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Biomass - Wood Fuelled Heating

1. What is biomass?
Typically when people refer to biomass they mean wood in one form or another (wood pellets, chippings, logs etc). A more accurate definition is that biomass is biological material derived from living, or recently living organisms. In the context of biomass for energy this is often used to mean plant based material, but biomass can equally apply to both animal and vegetable derived material.
2. How is biomass used as an energy source?
People have used biomass for heating and cooking for thousands of years. Today plant materials can be used to generate electricity or heat, and even liquid fuels for motor vehicles. They have substantially lower environmental impacts than traditional fossil fuels.
3. Why should I heat my home with biomass?
As with many other renewable energy sources, increased use of biomass for energy would lead to reduced global greenhouse gas emissions, reduced dependence on foreign oil, improve rural economies, and the creation of a new industry. It's clean and green!
4. Is municipal solid waste (MSW) considered biomass?
No. Although MSW is burned by local governments in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere to generate electric power and heat, it contains inorganic materials such as plastics and metals and therefore cannot properly be considered biomass.
5. What is the annual maintenance cost of a biomass system?
Typically the annual servicing for a biomass system starts at around £150.00 but this will depend on the make and model.
6. How temperature controllable are biomass systems?
Some boilers are controllable to 1°. Confirm with your system's manufacturer for specific model details.
7. Are biomass systems automatically controlled?
Then can be either partially or fully automated if desired, using a control system which allows you to regulate the temperature, fuel and running of the boiler. Check the manufacturer's specifications for specific details.
8. Can you burn straw as biomass for heating?
Yes, you can burn straw pellets in some models.
9. Can you burn plastic for heating?
Yes, this is possible, but you will NOT be allowed to due to Environmental Agency policies.
10. What moisture content should the pellets be in order for them to burn?
Again, this depend on the manufacturer, but in general, wood pellets should be around a maximum of 10 - 12 % water and cereals 14 - 16 % to burn. But the lower the moisture content the better.
11. Can you burn logs in a biomass boiler?
Yes, many designs allow the burning of logs and in some models the burning of both logs and pellets.
12. Can you burn sawdust as biomass for heating?
Yes some models can, but check with the manufacturer
13. Can wood pellet systems be automatically fed?
Some biomass systems can be automatically fed and most systems with this facility will have a range of hoppers and fuel stores that can either auger or vacuum feed the fuel into the system.
14. Can fuel storage units for the biomass system be installed underground?
Yes they can. For details check with your chosen manufacturer.
15. How do I buy wood pellets?
Wood pellets come in 10 - 15 kg bags or can be delivered loose per tonne. We have more details on how to find a suitable supplier on our Biomass pages.
16. How often do biomass systems need filling?
This would depend on how often the boiler is used and the heat demand. The hopper may need filling anywhere between every couple of days if the demand is high to once a week if it is just ticking over. Attaching the boiler to a fuel store means filling less often, and you can buy automatic (self-filling) systems with a hopper.
17. How much do wood pellets cost?
Complete our Home Energy Assessment to get an accurate estimate of the capital and running cost of a biomass boiler for your house.
18. Can biomass be burnt in a smoke controlled area?
Biomass can be burnt in a smokeless zone, but it would need to be approved by the DTI and the environmental agency.
19. We are going to fit our biomass system ourselves. Would the RHPP grant still apply?
You are only eligible for a Renewable Heat Premium Payment grant if your biomass system is installed by a registered installer.

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Condensing Boilers

1. What is a condensing boiler?
A condensing boiler works on the principle of recovering as much as possible of the waste heat which normally leaves through the flue of a conventional (non-condensing) boiler as water vapour. The best high efficiency condensing boilers convert more than 95% of their fuel into heat, compared to 78% for conventional types. Condensing boilers get their name because as they recapture the heat from the water vapour leaving through the flue, this water vapour condenses back to a liquid, or condensate as it is known.
2. How much energy and money could I save with a condensing boiler?
Complete our Home Energy Assessment to find out how much you could save with a condensing boiler.
3. Is a combination condensing boiler more efficient than a regular condensing boiler?
A combination (Combi) condensing boiler can be more efficient than a standard condensing boiler because it heats water as you need it. Combi boilers are most suitable for smaller homes, as they can only keep up with a certain level of demand. Non-combi boilers produce hot water and then store it in a cylinder for use as and when. This is still quite an efficient process - but if the hot water is not used immediately, then inevitably some heat will be wasted. It will generally depend on the size and amount of hot water you're likely to need. You installer will be able to advise you which type of boiler best suits your needs.
4. What size should my condensing boiler be?
The type and size of your new boiler will depend on a range of factors like the size of your property, how well it is insulated, and the type of fuel and heating system you use to heat your home. You installer will advise you on the type and size of boiler best suited to your property.
5. How often should I get my condensing boiler serviced?
It's important to have any gas or oil fired appliance like a condensing boiler serviced once a year. The flue will need checking to make sure it is clear, and a qualified installer should check that your boiler is running safely and efficiently for you. It's best to check with your manufacturer about service schedules, as some boilers may need servicing more than others.
6. How easy is it to install a condensing boiler?
Boilers vary in size and shape but most are designed for simplicity of installation. With space being such a premium many boilers are small enough to be fitted by one person into a kitchen cupboard, easily and with minimum disruption.
7. How can a condensing boiler save me money on my energy bills?
Condensing boilers are more efficient than standard boilers and therefore utilise less gas during operation. Modern conventional boilers can only offer a typical efficiency rate of 78%, whereas the rate for condensing boilers is around 88% - i.e. for every £1 spent spent on gas, 88p is converted to actual heat. This adds up to significant savings on annual gas bills, which will enable you to quickly recoup the initial outlay for the boiler and benefit from the extra savings. Complete our Home Energy Survey to find out just how long payback will take in your situation.
8. What does the Sedbuk efficiency rating mean?
Sedbuk stands for 'seasonal efficiency of a domestic boiler in the UK' and is now given as a percentage score. This score is an estimate of efficiency when the boiler is installed under typical conditions in Britain, taking into account climate, housing conditions, occupancy patterns, and controls.
9. If I buy a new boiler, does it have to be a condensing boiler?
Yes. Government legislation now requires all new boilers to be the condensing type unless it would be impossible to fit one, which would probably be the case if there was no way to provide suitable drainage.
10. How is the Sedbuk rating calculated?
The 'seasonal efficiency of a domestic boiler in the UK' (Sedbuk) rating for boilers is calculated from the results of standard laboratory tests, together with other important factors such as boiler type and the kind of fuel used. It describes the boiler's efficiency.
11. How reliable are condensing boilers?
Condensing boilers are reliable if well maintained and serviced regularly. A Which? survey in 2011 found that 46% of owners who bought a boiler after April 2005 have experienced some kind of fault. Not all of these faults required a repair. In fact the most frequent problem, a blocked drainage pipe, experienced by 11% of owners, is actually a problem caused by poor installation.
12. Could a condensing boiler save money on my energy bill?
Which? estimates that the average efficiency of boilers in UK homes is about 70%. This means they waste up to 30% of the heat they generate in the form of hot flue gases. This suggests that installing a condensing boiler, which has an efficiency of around 88%, can reasonably achieve savings of between £50 and £200 per year depending on the size of your house - and the saving will increase as the cost of gas increases. Complete our free assessment to find out just how much you could save.

