How to generate your own electricity using solar panels

How to generate your own electricity using solar panels.

Once upon a time, the idea of generating your own electricity with an exclusively solar setup was a futuristic one. Panel capacity was simply too low to provide a viable alternative to mains power, and dirty, noisy diesel generators often had to bear the excess load.

Nowadays, however, the game has changed. Improvements in solar technology have made it possible for individual properties to achieve full self-sufficiency, while power storage hardware gives homeowners and small businesses the chance to achieve a reliable flow of power all year round.

Energy management is the real gamechanger here. With the removal of the feed-in tariff, consumers can now enjoy complete control over energy usage levels and storage capacity. Modern solar photovoltaic systems allow users to:

  • Generate their own energy
  • Store this energy
  • Consume stored energy direct from the storage unit
  • Consume energy on demand, according to their own usage requirements

Improved panel efficiency and storage capability have also enabled users to recoup a return on their investment much more quickly, with panel installations resulting in full ROI within five years — or even significantly sooner in many cases.

But how do you actually go about generating your own electricity with a solar system?

1. Acquire your inverter

It is the inverter that serves as the crucial component in your solar power setup. This is the part of your system that converts the DC power generated by the panels themselves to the 230V AC power compatible with your home appliances. The inverter also features an MPPT DC/DC battery charger that is used to power up your lithium batteries for storage.

This means that your inverter serves two critical functions, but how does it decide how much power to devote to each? It’s the integrated energy management system that fulfils this smart role, gauging the energy demand of the property and delivering appropriate levels of converted AC power and stored DC electricity.

In the rare event of a power surge that exceeds the capacity of the inverter, additional energy can be sourced from the power grid.

Among the most common inverters are the Voltacon Hybrid 5.5kW-E solar inverter (H5I5000), G98/G99 and G100 compliant, and the Solis 5kW, both of which comply with the latest standards of safety and efficiency.

These single-phase inverters are compatible with lithium batteries, and they integrate directly with your existing system to provide 48V connection to the storage units. You’ll also be able to handle ancillary functions, manage electricity flow, and monitor your system — all via a WiFi connection.

2. Select your lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are the ideal choice for an application like this one, as they occupy far less space and are far more lightweight than other types of batteries. They are also relatively efficient, and you will be able to consume up to 80% of the full storage capacity daily if required.

The Pylontech US2000 is the ideal choice, providing 2.4kWh in an expandable solution. Users can scale their system according to their needs, starting with one battery and expanding to as many as eight pieces as required, controlled via the integrated inverter communication system.

Users can mount up to four of these batteries using a simple metallic mounting bracket. To mount up to eight units, Voltacon provides a convenient server cabinet, with a footprint of less than 1 sq m and a height of 90 cm.

We also offer the Silent Power Lithium (SPL) battery option, with 10kWh of capacity installed in parallel in a single cabinet.

3. Set up your solar panels

The latest solar panels feature 120 half-cut cells and provide many advantages of full cell versions. ET-Solar provides a 355W monocrystalline photovoltaic panel suitable for both domestic and solar farm applications. These panels are capable of 20% cell efficiency and achieve reduced resistance loss compared with full cell solutions.

Parallel strings of 60 cells connected in series mean that the panels are less affected by partial shadow, producing more energy than standard solar panels and accelerating return on investment.

4. Choose your energy meter and solar accessories

The inverters mentioned above come complete with a digital energy meter that helps users to manage energy production. These meters also achieve smart management by sensing the energy demand within the property.

Essential isolators for safe installation and operation are also included in the package. You will be able to switch the installation on and off and isolate the solution safely when required.

5. Put aluminium mounting structures in place

Mounting rails secure your solar panels, and they are approved for all weather conditions. We use only aluminium for our mounting rails, secured with stainless steel bolts and clamping components, and we can provide kits for ground- or roof-mounting your solar panels.

Easy-triangle structures make it easy to mount panels anywhere, including on both pitched and flat roofs, tiled surfaces, or directly on the ground. We developed our aluminium profiles with 3M, the chemical-product manufacturer and vendor, crafting a design that can be easily mounted with no need for drills and screw fixtures.

Reach out to Voltacon to find out more about generating your own electricity with solar

Our team can help you on your way to achieving self-sufficiency through solar power. Reach out today to discover more.

The role of battery storage in the quest for renewable energy

Solar Panels

As we transition into a world powered by renewables, there’s one thing you’re going to be hearing a lot more about over the coming decade: batteries.

Why? Because, as solar panels and wind turbines become more and more important in creating electricity for our homes in the UK, we need a reliable way to store the energy they capture. 

Right now, our grid delivers power that was generated just moments before. But unfortunately, natural elements like the weather are unpredictable – as we well know, here in the UK! Until wind and solar farms have storage systems that can hold the energy they generate for later use, we’ll sometimes still have to depend on coal and natural gas to meet demand when everyone’s switching their kettles on at the same time. 

How can batteries support a greener grid?

