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Observer Ethical awards Winners 2011

Renewable Energy

Introduction to renewable energy

Solar panels, wind turbines, wood pellet stoves, ground source heat pumps … these are all ways of generating your own heat or electricity from free and abundant natural resources.

These are sources of power that are never going to run out: the sun, the wind, the flow of water and the earth’s heat. They can be used to generate heat and power on a domestic scale as well as through national grids.

Benefits of renewable energy

By generating some of our own heat or power at home you:

  • save money on energy bills
  • have a warmer, cosier home or office
  • are less affected by increases in the price of electricity, gas and oil
  • are more self-sufficient
  • have a greener home or office
  • and have the pleasure of using cutting edge technology

To get the most out of any renewable energy it’s worth making sure that your house is as energy efficient as possible.

There are two main types of renewable energy. Those that produce electricity and those that provide space heating and / or hot water. If you don’t want to generate your own (or can’t afford it) the best way to get renewable electricity is to sign up to a green tariff.

The performance of most renewable energy technologies depends on the site where they are installed, so it’s well worth researching what’s best for your situation. Our renewable energy pages will tell you whether or not each technology is suitable for your property, and there's a wealth of supplementary information in the blogs. Use the search box at the top of each page for specific questions.

Like virtually every area of life, the renewable energy world has developed its own jargon which makes it more difficult for the newcomer to find out what it’s all about. We’ve put together a jargon buster to help you make sense of it all. We try hard to avoid jargon ourselves, but if anything’s not clear and easy to read do let us know.

Generating heat / hot water

 You are more likely to benefit financially from generating your own heat if you are not on the mains gas network.

Generating heat and electricity

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