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Whatever type of home you live in, we all have to pay bills for heating, lighting and water. It is costly to run a home. Cathryn Hickey, executive director for the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies looks at some of the ways you can make your home more energy efficient, including options for installing environmental technologies by a trained installer and an outline of the Green Deal.

“We have recently published a guide – ‘Energy efficient homes and environmental technologies’, the first in a series. It is ideal for homeowners wanting some clear and concise information on creating an energy efficient home and installing environmental technologies. Equally, trained installers will find this an invaluable tool – the guide will allow you to talk your customers through the steps to an energy efficient property and installing environmental technologies”.

There are other incentive schemes available to homeowners including the Feed-in Tariff (FiTs), which could help to reduce electricity bills and the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI), which may provide a reduction in heating bills. The RHI and FiTs schemes work in a similar way to each other and the homeowner will be paid in pence per unit of the energy generated. The Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme is a voucher based plan that can help homeowners and community groups.

To be eligible for any of these financial incentives, the system(s) and the trained installer must be certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

Environmental technologies which may be suitable for installation into homes and businesses include air and ground source heat pumps, biomass stoves or boilers, micro-combined heat and power (CHP) systems, micro/small scale wind turbines, micro-hydropower turbine systems, rainwater harvesting systems, grey water reuse systems, solar thermal and solar photovoltaics (PV) systems.

Before considering the installation of an environmental technology system there are a number of things to consider. First, look at how you can reduce the building’s energy demand – this can include taking showers instead of baths, closing doors and windows when the heating is in use, not leaving appliances on or in standby mode etc. All these ways will reduce the energy demand on your home.

The next step is to improve the energy efficiency of your home. This overall approach is referred to as ‘fabric first’. This could include adding or increasing loft/wall insulation, fitting low energy light bulbs, fitting draught proofing and installing double glazing.

The Government has committed to reducing our yearly carbon emissions by 15% between now and 2020. The Green Deal is an innovative financing mechanism that lets people pay for energy efficiency improvements through savings on their electricity bills. Green Deal is eligible for both the domestic and non-domestic sector. It will replace current policies such as the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP).

The Green Deal process has four stages:

 

Assessment and Advice
A Green Deal Assessor will produce an Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), which will include the vital fabric assessment. An EPC is required before and is updated after the Green Deal measures have been installed. A Green Deal Advice report (Occupancy Assessment) is prepared and explained to the householder by a qualified and certificated Green Deal Advisor (GDA), outlining the measures that they could have installed through Green Deal. Your home will need to meet the ‘Golden Rule’ requirement – the expected saving from the improvement measure (i.e. the environmental technology installed) must be equal to or greater than the cost of the measure.

 

Finance
After the Green Deal Advisor has carried out the assessment, they will outline a range of packages available from Green Deal Providers to fund the improvements. If you decide to take up a Green Deal offer you will then sign a Green Deal Plan, which is a contract between you and the Green Deal Provider.

 

 

Installation
The Green Deal Provider will arrange for an authorised Green Deal trained installer to come and carry out the work you have agreed to have done. Trained installers have been certified by the Green Deal Scheme and meet the customer code of practice. The environmental technologies offered under Green Deal include:

–      small-scale wind turbine systems

–      solar thermal hot water systems

–      air and ground source heat pumps

–      biomass systems

–      solar photovoltaic systems

–      micro-combined heat and power (CHP) systems.

The energy efficiency measures in the Green Deal will also help to boost the effectiveness of many renewable heat technologies, such as air and ground source heat pumps. Having an energy efficient home is also a pre-requisite for installing renewable heat technologies.

 

Repayment
You pay back the cost of the improvements over time through your electricity bill. Your electricity supplier will pass your payments on to your Green Deal Provider and the amount you pay back will be covered by the reduction in your energy costs as a result of the energy saving improvements you have made. Although the cost of the improvements is repaid, this is not a conventional personal loan as the charge is attached to the electricity meter in your house and paid back through your electricity bill. If you move out, the new occupant will pick up the charge while also benefiting from a more energy efficient property. Alongside the Green Deal, Government proposes to introduce an Energy Company Obligation (ECO) at the end of 2012, which will require all energy companies to finance energy efficiency measures in buildings. It is in three parts:

Affordable Warmth Obligation
–      to provide free heating and hot water saving measures, insulation, glazing and microgeneration technologies (except PV) to low-income and vulnerable households.


Carbon Saving Obligation
–      to provide funding to insulate solid-walled properties (internal and external wall insulation) and those with ‘hard-to-treat’ solid cavity walls. It is not means-tested but will be used in conjunction with the Green Deal. This is because the cost for these measures is still relatively high, so they do not meet the Golden Rule.


Carbon Saving Communities Obligation
–      to provide free insulation and glazing measures to people living in the bottom 15% of the UK’s most deprived areas.

We all use energy in our homes. To do our bit and to help achieve the 2020 goal of lowering our carbon emissions, we can adopt a ‘fabric first’ approach and use trained installers to fit environmental technologies into our homes. To purchase a copy of ‘Energy efficient homes and environmental technologies’, the first in a series, visit: www.nsaet.org.uk/shop