Earlier this year, we saw the effects of this problem when the National Grid warned of potential power cuts, due to a combination of generator outages and low winds. A few weeks later, they issued two more electricity margin notices, caused by low supply from wind farms. 

The timing of these warnings, right after Boris Johnson backed plans to massively expand the UK’s offshore wind farms, was pounced on by those sceptical of renewable energy. No matter what your views on the future of renewables, it does raise a valid concern: how can we store the energy generated in times of high winds, to use when there’s demand for it? As Jonathan Marshall, of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, put it to The Times, “the rapid transition in Britain’s electricity system is outpacing the changes in governance and regulation needed” in order to get batteries and other storage systems in place. Our dependent relationship with coal, says Marshall, “needn’t be the case”.

The truth is, we have more than enough power to go around from wind farms. For much of this year, the National Grid has been struggling with having too much power during times of low demand. It’s even paid wind farms to switch off at certain points, to help regulate the grid. 

If we had a way to store this energy during the busy periods, we’d have enough energy to go around during quieter weeks. Batteries are the key to the mass roll-out of renewables. So what’s the latest in terms of their development?

Lithium-ion batteries: from camcorders to wind farms

Lithium-ion is the type of battery you’re most likely to be familiar with. They were first introduced commercially by Sony in the 1990s, who used them to power handheld camcorders. These days, they’re inside everything from your phone to your electric vehicle. And in some places around the world, they’re also being used to store back-up energy for electricity grids: like in California, where the 250mWh Gateway Energy Storage project uses the world’s biggest Lithium-ion battery. (Tesla is working on an even bigger one, due to arrive in 2021.)

The primary reason these batteries aren’t already supporting grids everywhere is simple: they’re too expensive. However, the price of Lithium-ion batteries has fallen, and they’re expected to keep getting cheaper, as the number of Lithium mines is projected to double. 

This makes them a more serious prospect for large-scale energy storage – but there are other problems with Lithium. Some are concerned that it’s not the most environmentally-friendly choice, because it’s a finite resource. As much as 70% of it could be lost to battery production by 2025. There are also worries about the environmental impact of Lithium mining in Tibet and Bolivia.

Plus, they’re a fire risk: Li-ion batteries have been known to explode, due to the volatile flammable chemicals inside them.

What are the alternatives to Lithium-ion?

Scientists are hard at work looking for battery storage options that don’t use Lithium-ion – and the good news is that there’s been plenty of innovation and discovery in this space in recent years. 

One option is flow batteries, which pump electrolytes back and forth between two tanks. These are already being used in some places, to support the electricity grid (China is building the world’s biggest) – but there are a few negatives. They’re less efficient than Lithium-ion, and they depend on the use of vanadium, a rare and expensive metal. 

Pumped hydro storage is a more environmentally-friendly option, as it uses water and gravity to store huge amounts of energy. However, hydro batteries take up a lot of space, and so they’re just not feasible in many places.

Scientists at RMIT in Melbourne announced in 2018 that they had discovered a super-green option: proton batteries. These run on carbon and water instead of any precious metals, and have the potential to revolutionise battery energy storage if they can be scaled up to meet demand. Stanford researchers have also come up with a water-based solution: a saltwater battery prototype that stores electrons in the form of hydrogen gas.

Energy can also be stored as heat, in just the same way a hot water tank in traditional home heating systems. Read more about this technology in OVO’s guide to thermal energy storage.

How batteries could help power your eco-friendly home

The role of batteries in the future of renewables isn’t just supporting the grid – they’re set to become a staple feature of eco-conscious homes, too. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) predicts that the use of home batteries is set to hugely increase by 2030.

Having battery energy storage in your home can help you reduce your carbon footprint in two ways. Firstly, if you’re on an Economy 7 tariff, it can charge up during off-peak times, helping you to avoid contributing to surges of power during the busier hours.

Secondly, it could provide support to your very own built-in renewable energy system. Thinking of getting solar panels on the roof? Install a home battery, and you can make sure you’re storing all the energy you capture on the sunniest days (so you don’t have to depend on coal when the clouds roll in). As JMP Securities’ Joe Osha recently told CNBC, “residential batteries have gone from being a curiosity to an increasingly common part of a new residential solar installation.”

A century ago, it would have seemed an unthinkable curiosity that batteries could power laptops, cars, and all the technology that we use them for today. As we steer towards a greener future, it’s clear that in 10 years’ time, it will no longer seem so odd to think they could be powering our homes, too. 



OVO Energy are currently trialing home battery storage technology with some of their members in Lincolnshire. Find out more about how OVO are unlocking the amazing potential of home batteries for solar energy storage.

A Quick Look at Solar Energy: Benefits and Costs

8m_solar_panels

As the world continues to develop technologies that harness clean and renewable energy, it may be interesting for us as consumers to learn more about how we can utilize renewable energy in our own homes. 

