With a firm focus on being more environmentally-friendly all around, we’re all looking at different ways to make a difference. Generating your own green energy can be a great way of lowering your carbon footprint, as well as saving money in the long term. Solar, wind, water or ground-sourced, though? Which is right for your home?
There are many aspects involved in your choice of renewable energy system, including location and budget. So, you’ll need to do a lot of research to ensure you’ve factored everything in. Your renewable energy specialist will be able to advise you, but it’s a great start to have a broad idea of what might be available to you.
Probably the most common renewable energy technology used in homes, solar photovoltaics, or solar PV as they’re more commonly known, are solar panels that convert the sun’s energy into electricity. These can be placed on suitable roofs – ideally facing to the south and not shaded – or could be situated onto a suitable piece of land.
Solar thermal panels also use the sun’s heat, but instead of creating electricity, they solely heat water. So, they can be used for your hot water needs, including central heating, but not for other energy uses. These can, however, be more affordable.
Wind turbines work to transform the wind’s kinetic energy into electricity. More popular in commercial settings with more space and different planning requirements, these can still be effective for homes in rural, windy areas. Wind can work particularly well in tandem with solar technology, providing a solution in varying weather conditions.
Hydro is another technology using a kinetic turbine, great for large scale generation, but less common for domestic settings as properties need to be located by a stream or river. Small hydro systems, though, can work well for homes by the water-side.
Heat pumps using the ground, air or water extract thermal energy from outside and use it for central heating and/or hot water systems. Ground source heat pumps require a larger area for installation, as the coil system needs to be buried underground. Air source alternatives are smaller and more affordable, although less efficient. Water source heat pumps, as their name suggest, need a body of water to work. Heat pumps produce a low-grade of heat so, to be effective, energy efficiency needs to be prioritised as well.
Preparing your property
As we can see, space and the location of your home are the main considerations when selecting renewable energy technology for your home, while weather and orientation are also factors. Planning may also be an issue, especially if your home is listed.
Before installing onto your roof, you’ll need to arrange a building inspection to ensure your roof is structurally sound and able to bear the heavy panels. It's also a good idea to make sure there is no existing damage to your roof and that it is in good repair. Any repairs that are needed after your installation will need the panels to be completely removed first.
You will probably also need to provide your installer with planning documentation and an electrical inspection will also be required.
You’ll also need to consider your insurance. You’ll need to check that your property insurance covers renewable technologies, and that your sums insured are adequate. It’s a good idea to keep your insurer up to date, and your insurance broker can advise you on any additional covers you may require.
If you would like more advice on arranging your insurance you can speak to the Ryan's Private Client's Division on 01473 343330.