6 Ways to Make Your Home Greener

Green Home

With all the furore over the last few weeks about how hot it’s been, lowering carbon emissions and going greener have been back on the news agenda. Fires both here in the UK and Europe as well as across the pond in America, show this is not an isolated incident.

The Independent reported this month that the Earth is in danger of falling into a ‘hot house’ state:

“Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, there is a chance human-induced global warming could trigger other processes which will lead to uncontrollable warming.”

While climate sceptics point to the heat wave of 1976 as evidence that this is just another hot spell, no more, the fact that high temperatures have been recorded virtually everywhere has worried many.

If you want to do something about global warming yourself, there are plenty of ways to make your life a bit greener.

Install Solar

Since the subsidy for solar was slashed back in 2016, there’s been a slowing down in the industry but solar is still the easiest way to reduce your carbon emissions and create green electricity. The Feed in Tariff subsidy is expected to finish completely next year so if you still want to get some payback for your installation, there’s time.

Installing a home solar system on your property has become a lot cheaper in the last decade and an array can last upwards of 20 to 24 years. All that time, you’ll be producing your own electricity and lowering the country’s carbon emissions. Combine your installation with battery storage and you might benefit even more.

Find out more about solar.

Swap to a Heat Pump

Heat pumps take normal air or warmth from the ground and turn it into heating for your home, basically via a reverse of the process similar to your traditional fridge freezer. The Government is providing incentives for low carbon and renewable heating solutions at the moment because they need to meet their targets on emissions.

That means you can get financial payments from the Renewable Heat Incentive, a subsidy that pays you for every kWh your produce. While heat pumps can be expensive to install, they are cheap to run and have low maintenance costs.

You can find out more about heat pumps on our main site.

Buy an Electric Car

We’re looking to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and all car manufactures are now working on hybrid or fully electric cars. This is a major change in the way we drive around, more so because we also need to put in place a huge charging infrastructure.

The Government is now offering incentives for those who buy an electric vehicle and have a power point installed in the home or business. It’s another way going green can actually pay.

Discover how electric cars get charged.

Switch to LED Lighting

Not all your green changes need to be expensive. The next three are relatively simple to achieve and should cost you very little pain in the pocket. Switching from CFL lighting to LED is a good choice and much better for the environment because these bulbs use less electricity. It’s something you can do one bulb at a time if you are short of cash. It might save a bit extra on your next utility bill too.

Find out about the benefits of switching to LED lighting.

Switch Your Energy Supplier

More and more competition in the energy market has led to the creation of companies that get the vast majority of their power from renewable sources, including solar and wind. If you want to make sure that the future is renewable, changing your supplier is important and sends the right message. It’s also very easy to do. And it can save you money.

Switching takes just a few minutes when you go online at USwitch.

Get a Smart Meter

Finally, the other smallish thing you can do, of course, is reduce the amount of electricity and gas you use. That’s a lot easier when you can closely monitor your consumption. Contact your energy company about fitting a smart meter and you can start making a difference to how much you use and how much you spend while also helping to save the planet.

In the meantime, switch off those lights when you aren’t using them and turn your thermostat down a degree or two.

Power Producing Raindrops: The Add-On For Solar That Could Actually Work

solar power rain

You might think it a little odd to be talking of rain when we’re still in the middle of the biggest heatwave since 1976. While most of us are trying to stay cool and our solar panels are working overtime like never before, rain is at the forefront of the mind of some scientists in China.

A little reported and potentially exciting development may well be on the cards. And it involves nanotechnology.

China, who have lead the way in solar over recent times, has started experimenting with panels that not only collect and transform the power of the sun but also have the ability to turn raindrops into electricity. Intrigued? While the research is in its early stages, many believe that the developing technology offers huge potential.

The problem with solar panels, as we all know, is that they only produce electricity when the sun is shining. Once night falls, they go to sleep. While most experts are waiting on the further development of storage batteries in order to partway solve the problem, there’s plenty of other innovation going on.