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Micro CHP - Combined Heat & Power

1. Where can a Micro CHP boiler be fitted in my home?
Most systems are wall-hung and can be fitted in a range of locations including your kitchen, utility, garage or airing cupboard.
2. What can I do with any electricity produced by the micro CHP unit that I don't use?
Any surplus electricity you don't use can be exported back to the electricity grid. Your energy supplier can pay you what is called a Feed-in Tariff for every kWh of electricity generated and exported back to the electricity grid. And best of all, it is tax-free and inflation linked. Visit our Feed-In Tariff pages for more information on the scheme.
3. What can I use the electricity produced by a micro CHP for?
Anything you like; most domestic systems produces around 1kW of electricity per hour when running, which can power most of your home's energy needs, from your lights and fridge/freezer to your phone and TV.
4. Why should I invest in a micro CHP boiler instead of a conventional boiler?
A conventional boiler will only provide gas central heating and hot water. A micro CHP Boiler will provide all this plus cheap electricity to power your home at very little extra fuel cost. A micro CHP unit could save you up to £600 on your annual fuel bill and cut your carbon emissions by up to 40%. (Baxi)
5. What is the difference between a Micro CHP system and a Duel Energy System?
Nothing, they are different way of referring to the same thing.
6. What maintenance does a micro CHP boiler require?
The maintenance for a micro CHP boiler is similar to that of a normal boiler – i.e, you should ideally have it serviced annually.
7. What is the service life of a micro CHP system?
The lifetime of a micro CHP unit is similar to the average service life of a normal central heating boiler.
8. What is the central heating output of a micro CHP boiler?
A typical unit will have a total central heating output of approximately 24 kW, similar to a standard boiler.
9. What are the differences between using a micro CHP boiler and using a high-performance boiler?
Operationally, there is little difference - the only difference is that the micro CHP unit will need to be connected to your electrical wiring and will generate electricity at a very low gas cost, saving you money on your electricity bills.
10. What happens to the electricity that is generated by a micro CHP boiler that I don't use?
Surplus electricity is returned to the electricity grid. You can receive payments for this electricity through the Feed-In Tariff scheme if your installation is carried out by an MCS certified installer - find out more about this on our Feed-In Tariff pages.
11. How much electricity does a micro CHP boiler generate?
For a typical system the electrical output will be approximately 1 kW.
12. When does a micro CHP unit supply electricity?
The micro CHP boiler is controlled by a thermostat, just like your current boiler. When the unit's burner is running to heat the house, electricity is generated at the same time. When the burner is not running the unit will not produce electricity.
13. Will the unit use less gas than a high-performance boiler?
By using the micro CHP boiler, gas consumption will increase a little despite waste heat being used to generate the electricity. However, on balance you will still save energy, as you can generate a significant amount of electrcity suing the system.
14. Can my home be disconnected from the National grid if I use a micro CHP unit?
No, the house will need to remain connected to the main supply - the unit won't be able to meet all of your electricity needs. As the micro CHP boiler is a gas-fired boiler, the gas connection must also remain in place.
15. How big are micro CHP boilers?
Typical CHP boilers are now comparable in size to most domestic boilers on the market.
16. Are micro CHP boilers easy to install?
Yes, installation is comparable to that of a high-performance boiler.
17. Where can my micro CHP boiler be installed?
The restrictions are no different to those for a normal boiler. The micro CHP boiler will generally be fitted where your old central heating boiler was. You will need to connect the micro CHP unit to the electricity supply in your house.
18. Are micro CHP boilers suitable for all types of homes?
In principle, they are, and as the technology is becoming more prevalent there will be more choice from manufacturers to suit various homes better.
19. Is it possible to return any excess electricity produced by a micro CHP unit to the grid?
Yes, it is possible to return surplus electricity produced by a micro CHP unit to the grid - you will receive Feed-In Tariff Export tariff payments for doing so if you have your system installed by an MCS accredited engineer and sign up to the scheme.
20. How long does it take to recoup the additional costs associated with buying a micro CHP boiler (compared with a high-performance boiler)?
It is expected that the payback will be five years more, although this will depend on many factors, so it is difficult to give a definite answer.
21. What savings do micro CHP boilers produce?
Overall, micro CHP boilers use slightly more gas than standard boilers. However, the micro CHP generates enough electricity that total energy costs are reduced by 20%. Moreover, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per unit of electricity generated are over 50% lower than if the same amount of electricity were to be generated by a large power station.
22. What are the benefits of the micro CHP boiler?
Micro CHP essentially allows you to generate your own free electricity using the waste heat produced by your boiler, saving energy and saving you money on your energy bill.
23. What is micro CHP?
CHP stands for Combined Heat and Power and micro CHP describes a boiler that generates electricity from the waste heat produced by your boiler, suitable for use on a small scale, such as in a domestic home. This allows you to generate some of the your electricity from the same fuel that you are using anyway to heat your home. This is essentially free electricity, and saves energy and CO2 at the same time.