Renewable energy is defined as any energy source that is not depleted when used. When we think of renewable energy, we most commonly think of solar energy harnessed by solar panels, and wind power from wind turbines. While wind turbines are not typically seen being used to power your typical home, solar energy can be used in everyday life in many homes across the country. Currently the United States energy mix is still made up mostly of fossil fuels like oil and gas. However, renewable energy sources like solar are becoming more popular and we are starting to see them become a larger part of the country’s energy profile.

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Environmental Impact of Solar Panels

If you are interested in learning more about how you and your family can harness the power of clean and renewable energy, you may have already started to consider looking into installing some solar panels on your home.  Solar panels are an excellent way to help with your own environmental impact as they have many benefits to environment such as the following:

  • A solar energy system does not release pollutants
    •  Energy plants often run the risk of polluting the air and local bodies of water with gaseous or liquid pollutants that negatively affect the ecosystem and potentially the people in the area. However, solar energy is not associated with any risks of polluting releasing any types of harmful materials into the atmosphere. 
  • Solar doesn’t take up land
    • Energy plants take up a lot of space, while a solar system doesn’t require nearly as much land usage. Solar systems can be installed on rooftops or in remote areas. Making little to no impact on the land usage in your area.
  • Ecosystems benefit from solar systems 
    • Since solar panels don’t take up precious land or release harmful pollutants into the environment, ecosystems have the chance to continue to flourish or start flourishing once more. 

Associated Cost of Solar Panels



While the benefits of solar energy are overwhelmingly positive, let’s take a quick look at the costs associated with solar panels. The cost of solar panels varies depending on a few different factors including but not limited to the following: 

  • Your home’s average utility costs and energy usage
  • The amount of sun your rooftop receives yearly
  • The average local cost for a solar system in your area
  • The average demand and labor costs near you 
  • Local, state, and federal incentives 

For anyone interested in preserving the environment, purchasing a solar system for their home is a great opportunity to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save our planet’s resources. 

Solar can be one of the best selfish/selfless decisions a person can make. It not only helps improve the health of the planet, it helps save YOU money and time. If you have the patience and a love for the environment, it truly is a no-brainer.

Free from fossil fuels: Current & future technology for clean, greener cars

Neil Wright Image

Road transport is the single largest contributor to the UK’s carbon emissions, yet little-to-no effort has been made to bring transport emissions down since the 1990s. And although the government does plan to phase out fossil fuel cars by 2030, many experts believe this ambition is too little too late. But one thing is clear. Something must be done to bring down road transport emissions—and quickly. Here are some of the most promising contenders, which, if implemented sensibly, and with their long-term potentials, may finally allow us to be free from fossil fuels. At least, when it comes to road transport emissions.

Biotech (Biofuel technology)

The world is in a hurry to move away from fossil fuels. So, it makes sense to consider any green alternative, even if there are limitations. That’s where biofuels come in. Biofuels are a medium-term strategy that may be able to bridge the gap until electric vehicles (EVs) become commonplace. There, are two types of biofuel currently available to exploit today. That of bioethanol, a type of alcohol made from a mixture of sugarcane and corn, and biodiesel—which is largely made out of vegetable oils and animal fat. The emphasis on them being a medium-term strategy is that the production of both is not super environmentally friendly. Indeed, this may be an understatement. Bioethanol is only thought to be carbon neutral because it is largely made from crops which—before they are processed—naturally absorb carbon dioxide like most plants. Which is a kind of “looking the other way” for the immediate future.

The benefit is that “carbon neutral” biofuel such as bioethanol is very much cleaner than what is currently powering most automobiles on Britain’s roads. So currently the government is drafting plans to make biofuel the primary source for about 12 per cent of Britain’s cars by2032. The effect of this will be akin to removing hundreds of thousands of cars from the road. A great intermediary perhaps, but with the environmental concerns, biofuels will ultimately always lack mass public appeal.

Future impact potential: 5/10

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Hydrogen fuel technology

If there is a serious contender to rival electric vehicles, then hydrogen fuel cell technology is it. Which may be why some of the world’s largest manufacturers are keenly investing in the technology, such as Toyota. The biggest stumbling block for hydrogen fuel technology is that the cells are currently very expensive. And this makes the cars they power also expensive. To make matters even worse, many customers who have tried hydrogen fuel cell cars have reported feeling underwhelmed by their performance. Another big no-no for environmentalists is that the raw materials to make hydrogen-powered cars often comes at the exploitation of the Earth’s precious metals. And as stocks of platinum are depleted, the reality is this will drive prices up further, rather than bring them down. But bad news aside, there are lots of positives to take away from the emerging field of hydrogen cars. For one, they have a mileage equivalent that leaves EVs behind in their dust. And some models are even matching or rivalling their fossil fuelled equivalents for mileage capabilities. There is also the beautiful, almost science fiction-like beauty behind the concept of an engine that sucks in hydrogen—the most abundant element in the universe—and then emits only water as a waste product. That alone should drive more people to want to invest in hydrogen cars becoming an efficient reality. The only other major problem is the lack of infrastructure. If you thought EVs were undersupplied, well that’s nothing compared to the lack of hydrogen fuel cell car prospects. It would take a miracle shift in public opinion and consensus to make hydrogen fuelled cars THE cars of choice.

