Thursday, 16 February 2017

You could beat rising gas and electricity prices by using renewable heat sources

Turning your home into a mini-power station using renewable heat technologies could help you cut bills and carbon emissions by generating a significant proportion of your heating and hot water needs yourself.  Plus it means you’re less dependent on sources of energy that are increasingly subject to global demand, so you're more protected from future price rises.



The government launched the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) to pay households to generate renewable heat through low or zero carbon microgeneration technology.   However, since its launch in 2013, payments have been reduced. You can find out more about the Renewable Heat Incentive here.

You can apply to get payments from your energy supplier if you generate your own electricity using renewable technologies such as solar panels. This is called a ‘feed-in tariff’.  You find out more about this at https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/fit

If you're considering installing a microgeneration technology in your home, it’s important to take a long-term view.

Let’s look at the three main renewable technology options available for your home – heat pumps, solar panels and biomass boilers.

 

Ground Source and Air Source Heat Pumps


A ground source heat pump system harnesses natural heat from underground by pumping water through it.   Ground source heat pump systems are made up of a network of water pipes buried underground (generally in a garden) and a heat pump at ground level.

An air source heat pump takes heat from the air and is usually placed outdoors at the side or back of a property. 

In both systems the heat pump increases the temperature, and the heat is used to provide home heating or hot water. They require electricity to work, but should cost less to run than a traditional heating system.

For more information read our guide on Understanding Heat Pumps.

Solar Panels


Solar panels harness the power of sunlight to provide heat and hot water. Solar thermal panels generate heat and solar photovoltaic panels generate electricity and any extra electricity that you generate but don't use will be sent to the National Grid, which you'll get paid for. You will need to consider whether your home is in the best position to harness the power of sunlight.

For more information read our guide on Solar Thermal Hot Water.

Wood-burning Stoves


Wood-burning stoves generate heat meaning that you won't have to turn on your central heating. You can use a stove to heat just one room, such as the room you use most. Alternatively, you can get one installed with a 'back boiler', which means the heat it creates will heat your whole home. If you source discarded wood and dry it out yourself, instead of buying logs especially for your stove, heating your home could cost nothing. But you'll need to be sure you can get a regular supply and that you have room to store wood.

For more information read our guide on Understanding Biomass Appliances.

Sourcing the right installer


You can use APHC’s search facility at www.FindAQualityPlumber.co.uk to find a qualified installer who is registered under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, which will allow you to claim the financial incentives from the Feed-in Tariff and the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Friday, 3 February 2017

How to set your heating controls to keep you warm for less this winter

Your heating system may include a range of controls which can be used to help you run your heating system efficiently.  If your heating system doesn’t include any of these controls, you may be able to have them installed by a qualified heating engineer.

According to the Energy Savings Trust, heating your home and hot water accounts for around 60% of your total energy bill and installing heating controls could save you between £80 and £165 a year.

This blogpost details the main heating controls associated with a heating system and advises on how best to use them.

Programmer/Timer. You use this to manage when your heating and hot water turn on and off.  You should use the programmer to only heat your home and hot water when you need them.  Leaving your heating constantly on low will generally result in your home being heated when you are not there and being not warm enough when you are there.  Timing the heating and hot water to come on half an hour before entering your home or using the hot water should provide enough time to warm your home and water to a comfortable temperature.

Room Thermostat. This regulates the temperature of your home by turning off the boiler when the room where the thermostat is situated exceeds a set temperature.  This saves energy as the boiler won’t be working when your home is warm enough.  You should set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature (normally around 21 degrees Celsius) whatever the weather.

Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs).  These are fitted to the radiator and are used to control the temperature in individual rooms.  They allow you to control the temperature of a room by changing the flow of hot water to the radiator.  If you do not use a room where a TRV is fitted you can turn the radiator off or down which will help to reduce your heating bill.



Boiler Thermostat. This controls the temperature of the water which is sent through the radiators.  Generally, this should be set to a high level to ensure that you can effectively control the temperature of your home using a thermostat and TRVs.

Hot Water Thermostat. This controls the temperature of the hot water you receive from taps and shower heads.  If you have a hot water tank the thermostat will normally be located on it.  If you have a combi boiler, which heats water as you need it and therefore doesn’t require a water tank, the thermostat will look like a dial and be situated on the front of the boiler.  Please note, to prevent the build-up of legionella bacteria the hot water temperature should be set to a minimum of 60 Celsius.

You can use our search facility at www.FindAQualityPlumber.co.uk to find a local qualified and reputable heating engineer able to advise and install heating controls. Our online database allows you to search via a number of criteria including postcode, town or by specific business name.

You can learn about Smart Heating Controls by reading our blogpost: How smart are Smart Heating Controls?