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Solar Electricity (PV)

1. How much space on my roof do I need for a solar PV installation?
A typical domestic system will take up 10-25m2 on your roof, depending on the capacity of the system.
2. How much electricity does a PV system produce?
For every kW of peak power capacity installed on a South facing roof a solar PV system will generate around 800 kWh. This reduces by around 20% for an East or West facing roof.
3. How much does a Solar PV system cost?
Installed prices (including VAT) for a typical domestic system are around £3,000 - £5000. Prices vary in this range depending on which output size you buy - 2-3kW systems will be at the low end of the range and 4kW systems will be at the higher end, but will generate more electricity and therefore, Feed-In Tariff payments.
4. Am I eligible for the Feed In Tariff (FIT) scheme?
If you are a UK resident and use an MCS accredited installer to carry out the work, you will be eligible for Feed-In Tariff payments. The amount you are entitled to receive will depend on when the system is commissioned and installed. Currently the FIT pays up to 15.44p/kWh (for systems with less than 4kW peak power) for every kWh that the system is predicted to output. You will also be entitled to 4.5p/kWh for every unit of electricity you generate but don't use, as this can be exported back to the Grid. However, these rates will be reviewed in May 2013.
5. Do I need planning permission to install a solar PV system?
You won't need planning permission for solar PV panels unless they exceed a certain height or the property is listed or in a conservation area, though rules vary depending on which part of the U.K. you live in. Take a look at our Planning Permission page for further information on your region's regulations.
6. Do I need to inform building control that I intend to install a solar PV system?
Yes, you should speak to building control about your intentions, and they will advise you if you need to take any further action with them. All installers should advise you that you need to contact building control.
7. Will my roof be strong enough to take a solar PV system?
Check this with your installation company as he should be able to confirm when the survey is completed prior to installation (they must do this before starting any installation). The majority is roofs are strong enough to take the weight of solar panels but should you need any extra reinforcement, you should factor this extra into your calculations and payback.
8. Do I need to inform my electricity supplier when I get solar PV panels installed?
For systems below 4kW peak power your installer will inform them once the installation is complete. In the unlikely event that your system is larger than 4kW you will require permission in advance from your network operator.
9. What is the payback for a solar PV installation?
Currently a solar PV system should pay for itself in about 7-12 years, after which you'll continue to save money on your bills and receive FIT payments for the rest of the system's 25 year lifetime. If you complete out energy assessment you will be able to get a more tailored estimate for the payback to your own home.
10. Can I export the electricity I generate using a solar PV system?
Yes, one of the benefits of the Feed-In Tariff scheme is that you can earn an extra 4.5p per kWh that is generated then exported. All unused electricity will automatically be exported unless you connect batteries to your system. Your electricity company can fit an export meter or they can pay you based on estimated export rates (usually 50%) - sometimes your electricity supplier can authorise installers to fit the export meter instead. Do not confuse the export meter with the gross generation meter, which is fitted as standard on all solar PV installations.
11. How much can you be paid for electricity you produce using a solar PV system?
The Feed in Tariff scheme currently pays up to 15.44p/kWh for all the electricity your system generates even if used in your property. You will also be paid 4.5p/kWh for each unit of electricity you produce and don't use as it can be exported back to the Grid. See our Feed in Tariff tables for further details.
12. What is a kWh?
A kWh is a was to measure electricity, particularly electricity that is generated by your renewable energy system. A kWh or 'kilo watt hour' is often referred to as a unit of electricity that is shown on your electricity bill. If an electrical product has a rating of 1 kW it means that it will consume 1 kWh every hour that it is on.
13. What is a Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC)?
The government created an obligation for electricity suppliers to encourage homeowners to fit specific renewable micro generation systems. For domestic electricity generation, this system has now been superseded with the Feed in Tariff (FIT).
14. What does the inverter do in a solar PV system?
The PV panels generate direct current (DC), which is a different type of electricity to the 240V alternating current (AC) that is used in your property. The inverter converts the DC power to AC power so that it can be used in your house.
15. How does the electricity I generate with solar PV get into my wall sockets?
Your installer will connect the solar PV system to your fuse board (consumer unit). The electricity will automatically flow from there to wherever it is needed.
16. Will solar PV give me electricity during mains power cuts?
For the safety of electrical workmen, standard solar PV systems are shut off during power cuts. You can request a system that automatically disconnects your home from the grid during a power cut and provides power from the panels and a battery back up in your home during power cuts.
17. Do I need a three phase electricity supply to install solar PV?
Systems with up to about 10kW peak power don't need more than a single phase electricity supply, however it is very unlikely that your system will exceed 4 kW peak power. Your installer will advise you exactly what is required.
18. Do solar PV installation prices include the price of scaffolding?
Some PV installers do not include the cost of installing the necessary scaffold at your property when quoting costs. Make sure that you check this when comparing quotes from various installers.
19. Are there any grants available for installing solar PV panels?
The Feed in Tariff is a payback scheme rather than a grant scheme, and has replaced most grants for solar PV systems however, grants may be available from your local council - please contact them for details. The Feed-In Tariff pays you for the electricity you generate using your PV system, as well as any excess electricity generated, which you can export back to the Grid.
20. What is the difference between monocrystalline and polycrystalline PV panels?
Firstly, they look different - polycrystalline wafer has a dark blue colour, whereas monocrystalline wafer is black. Monocrystalline panels tend to be slightly more expensive and efficient than polycrystalline panels,
21. Are solar PV systems a lot cheaper now?
The cost of the PV cells and associated equipment is driven by international supply and demand. Prices of these components have fallen substantially over the past few years as larger manufacturing facilities have been set up in response to strong demand particularly in Germany and Japan. Installation prices have in turn fallen as a result of the reduction in system prices and as the industry has grown. This drop in prices is set to continue.
22. Is efficiency important when choosing solar panels?
Often not, the efficiency of any given panel relates to how effectively it can convert the sun's light. Given that the sun's light is free a panel can simply be made larger to offset a lower efficiency. Only when suitable roof area is at a premium does it make sense to choose high efficiency panels, this will maximise the amount of power that can be generated from the limited space.
23. What guarantees do solar PV panels come with?
It does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but typically Solar PV panels will come with an output guarantee in the region of 20 and 25 years. The Inverter will have a shorter life, and your should budget to have this replaced once during the life of your system (25 years or more) and therefore has a shorter guarantee, typically around 5 years. The labour guarantee will depend on your installer and your should ask or study the fine print in your quote; 5 years is fairly typical.
24. Is there an approvals standard for solar PV panels?
Yes, solar panels can be approved by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). In order to qualify for the Feed-In Tariff scheme you must ensure that you use MCS approved panels.
25. How are solar PV panels fixed to the roof?
This will depend on the roof, but typically solar PV panels are fixed using rigid stainless steel brackets that are fixed directly to your roof rafters. The brackets hook out from underneath your existing tiles. Tiles or slates should not be drilled to fit the panels, nor should mastic/silicone be used to weatherproof your roof. Solar panels can be fitted to any roof type except thatched roofs.
26. How long does a solar PV panel installation take?
A solar PV installation normally takes 2-3 days.
27. How much do the solar PV panels weigh?
Solar PV panels typically weigh about 13kg per m2.
28. Are solar PV panels fragile?
Solar PV panels are very robust; they are designed to withstand the normal stresses and strains subjected to them by nature. You can ensure that your panels are robust by purchasing only MCS accredited panels.
29. Can I heat water with solar PV panels?
Whilst PV panels do not directly heat water (this is what solar thermal panels do) they do produce electricity that can be used to do anything that you want to - even export it back to the grid for an extra payment. This electricity can be used to heat water if you have an immersion water heater.
30. Will solar PV panels affect my home's rateable value?
Council tax is based on the 1991 values and the government shelved plans to revalue all houses a few years ago, so currently, no. It is likely that there will be a revaluation in the not so distant future. When they do, the value of the solar panels will be included in the valuation, but the rating could also account for your home's the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which should reduce tax as you would have a lower EPC score.