Future impact potential: 7/10

Electric vehicles (EVs)

The prospect of widely used cars that run on electricity, and that do not emit road emissions directly, seems to be an old fable never quite on the horizon. But finally, major developments are starting to happen. In terms of practicality, affordability, and feasibility, EVs may finally beat the stage where they are ready to usurp petrol cars. At least, the UK government certainly thinks so. Given the aforementioned plan to get rid of petrol and diesel cars in the next decade.

But EVs are still expensive, and there are some sacrifices that customers may not be too keen on to make during the switch over. In performance and reliability. On the plus side, electric cars are virtually silent. They also are exempt from both road tax and congestion charges. And you can get a grant from the government to help buy one. Plenty of big brand car manufacturers have EV options. Including Kia, Peugeot, Nissan, and VW. And with the market and the media’s blessing, it is fair to say that EVs represent the strong favourite at this time.

Future impact potential:9/10

Liquid nitrogen vehicles (LNVs)

Like hydrogen cars hope to exploit the abundant levels of hydrogen in our universe, so nitrogen fuelled vehicles look to do the same with the most abundant gas in our atmosphere—nitrogen. The idea for nitrogen-sucking engines is far from new, however. They are the brainchild of Victorian scientists. In fact, a nitrogen fuelled “modified locomobile” was demonstrated to work in front of onlookers at a Victorian exhibition in London by the Liquid Air Power and Automobile Company. More recently, in 1997 a Dr Carlos Ordonez managed to refit an old VW to run solely on nitrogen. It maxed out at a speed of 25mph.But while things certainly could be great for nitrogen fuelled cars, the market has already spoken. And EVs and even hydrogen fuelled cars are much higher in the pecking order. So unfortunately, it is not likely that we will see anything substantial in the development of nitrogen fuelled cars. At least for the foreseeable future.

Future impact potential:3/10

Kinetic energy recycling

The Toyota Prius was the first car to really push the idea of ‘regenerative braking’ into the mainstream. Since then, this type of kinetic energy recycling technology has set the standard for the development of both hybrid and EVs. The idea behind kinetic energy recycling is simple. Breaking uses up a lot of energy and generates a lot of heat in the process. Even bicycle brake pads get extremely hot when cyclists brake. At the extreme other end, Formula One car pads can quickly reach 1,000 degrees Celsius at breaking point. With all that friction and energy seemingly going to waste, it’s no wonder why scientists want to harness it. Pretty much all new cars and EVs make use of break-energy regeneration technology today. And they are a great, neat idea. But on their own, they cannot really hope to launch a new era of zero road emissions cars. But every little helps and these kinetic recycling systems are a great way to top up and put some energy back into the system. Even if the energy regenerated is limited.

Future impact potential:6/10

Other technologies and the future

The list above is far from exhaustive. Other alternatives not even spoken about above include the potential for vehicles to be powered by compressed air, liquids—even a return to steam has been proposed (albeit, in a contemporary sense). But unfortunately, most of these alternatives are half-prototype, half daydreams in the minds of factory floor engineers. And with pretty much zero market interest, those daydreams aren’t likely to come true anytime soon. The ideas listed above are the most likely—together—to lead the way into a zero-road emissions future. Some are more promising than others, but it doesn’t really matter. The point is, we might finally be in a position to jettison road emissions in the near future. The long-touted ambition may well soon become a reality.

About the Author – Neil Wright is a content writer and researcher for We Buy Any Motorcaravan. He has a special interest in climate change, the prospect of renewable energy, and eco-socialism.

Why A Solar Energy Future is Looking Bright?

Simply Solar California Image

If you keep up to date with the latest news in renewable energy, you’re certainly aware that solar energy is having a well-deserved moment in the sun—no pun intended!Over the past couple of years, we have witnessed an unsettling rise in natural disasters, such as intense heat waves, wildfires, and hurricanes, due to the impacts of climate change. It is no surprise that the climate crisis requires immediate action and that the renewable energy industry is a part of the solution. The popularity of renewable energy as opposed to fossil fuels is steadily growing, and with an incoming shift of leadership in the U.S., renewable energy is at the forefront of how we will begin to repair our climate and our economy.

Earlier in the year, the International Energy Association released its almost 500-page World Energy Outlook report, which included mapped scenarios reflecting how decisions made today will affect the future of the world’s energy consumption. The different scenarios put forth in the WEO address scenarios such as governmental follow-through and economic recovery timelines due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The IEA Outlook also praised the recent increase in solar energy, not only for its positive impact on the environment, but also for the decrease in cost and accessibility, stating: 

“For projects with low-cost financing that tap high-quality resources, solar PV is now the cheapest source of electricity in history.”

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Solar is officially the cheapest source of electricity in history.

