What Is An Energy Performance Certificate?

What Is An Energy Performance Certificate?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is an important document required by the UK government to ensure that the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD) is met.

Ensuring regulations on energy performance are adhered to is a high priority for the government, since the effects of climate change continue to be seen and recorded around the world. An increased focus on sustainable fuel usage is still required, but holding buildings to the standards shown on an EPC is one method that has been successful for many years now.

A domestic Energy Performance Certificate will be provided to anyone moving into a new home. The EPC is one of several key documents which you can expect to be provided in this situation. This would be given by the previous owner if you’re buying the property, or the landlord if you’re simply a new tenant. Continue reading “What Is An Energy Performance Certificate?”

6 Reasons You Should Consider Solar Panels

6 Reasons You Should Consider Solar Panels

Most of us are aware of the pressure we’re under to find renewable energy sources and swap out unsustainable fossil fuels for more long-term substitutes. However, a lot of homeowners (and business alike) find themselves paralysed by uncertainty and hesitant to truly invest in renewable energy. This is despite the range of benefits available that many people might not be that familiar with. In particular, solar panels seem to be a particularly misunderstood concept.

We spoke to R&B Renewables, installers of renewable energy services in Leeds, Skipton and Harrogate, about the six best reasons to use solar panels and generate renewable energy to power your home. Here are those six in detail…

1. Reducing your energy bills is an obvious benefit for anyone, as cutting costs is always helpful. By generating at least some of your own electricity to use in the home, your consumption from the National Grid will drop, perhaps allowing you to sign up for a cheaper package.

2. Reducing your carbon emissions is another well known benefit to solar panels, and ideally this should motivate everyone to get them installed! Even so, it can be hard to find the motivation and capital to make the initial investment, but that’s before considering the additional benefits that other people forget.

3. You may benefit from the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) in the UK if you are able to produce enough electricity through solar panel to feed it back into the National Grid. This may qualify you to receive subsidisation from the government. Continue reading “6 Reasons You Should Consider Solar Panels”

Eco-Friendly Heated Towel Rails

Eco-Friendly Heated Towel Rails

Heated towel rails may seem like a luxury to some people, but they can actually be one of the most cost effective ways to add a really special finishing touch to your dream bathroom. They don’t have to be expensive to install or run, especially if you go for an option that’s designed to converse energy and minimise your carbon footprint while it’s in use.

Whatever finish you choose to coordinate with your existing fixtures and fittings, stainless steel, chrome or white designer heated towel rails made for bathrooms just like yours will be available if you find a specialist supplier in your region. Depending on what design you select, almost all heated rails will be available in the same or very similar designs regardless of whether you go for an energy-saving version or not.

The installation of your heater is where this may vary, but even if it’s more complicated and a little more costly, you should soon find that it’s worth the investment. By using less energy produced by fossil fuels, which harm the environment by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as they release energy, you can significantly reduce the impact your day-to-day activities are having on the rest of the world.

One straightforward way of enjoying a designer radiator or heated towel rail without excessive energy consumption is to have an eco-friendly timer fitted when you have your heater installed. This can automatically ensure that it is only switched on when you need it, making sure your towels are still warm and dry when you need them to be, but without wasting energy by having them heated excessively. Usually you can have such a timer installed very discreetly in a bathroom, just the same way you would have a light switch fitted. You can also set the temperature to further reduce wasted energy. Continue reading “Eco-Friendly Heated Towel Rails”

Are E-Bikes Really Environmentally Friendly?

Are E-Bikes Really Environmentally Friendly?

E-bikes are quickly becoming a popular alternative to other methods of transport. Compared with some alternatives, they offer a great selection of benefits, primarily cutting down on fuel costs as well as the impact their carbon dioxide emissions have on the natural environment. However, some have argued that the overall effect of having more electric bikes around is likely to be negative on the environment and people’s health and fitness in general. Here we consider both viewpoints.

Firstly, it comes down to what an e-bike is being used as a substitute for. If you regularly drive your own car to work or throughout the rest of the day, switching to a fast ebike might be an obvious way to reduce your carbon footprint. These bikes, with manual peddling assisted by a battery-charged motor when required, can really make the difference for some people who would find it highly impractical to cycle to work purely because the journey is slightly too long or difficult. Perhaps the only thing stopping you taking your bike is that steep hill just before you get to the office? Continue reading “Are E-Bikes Really Environmentally Friendly?”

How the UK’s Green Deal Affects Boiler Replacements

How the UK’s Green Deal Affects Boiler Replacements

You may have heard about the UK’s Green Deal system, or recent lack thereof, but not fully understand what it covers. To quickly summarise, the Green Deal is no longer supported financially by the UK government after being axed a year ago. Before that point, it meant that people all over the UK could claim financial assistance to make energy-efficient improvements to their homes. It applied across the country and included a number of different services, so for example if you needed boiler installation and repairs in Milton Keynes or Bedford which would help your home become greener, you’d have the same entitlement to government help as someone getting double glazing in Birmingham or draught-proofing in Devon.