To understand how rain can turned into power, you first have to accept the existence of the triboelectric nanogenerator or TENG. Not the sort of thing that trips lightly off the tongue but it works in a similar way to kinetic energy sources that have been explored in the past, including paths that produce electricity as you walk on them.

Nanogenerators are useful because they are able to convert movement into electricity that can be used to power things. A team of researchers at Soochow University in China have managed to incorporate this TENG technology into some solar panels and published their findings in ACS Nano.

What they produced was a solar panel that is able to produce electricity when it’s sunny but which can also deliver an output while the rain is falling.

According to Science Alert recently:

“The next challenge is increasing the amount of electricity that can be generated to make this commercially viable. However, the concept has been proven, and that’s an important first step – harvesting even a small amount of electricity during a rain shower has to be better than harvesting nothing at all.”

As with many new developments, however, one big issue is going to be the cost. The technology hasn’t yet got to the stage where it can be mass produced for a low manufacturing price and sold commercially. That could take a while, at least a few years before we see these products on the market.

The next big development could well be solar panels that are able to provide power during rainy days. By then, we should have developed the battery technology that will allow us to store electricity overnight.

Find out more about having solar panels installed.

Feed In Tariff to End After Government Decision

FIT

With all the furore that’s been going on about Brexit and what exactly is going to happen next year when we leave the EU, you may be forgiven that it’s the only important news story out there.

For those interested in the development of solar energy and other renewable power, however, a stark admission by the Government at the end of last week certainly set a few heads in the renewables sector spinning.

The Feed in Tariff which has been responsible for getting homeowners and businesses to invest in solar panels will cease to exist for new customers from April next year. The announcement was largely lost in the milieu that has been created by the Government’s inept Brexit performance. It was hardly reported in the main stream media.

According to the Guardian last Thursday, the decision was laced with an extra kick in the gut for green activists and those who want to see cleaner, cheaper energy for their homes:

“The government’s announcement came on the same day that it launched a consultation to allow exploratory shale well gas wells to be built without planning permission.”

The History of the Feed In Tariff

The Feed in Tariff is a subsidy for those taking on renewable power sources such as solar panel and it pays a certain amount per kWh of energy produced. This means that homeowners and businesses can make a reasonably decent return on investment by getting regular payments. That was the case at least until the Government decided to slash the tariff rates back in 2016, something that also caused a stall in the solar market.

Since it began back in 2011, over 800,000 homeowners have taken the plunge to get solar panels installed on their roof tops. Those that already get access to the Feed in Tariff will not be affected by the change which is due to take place next year. And, to be fair, the demise of the FiT has been on the cards for some time.

What Next for Solar Power?

There’s no doubt that the decision by Greg Clark at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will have a major impact on smaller renewable companies and set the agenda for clean energy back a good deal. The fact that more credence has been given to fracking than solar has not been lost on many experts in the marketplace.

According to Emma Pinchbeck from Renewable UK:

“Today’s confirmation that there will be no replacement for the Feed-in Tariff is a major blow to small-scale renewables in the UK. The Government has known the FiT would be closing for three years and the fact that they are only now beginning the conversation about new policies is far too little, far too late for many companies.”

The Government has said that it is looking at how to support small scale renewables but what shape this takes is far from certain. In the meantime, those hoping to take advantage of the FiT scheme have until next April to get their solar panels installed.

The news about the FiT comes not long after the Government confirmed that it would not be supporting the proposed tidal lagoon at Swansea Bay. That’s despite a report produced in 2017 that said the lagoon would bring huge benefits and could be a very cost-effective way of generating electricity. It appears that Greg Clark and his department doesn’t see it that way. This may be disappointing but it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

What many people will see is a Government that is unwilling (and may never have been really willing) to support green, renewable energy initiatives. Better to go for nuclear power and large discredited fracking operations than making the case for ‘all that green crap’ as David Cameron once put it.

While Brexit fills the headlines, unfortunately, it has become even easier for the Government to get away with dismantling the clean power agenda. The surprising thing is that anyone has noticed at all.