A solar panel system is an undeniable investment, but with current financing options, tax credits, and government incentives, more homeowners and businesses around the world are making the switch. In the U.S., California is leading the charge towards solar energy thanks to ample amounts of sunshine and aggressive climate action plans. California solar companies are at the forefront of the renewable energy boom. Many of these companies are inciting positive change by educating local communities on the impact going solar has on the global economy and the planet.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Renewable Energy Industry

Even prior to COVID-19, investment in renewable energy sources like solar and wind was booming. However, the solar energy industry has seen a decline in employees since the beginning of the pandemic, dropping nearly 40%. The amount of solar power installed for 2020 is also significantly less than forecasted, declining by around 37%. Understandably, the demand for energy has been impacted by the global pandemic, but the movement away from fossil fuels and towards sustainable energy is still going strong. 

With unemployment rates higher than they have been in years, it is no surprise we have seen a decline in the installation of solar in the U.S. The Solar Energy Industries Association recently presented a suite of executive actions and policies asking President-elect Joe Biden to lead the U.S. toward climate renewal during his first 100 days in office, stating:

“Our 100-day agenda aligns with President-elect Biden’s vision to build back better and represents a critical opportunity to meet the moment of the climate era with equity and justice at the forefront.”

Solar Power Under a Climate-Friendly U.S. Administration

One of the new U.S. presidential action plans is to act on the climate injustice prevalent in years past. The plan begins nationally, with the promise of providing jobs and training specific to the renewable energy industry. The international promise is a recommitment to the Paris Agreement accompanied by an expedited ambition to achieve net-zero emissions. President-elect Joe Biden has stated: 

“Meeting this challenge will be a once in a century opportunity to jolt new life into our economy, strengthen our global leadership, and protect our planet for future generations.”

It seems that under the new climate-friendly administration, the future of solar power and the entire renewable energy industry may be brighter than ever.

The Future of the Oil Industry

Oil pump and sunset


In order to combat climate change, the UK has made moves aiming to fully decarbonise their energy system. Recently, changes in legislation have enabled greater investment in battery storage projects by developers. More relaxed laws and a reduction in red tape will greatly benefit the rise of renewable energy initiatives.

Jake Dunn, renewable development manager at Vattenfall explains how “The UK will never be free from fossil-fuels until electricity storage is part of our energy system, but the volumes of power we need to be able to store are huge.” Across the globe, one of the most traded commodities is crude oil and its value is being impacted by pressing issues such as the increasing adoption of alternative energy sources including wind, hydro-electric and solar energy. Ongoing uncertainty concerning the demand means that the future of the oil industry remains relatively fragile.

According to a recent article by The Guardian, the global demand for oil is expected to drop by a significant amount. From 2020 to 2021, the International Energy Agency predicts that the number of barrels produced per day will be reduced by 240,000 bpd from its previous forecasts to an average of approximately 97.1m bpd in 2021. This is primarily due to the sluggish recovery of the global aviation industry. The rising number of coronavirus cases means that there is less demand for transport fuel. On an economic level, many of the world’s largest oil producers have played a key role in keeping oil prices stable by slowing down oil production over the summer.

In the UK, statistics on oil use are generally aligned with global trends. However, the demand for oil in the domestic sector actually increased in the first quarter of 2020, possibly due to lower prices.

Statistics also show that there has been a near-record decrease in demand for aviation fuel at 14%. In addition, the demand for transport services has decreased by 5.3% more compared to 2019’s numbers, impacting the consumption of fossil fuels. It’s worth noting that even as the UK is moving towards renewable energy sources, the transport sector is now the largest carbon emitter, producing approximately one-third of all carbon dioxide emissions in the country.

To help combat this, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles should be promoted with additional infrastructure. Potentially speaking, vehicle-to-grid storage systems could be a more financially feasible alternative to large stationary battery systems. For this to become a reality, more research needs to be conducted into this relatively new technology.

Due to the unstable future of the oil industry, local job safety has been affected as well. Oil and Gas UK reports how up to 30,000 UK oil industry jobs may be lost in the coming months if the government fails to provide additional support. Many oil companies have to make difficult decisions that have growing time constraints given the planned move to energy transition and diversification. Because of this, governments need to consider how to help oil companies and their workers reskill as they move to more sustainable energy-related sectors. On the other hand, it remains to be seen what the future of the oil industry has in store. It is equally possible that the economic recovery from the post-pandemic recession may favour cheaper and more strongly established fuels like oil. As a result, greater global cooperation and more affordable methods of providing sustainable energy should be promoted to move the green agenda forward.

7 Ways To Help The Environment From Home

Green Home

As the global climate crisis continues to grow, it’s time to think more seriously about living green. So many of us are becoming conscious of the impact we have on the environment, both individually and collectively, as the effects of climate change become more apparent with each passing year. The future of the planet is in our hands, so it’s important to consider how we can become more eco-friendly in our own lives. This guide will explore 7 ways in which you can help protect the environment at home.

Use Less Energy

The impact we have on the environment at home is dependent on the amount of energy we use. The easiest way to become more energy efficient is to keep an eye on your household’s consumption, taking care to turn off plug sockets, light switches and heaters when they are not in use.

