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Harness the elements of the earth & cut your bills

Solar thermal systems are considered the only ‘virtually zero carbon’ technology currently available on the market. A system uses a small amount of electrical energy to run the pump circulating the fluid, which is heated directly by the ‘free’ energy from the sun.

Demand for hot water is fairly constant year round which means that there is a significant demand for hot water when solar energy is at its peak in the summer months. Solar water heating systems can provide most of the hot water during this period as well as making a useful contribution in the less sunny winter months.

Solar water heating can also make a contribution to space heating but this usually involves much larger systems, not least because the availability of solar energy is much less in the winter when heating is most required. Typically, in the UK and Ireland, solar water heating is most economic when used to heat water for baths, showers, hand washing and other domestic hot water requirements. It is also very effective at heating swimming pools and has been used in industry, in hotels and for agricultural applications such as dairy farms.

Harness the elements of the earth & cut your bills

You can produce your own energy in a greener, more sustainable way by using natural resources like the sun, wind or water. This is known as micro generation. You can also access low carbon and renewable energy by buying greener electricity. Microgeneration uses low carbon energy technologies, like solar panels or wind turbines, to create electricity or heat in homes, businesses or community buildings. This electricity or heat is described as low, or zero, carbon energy, because it creates a low amount of carbon emissions (or none at all) when it's produced. Microgeneration can reduce the use of fossil fuels that are harmful to the environment. It can also save you money on your fuel bills in two ways:

  • producing your own energy from renewable sources could be cheaper than buying energy from energy companies
  • if you generate more electricity than you use, you can sell it to energy companies, using Feed-in Tariffs (FITs)

The FITs scheme guarantees a minimum payment for all electricity you generate and a separate payment for the electricity you export to the national grid. This is in addition to the bill savings you make by using the electricity you generate. For more information on FITs, see the information on the Energy Saving Trust’s website.

If you're considering using micro generation, remember that upfront costs can be high and payback times can be long. Some technologies might cost you more to install than you will save afterwards in the form of reduced energy bills. However, micro generation can increase your property value, and you may want to weigh up the financial costs with how much it will benefit the environment.

Different micro generation technologies are more suited to certain types of homes than others.

For example:

  • to generate energy successfully from a wind turbine, you need to live in an area that has enough wind
  • to install solar panels, you need a roof or wall that faces within 90 degrees of south

The Energy Saving Trust has a tool that helps you work out what micro generation technologies might be best suited to your home.

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