What Are The Top Renewable Technology Choices For My Home?

For home owners who are at the early stages of considering low carbon technology for their property, or have fully committed to installing something there can appear to be a bewildering array of choices on offer.

It’s not a question of one size fits all, so having a clear objective with regard to what key benefits you hope to gain through a green solution will help you answer:

The best renewable technology choices?

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions, saving money, making money and doing something positive for the planet are all regularly listed benefits but there are some popular technology choices which deliver more than others.

This week we look at the front runners:

Solar Photovoltaics (PV)

Solar photovoltaics have taken the UK by storm over the last 6 years. Generous government subsidies and falling capital cost has propelled this technology to a total of over 650,000 installations in the UK.

These solar absorbing panels which are quickly installed and produce electricity on site have seen huge price reductions over the last 6 years and now you need not spend more than £8,000 for a 4kW (16 panel) system.

Government subsidies which made this technology so desirable have reduced significantly, but a return on investment of between 10% can still be achieved.

Solar Thermal

Solar thermal has been popular in the UK for many decades and comes in two forms; typically panels or vacuum tubes.

Solar thermal schemes primarily are used to help heat hot water during the day but for some households they can be used to help heat swimming pools or heating thermal stores too.

Most homes have between 4-6sqm installed at a cost of around £4,000 and will realistically contribute to 60% of the total annual hot water requirements for the home.

Historically solar has been difficult to justify based on the annual fuel savings vs its initial cost, but with the recent launch of the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme this technology is sure to see another surge in interest.

Heat Pumps

These “mysterious contraptions” from the continent are able to harvest energy from the air, ground and water sources to heat your home and hot water.

Perfectly matched for under floor heating schemes and modern well insulated homes this technology is also being supported by the Renewable Heat Incentive RHI scheme.

Heat pumps come in all shapes and sizes and although installations for the home start from around £8,000, in the right situation they can produce fantastic efficiency improvements and heating bill reductions for off-gas grid homes.

Biomass

Biomass boiler technology uses natural wood products as fuel to produce heat for the home.

Whilst anything from logs to hay bales can burnt domestically it is pellet systems which are becoming more popular as a result of convenience.

The solid nature of the fuels involved means that storage space is important as well as automated fuel transport.

It is for this reason that biomass boiler systems suit larger homes with prices starting from around £15,000. Once again through the RHI scheme supports this technology and offers homes the opportunity to get off oil, LPG or storage radiators and onto something considerably more sustainable.

Almost all of these technologies if installed correctly can make heating or powering your home more affordable and with existing subsidies in place can return your original investment in 6-10 years. When was the last time your fossil boiler did that?

Doug Johnson

Doug is a chartered mechanical engineer and has had the pleasure of being involved in the UK renewable sector since 2008. With wide-ranging operational and design experience in both the domestic and commercial sectors across a wide range of recognised technologies he hopes to be able to share his experience to help enlighten and save you hassle along the way.