but do you know how great that difference is? I didn't, until I visited the tp24 stand at Ecobuil…

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Switch energy supplier to get the best deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 May 2012 at 9:31 am

Switch energy supplier to get the best deal

Have you switched energy supplier since the industry was deregulated? If the answer is no (and it will be for about half of you), you are almost certainly not getting the best deal. Energy companies have a complex maze of different rates, and the only thing you can be sure about is that if you've be…

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Rumours of solar PVs death have been greatly exaggerated

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 2 May 2012 at 9:26 am

Rumours of solar PVs death have been greatly exaggerated

Like many people, I have noticed the drop in installations of solar PV since the introduction of energy efficiency (EPC) requirements on April 1 this year. With DECC publishing weekly data on the feed-in tariff scheme’s capacity, I am not alone. It has been suggested in the press and by some in…

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New MCS heat pump standard should improve performance

Posted by Chris Davis on 30 April 2012 at 11:11 am

New MCS heat pump standard should improve performance

Are you thinking of installing a heat pump? Well there’s good news for householders and businesses in the shape of new standards to improve the performance of heat pump installations. Snappily titled “MIS3005 v3.1a”, the new standard affects all new heat pump systems since 1 March 2012 and …

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Readers tips of the month - April 2012

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

Readers tips of the month - April 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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What the EPC requirement means for people who want to install solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 March 2012 at 10:14 am

What the EPC requirement means for people who want to install solar PV

To claim the top rate of feed-in tariff from 1 April 2012 all buildings to which solar PV panels are mounted or wired must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of at least band D. As the average house in England and Wales doesn't quite make it into band D, this means that many people …

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Just two weeks for owners of energy-guzzling buildings to claim the top rate of feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 March 2012 at 3:28 pm

Just two weeks for owners of energy-guzzling buildings to claim the top rate of feed-in tariff

Solar PV installations will only be eligible for the full feed-in tariff from 1 April if the building they are mounted on, or wired to, have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of at least band D. This leaves a brief window of opportunity for the owners of old, drafty buildings to get in before …

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Six things to put in your response to the feed-in tariff consultation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 March 2012 at 12:39 pm

Six things to put in your response to the feed-in tariff consultation

Government will take note this time, so make sure you respond to the current consultations on the future of the feed-in tariff, says Solar Trade Association PV specialist Ray Noble. "Because they already had an overspent budget to defend, they didn't take notice of last October's consultation," …

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Otter and Kingfisher are regular visitors to hydro system

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 March 2012 at 12:05 pm

Otter and Kingfisher are regular visitors to hydro system

The range of wildlife species has increased at Devon Wildlife Trust's (DWT) new offices at Cricklepit Mill, Exeter, since it  installed a hydro electricity system.  The impact on fish is often one of the greatest concerns for hydro installations - and one o…

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Installing a biomass boiler: what it's really like

Posted by Harvey Jones on 14 March 2012 at 8:01 am

Installing a biomass boiler: what it's really like

We’re off the mains gas grid so I chose biomass (wood chip) to replace our old oil-fired boiler as I wanted to be as CO2 neutral as possible. It also meant there was no possibility of a catastrophic heating-oil spill. Our old, cold house already had central heating with radiators and we wer…

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Standalone solar PV defined for feed-in tariffs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 March 2012 at 9:16 am

Standalone solar PV defined for feed-in tariffs

There's quite a lot of confusion over what "standalone" means in the context of a solar PV system applying for the feed-in tariff.  Understanding the difference between standalone and on-site renewables is important as it makes quite a difference to the rate of generation tariff you get fro…

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