There were numerous issues with the Green Deal. Sticking with the example of boiler servicing or replacement – one of the most common reasons people applied for help – it seemed like a great idea at first. The costs and risks involved with plumbing and installing a new boiler would often put people off, especially those with lower incomes who needed the support the most. However, the idea of free government money to alleviate these costs soon looked more like a pipe dream when people realised all the funds offered under the Green Deal were actually loans that required repayments. This somewhat went against the point of the scheme to financially incentivise greener technology in UK homes, as people were discouraged by debt more than they were attracted by the idea of efficiency. Continue reading “How the UK’s Green Deal Affects Boiler Replacements”

Advice on Saving Energy at Home

Advice on Saving Energy at Home

There are a few different areas to really focus on within your home if you feel like you should be doing more to cut down on your energy usage. This is normally a great thing to look into since you’ll be helping the environment as well as saving money. Altering your lifestyle slightly can make a huge difference, so look at these areas and see what improvements you can make…

1) Heating

A small adjustment can work wonders. Even if you just turn down your heating by 1°C, you could cut a significant amount off your bill over the course of a year. When it does get cold, try wearing more layers instead of heating the whole house. When it’s warmer, consider installing a system that can be controlled with a mobile app remotely so you can turn off your heating when it isn’t being used. To save on heating water, try using your shower on a lower pressure setting, as many people waste a lot of energy and water by not doing this.

2) Cooking

Try to limit the time your oven is on by coordinating with other people and cooking multiple meals at the same time. Use the appropriate size ring on the hob for each pan you use to maximise efficiency. When you’re finished, keep the oven door open in winter so the heat goes towards warming up your kitchen rather than leaving the house through a vent.

3) Washing

Using your washing machine on an energy efficient setting can make a huge difference. 30°C will be suitable for most washes, or 40°C at the most. Air-dry your clothes afterwards rather than wasting electricity with a tumble dryer. If you do use a dryer, end the cycle slightly early to cut down on the energy used, and your clothes will still be 90% dry. Continue reading “Advice on Saving Energy at Home”

Save Money & Resources With Your Boiler Installation

Save Money & Resources With Your Boiler Installation

Installing a boiler in your property can be a daunting and potentially expensive prospect. However, if you spend some time doing your research you can cut the costs of having the work done quite significantly. Even better, you can actually save more money in the long run and reduce your fuel consumption considerably by choosing your equipment (and the company you deal with) wisely. That way, you save money and protect the environment at the same time.

Many people have a lot of questions at the beginning of this process, and it can easily get confusing. Here we answer some of the most common.

Who should I choose to complete my boiler work?

Even if you’re having repairs done rather than a full replacement, you’ll want to deal with the most professional experts you can find. This will vary depending on your local area, as most of the best companies specialise in a particular region. Finding a highly reputable firm that knows your area is usually the best course of action. Continue reading “Save Money & Resources With Your Boiler Installation”

How Home Automation Can Make Your Home More Efficient

How Home Automation Can Make Your Home More Efficient

Home automation can apply to almost any room or appliance in your home, if you have the right technology installed. It’s becoming more freely available, from comprehensive systems for your entire home, to mobile apps that control your individual kitchen appliances or heating systems. Major electronics retailers are increasing their range of items that can connect to the Internet and be controlled remotely, and home owners also have the option of choosing a home automation specialist for things ranging from home cinema installation to multi room music systems.

In general these home automation systems can make your home run more efficiently in several different ways. They may save you energy, money, time or all of the above.

Here are a few of the primary factors that can really make a difference:

1) Controlling your heating – The idea of controlling the temperature of your home remotely is arguably one of the things that has really driven innovation and development in this area. Now the technology has caught up to expectations, it’s very easy to install a smart thermostat that can be adjusted automatically or manually via a mobile app. This means you can adapt to unexpected changes to the weather, or when you plan to be home. If nobody is home, most systems will have a preset “Away” setting to conserve energy. Continue reading “How Home Automation Can Make Your Home More Efficient”

Electricity Collectors

Electricity Collectors

There are two kinds of electrical photovoltaic solar systems: off-grid and on-grid.  The off-grid system works totally independent of the regular power company feed.  It requires batteries.  The grid system incorporates your solar electrical supply directly into the power system that receives electricity from the power company grid.  Batteries are not required in the grid system.  They are used by some for a backup system in the event of emergencies.  Your own supply from your solar panels makes it possible for you to reduce your need of electricity from the power company.  You can even produce a surplus that is turned back onto the grid for which the power company credits your account.  The power company will even pay you       when your system produces a surplus.