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Solar thermal

1. Should I install evacuated tubes or a flat plate collector?
Evacuated tubes are more efficient than flat plate collectors but are also more expensive. Flat plate collectors are more cost-effective than evacuated tubes, and the efficiency difference can be compensated for by increasing the size of the flat plate collectors.
2. How much does a solar thermal installation cost?
Solar thermal systems typically cost between £3000 and £5000 inc VAT, but this will depend on your exact requirements. It is best to get multiple quotes that you can compare to get the best deal.
3. Are there grants available for solar thermal installations?
Currently the Renewable Heat Incentive Premium Payment scheme pays a £300 grant for the installation of solar water heating panels installed by an MCS accredited installer. This grant scheme is expected to be replaced with the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in Summer 2013.
4. Are solar thermal panels eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)?
The Renewable Heat Incentive is scheduled to be launched in the Summer of 2013, but systems installed before then will be eligible to receive payments through the scheme as long as an MCS accredited installer carries out the work. MCS accredited installations are also eligible for a £300 grant through the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme, available now.
5. How much energy will the solar thermal panels output?
Typical solar thermal installations output between 1000 and 2500 kWh a year.
6. What is the payback for a solar thermal installation?
Complete our Home Energy Assessment to get a payback time tailored to your home's features.
7. Do I need to replace my hot water cylinder to get a solar thermal panels installed?
If your hot water cylinder is not large enough for a second heating coil it will need to be replaced with a larger 'solar cylinder' specially designed for use with solar thermal panels. The cylinder needs to be larger because it has to accommodate your boiler/immersion heater's heating coil as well as the heating coil from the solar thermal system.
8. Can I use solar thermal panels with an existing combi boiler?
Yes, there are specially designed systems that work very well with most combi boilers. It will requires the installation of a storage cylinder and possibly some enhanced controls for the boiler.
9. Does my roof need to face south to be suitable for solar thermal?
A south facing roofs at a 30° angle offers the best annual output for a solar thermal system. However, east or west facing roofs can function very well as the available solar radiation only reduces by about 20% in these orientations. The size of the panels can be increased to compensate for this reduction.
10. Do my solar panels need to be MCS approved?
In order to be eligible for the RHI and RHI Premium Payment the panels need MCS approval. There are also other accreditation schemes such as the Solar Keymark.
11. How much space do I need on my roof for a solar thermal installation?
Typical installations have panels occupying 4.6 - 6.9m2 of roof area.
12. What guarantees should I expect with solar thermal panels?
These will vary between makes, but typically solar thermal collectors should be guaranteed for around 10 years. Other components and labour are usually guaranteed for 5 years.
13. Do I need planning permission to install solar thermal panels?
Roof mounted solar thermal systems do not usually need planning permission unless they exceed a certain height, or if the property is listed or in a conservation area. However, it is best to check your local authority's information. Take a look at our Planning Permissions page for further information on the permissions in your area.
14. Will my roof be strong enough to take solar thermal panels?
Most roofs are strong enough to take a solar thermal installation without any reinforcement. Your installer will be able to advise you further; you can find out more about the Installation of Solar Thermal Panels here.
15. How are solar thermal panels fixed to the roof?
If you have a typical roof, solar thermal panels are usually fixed to your roof using rigid stainless steel brackets that are fixed directly to your roof rafters. The only roof type that can't have solar thermal panels fitted is a thatched roof.
16. What is the heat output of a solar thermal system in kWh?
Outputs from a domestic solar water heating system typically range from 1000 - 2500kWh per year.
17. How long does a solar thermal installation take?
The installation will normally takes 2 days.
18. Can I heat my swimming pool with solar thermal panels?
Yes, Solar thermal water heating can be a very effective for pools.
19. How much do solar thermal collectors weigh?
It depends on the make, but in they usually weigh in the region of about 20kg per square metre. Typical panels can measure around 2m x 1m or 2m x 2m, with 5m2 needed for the average installation.
20. Are solar thermal collectors or panels fragile?
Not typically - they are designed to withstand the elements so they should be quite robust. All MCS accredited products should last their predicted 20 year lifetime.
21. How hot does solar heated water get?
Very hot! The water can easily exceed 100°C, therefore it is important that the components are able to withstand these temperatures. All MCS certified products will be able to do so.
22. Do I need permission from Building Control to install solar thermal panels?
A buildings notice is usually not required for solar thermal panels as long as the units are below a certain height when installed. This will depend on your local authority, and whether your building is listed or in a conservation area, so you should contact your local office to confirm. You can find more information about Planning permission for solar panels here.
23. Can I power my solar thermal water circulation pump with a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel?
It is possible to do this, but these systems end up being less efficient as there will be times when there isn't enough sunshine for the solar PV panel to work, but there is a need for heating from your solar thermal system which will require the circulation pump to work.
24. Can I heat my house and my hot water using solar thermal?
Currently no solar thermal system installed in the UK will be able to fully meet your heating and hot water needs. Aside from the fact that the UK is generally a less sunny country, during the winter months when sunshine is minimal you will definitely need a back up source of water heating such as an immersion heater.

