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Living a green dream

Living a green dream

In this second of two blogs on eco homes I want to look at heat, electricity and government incentives.

*Heat – this still represents the biggest energy demand and therefore taking the fabric first approach above is often the best first step.

When it comes to sourcing renewable heat there are several technologies being used today.

We hear more and more about heat pumps as being go-to technology for heat sourcing. Air source heat pumps are a more popular option over ground source heat pumps, mainly because of their relative ease to fit and low installation cost.

However, ground source heat pumps have the lowest running cost of any renewable energy system.

Biomass remains an option in larger houses, but price hikes in the cost of wood pellets have made many potential investors in this technology cautious. Having said that, fossil fuel price fluctuations tend to be greater.

Solar PV is also popular with costs reducing all the time: however, efficiency levels are relatively low when compared to other renewables.

In terms of deciding which technology, this is where your motivations and priorities come into play alongside the all-important budget.

*Electricity – PV is still the go-to technology, with alternatives such as hydro and wind power only working in specific circumstances.

However, where those circumstances exist (ie where there are high winds or in proximity to a river), they often produce more power relative to the investment required than PV.

These days your PV system can be backed up by domestic smart batteries.

These store excess energy, which is generated during the day for use at night and harvest cheap energy from the grid, helping you save on your electricity bills.

By signing up with packages provided by some energy suppliers, you can buy these batteries at greatly discounted prices.

*Government incentives – the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and Feed in Tariff (FIT).

Experts believe that comparing the tariffs for heat vs electricity generating renewables, the RHI scheme offers a better return.

Homeowners receive quarterly payments for up to seven years for the amount of energy that their system provides.

The FIT was set up in 2010 to encourage homeowners to install renewables that generate electricity. It closed this April but we are still waiting to hear if it is to be replaced?

So, should you invest in an eco home?

Ultimately, on a limited budget, investing in your house must be a good idea – your property is likely to last longer and cost less than an equal investment in technology.

After all, we carry a historical housing stock, some of which dates back hundreds of years.

Those homes, and those built more recently aren’t going to go away.

They are likely to be around for a long time yet, and so it does seem to make sense that we invest in the fabric of that stock to make it more efficient first, while introducing renewables into the system where appropriate.

Eventually, the hope, of course, would be for them to become the new standard….

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