Take advantage of your smart meter, which are provided by most energy suppliers in the UK, to monitor your energy usage more closely. Using an up-to-date EPC certificate from your last inspection will help you identify your household’s shortcomings in energy efficiency.

Also consider using renewable energy such as solar at home, as well as switching to a green tariff which sees the renewable equivalent of your household’s consumption given back to the national grid.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Producing less waste and recycling more will help you to live more sustainably at home. Using less single-use plastic packaging and more recyclable materials such as paper and aluminium will limit the impact your household has on the growing plastic problem.

Also, choosing products that are made from compostable materials will allow you to dispose of more waste at home on your compost heap.

Support Eco-friendly Companies

Shopping for sustainable, eco-friendly products is a great way to do your bit for the environment from home. Buying goods such as clothing, furniture and other household items made from recycled, sustainable materials will not only allow you to save on waste when you’re finished with them, but you will also be supporting companies that take care to limit their own environmental impact, as opposed to those which are more convenience-driven. Helping to raise awareness of sustainable businesses will allow their products to become more readily available for others in the future.

Eat Sustainably

The environmental cost of the food we eat is another important consideration on the road to living sustainably at home. Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a great way to reduce the emissions produced from processing and transporting the food we eat, not to mention providing a healthy, organic alternative to shop-bought, convenience foods.

Think locally sourced and organic when shopping for groceries and consider cutting back on high-emissions foods such as meat and dairy.

Create a Wildlife-friendly Garden

Making good use of your outdoor spaces for the benefit of wildlife will allow you to help the environment from your own doorstep.

Adding pollinator-friendly plants to your garden, allowing some grassy areas to grow longer and using hedgerows instead of fencing for your borders will create both a habitat and safe passage for birds, bugs and small mammals.

Also, having a compost heap in your garden will provide a home for bugs and small mammals, as well as allowing you to dispose of compostable materials yourself.

Be Travel-conscious

Our travel habits have a huge impact on the environment, so it’s important to think about how you can do so most efficiently. Sharing lifts for work or leisure, using energy-efficient forms of public transport and cycling or walking are all ways you can cut down on carbon emissions when travelling.

Additionally, more and more of us are turning to electric and hybrid vehicles when replacing petrol and diesel ones in a bid to become more environmentally friendly.

A range of eco-travel schemes, such as the government’s cycle-to-work scheme, also exist to support you financially in your decision to reduce your travel emissions.

Raise Awareness

Raising awareness of climate and environmental issues, both locally and on a wider scale, will also help inspire others to live more sustainably. Volunteering with local groups on projects such as litter picking, tree planting or the running of a community garden is a fun and inclusive way to encourage green living in your area.

Nationally, there are many charities that support the conservation of wildlife who rely on volunteering to carry out crucial habitat work, such as RSPB and The Wildlife Trust. Such organisations also run regional and national initiatives to encourage the public to get involved.

Donating to local and national climate charities is also a great way to support the crucial work being carried out to protect the environment.

If you do decide to follow just some of the above tips, then you’ll already be making a significant difference to the environment, as well as your own way of life.


Sources

How Bioclimatic Upgrades Can Make Buildings Multifunctional

For the environment and for the general public of countries across the world, there’s a growing need to address the climate crisis. Public health issues, too, are a pressing need that may seem like a separate topic. However, integrating bioclimatic architecture can cause both public health and the environment to benefit in cost-effective ways.

COVID-19 has exposed a connection between environmental issues and public health concerns. A Harvard study linked higher COVID-19 death rates to areas with worse air pollution. In a location like the United Kingdom, where air pollution causes over 40,000 premature deaths per year, solutions are necessary.

Pollutants come from various sources, but buildings and construction projects are high contributors. Finding a way to reduce these negative impacts on the environment will benefit residents as well, since there will be less pollution that causes illnesses and premature deaths. The way forward is through bioclimatic architecture.

With this form of construction, experts focus on the construct’s design and space. Each construction must work with its given community and the environment to benefit everyone. To do so, builders and architects use renewable energy sources and energy-efficient products and methods. For instance, using solar energy alongside locally sourced materials reduces emissions by eliminating international imports. Solar power, as a renewable leader, speaks for itself.

When you look at dense populations or urban areas where diseases like the novel coronavirus can spread easily, reducing pollution and focusing on health becomes the main priority.

Functions of Bioclimatic Buildings

Bioclimatic architecture should serve the people and the planet. You want to live somewhere that provides you with peak comfort year-round, has a low carbon footprint and is visually appealing yet practical and functional — all while saving money.

Bioclimatic buildings cover those fields. They also perform functions by using natural resources on top of being environmentally friendly and cost-effective. A green roof, for example, can cut 75% of summer air conditioning costs. This reduction happens with an increased level of natural lighting and ventilation — keys for bioclimatic methods.

The Bioclimatic Community Mosque of Pamulang is currently seeing the benefits of a green roof. This mosque uses natural ventilation to cool the inside while the green roof reduces the heat island effect — which is especially useful in the warmer months. Plus, these eco-friendly practices are low maintenance, therefore decreasing costs.