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Wind Power

1. What is a domestic or micro-wind turbine?
These are wind turbines designed to produce enough electricity to meet the needs of a typical home, and which can be installed on a residential property. They are often referred to as small wind power systems.
2. Do I need planning permission for a wind turbine?
Domestic wind turbines can be a Permitted Development under UK law, which means that you don't need planning permission. There are criteria that turbines must meet to be a Permitted Development - they're available here: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk
3. Do wind turbines qualify for any grants or incentive payments?
There are currently no grants available for installing domestic wind turbines, but there is a generous incentive payment scheme known as the Feed-In Tariff. Any system is eligible as long as it is installed by an MCS accredited installer. The scheme pays you per unit of electricity you generate using your turbine regardless of whether you use it, and you can be paid an extra payment on top of this for exporting your unused electricity to the National Grid. More information on the Feed-In Tariff is available in the Grants and Offers section of our website.
4. Can I mount my wind turbine on the roof of one of my buildings?
There are a variety of roof-mounted wind turbines models that you can install, but as a general rule of thumb you will obtain substantially better performance from a pole-mounted (freestanding) turbine.
5. Will a wind turbine work if I live in a built up area?
The industry tends not to recommend that a domestic wind turbine is installed in an urban environment for a number of reasons, including: increased turbulence, resulting in higher stresses on the turbine and lower energy capture for any given wind speed; increased margins of safety required when more people are living and working near the turbine; additional measures possibly required to limit the transmission of vibrations into the structure of the building and lower average wind speeds in a city environment reduce the annual energy capture.
6. How much energy does a domestic wind turbine generate?
This depends on the capacity of your turbine and your local wind speeds. For each KW of capacity that a wind turbine has, it will deliver a KW of power in a constant wind of 12.5m/s. A site with good average wind conditions might deliver about 20-30% of this output. A typical 6kW turbine in a good location should be able to save you around £260 a year on your energy bills, though the real payoff comes from the Feed-In Tariff scheme which can pay you around £3000 a year in tariff payments for generating electricity using your turbine and exporting your surplus.
7. Should I get a wind turbine if there are frequently low wind speeds in my area?
Micro wind turbines can be selected for good low wind speed performance, so that even on less breezy days, electricity can be generated.
8. What happens if I produce more electricity with my wind turbine than I can use?
Excess energy on windier days can be automatically fed back into the National Grid and if you're signed up to the Feed-In Tariff scheme you will receive an extra payment for this electricity in the form of the Export Tariff . Alternatively, your surplus electricity can be stored in a battery bank and called upon as a back up in times of low supply.
9. Do I need to own a field to have a wind turbine?
It depends on whether you're considering a roof mounted or pole-mounted (freestanding) system. Pole-mounted turbines do tend to work best in exposed locations such as fields, as they tend to experience less turbulence caused by obstacles such as buildings and trees. The ideal location for a freestanding wind turbine is at the top of a gentle slope.
10. What is the best wind turbine type and height for me?
Factors such as whether you want a roof mounted or freestanding system, planning permission and any limitations to foundations may dictate the type and maximum tower height to be considered, but in general, the higher the tower, the higher the average wind speed that the turbine will experience. A taller tower should generate sufficient extra energy to justify any additional cost, especially if there is turbulence created by nearby trees or buildings that can be avoided with extra height.
11. Are wind turbines noisy?
Most modern models have been designed to be very quiet indeed - of course, whether noise levels matter will depend how far the turbine is from habitation. Ideally the turbine should be located at least 100m from your closest neighbours. Your planning authority will also have a view on acceptable noise levels - visit http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/ for more information.
12. Will a wind turbine have an impact on local TV and radio reception?
The materials used to make the turbines are unlikely to 'chop up' a signal and create electromagnetic interference (EMI).
13. Will my wind turbine impact wildlife?
Livestock are able to graze in the same field as a freestanding turbine, undisturbed by its presence. Similarly, there is no evidence to suggest damage to other wildlife despite research having been carried out.
14. Do wind turbines cause bird-strike?
It isn't likely that birds will collide with your turbine.. There are several websites, including RSPB (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) which provide additional background on this matter. Their view is that 'climate change is the most serious long-term threat to wildlife in the UK and globally and, therefore, the RSPB supports the Government's target to source 15% of electricity from renewables by 2015.'
15. How much do wind turbines cost?
A typical 1kW roof-mounted wind turbine will cost around £2,000, with larger 2.5kW and 6kW freestanding (pole-mounted) systems costing around £15,000 and £22,500 respectively.
16. What level of VAT do I have to pay on my wind turbine installation?
A reduced level of VAT - currently only 5% - is applicable to renewable energy systems for domestic properties.
17. What is the warranty period for a wind turbine?
Domestic wind turbine systems usually come with a minimum 5 year manufacturer's warranty.
18. What is the lifetime of a domestic wind turbine?
Wind turbines have a lifetime of 20 years or more if serviced regularly, and if you're eligible for the FIT scheme the FIT payments will be paid to you for the same length of time.
19. What maintenance or servicing is required for a wind turbine?
You should get your turbine checked by your installer or another accredited technician every year, which should cost between £100 and £200. Your inverter may need to be replaced once during the turbine's 20 year lifetime - this costs between £1000-£2000 for a large freestanding system. Turbines with batteries (off-grid systems) will need their batteries replaced every 6-10 years.
20. How do I find out if my site is windy enough for a wind turbine?
Our survey takes into account the average wind speed in your area, so should give you a broad indication of whether your location is suitable for a wind turbine. We do recommend that you measure the average wind speeds in the turbine locations you're considering for at least a year before committing to an installation. You can measure your wind speed using an anemometer (wind meter). A good anemometer will record your specific wind profile (e.g. average wind speeds, wind spikes, changes in wind direction) which will help you select the most appropriate wind turbine for the wind characteristics of your site. The Power Predictor anemometer from www.bettergeneration.co.uk is a good choice for a domestic installation.
21. How does a wind turbine generate electricity?
Most wind turbines have three blades which face into the wind; the wind turns these blades round. This spins the shaft, which is connected to a generator. The generator turns this mechanical energy into electrical energy, generating electricity. This electricity is passed through an inverter to convert it from CD to AC electricity, and this AC electricity is then supplied to your house through your wiring.
22. What size wind turbine will I need?
The size of the turbine that's right for your property will depend on a few factors, including whether you want to have a roof mounted or freestanding system, your local wind speeds and the planning restrictions in your area, You should check with the Government's Planning Portal and with your installer when planning your turbine installation.
23. How tall are domestic wind turbines?
The height of a domestic turbine will vary according to manufacturer and model, but generally it varies from 6 to 15 meters (for a roof mounted system) up to 24 meters for a freestanding turbine. In general, the higher up the blades are, the higher the average wind speed that the turbine will experience, giving you a more efficient system. The rotor diameter of domestic wind turbines ranges from 2 meters for a roof mounted turbine, up to around 7 meters for a freestanding turbine, again depending on the model.
24. Is there a risk lightning strikes could target my turbine?
This is very rare and is almost unheard of, so generally not a consideration.
25. Can I connect my wind turbine to the grid?
Most areas of the UK are connected to the Grid, and if you are, you can connect your turbine to it too. This will allow you to qualify for the Export Tariff as part of the Feed-in-Tariff scheme, which pays you acsecond payment on top of the Generation Tariff for any electricity that you generate but don't use. The surplus electricity is automatically exported to Grid.
26. How much of the time do wind turbines produce electricity?
Wind turbines produce electricity 70-85% of the time, but they generate different outputs dependent on the local wind speed. Over the course of a year, a small wind turbine in the UK will generate about 7.5% (for roof mounted turbines) to 30% (for larger turbines) of the amount it would generate in a constant strong wind. This is known as its 'load factor' (or 'capacity factor').
27. What happens to my electricity supply when the wind stops blowing?
Without adequate wind blowing, the turbine will not turn and create electricity, therefore you will have to draw power from the grid. This will happen automatically as long as you are connected to the Grid.
28. Can an installed wind turbine be re-sited?
Yes, provided the new site is suitable. However, substantial costs will be incurred to dismantle the turbine, transport it to the new site and re-install it, so ideally in the first place you should spend time selecting the most suitable site before you install it for the first time. If you do need to re-site the turbine, make sure you get multiple quotes from accredited installers for the moving work.

