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Blog Post 4 March 2022

What type of renewable energy is right for me?

Thinking of installing renewables at home? Not sure where to start?

There are different technologies available, each with their own benefits and considerations. And while there’s a lot to consider before installing a renewable system, having one at home could help reduce your energy bills and household carbon footprint.

Where should you start?

First, you’ll need to learn about the possible technologies and consider what’s possible for your home. Some technologies simply won’t be suitable. For example, some technologies have specific requirements for installation:

  • Solar PV and solar thermal systems depend on the way your roof faces.
  • Solar thermal, heat pumps and biomass require space inside and outside.
  • Hydropower systems require 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.

Our technology pages have key considerations for each type of system:

What do you need to consider?

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.

Renewable energy can be categorised as:

  1. Those that generate electricity, such as wind turbines and solar panels.
  2. Those that generate heat, such as solar water heating systems and heat pumps.

There are some key questions you’ll need to answer. Are you hoping to replace your current heating system? 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 your energy needs, or will it work in support with another? 

Why do you want to switch to renewable energy?

This will influence which technology is most appropriate for you. Many people want to save money and reduce their emissions, but there are other things to consider, too:

  • If you need to replace your boiler or central heating system, this is an opportunity to move away from a fossil fuel heating system like a gas boiler.
  • If your priority is to save carbon dioxide, consider a heat pump, a large wind turbine or large solar PV system.
  • 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.

Is your home as energy efficient as it can be?

If you’re considering a renewable heating system, insulating your home will help you get the most out of your new system. This ensures that you keep the heat you generate in the house, rather than losing it through your roof, windows, doors or walls. The less heat you lose, the less you need to generate.

If you want to generate your own electricity from renewable sources, reducing how much energy you use at home can make what you generate go further. You might also want to consider lifestyle changes, like shifting your electricity use to the daytime when your solar PV system is generating electricity. We have advice to help you use your applianceslighting and water more efficiently.

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. 

Find 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. For example, if 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 you could expect from the system and over what period, and exactly which parts of your system are covered.

We have more advice on generating electricity from renewables and heating options.

Last updated: 4 March 2022