Taking the renewable energy route to saving money on energy bills
While every year seems to bring another hike in energy bills, it’s a situation that’s unlikely to improve as we use more and more non-renewable resources such as gas, oil and other fossil fuels. Businesses need to look to ways to save on energy bills just as most households do.
Much publicity and indeed controversy surrounds fracking – the method to access previously hard to reach oil and gas supplies – as more options to supply energy needs are sought. Meanwhile, renewable energy has gained much traction as a way of not only saving money but being kinder to the environment, too.
What is renewable energy?
As its name suggests, renewable energy is literally a source that can ‘renew’ such as sun, water (hydro) and wood. While traditional energy sources such as gas and oil are finite – once they’re used up that’s it – sources such as solar power from the sun, hydro power from water, and wood from trees that can be replenished will last indefinitely.
Along with using renewable sources, you can also generate your own energy as opposed to purchasing from traditional suppliers, as is the case with oil, gas and electricity. There are specialist companies who can help you switch renewable energy in most regions such as this supplier of renewable energy systems in Essex.
What are the benefits of using renewable energy?
There are several:
- Reducing or maybe eradicating your dependence on ‘traditional’ sources such as fossil fuels
- Reducing energy bills
- Possibly generating income by selling surplus energy created back to an energy provider
- Utilising sources that won’t ‘run out’ such as sunlight and water
- Being kinder to the environment by emitting less CO2
How to go about using renewable energy
You’d have to consider what renewable options might be open to you – not all of them may be. For example, to benefit from solar your roof needs to face a certain way. Using some form of hydro energy generation requires a nearby stream or river, and using biomass requires space both inside and out.
Also, ask yourself what you wish to achieve through taking the renewable energy route and your circumstances.
For example, if your central heating system is in need of replacement anyway, then a new biomass boiler or heat pump might make cost-effective sense. If you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint but have a limited budget, then some solar water heating may be a sound yet cheaper option.
The renewable options
There are various routes you can take to generate heat.
Biomass – a heating system to heat a single room or to power central heating and hot water boilers using wood pellets as fuel.
The Energy Saving Trust say you could save nearly £1,000 compared to electric heating, and biomass is a low carbon – or even carbon neutral – option in that the carbon generated by burning the pellets is offset by the carbon absorbed when trees grow.
Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) – they operate by using buried pipes to extract heat from the ground and can provide a full central heating and hot water solution. They tend to pay for themselves quicker if you’re replacing an electricity or coal system as opposed to mains gas.
Air source heat pumps – they absorb heat from the outside air even in cold conditions and can provide full central and heating and hot water facilities. They do require electricity to run, but then again are creating heat from naturally renewable sources.
Solar water heating – also known as solar thermal systems, these use free and renewable heat from the sun to heat your water. They may require a traditional boiler or immersion heater to act as back up when there’s not enough sunshine.
Solar power uses panels fitted to your roof to collect the heat and use it to heat water in the hot water cylinder.
Thermal stores – basically structures that store heat generated by one or more of the above methods. They’re especially useful to retain heat until it’s required; for example, hot water produced by solar heating can be stored for later use when there’s not enough sunlight to generate solar heat.
There are various different thermal stores available depending on what renewable source you’d be using it in conjunction with. This means you can choose a thermal store to use with heat pumps, solar water heating, biomass systems or a type to work with a combination of the above if you use multiple renewable heating methods.
More information on each of the above options can be found here.
What to opt for?
As said above, much will depend on your circumstances such as location, space and of course budget. Bear in mind grants for investing in renewable sources in the form of the government funded Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) could be available.
Think carefully about your requirements, your possible budget, do your homework carefully, consult a renewable energy systems expert supplier and you could be on your way to saving significantly on heating bills in the future.