The government’s latest plan to encourage people to start generating their own heat is all very well, but how can early energy savers make sure they get the maximum benefit from the scheme?
Yesterday the government announced a new scheme called the Renewable Heat Incentive.
Before you stop reading, thinking ‘this has nothing to do with me’, taxpayers will be footing the bill… and you might even be able to benefit from it.
Renewable Heat Incentive – the good and the bad
The idea is that financial support will be given to businesses and people who want to put renewable heating technology into offices and homes. The incentive will help people who want to put solar thermal panels on their roof, and help those who want to install heat pumps or wood boilers.
Is it good news? Yes, as the incentive means that the renewable heat technology will pay itself back quicker.
The bad news? Today only saw the launch of the business scheme, so a lot of the initial support is going to renewable heating in offices and industry. We don’t yet know how much of the money will be available for homes, and the main phase of support for householders won’t be launched until October 2012.
How effective is renewable technology?
Heating our homes costs most of us around 60% of our average bill and causes nearly half of the UK’s CO2 emissions. So, of course it’s only right that we all try to make heating generate less carbon and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
But these technologies are still expensive and are we really ready for them? Which? put up hidden cameras in a house last year to test the advice companies were giving about installing solar thermal panels. Unfortunately the results were bleak, with sales advisers getting carried away with exaggerations on the savings we would make.
On top of this, other research shows that some of the technologies are just not being installed properly. For example, recent trials by the Energy Saving Trust into ground source heat pumps showed that only 13% performed well – and even more alarming is that some people actually ended up with higher bills!
How to pick the right renewable technology
The golden rule is to do your homework:
- Put your ‘house in order’ – before spending thousands on renewable technology, make sure you’re keeping your heat in your home. You should have good loft insulation and, if appropriate, wall insulation.
- Shop around – make sure the renewable technology you choose is right for your home and your specific needs.
- Don’t take the first quote, and try to get a recommended company.
If you do choose to be an ‘early energy saver’ and go to the expense of installing renewable technology you deserve to get good advice, value for money and a fair deal. That’s why we’re working with industry and government to make sure that customers don’t become ‘green victims’.
If horror stories start to emerge of people spending thousands of pounds on equipment that’s either unsuitable or isn’t installed properly, then confidence in the scheme will soon fade. Is renewable technology something you’d like to have in your home?