The success of the Olympic Games has created a warm glow across the nation. The games didn't just celebrate the nation's sporting prowess, but also showcased Britain's sustainable construction expertise, being the greenest games ever hosted - it's just a shame the warmth generated by the games couldn't be harnessed to heat our homes!
Be sustainable to save money
At a time of austerity, it is easy for green measures to be dismissed as an expensive gimmick, that somehow the environment is less important than other, more immediate concerns. Yet this is a fallacy. It is true that sustainable energy systems cost money to install, but the whole point of them is to save money (and the environment) in the longer term. This makes them even more important at a time of austerity, especially at a time of rising fuel costs and shrinking incomes.
Sustainable energy systems seek to harness the energy provided freely by the environment, whether it be heat directly from the sun in solar thermal systems, converting sunlight into electricity in Solar PV, or using heat pumps to extract heat from the air and ground.
Success of Solar PV - still a good investment
As with all new technologies, however, the initial costs are high as companies recoup their research and development costs. Renewable energy is no exception to this rule. The Government recognised this by introducing the Feed-in-Tariff for Solar PV, to help households recover the costs. Yet as costs have fallen dramatically, the Feed-in-Tariff has been cut accordingly, yet still gives the same rate of return, approximately 10% per annum. The fact that the tariff was cut shows how successful it was in lowering the costs, and Solar PV still remains an excellent investment.
Households are right to be wary of unrealistic claims but, as an example, a high quality 16-panel 3.92kW system from Ecoliving could cost £7,945 (inc. VAT). This may earn £538 in feed-in-tariffs, £76 from exporting electricity to the grid, whilst saving £193 on electricity bills, giving a total annual benefit of £807. Reputable MCS-accredited installation companies will provide realistic estimates in their quotes. For households worried about finding the money to pay for the systems, low cost loan funding is also available, the repayments being met from the annual savings with virtually no risk to the homeowner. Once the loan is repaid, the householder benefits from the income.
The forthcoming Renewable Heat Incentive and Green Deal are set to revolutionise the market for sustainable heating systems in a similar way, allowing households to bask in the warmth of saving money and helping the environment.
Further information can be found on the Energy Saving Trust and Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC).
Local experts Ecoliving offer free, no obligation energy surveys and advice for a range of renewable technologies. Contact Peter Hardy or Alison Nolan on 0845 301 3121.