Applying these ideas to the U.K. is now essential. In 2019, almost 56 million residents lived in urban locations in the U.K. Only 11 million people were living in more rural areas. Additionally, rural living is decreasing, while urban living is becoming more popular. Therefore, with more people in cities, bioclimatic buildings must become more of a norm, using Pamulang’s mosque as a leading example.

Elsewhere, France is ramping up plans for these kinds of beneficial buildings. The country has taken a step back after being hit hard with the pandemic. Now, it’s envisioning a post-COVID-19 society where buildings are key. Bioclimatic urban planning means maintaining biodiversity while also helping residents stay healthy. Their plan is to merge public health with environmental urbanization plans.

These two examples are critical examples of what the U.K. must do now. Once the pandemic passes, recovery efforts can create a better world for the people and climate. Though the country is making progress, it’s time to commit to bioclimatic architecture. The 40,000 premature deaths in the U.K. must decrease. With this reduction, the environment will improve — as will public health. The key is using the right materials and planning methods.

A New Normal

The right buildings can make a world of difference. Whether they’re places of residence, museums, religious institutions or schools, eco-friendly buildings can change the way people interact with their surroundings. Utilizing natural resources, renewable energy and environmentally conscious building methods will lead to a healthier climate and healthier populations across the globe.

WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE AN MCS INSTALLER FOR YOUR HEAT PUMP PROJECT

heat pump

Just like with any heating system installation, you want to make sure you’re working with a competent company. However, with heat pumps it is especially important to ensure they are designed and commissioned correctly for the building.

Choose an MCS Installer

There are certain standards and accreditation’s to look out for before choosing your heat pump installer. Most importantly, you should always use an MCS Accredited Installer. This is vital to ensure the heat pump is sufficiently sized and that the whole system including the distribution (radiators or underfloor) has been designed accordingly. Alto Energy are a MCS Accredited Installer so will ensure this happens on each and every install that is designed, supplied and commissioned by them.

If this design work is neglected, the efficiency and performance of the system can be significantly compromised. 99% of the time that a heat pump installation fails to meet expectations it is because the system has not been properly sized and designed by an appropriately accredited supplier (so blame a human not the technology).

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What is MCS?

MCS stands for the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, which is the set of a rules and standards that the heat pump industry is supposed to abide by. The MCS code dictates certain rules and regulations governing how a heat pump system must be designed and installed. If the installation of your Heat Pump system is not designed and managed by an MCS accredited installer who are providing an MCS Certificate as part of your contract, then you will not be able to register for the RHI grant payments.

ENERGY SAVING TRUST

Many of the standards incorporated into MCS were borne out of a mass heat pump trial started over 10 years ago by the Energy Saving Trust (“EST”). In a recent blog, the EST reflected on this trial by reiterating some of the key themes:

  • Heat pumps can provide an efficient alternative for householders
  • Heat pumps are sensitive to design and commissioning
  • Install the heat pump with low-temperature underfloor heating or properly sized radiators.
  • The EST has found that customer satisfaction rates with the performance of their Heat Pump systems have significantly increased since the introduction of the MCS code – this is because it ensures that systems are designed properly by appropriately qualified people.

In essence, the Energy Savings Trust makes clear the important of a heat pump system being designed properly from the outset, and this is exactly what you get working with an MCS installer like Alto Energy.

Why Choose MCS?

MCS is an eligibility requirement for the Government’s financial incentives including  the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This means that if you don’t deal with a fully MCS accredited company to commission your heat pump then you could miss out on thousands of pounds of government incentives. 

Furthermore, choosing an MCS accredited installer gives you the following benefits:

  • Insurance-backed guarantees. All contracts with an MCS installer come with insurance-backed guarantees for your deposit payments and the workmanship
  • Quality assurance. All MCS installers are audited regularly to ensure they meet the standards of the scheme
  • Planning Permission. Air source heat pumps are a permitted development SO LONG as they are being installed by an MCS accredited installer who completes a noise assessment in line with the MCS requirements.

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What if you’re a Developer – Why Choose Alto Energy?

If you’re a developer building new houses, you aren’t usually eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive payments. So developers often ask us, what are the benefits in choosing an MCS installer? We set out a number of further benefits of working with Alto Energy below:

  • We provide a comprehensive warranty package directly to the end user. This means that any technical questions or issues the homeowner might have, we deal directly with the customer. This saves developers a lot of hassle, particularly with a new technology.
  • Heat pumps installed by an MCS installer get a significant uplift in the SAP calculations, meaning that your investment in heat pump technology is rewarded with even bigger carbon savings in the Building Regulations calculation.
  • Being the main UK dealer for IVT Bosch, and a Business Solutions Partner for Mitsubishi, we offer a minimum 5 year warranty on all products that we supply. If ordering through other suppliers, the default warranty is just two years.
  • As stated above the EST found that customer satisfaction rates with the performance of their Heat Pump systems have massively increased since the introduction of the MCS code – this is because it ensures systems are designed properly by appropriately qualified people. So even though you don’t need MCS for the RHI eligibility, it is still essential for you to ensure that you have a properly designed and performing system. Cutting corners by not going through an MCS certified supplier is a road that leads to poor performance, and unhappy home owners.

