Home heating systems

Renewable Heat

By Sarah Ingrams

Article 6 of 8

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Renewable Heat

Discover the different types of renewable heating available, such as wood-burning stoves and solar panels, how they work and the possible savings.

With gas and electricity prices rising, could you cut your bills by installing renewable heat technologies? Find out whether renewables, such as heat pumps, solar water heating and wood stoves, are right for your home. 

Here, we talk you through the different renewable heat options and how they work to help you decide whether they're right for you.

Whether you're interested in wood-burning stoves, heat pumps, solar panels or even wind turbines, use our research to see whether renewable heat will pay off.

Renewable energy

There are a number of ways you can generate your own energy at home from low or zero carbon ‘microgeneration’ technology.

Making your own energy, instead of using mains gas and electricity, will reduce your carbon footprint. Plus it means you’re less dependent on sources of energy that are increasingly subject to global demand, so you're more protected from any future price rises. 

Cost of renewable-energy systems

If you're considering installing any microgeneration technologies in your home, it’s important to take a long-term view. Renewable choices may appear more expensive, but the time it takes to get your money back on an investment in microgeneration will come down.

The government launched the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) to pay you to generate renewable heat. However, since its launch in 2013, payments have been reduced. Click to find out more about the Renewable Heat Incentive

It's important that your property is suitable for the technology you choose. If you're interested in solar panels, for example, bear in mind that not all properties have a suitable south-facing roof or garden.

Solar panels

Solar panels harness the power of sunlight to heat your home and hot water. An in-house display will allow you to see when energy is being generated, enabling you to make the most of the free power - for example, by running your washing machine at these times.  

Any extra energy you generate but don't use will be sent to the National Grid, which you'll get paid for. But there are a lot of factors to consider, such as the cost of the installation, and whether your home is in the best position to harness the power of sunlight.

Solar thermal panels generate heat. Solar photovoltaics (PV) generate electricity. You can now get cashback for solar PV from the Feed-in tariff. Although the amount you get back has been reduced over the years. 

To choose the right solar panel system for you, and to find out more about the costs and potential savings, read our full guide on how to buy solar panels.

Wood-burning stoves

Wood-burning stoves aren't cheap to install, but the heat a stove generates can mean you don'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 specially for your stove, heating your home could end up costing nothing. But you'll need to be sure you can get a regular supply and that you have room to store wood.

We've got advice from stove experts and owners to help you decide whether a wood-burning stove is right for you. Go to wood-burning stoves

Heat pumps

Unlike other heating systems that burn fuel to create heat, air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps use naturally occurring warm air or heat in the ground to create power and heat your home. 

They will need an electricity source to work, but are said to cost less to run than a traditional heating system.

We'll help you decide whether they're right for your home. Find our more about ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps.

Wind turbines

There are two types of wind turbine: roof-mounted, and freestanding or pole-mounted. They come in a variety of sizes. This affects how much power they can generate, and the price.

You'll need mains power in addition to a wind turbine, so they are more of a complementary way to generate some of your own energy and potentially reduce your bills, rather than a stand-along system.

You can find out more about the different types of wind turbines and what homes they're suitable for - see wind turbines