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Thermostats & Heating Controls

1. What is the difference between timers and programmers?
A timer switches your heating system on and off at the same times every day, whereas a programmer allows you to program in different heating times for different days of the week to suit your lifestyle.
2. What is an optimiser?
Optimisers remove the uncertainty of what time to set your heating 'on' time in order to ensure the desired room temperature is reached on time, whilst ensuring fuel isn't wasted by bringing your house up to temperature too early.
3. Can I use a wall mount thermostat to control my heater if it has an in-built thermostat?
Yes, to override the in-built thermostat, turn the thermostat on the heater to the highest setting, then use the wall thermostat to regulate the room temperature and control the heater.
4. Is an in-built or a wall mounted thermostat better?
An in-built control is convenient to install when the walls are already finished. However, a wall thermostat is a more accurate way to control the room temperature, is more convenient to use, and has a broader selection of models.
5. Where should I install my wall mounted thermostat?
Thermostats should always be mounted on an inside wall and away from drafts, direct sunlight, or any appliances that could affect the performance (temperature reading) of the thermostat. Be sure the area around the thermostat is clear of shelves, pictures or other wall decor that may impede the airflow around the thermostat.
6. Can all of the heaters in my house be controlled by one thermostat?
Yes, they can, as long as the wattage rating of the thermostat is not exceeded, and you'll need to change the wiring of your setup. It's best to get an electrician to do this.
7. What should I do if my wall thermostat feels hot to the touch?
You should replace the thermostat. A 'hot' thermostat may indicate that it is not working efficiently; decreasing its accuracy. It may also indicate an overloaded capacity. NOTE: A normal operating thermostat will be slightly warmer than the room temperature by about 3 to 5 degrees.
8. How can I use my thermostat best to save energy?
If energy efficiency is important, keep in mind that wide temperature fluctuations in thermostats can waste energy, increasing the cost of running your heaters and decreasing your comfort level.
9. What is a programmable thermostat ?
A programmable thermostat is a time clock and thermostat in one. Programmable thermostats simplify the use of a heating system and should be considered as an upgrade from the standard manual dial thermostat and time clock arrangement still installed by most new house builders.
10. Why is a programmable thermostat useful?
A programmable thermostat is useful to have because it gives you the ability to pre-program in the different temperatures you want your house to be heated to at different times of the day. The thermostat then adjusts your system to meet the desired temperature at different points in the day. This allows you to do away with the old heating timer and thermostat combination.
11. What other features do programmable thermostats have?
Another function available in some programmable thermostats is optimum start, a function designed to adjust the start up time automatically depending on the ambient temperature in the building. As a example, the heating can be turned on later in mild weather, which saves energy.

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Air Source Heat Pumps

1. What is an air source heat pump?
An air source heat pump is a renewable heat system that provides hot water to your home. It does this by capturing the heat from the air outside your house, concentrating it and using it to heat your water.
2. How do air source heat pumps work?
A box on the outside of your house called the air handling unit takes in outside air and then transfers the heat energy from the air to a fluid through large heat exchangers . The fluid is then compressed in a heat pump to raise the temperature to a level that means it can be used in your home as heating and hot water.
3. Do air source heat pumps work all year round?
According to air source heat pump manufacturers they are efficient down to air temperatures of -20°c, which means that they are more than suitable for installations within the UK. Heat pumps can produce water heated at 55C all year round in the UK without the aid of electrical immersions.
4. How long do air source heat pumps last?
Air source heat pumps are typically designed to operate for at least 20 years.
5. Do air source heat pumps require any maintenance?
Typically no annual maintenance is required, but there may some makes and models that do require some checks to be carried out.
6. Do air source heat pumps come with a warranty?
Most air source heat pump installations include warranties for parts and labour. You should check your quote or the pump's product details to find out how long that model's warranty is.
7. How much noise do air source heat pumps generate?
Most modern air source heat pumps are fairly quiet. The noisy part is the air handling unit, which makes a similar level of noise as an air-conditioning unit. The heat pump itself, which is often installed inside, makes a noise too, but this is typically no more than the noise of a fridge.
8. Where in my house should an air source heat pump be installed?
The bulkiest component of an air source heat pump is the air handling unit, which must be fitted outside. The unit can be fitted on an outside wall, but some designs allow this to be fitted some way away from the home, as far as 20-30 meters. The heat pump needs to be in or on the house and typically this is where the essential components are housed.
9. How much space do I need for my air source heat pump?
This will depend on the make and model of the heat pump. The air handling unit component of the pump will need to be fitted in a location where air can circulate freely, so typically on an outside wall. Typically the air handling unit will be similar in size to a kitchen appliance, such as a washing machine or dishwasher. You will also need space inside your house for the heat pump itself.
10. Will an air source heat pump provide enough hot water for heating and hot water?
If you do not heat your water beyond 55°C and your system has been correctly scaled and fitted for your needs there is no reason why all your domestic hot water requirements shouldn't be provided by the air source heat pump throughout the year. It should be noted that heat pumps produce water at a lower temperature than boiler systems, meaning that you will need larger radiators or an underfloor heating system or the pump to heat your house effectively.
11. What properties are not suitable for an air source heat pump installation?
Air source heat pumps are not suitable for use in houses where the levels of insulation are not known and where the age and type of the heating distribution system (radiators and pipes) is unknown. Because they produce hot water at a lower temperature than conventional boilers they are particularly suited to house with under-floor heating.
12. Can I heat my swimming Pool with an air source heat pump?
Air source heat pumps are ideal for pools. Note that for existing swimming pools the current heat exchanger would need to be changed.
13. Will I need a new boiler to install an air source heat pump?
An air source heat pump can provide all your hot water and heating requirements without the need for top-up from a boiler. However, a boiler can be used alongside the pump system as a top up to meet demand in colder weather. This will depend on your current heating system's design.
14. How much hot water is produced each day by an air source heat pump?
This will depend on the make and model of air source heat pump that you're planning to use, but a well chosen pump should be able to meet all of your heating needs. You should aim to get advice from at least one well accredited installer when choosing a model.
15. How many air source heat pumps would I need for a large building?
This depends on the model that you choose, however if you home is well insulated you will need fewer heat pumps to maintain the same temperature level. Your installer will be able to advise you on exactly how many you will need.
16. How much do they cost and how much will I save?
Complete our free home Energy Assessment to find out how much a typical air source heat pump would cost for your house, how much it would save you and how long the payback will be.

