Choosing The Right Renewable Energy
We are being told to cut carbon emissions to save money (and the planet) by using renewable energy sources, but with so many options available, and constantly changing technology – what is the best option for you? We take a look at the pros and cons of the most popular renewable energy options.
What: Wind turbines create energy through kinetic force from the wind. Some people say that wind power is the way forward, yet others claim that you’d be hard-pressed to power a kettle with one. We say, definitely do your research to see if it is suitable for your area.
Pros: This is a cheap option for renewables with a price point of around £2,000 for a 1kw turbine. Bear in mind that the average house uses around 2.5kw.
Cons: Turbines can be noisy and the potential power of a unit is often based on wind speeds of 12 metres per second, hard to find outside of the Outer Hebrides. Check the small print to find out what wind speeds you’d need for successful operation.
What: Solar Thermal energy harnesses the power of the sun to heat water. Power units; depending on their capabilities, can heat water for showers, swimming pools or entire hot water heating systems.
Pros: There are grants available of £400 to offset the £4,000 spend, after that you get free hot water whenever the sun has got it’s hat on.
Cons: You might need to install a new water tank, which ups the price slightly, and for optimum performance installation is restricted to roofs that face south, or at least within 90 degrees.
What: Solar panels turn the energy of the sun into electricity. These panels are available as units that attach to the roof, or as specialist tiles that can replace traditional roof tiles – excellent if your project involves roof repairs!
Pros: You can potentially generate enough power to cover personal use and then sell the excess off to the energy company. Profit! Plus grants are available – see below.
Cons: At £20,000 plus, it is not cheap, and will take quite a while to pay for itself even if you do sell your excess energy. Even if you do qualify for the £2,500 grant, cost-effectiveness is not the selling point here, energy efficiency is.
What: Vapour compression can transfer heat from the ground, the air or water into a building using little more than an energy efficient electric pump. The efficiency of the system depends on how well insulated your home already is.
Pros: Low maintenance, low energy consumption, grants available to cover costs.
Cons: An air sourced system costs at least £10,000, and the price goes up if you want a ground or water sourced system, plus a ground sourced system will mean that you will need to dig a borehole.