Greener Kirkcaldy media volunteer, Bryan Duncan, shares some advice on using renewables to make your home more energy efficient in his latest blog.
We all rely on energy to get things done around the house, but that doesn’t just mean getting out of bed in the morning. We need energy to shower, work on the laptop, or turn on the heating. Heat and electricity is a daily need in households, but almost a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from powering our homes.
We therefore need to be responsible for how we use energy around the home. One way to do this is by using renewable energy sources. It isn’t rocket science (well, there’s a bit of science involved!). It’s just energy generated from natural resources such the sun, wind and water. By using small scale systems and clever technology, we can naturally replenish energy, which results in a whole heap of benefits.
One major benefit is that it protects the environment, as it reduces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. For example, a solar panel in Scotland can save around 1.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
Using renewable energy is very sustainable and benefits the UK. Enough electricity can be generated in a 4kWp system in a year to turn the Falkirk Wheel 2,100 times! Furthermore, a third of the UK’s electricity is produced by renewable energy It’s impact can be felt worldwide. Portugal solely used renewable energy for four days straight.
It also creates jobs in the renewable energy industry, even more so than fossil fuels – five times more, in fact.
A lot of this progress has been achieved through large scale measures such as wind farms. However, if everyone invested time and money on renewing their own energy at home, the overall results would be even better.
Types of Renewable Energy
There are several types of home renewable sources to consider for both heat and electricity:
Biomass – wood-fueled heating systems which burn wood pellets, logs or chips. They can be in the form of a stove heating a single room or fitted with a back boiler to provide water heating, or a boiler connected to a central heating and hot water system.
Ground / Air source heat pumps – absorb heat by either extracting it from the ground or the outside air. This method is more sustainable then boilers, as pumps deliver heat at lower temperatures over longer periods, and require minimal maintenance.
Solar water heating – use solar collectors to collect free heat from the sun and convert it into warm water. They work throughout the year.
Thermal stores – are a great accompaniment to all renewable heating systems. They store and manage renewable heat, allowing you to use heat when needed.
Solar panels – capture the sun’s energy and generate electricity. The light shining on the panels creates an electric field across their layers, meaning the stronger the sunlight, the more electricity produced. Despite Scotland often suffering from lack of sun, they still produce power on cloudy days!
Wind turbines – use large blades which harness wind power and drive a turbine to create electricity – these can either be pole or building mounted, and the stronger the wind, the more power generated.
Hydro Power – convert water that falls from a height, known as potential energy, to kinetic energy in a turbine, which drives a generator to produce electricity. The greater the height and volume of water, the more power generated.
Micro-CHP – generates heat and electricity simultaneously in homes and is powered by mains gas or LPG. Installation is straight-forward like a standard boiler.
Get more help!
Although all these methods look daunting at first glance, it’s best to think of it as simply replacing an old habit with a new one. If you’re not too sure which renewable energy system would best suit your house, there’s help at hand. Greener Scotland offer free impartial advice about how to make your home more energy efficient, and there are grants and funding available. You can also book a free and impartial home visit with our Cosy Kingdom energy advisors who can advise you on what systems would suit your home. Call 01592 858458, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book a visit online.
Changing the way you use and generate energy in the house, can be one small step towards a better environment and more sustainable future.