The growing impact of sustainability for small and medium sized businesses – how we can all thrive in the face of continually rising energy costs

solar energy for business

Ultimately, it’s a sad fact of life that everyone has to pay the bills. We are buying energy, there is no choice about that, but the traditional cost of that energy, electricity for example, is continually rising.

The UK Government has tried to help by introducing caps on the amounts that electricity companies can charge, but they have already had to allow the caps to rise as the wholesale cost of electricity has risen too much, driven by the international costs of energy and its availability.

So, the big question is, ‘how can we reduce the overall cost of our energy, and stop the continual price rises?’

The key point for business owners to remember when looking at their day to day costs, is that they could actually be looking at investing in renewable energy to reduce their energy bills in the long term. It’s all about making the correct investment decisions to manage the long term sustainability of your business, as well as the environment.

One of the historical barriers to this, however, is the need to find capital to invest in renewable energy in the first place. Today, there are lots of ways to generate that capital – it can be borrowed, come from cash reserves if available, be achieved through various financing arrangements such as power purchase agreements or leases where systems are inherited after a period of time. You could also consider a hybrid of these options to suit your own requirements. This means that the traditional capital barriers are being reduced with the availability of funding options at very low interest rates, making it a lot easier to make the right choices.

Another potential barrier is choosing where to spend your money wisely in the face of many different options available to you. One of the big advantages with renewable energy is its longevity – with a minimum of 10 years (or 25 year production warranties on solar), you would be investing in something that is protected for an extremely long time, not to mention the tax advantages by investing in this equipment.

The pressure to ‘do the right thing’ also supports the need to make longer term investments, not just for businesses today, but also for the future with sustainable buildings and future occupants, even if the current businesses are not around in their current form 20 years from now.

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But businesses don’t just need to focus just on the ‘big ticket’ items for renewable energy – if they are not able to make larger investments, they can still demonstrate their green credentials with simple items such as LED lightbulbs, more efficient heating, looking at efficient transportation and vehicle emissions etc. which will have the added benefit of lowering their day to day operating costs.

This puts an interesting perspective on the ‘real-life’ impact of renewable energy, as historically people will have looked at it as a significant capital investment which therefore potentially makes it cost prohibitive, whereas now we are all much more aware of other operational costs within a business – money that is being spent anyway – that could be better deployed to save money, as well as reducing the impact on the environment. Things like utilities, transportation and lighting, which also drive behavioural changes and awareness throughout an entire workforce to support performance improvements.

A 20% cut in energy costs represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales in many businesses.

Source: Carbon Trust

The traditional business model is to focus on driving growth through more sales and turnover, but controlling costs is equally as important for business success, with a major impact on the bottom line.

We’re encouraging business owners to look at the way they do business and manage their business performance in a different way.

Don’t just focus on the usual ‘reduce costs and sell more’ approach, but also think about a 3rd dimension of creating a sustainable environment for the future whilst identifying new ways to improve your business performance.

Increasingly, responsible businesses are being run using a method called the ‘triple bottom line’ – they are clearly looking at traditional economic accounting, but are also accounting for the environmental impact of their business, whether that is through renewable energy or waste management for example. Many businesses are now actually turning waste via recycling into an income stream, rather than the historical cost of disposal, which is just one example of how doing the right thing can actually ‘win’ economically.

But it doesn’t stop there – there are also social implications as there is statistical evidence that shows people want to work for environmentally responsible companies; it helps with recruitment and retention. There is also evidence to show that businesses in the supply chain want to work with other responsible businesses, sometimes for legislative reasons, but more often its because they want to be associated with reputationally high quality organisations that are focused on ‘doing the right thing’. And finally, more customers will be attracted to responsible businesses and want to do business with them, often prepared to pay a premium to demonstrate their support for sustainable industries.

And the benefits continue as it also helps to enhance your business reputation, both externally and internally, helping to recruit and retain quality staff by demonstrating your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) credentials and being seen to be a ‘good business to work with’.

Sustainable initiatives can be good for your business

What we are beginning to see now is that it’s not as hard as you may have thought to contribute and make changes that can reduce your impact on the environment. Making the right decisions can actually be good for your business.

Socially, everyone should be thinking more about the personal impact they are making on the environment, changing behaviour to consider things such as waste management and energy usage.

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In fact, the government are now launching new initiatives to support the installation of energy efficient measures in homes across the UK. For example, the Green Homes Grant Scheme will pay homeowners two-thirds of the installation cost up to £5,000 for renewable energy solutions such as heat pumps or solar thermal systems.

Encourage everyone to accept that there are real benefits in understanding environmental issues at all levels, but also start taking actions now to make a difference – it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be sustainable, we all need to play our part with a hugely increased sense of urgency.