Renewable energy at home

Renewable energy sources are a great way to heat your home, save money on energy bills, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. In the UK, 28% of electricity comes from renewables, and this percentage will increase in the future.

Switching to renewable energy not only benefits the environment but also offers financial savings. For instance, installing solar panels can save you up to £240 annually on energy costs.

There are various types of renewable energy sources, which can be divided into two categories:

  • heat generation
  • electricity generation

The main renewable energy technologies for homes include:

Solar electricity panels

Solar electricity panels, or solar photovoltaics (PV), capture sunlight, converting it into usable electricity for your home. This provides renewable energy, sending any excess electricity back to the grid.

Solar PV cells are made of layers of silicon material that produce electricity when sunlight hits them. They work even on cloudy days, but stronger sunlight generates more electricity. These cells are typically arranged in panels placed on your roof or ground, or as solar tiles.

The generated electricity is direct current (DC), while your appliances use alternating current (AC). An inverter is installed to convert DC to AC. You can also add batteries to store surplus electricity for use when the sun isn't shining or during the night.

In the UK, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) pays you for the electricity you export to the grid. This offers significant savings compared to not having the SEG.

A 3.5kWp home solar PV system costs about £5,000. In the north of England, savings on energy bills could range from £200-£300 per year with the SEG, or £100-£230 without it.

For more detailed information on home solar PV, refer to the 'Understanding your solar PV system and maximizing the benefits' leaflet available on the Council's website. This is in collaboration with National Energy Action.

Air source heat pumps (ASHPs)

Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) use outside air to heat your home and water. They can operate even at temperatures as low as -15°C. While they need electricity to run, they extract renewable heat from the environment. This makes them energy efficient.

ASHPs absorb heat from the air at a low temperature, which is then compressed to increase its temperature. This higher temperature heat is used to warm the house and water. Unlike gas boilers, heat pumps deliver heat at lower temperatures but over longer periods. If replacing a gas boiler with an ASHP, it's advisable to upgrade insulation and consider larger radiators for optimal performance.

The cost of installing a typical ASHP system ranges between £12,000 and £18,000. Energy bill savings vary depending on insulation and the system being replaced but can be around £400 per year when replacing an old G-rated gas boiler.

Solar water heating

Solar water heating systems, or solar thermal systems, use free heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water. A conventional boiler or immersion heater can be used to make the water hotter or to provide hot water when solar energy is unavailable. Larger solar water heating panels can also be used to contribute to heating your home. However, the amount of heat provided is generally very small and it is not normally considered worthwhile.

There are two types of solar water heating panels:

  • evacuated tubes – a bank of glass tubes mounted on the roof tiles

  • flat plate collectors, which can be fixed on the roof tiles or integrated into the roof

Installing a standard solar water heating system costs approximately £4,000-£5,000. This can lead to moderate energy bill savings of about £60-£70 per year for a well-insulated property.

For further information on home renewable energy and other technologies, you can visit the Energy Saving Trust website.

Contact Us

Home Energy Team Wakefield Council Wakefield One PO Box 700 Burton Street Wakefield WF1 2EB

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