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Generating renewable energy

What type of renewable energy is right for me?

Benefits

  • generate low carbon heat
  • make your own electricity
  • harness the power of renewables

Things to consider

If you’re thinking of installing renewables in your home, there are a few things to consider before you start.

First, you’ll need to consider what’s possible for your home. Some technologies simply won’t be compatible – for example, a ground source heat pump will require a large outdoor space. If you don’t have a garden, then this won’t be suitable for you.

Once you’ve narrowed to a list of technologies that are possible, you can then rank them based on how well they would perform for your energy needs. Are you looking to save energy and make your home more sustainable, or looking for which technology could save you the most money? Should the system provide all of your energy needs, or will it work in support with another?

Ensure your home is as energy efficient as it can be

This will help you get the most out of your new system. Think about insulating your property wherever you can, and using your appliances, lighting and water more efficiently.

Does the system have specific installation requirements?

Some technologies have specific requirements for installation:

  • solar PV and solar thermal depends on the way your roof faces
  • solar thermal, heat pumps and biomass require space inside and outside
  • hydro requires a nearby stream or river

If you live in Scotland, use the renewables selector tool to help you find a suitable technology for your home.

What do you want to achieve with your renewable energy?

This will influence which technology is most appropriate for you. Many people want to save money and reduce their emissions, while other factors can also have an impact:

  • if you need to replace your boiler or central heating system, installing a new biomass boiler or heat pump becomes more cost-effective
  • if your priority is to save carbon dioxide, consider wood-fuelled heating, a large wind turbine or a large solar PV system
  • if you want to do a bit for the environment but have limited funds, think about a cheaper option such as solar water heating
  • if you live in an isolated rural property with no mains electricity, you may get the most reliable off-grid supply from hydro or from a mixture of wind and solar PV

Narrow down the options

Once you’ve thought about which technology would best suit your home and your needs, you can start to research the options in more detail. Weigh up the products that are available, their costs, the size of systems and any special requirements for installation.

Finding the right installer

Once you’ve chosen the right renewable energy system for you, the next step is to involve installers. An installer will estimate the performance of the considered technologies in your home and can provide an indication of likely costs. They might arrange a visit to your home to conduct a house survey and provide you with an accurate quote.

It’s best to get at least three quotes from different installers, making sure that each installer is certified via the Microgeneration Certificate Scheme (MCS).

MCS-accredited installers will install accredited products and using a member of the scheme provides you some protection should things go wrong.

Ask for recommendations from others with the technology installed. If, for example, you’re considering solar PV because your neighbour has it on their roof, find out about their installation experience.

You should also look carefully at what is covered by the installation warranty offered – questions to ask include what output could you expect from the system and over what time period, and exactly which parts of your system are covered.