Taking domestic RENEWABLE ENERGY seriously

The fallout of Japan’s problems, UK soaring energy bills, Libya and oil supply problems etc…. If these events are not worrying you about future energy needs and sources then you are either misguided or already have an energy solution to benefit from.

UK domestic homes produce the majority of our carbon emissions: 50% for space heating, 20% for water heating, 22% for lighting and appliances plus 5% for cooking. 50% of our total carbon emissions are from energy used to produce heat.

We must wean ourselves off non-sustainable fossil fuels consumption and begin to use alternative energy supplies such as Biomass systems (woodchip, typically willow or poplar, or wood pellets, sawdust); Water, Air and Ground source Heat-Pumps; Solar Thermal systems (up to 200 kWth) etc….

Unfortunately Britain has not historically treated this subject particularly seriously and we are now a long way behind nearly all European Countries. As a result energy competition is less than fierce and therefore energy costs remain relatively high.

The whole subject of Feed-in-Tariffs (FiT) and Renewable-Heating-Incentives (RHI) is now raging and soon you may need to know where you intend to place yourself to lower your costs and emissions for the sake of both our own budgets and the future of our planet.

Note that many systems nowadays do not require Planning Permission because they are included within General Permitted Development Orders.

The Government have introduced new financial incentive schemes to make us think about energy use and the emphasis is now on Feed-in-Tariffs (FiT), the Green Deal and Renewable Heating Incentives (RHI) to help us use renewable systems. This reflects passing of the Energy Act 2010, section 100. RHI on domestic property will not be come effective until 2012 but in the meantime the Government PR machine will be bombarding us with examples of nil-capital-costs schemes for heating schemes that are “paid back” by the savings achieved on energy consumption.

All new UK social housing schemes, since 2007, are built to the Code for Sustainable Homes. This rates homes from 1 to 6. Code 1 is a grade just over current Building Regulations standards and note that since 2007 all Affordable Housing has had to achieve Code 3.

Government intends all new build Homes should be zero carbon rated by 2016 in England. This is a massive step change policy and means dramatic change is needed in our general attitude to energy usage, thermal insulation and lifestyle.

Private Home building from October 2010 has been required to improve 25% on Carbon Emissions against 2006 Building Regulations (Part L improvements). Further improvement of standards will be brought in during 2013 and then again in 2016 (bringing all homes up to Sustainable Homes Codes 4 & 6 at that time).

The effect of these new codes means that the cost of housing is increasing thus further emphasising the need to keep energy costs LOW (or flatten to “nil” by innovative designs of new energy systems).

CHECK OUT these website facilities:- www.checkrenewables.org.uk and then clink “interactive tool” AND/OR www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/renewableselector/start/
AND/OR www.cibse.org/index.cfm?go=page.view&item=658

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Tips & Warnings

Solar thermal heating

These convert light (direct or indirect) into heated water.

Some “combination” boilers are not compatible.

Legionnaire’s disease is a risk unless water is taken to 60 degrees or more.

Southern orientation for roof Panels is essential.

PV Panels

These convert light into free power.

Under the FiTs scheme you can get free PV panels for free daytime electricity (non-used electricity is taken into the national grid but the Contractor/Supplier gets this income stream, not the home owner – unless the home owner is paying for the whole installation).

Ground Source Heat Pumps

These take heat from out of the ground.

Often used in tandem with off-peak electricity for hot water storage.

Trench or Borehole types (3 bed semi may need 2 x 35m trenches).

Alternatives are Air or Water sources systems can be used but coefficients of efficiency are lower than for earth/rock systems.

Air and Water systems can also be noisy and/or require higher maintenance costs.

Biomass

Replace your boiler with a Biomass Boiler/system.

These are usually associated with non-small house sizes.

Biomass means animal and plant material: sustainable woods are already common nowadays as a model biomass source.

Storage of materials and ease-of-use are factors to consider.

Ash collection and disposal are also issues.

50% of homes are within Smokeless Zones and so “exempt” boiler devices, or those with special particulates filters, will be required.

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