Solar_Plant_kl

The electrical photovoltaic collection solar panel is the first of the four components necessary to collect sunlight and transform it into usable electricity in an off-grid system.  An electrical solar panel consists of individual like silicon cells that generate electricity from sunlight.  Light particles of sunlight, or photons, hitting the silicon cells produce electrical current.  The average solar panel, two feet by four and one-half feet, with at least 36 cells can at peak generate approximately 24 volts of electricity.

You calculate how much electricity will be needed from any system and match that calculation to the number of solar panels needed to produce that much electricity.  This is then matched to the number of batteries needed to store your electricity.    Usually, eight to ten solar panels with 17-19 twelve volte batteries will supply on an average 15 to 18 hundred square foot house on a continuous basis with all the most common electricity needs.  This is just an estimate, mind you, and each house will have its own unique considerations requiring more or less batteries.

Solar panel on a red roof reflecting the sun and the cloudless blue sky

There are three kinds of electrical photovoltaic solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous.  The best, and most expensive of these, is the monocrystalline which cells are composed of pure silicon involving sophisticated crystal development.  Less efficient is the polycrystalline, which is derived from large blocks of numerous crystals.   Polycrystalline solar panels have a shattered glass appearance.

By far the least expensive and the least efficient is the amorphous solar panel not made from crystals but merely silicon spread over metal or glass.  This does not yield the same amount of electrical power as monocrystalline and polycrystalline cells.  Vastly more square footage of the amorphous solar panels is required to generate the equivalent output of monocrystalline or polycrystalline panels.  The advantage of amorphous photovoltaic cells is that they are now made into roofing shingles which mount right on the roof and replace asphalt shingles.  They thereby serve the dual purposes of protecting the house or building from the weather and providing electricity.

Off-Grid Electrical System

Off-Grid Electrical System

Solar controllers are rated in amps and volts.  Thus, the solar controller must have the capability to accommodate the current or amperage and volts emitted from the solar panel.  Batteries can be overcharged and ruined.  Excessive discharge can also damage the battery.  The controller is set between the electrical solar panel and the storage batteries for protection from overcharging or undercharging of the batteries.  The purpose of the controller is to match the current (amperage) and voltage (force of the current) of the solar panel with the charging capacity of the batteries.  The battery fully charged the controller cuts off the current from the solar panels.  The best controllers also have a low voltage cut off which prevents the battery from being drained of electricity below the point of no recovery.

Receding Solar Panels

Batteries

Electrical solar storage batteries are different than automobile batteries.  They are built to endure the type of charging and discharging associated with solar electricity collecting.  There are basically three kinds of batteries for solar electricity storage: flood lead-acid; sealed absorbent glass mat; and gel-cell.  The flood lead-acid batteries do not cost as much, but require special maintenance, such as having to add distilled water to replenish water losses during charges.  Sealed absorbent glass mat batteries are the most used.  They do not require special maintenance, are kept at full charge, and are especially designed to function in a bank in tandem with other batteries. Gel-celled batteries do not freeze. They are better to use where excessive cold predominates.

The number of batteries needed depends on the electrical load expected to be sustained and for how long.  For an off-grid system, the typical aim is to store an ample supply of electricity for continuous day and night time use, as well as enough storage for one to three cloudy days.  For the average house of 1500 to 1800 square feet, this will be an estimated 17 to 19 twelve volt batteries.

Where multiple batteries are used, they are tied together by cables connecting the positive to positive and negative to negative posts.  Electrical energy is stored in batteries by means of a chemical reaction.  For this reason solar electrical storage batteries pose danger when not handled and stored right.  Explosion, serious chemical burns, and electrocution are possible by mishandling solar electrical batteries.  Electrical solar storage batteries should be housed in a well-ventilated place that is clean and dry; and the area secluded from children and unauthorized others who are not familiar with the possible dangers.  You should not be put off or dissuaded from your interest in and pursuit of electrical solar energy because of the potential dangers.  By and large, the benefits are immense and dangers reduced to nothing when the equipment is properly handled.

The batteries are connected to an inverter.

Inverter

solar-panels

The inverter is the essential link between the electrical solar panels and usable electricity.  Both off-grid and on-grid electrical solar systems require an inverter to transform DC electricity collected from sunlight into 120 volt or 240 volt AC electricity for use to power household lights, appliances, and other things.  Also, on-grid inverters synchronize the electricity produced from the solar panel system to the utility company’s AC grade.  This makes it possible for the excess of surplus electricity to be fed into the power company’s utility grid.

On-grid solar collector systems don’t have to have, but usually include, a battery bank for backup.  Special inverters with a battery charger are available allowing the batteries to be charged from the grid and allow for them to be charged by a gas powered generator.
On-grid inverters are weather proofed so they can be installed outside near other electrical equipment, whereas off-grid inverters are usually not weather proofed and are made to be used very near the indoor electrical fuse or breaker box.