Practical information for self-builders getting started with green energy
Green living is becoming easier and easier with the renewable energy industry at an all-time high. Innovative new products are emerging all the time and finally government subsidies are available to support this development. Though this is great news for consumers, the explosion of interest in renewable energy has led to saturation of contrasting information and opinion both online and off. For those who are new to eco-friendly energy – where do you start?
Self-build or renovation?
If you want the ultimate in green energy there’s no better solution than building your house from the ground up. It provides the ideal chance to integrate energy efficient measures at the earliest stages of design. The measures could include under-floor heating that is integrated with an air source heat pump – this will make a long-term difference to your heating system efficiency.
If you are completing a self-build or renovation however, don’t presume that your architect is a specialist in energy efficiency or renewable energy; you may need to get renewable energy experts on board to assess your plans and advise on how to make them more effective – the same goes for a renovation, there isn’t a one-size fits-all answer.
Every building and the way energy is used within it is different. Before you consider making any green additions to your home, you need to take a look at the fabric of the building and examine its insulation efficiency. Ensuring your property has the best insulation possible can be the most cost effective energy improvement. In the UK there are currently 15 million homes that are not properly insulated; this means heat energy is wasted and energy bills are higher than they need to be.
Luckily for new builds, air tightness and insulation is an essential feature of building regulations. This means the fabric of your home is already on the right track in terms of reduced heat loss. Reduced air change can mean condensation problems within your home however. Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery is the advice choice to deal with this – meaning your home is well ventilated. The heat you’d usually lose when opening a window is transferred to heat incoming air.
The advancement of renewable heating options over the last few years have been significant. There are now efficient solutions for almost every property. Speak with a professional about the benefits of renewable heating in your self-build. Well-insulated homes are best suited to an air source heat pump or ground source. To reduce the cost of high hot water usage, consider a solar thermal system or hot water heat pump.
Solar PV is the obvious choice for renewable electricity for your self-build. Panel prices have recently dropped making it a more affordable solution on the road to self-generation. The UK has a Feed-in Tariff provided by the government too, which rewards you for solar installation and gives 20 years of tax-free income from the power you generate – that’s on top of the savings you’ll be making on electricity bills. If your property doesn’t have a south-facing roof, solar panels are still options. You could consider panels on another out building/garage or having a ground-mounted system in your garden.
When you’ve got a lot of land with your property you could also have a look into small-scale wind turbines. These latest renewable energy additions can generate power day and night when placed in the right location – there are no restrictions, unlike solar, turbine generation also comes with the Feed-in Tariff benefits.
Jason Hobbins is Managing Director of EnergyMyWay a UK-wide company providing intelligent, independent, renewable energy solutions. Highly recommended and fully accredited, EnergyMyWay works with self-builders and architects as well as businesses and community groups. They can give advice on integrated systems, products, installation, costs, grants and are committed to finding you the best solution for your property and your budget.
If you’re looking for support with any aspect of sustainability, you can contact EnergyMyWay on 0845 371 3181 or visit http://www.energymyway.co.uk/schools