Renewable Energy Sources: Best Renewable Systems for Your Home
Renewable energy sources are sustainable supplies of clean energy and include sunlight, flowing water and wind. By using these renewable energy sources to generate electricity or heat our homes and hot water, we’d be reducing the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere and would never have to worry about the supply running out – the same can’t be said for fossil fules lik coal, gas and oil.
Generating your own electricity, central heating or hot water using free renewable energy might sound tempting and there are a number of systems which allow you to do just that. In this article, we’ll reveal the 5 best renewable energy sources and how you can use them to power your home.
What are renewable energy sources?
In comparison to fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas that all have a limited supply, renewable energy sources will never run out and are also much more environmentally friendly. Switching to a renewable energy source can help you to reduce your energy bills, increase the price of your property and lower your carbon footprint.
Types of renewable energy
There are multiple types of renewable energy and many countries rely on a combination of these to supply clean power. Here is a list of renewable energy types most commonly used today:
- Water (hydro)
Now let’s take a look at each of these renewable energy sources in a bit more detail.
There are two main types of solar energy systems which capture energy from the sun for use in your home; solar PV and solar thermal. Solar PV uses photovoltaic cells to capture and convert sunlight into electricity. Solar thermal uses a collector filled with a fluid that is heated by the sun and then transported to the hot water tank where it heats the water.
This process involves using large turbines to capture the kinetic energy of the wind and turn it into electricity. In the UK, these turbines are generally found in groups called wind farms.
Hydroelectric / Hydro Power
This is where energy is generated from the movement of water. There are many forms of hydro power generation including the use of waves, tides, dams or underwater turbines.
Biomass is a fairly broad term and covers energy produced from natural materials that are or were living. This can include wood, food waste, animal waste and many others. Generally the energy is created by burning the material to generate heat, but other methods exist such as collecting and using methane gas from landfills.
This energy source is heat naturally found in the earth. The steam and warmth produced in reservoirs under the earth's surface can be utilised to either heat water or produce electricity.
What are the benefits of renewable energy?
Currently, the majority of UK homes are heated using fossil fuels like oil and gas and, unless the electricity you get from the supplier is generated through renewable technology (e.g. wind farms and solar farms) your electricity will also be generated from the burning of fossil fuels. Making the switch to renewable energy solutions can offer many benefits to UK homeowners including:
- Lower energy bills – generate your own free energy and buy less from your supplier
- Reduced carbon emissions – lower your impact on the environment
- Extra income – earn money through the government's Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme (renewable heating only)
- Easy maintenance and long-lasting systems
- Potentially increased property value. Government payments through the if the system is generating heat
Renewable energy systems for your home
Solar PV panels
A solar photovoltaic (PV) panel system converts the sun's energy into electricity for use around the home. And the great news for those of uk living in the UK is that they don't need direct sunlight to generate power, while it does help, solar panels still work on a cloudy day. Compared to 2010, solar panel systems are now more than 60%, with the typical costs for an average residential home sitting somewhere between £6,000 – £7,000, meaning that there’s never been a better time to invest in solar. This price will differ depending on the size of the solar system being installed – the bigger the system, the more energy the panels will be generating.
Solar thermal panels
A solar thermal panel system uses the sun's energy to heat water for use in your home and wet central heating system.
Air source heat pumps
An air source heat pump (ASHP) can heat your home and hot water by extracting latent heat from the air outside, even in temperatures as low as -20° C. An ASHP unit is likely to cost between £9,000 - £12,000, but while the most efficient boilers are 92% energy efficient (losing at least 8% of the energy they generate through waste gases), an ASHP wastes nothing, helping to save you money in the long term. Find out more and get free quotes for an air source heat pump here.
Ground source heat pumps
Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) work in a similar way to air source heat pumps but rather than harnessing heat from the air, they get it from under the ground where temperatures sit between 10-15°C all year round. Depending on the model and manufacturer of the ground source heat pump that you're looking to install, they could cost £10,000 - £17,000. Find out more and get free quotes for a ground source heat pump here.
A biomass boiler is a lot like a gas or oil boiler as it heats water for your radiators, baths and taps; the difference is that it burns wood pellets, logs or chips to generate energy, not fossil fuels. While gas and oil boilers are increasing the levels of carbon in our atmosphere, biomass heating systems are carbon neutral. This means they only release carbon emissions into the atmosphere which were already present in the tree before it was burnt. Biomass boiler prices can vary between £4,000 – £16,000 on average. Find out more and get free quotes for a biomass boiler here.
Earn payments through the Smart Export Guarantee
When the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) came to a close in March 2019, it was unclear whether there would be a replacement scheme to offer financial incentives to homeowners investing in solar panels. Fortunately, it has now been replaced by the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), a government scheme whch means that energy suppliers with more than 150,000 customers have to pay anyone generating solar energy and sending it to the National Grid.
The Smart Export Guarantee is available for those generating renewable energy using the following ways (up to 5MW):
- Solar photovoltaic (solar PV)
- Anaerobic digestion (AD)
Micro Combined Heat and Power (Micro CHP) units are also eligible but with a limit of up to 50kW.
Energy suppliers are able to set their own tariff rates, they just need to be more than 0p (for those with more than 150,000 customers) so it’s important to compare them – Compare Smart Export Guarantee Tariffs.
Which energy sources aren’t renewable?
Renewable energy sources are completely sustainable – meaning that they’ll never run out. Unfortunately, we’re not currently using them to their full potential. Instead, we’re burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil and coal. These are not renewable energy sources as they release carbon into the atmosphere and there is only an finite supply – a supply that is expected to run out within 40 years.
Renewable energy quotes for your home
If you're interested in solar PV or solar thermal you can get free quotes right here by completing one of our simple online forms. We'll put you in touch with up to 3 approved solar installers in your area who will each provide a free installation quote. You can then compare the quotes and go with the one that's best suited to your requirements and budget.
If you're looking for an air source heat pump, ground source heat pump or biomass boiler, visit Boiler Guide for free renewable heating quotes.