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Ground Source Heat Pumps

1. Do ground source heat pumps really work?
Yes, they really do. Ground source heat pumps take up the heat from the ground and transfer that heat to your home's hot water supply, allowing it to be heated just using some electricity to power the pump, using a lot less fuel than conventional heating systems. With proper system design, ground source heat pumps can supply all of your home's heating and hot water without the need for a back-up system, even in winter.
2. How does the heat from a heat pump reach the house?
The ground loop in the system contains a carrier fluid which absorbs the heat in your ground. It's pumped around to the pump unit in your house, which transfers the heat from the carrier fluid to your water and concentrates it at the same time, meaning that it is hot enough to be used in your heating and as hot water.
3. How are the ground loops installed?
The ground loop is either buried in trenches in the land outside your house at a depth of 1.5-2m or installed in boreholes that range from 25-150m deep. They can also be placed in lakes or ponds to capture the heat from the water - this is usually used on large estates.
4. How long should the ground loop be?
That depends on the energy requirements of your house, the space that you have available and the type of ground you have. The larger the home that is to be heated, more energy that is required thus more loop needed in the ground. When planning and designing your system your installer will design your system so that it meets your needs.Typical systems are 6 to 12kW, and you'll usually need 10m of coiled pipe per kW for installation in horizontal trenches - you'll need less piping if you're installing it in a vertical borehole. If ground space is restricted, a vertical borehole (or several) is a good choice - these are now comparable in cost to installing the loops in horizontal trenches.
5. Where should I put my heat pump unit?
Usual locations include your utility room, basement or even out in the garage.
6. Are ground source heat pumps noisy?
No, they make about the same level of noise as a fridge.
7. Can a ground source heat pump be used with underfloor heating?
Underfloor heating is a great choice for use with a ground source heat pump, but large radiators or a mix of both can be used for distributing heat around your home. Heat pumps produce a lower temperature heat than conventional boilers, therefore they are far more effective if used with a larger surface heating distribution system such as underfloor heating or large radiators. A good rule of thumb is that if used with heat pumps, the radiators should be around 30% larger compared to the size of radiator that would be used with a conventional boiler.
8. Will a ground source heat pump be able to heat my home adequately in the winter?
As long as you have enough space in your garden for a system that meets your needs, and your choice of system is suited to your heating needs, a ground source heat pump should be able to heat your home comfortably in the winter. They are often used very effectively in far colder countries than Britain.
9. Will a ground source heat pump provide enough hot water for heating and baths/showers?
Yes, with the correct design and equipment, a ground source heat pump can meet all your domestic hot water requirements throughout the year. If you do not have enough space in your garden for a system large enough to meets your needs you can top up the heat the heat pump produces with the help of a more conventional system. Your installer will be able to confirm whether the size of system you can accommodate will meet your needs.
10. Can a ground source heat pump be used to cool my house?
Yes, in some ground source heat pump systems this can be achieved as either passive or active cooling.
11. Can I heat a swimming pool using a ground source heat pump?
Yes, a system can be designed purely for your pool, be it indoor or outdoor, and if required it can form a heating and hot water system for the whole of your property.
12. Will a ground source heat pump save me money on my energy bills?
Yes, a well designed ground source heat pump system will save money and CO2 compared to other traditional heating systems, especially now that the government is in part funding new installations with the Renewable Heat Premium Payment grant. Exactly how much money you save depends on how well your system is designed and the efficiency of your old system. Find out how much you could save by completing our Energy Assessment.
13. Can a ground source heat pump be installed in an old building?
You can install ground source heat pumps in old buildings, and there are lots of examples of this being done. The design phase is very important as there are lots of issues to overcome in older buildings, especially if it is listed.

