Sustainable SolutionsTo Rising Energy Prices

You don't have to be an earth mother (or father) to realise that fossil fuels are a dying breed. It doesn’t require any crystal gazing to know that energy costs are rising. It’s a fact of life.

The good news is there are several ways to generate green energy from the convenience of your home.

How about generating your own power or 'earning back' energy costs using your own solar panels or wind turbine? Ultimately, your wallet and the environment may thank you for it. 

Wind Energy

Home wind turbines – installation costs…

The cost of the system depends on the size and the mounting method of the turbine, according to The Energy Savings Trust.

Equipment and installation costs are typically:

  • £2,000 for a roof-mounted 1kW microwind system
  • £15,000 for a 2.5kW pole-mounted system
  • £22,500 for a 6kW pole-mounted system

OK, so installation costs may not come cheap – but initial outlays can eventually be clawed back through home-grown energy. However you plan to budget for the project, there are options to consider, including applying for a savings plan or a loan, and there are grants available on EnergyShare.com.

What are the savings?

Building-mounted turbines tend to produce less electricity per kW than pole-mounted versions, according to the trust. It claims that a well-sited 6kW turbine can generate around 10,000kWh per year, which:

  • Can generates income and savings, if eligible for Feed-In Tariffs, of around £3,200
  • Can save around 5.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide

Feed-in and Export Tariffs

Under a ‘Feed-in Tariff’ (FIT), some energy suppliers may pay you for each unit (kilowatt hour or kWh) of electricity. In addition, Gov.uk advises that home owners can also sell any extra units they don’t use back to their electricity supplier. This is called an ‘Export Tariff’.  Rates can be 4.5p/unit of electricity for wind energy where FIT was applied on or after 1 December 2012. If FIT was applied before these dates, rates remain at 3.2p for each unit of electricity.

Solar Energy

Home solar power systems, also known as solar photovoltaics (PV), use photovoltaic cells to capture the sun's energy. The encouraging aspect, especially where UK weather is concerned, is these cells don't need direct sunlight to work; they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day.

Home solar energy – installation costs…

The Energy Savings Trust asserts that the average domestic solar PV system is 3.5kWp, costing around £7,600, including VAT to install. It adds that panels built into a roof are more expensive than those that sit on top.

What are the savings?

  • The Trust claims that a 3.5kWp system can save over a tonne of carbon dioxide every year
  • Under a Feed-In Tariff scheme (explained above) it could generate savings and an income of around £635 a year for a generation tariff of 15.44p/kWh

Maintenance

Solar PV panels just need to be kept clean, and it helps if they are not overshadowed by trees. Panels are typically tilted at 15° or more in the UK, while debris is more likely to accumulate if you have ground mounted panels.

The Energy Savings Trust claims that panels should last 25 years or more, with highest maintenance costing over £1,000. A final word of advice from the Trust is for homeowners to get quotes from different installers for fitment and maintenance requirements before committing to a system.

Summary

Ultimately, both wind and solar energy can offer a green and clean way to cut your energy costs and carbon footprint. Not only will they help do your bit for the environment, you could stand to gain financially from the savings made on cheaper energy bills.

This guest post was written by Andy Moore on behalf of Money Matters, the Sainsbury's Bank blog. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.


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