A number of renewable technologies are available that can help to reduce your heating costs or provide spot heating at a lower overall cost. Many of these technologies now attract government grants similar to the solar panel grants currently available.
The renewable heat premium payment is a £15 million fund available until the end of March 2012. The RHPP grant offers the following grants in the form of vouchers as a one off payment towards the cost of investing in renewable heating technologies. Some of the grants available are for specific technologies and you need to meet the criteria.
The renewable heat incentive is due to launch in October 2012 where a similar scheme to FITs called RHI will pay domestic users a tariff for the amount of heat generated from renewable heating technologies. You also may be eleigible for a Warm Front boiler grant if you are in receipt of certain benefits.
Heating and air conditioning with a 3 to 1 energy saving
Heating your home with heat from the ground
Use the power of the sun to provide your hot water
Gas boilers that generate electricity too
Renewable heat incentive grants available
Free insualtion for many homeowners
Switch tariffs to reduce your energy bills
The most widely used type of renewable heating technology is the air source heat pump which is commonly used in offices in the UK to provide both winter heating and summer cooling. Whilst heat pumps have been around for decades it has only been in recent years that the more advanced twin duct systems have been available. The advantage of the new designs are that they do not require an external unit and so both look much nicer in a residential environment and are more efficient as they do not require a defrosting cycle that an outside unit would need.
Why are air heat pumps so advantageous? Unlike a conventional electric heater they are able to extract useable heat from outside and pump it into the house. Its ability to extract this free energy from the air means that it can provide a heat to power ratio of 3 to1. So if your standard electric heater consumed 1kW it would usually output 1kW of heat, a heat pump consuming the same 1kW or electrical power could output 3kW of heat into your home.
Another advantage over conventional electric heaters is that a heat pump system can also provide cooling during the summer months. A system that can both provide heating and cooling is ideal for use in conservatories where extremes of hot and cold are often experienced. Being able to both heat like an electric radiator and cool like an air conditioning unit means that you only need one system instead of two. This has been the reason that heat pumps have been so popular in office buildings.
The principals of the ground source heat pump are the same as air source except they are able to extract heat energy from the ground. It can be used to run under floor heating or provide hot water. As the free energy is extracted from the ground it provides a better efficiency rating as the ground temperature remains more constant than air temperature. It can be a cost effective heating solution for larger existing buildings and new builds. Summer cooling can be provided from certain ground sourced systems.
In Sweden 97% of all new homes built use heat pumps to provide the homes heating.
Solar panels use the energy from the sun, where photovoltaic solar panels turn daylight into electrical energy a solar thermal system uses the heat energy from the sun to heat water, usually for the domestic hot water supply.
In the UK there are two types of panel that are used, the flat plate collector and evacuated tubes. The latter is able to produce higher water temperatures compared to the same sized flat plate collector. A properly installed solar thermal system should produce about 60% of a homes hot water requirement.
Solar thermal works as the panels dark surface absorbs the heat from the sun just like when a dark coloured object heats up on a hot day faster than lighter coloured objects. The heat collected is usually transferred to a liquid medium such as glycol which in turn transfers the heat energy to your immersion system. This is a typical set up but a system is usually tailored to a homes existing heating system.
A new technology that adds a twist to the traditional gas boiler is the micro CHP gas boiler, CHP meaning combined heat and power as these new boilers generate electricity as well as doing the job of heating your home. Combined heat and power has been around for a while but the boilers are only just becoming commercially available, the Baxi Ecogen being the first available.
A CHP boiler can directly replace your existing gas boiler and uses what would have been waste heat to generate electricity. It does this because it uses a Stirling engine that can turn heat into electrical power. So whilst your boiler is heating your home it uses the waste heat to generate electricity and can output 1kWh or power whilst running. According to Baxi the manufacturer you could be saving £600 a year off your annual energy bill.
As already mentioned previously you could be eligible for a grant towards the cost of a renewable heating technology. This is available through the renewable heat premium payment scheme where you can get a voucher to pay towards the cost of installing the likes of solar and heat pumps.
From October 2012 the renewable heat incentive offers an additional payment for all of the heat energy that is produced by your heating system. These payments are based on the amount of heat your system generates measured in kilowatt hours and is paid for up to 23 years dependant on the type of system you install.
Modern homes can be built with high levels on insulation and use mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems which means lower heat loss leading to much lower bills. Whilst it would not be cost effective to upgrade an older home to these levels of insulation you can still insulate your loft and cavity walls that will mean lower heating bills.
There are grants of up to 100% are available towards the cost of cavity wall and loft insulation. If you are considering investing in any renewable technologies it makes sense to first reduce the heat loss from your home by insulating and draught proofing.
The government is encouraging us to shop around for our gas and electricity. Currently only a small percentage of households switch their provider or tariff even though most people stand to make some savings by switching. The amount you can save varies but the leading comparison sites claim that switching to a cheaper tariff can lead to savings ranging from £192 - £389 a year, the higher savings.
Grants available through the government RHI scheme
Find out more about air source heat pumps
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In 2010 the UK invested 3.3 billion dollars on clean energy technologies, half of this went on offshore wind farms. Germany invested 41.2 billion the same year, over 12 times as much.
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