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Wall & Loft Insulation

1. How is cavity wall insulation installed?
Small holes of about 20mm in diameter are drilled about 2 metres apart in the external brick wall where the horizontal and vertical mortar joints meet. Insulation is then blown along a flexible hose into the cavity through these holes.
2. Does cavity wall insulation make a mess?
It shouldn't - all work is carried out externally through small holes in the brickwork joints. A small amount of dust is created when the holes are drilled. The cavity wall insulation is then blown into place using a hose, straight into the wall, so there are no spills.
3. My house is rendered, won't cavity wall insulation mess up the render?
The holes drilled to inject the cavity insulation are only about 20mm in diameter and are filled with mortar after the insulation has been injected. The installer will be able to match the existing render. If the render is painted, the filled holes should be touched up with matching paint when the mortar has dried.
4. How long does it take to install cavity wall insulation?
Most homes can be insulated in about 3 hours, but larger houses may take a whole day.
5. Does cavity wall insulation cause damp?
No, as the cavity insulation is generally water repelling, meaning water cannot cross from the external wall to the internal wall via the insulation - the only way it could cross is if another obstruction is connecting the walls. Before installing the insulation, the empty wall cavities are inspected for obstructions with a special tool called a boroscope. Any obstructions are noted and cleared by the installers before the insulation is injected.
6. If my house was built with a cavity, surely it's there for a reason?
The purpose of the cavity is to prevent rain that soaks into the outside brickwork from crossing to the inside wall. The cavity interrupts any water that soaks through the brickwork and drains it to the bottom of the wall where it drains to the outside. Injecting mineral wool insulation into the cavity still allows water to drain to the bottom of the wall, so the cavity still works as intended.
7. How do I know if I've got cavity walls or solid walls?
Most cavity walls are identified by two factors. They are about 10½ to 12 inches (270mm - 300mm) thick overall (You can measure this at a door opening) and all the bricks visible on the outside of the wall are all 9 inches (225mm) long (except at corners and openings) (i.e. are mounted lengthways, with 'headers' or the ends of the brick only visible at corners and openings). Solid walls have repeat patterns of 4 inch (100mm) wide bricks as well as 9 inches (225mm) long bricks over the main area of the wall. The walls are usually a little over 9 inches (225mm) thick, although in larger properties the walls can be 13½ inches (330mm) thick.
8. Can I install cavity wall insulation myself?
No, this is because specialist equipment is needed to install the insulation into the cavity and it's important that the cavity is fully filled with the correct density of insulation. This is why only trained and approved installers are used, and this allows a guarantee can be given on the work. You will also need the work to be professionally done if it is being funded by any government grants.
9. My house is semi-detached/terraced and my neighbour(s) doesn't want cavity wall insulation. Can you still insulate my walls?
Yes, your house can still be insulated. The installer will need to make a hole at the top and bottom of the wall to insert a spacer at the junction between the two houses. This prevents insulation being blown into the cavity of your neighbour's house.
10. I've got a timber framed house - can I still get cavity wall insulation installed?
It's not possible to install cavity wall insulation into timber framed houses.
11. I live in a flat, can I get cavity wall insulation installed?
It's not practical to insulate a single flat in a block. If the property has cavity walls, the whole building should be insulated.
12. How can I tell if my new home's previous owners have already insulated the cavity walls?
If a house was built within the last ten years, it probably has cavity wall insulation installed as slabs when the walls were built. You can tell if previous owners have had it installed after the house was built by looking at the outside of the external walls under your windows. If there are small holes of about an inch diameter filled in with something, this indicates that your walls have been filled with insulation. Another way to tell is by looking at the tops of your external walls, which may be open under your roof. If you can look inside the tops of the walls you may be able to see whether there's any insulation in them.
13. What guarantee of workmanship should I look out for in a cavity wall insulation installer?
Cavity wall insulation installers can sign up to a professional code of practice, such as those provided by the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, which guarantees the work for 25 years. The installer should carry out post-installation checks on both the inside and the outside of the property, and you will be asked to sign a form to show you are happy with the work.
14. Are there grants available for cavity wall insulation and are there strict criteria as to who is eligible, like with loft insulation?
There are grants available for cavity wall insulation available through the CERT (Carbon Emissions Reduction Target) scheme, which is available through the energy suppliers. You can apply to any of the larger suppliers regardless of whether you're a customer of theirs. The scheme is now only available through British Gas and Scottish Power, as most of the scheme shave run out - apply now if you could benefit. The ECO (Affordable Warmth) scheme is due to replace CERT, and is currently operating, but has stricter criteria on who's eligible, focusing on less well off customers.
15. I know about cavity wall insulation, but my home has solid walls. Can I insulate these?
Yes, you can insulate solid walls, and doing so will save you even more money on your bills than cavity wall insulation. Solid wall insulation can be fitted as either external or internal insulation - you can use our assessment tool to see how much you can save with these measures.
16. I'd like to make my period home more energy efficient, but will internal wall insulation ruin my original features, and will I lose floor area?
Internal wall insulation is a fantastic solution for period properties or listed buildings that would require planning permission for any changes made to the outside, or where the owner wants to maintain the authentic exterior appearance of the property. You don't need to worry about losing your original features or significant amounts of floor space, though. Modern internal wall insulation systems are extremely slim, yet ultra-efficient, and lead to minimal loss of usable floor area. Installing internal wall insulation does mean that fittings such as plug sockets and skirting boards need to be repositioned, so you'll need to make sure that any decorative features like cornicing or picture rails are carefully removed and refitted following the installation. Insulating the walls could reduce the annual carbon dioxide emissions associated with your home by around 2 tonnes and save £400 per year on your energy bills.
17. Are there any grants available for installing solid wall insulation?
The will be a grant scheme available for solid wall insulation under the ECO (Energy Company Obligation), the complementary grant scheme to the Green Deal. Under the ECO (Carbon Saving Obligation), any UK resident will be able to get their solid wall insulation installation either partially or fully funded. It's not yet clear how people should apply for this scheme, as the both the Green Deal and ECO have just launched. It's likely we'll know more in March (2013).
18. How much loft insulation do I need?
To meet current Building Regulations you need 270mm of mineral wool insulation - that's 100mm between the ceiling joists and 170mm laid over the joists.
19. How do I find out how much loft insulation I have?
Simply push a tape measure or ruler down the side of a piece of loft insulation until it hits the plasterboard ceiling and read off the depth.
20. I have lots of rubbish in my loft. Do I need to clear it out or will the installer do this for me?
Yes, you will need to clear the roof of any rubbish or stored objects before the insulation is installed.
21. I want to use my loft for storage, how can I do that if it is insulated to the depth recommended?
You or your installer can instead lay down innovative loft boards called Space Board. These are insulation boards made from Polyfoam extruded polystyrene designed to be placed on top of the ceiling joists instead of the 170mm mineral wool insulation. You should still aim to lay down 100mm of standard insulation between the joists.
22. How long does it take professionals to install loft insulation?
It takes professional installers about 2 hours to install loft insulation in an average sized loft.
23. How long would it take me to insulate my loft?
Allow about half a day once you have bought the insulation. Remember - you will need one layer of 100mm between your roof joists if you don't have any insulation, then a second layer of 170mm on top (cross layered) to comply with current building regulations. Measure the area of your loft and look at the packaging label for the area contained in a roll.
24. Why wasn't my house built with cavity wall insulation and the right amount of loft insulation?
Houses comply with the building regulations that apply at the time the property is built. Since the oil crisis in the early 1970s, the insulation standards in the Building Regulations have been progressively upgraded.
25. Is it true that everyone in the UK is entitled to subsidised insulation?
Yes, everyone is entitled to a subsidy and some people can even have free installation. Why? Because the UK Government is obligated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by international environmental agreements. One of the easiest ways to achieve a large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is through increased home energy efficiency. The Government has stated that cavity wall insulation and loft insulation are the most effective methods which is why they have legislated for power/energy utilities and power companies to provide subsidies.
26. I live in a rented property, can I still get my walls and loft insulated?
Yes, people living in rented property can get their homes insulated, whether you fund it yourself, your landlord funds it or you get it funded through the Green Deal, but you must get the permission of the owner or landlord. There could also be a tax benefit to your landlord if he covers the cost - look at our LESA (Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance) page to find out more detail.
27. I already have some loft insulation - do I need to install more?
If your loft insulation is 100mm or less you would certainly benefit by having it topped up with more insulation to make it up to a 270mm thickness. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that top-up loft insulation can save the average householder as much as £60 per year at current energy prices.
28. My loft has been fitted with floorboards - will this cause a problem?
Not necessarily. You can lay the insulation once the floorboards have been taken up, and put the floorboards back over the insulation, or, if you prefer, you can have your insulation lain directly over the floorboards.
29. There is a lot of pipework in my loft space. Should I insulate the pipe work too?
Yes, it is a good idea and many insulation installers will do this for you - it usually involves fitting foam 'jackets' over the pipes.
30. What is loft insulation made of?
Typically, loft insulation is a mineral wool made out of glass or rock fibers. You can also get natural loft insulation made of sheep's wool, hemp or cellulose which will remove the need for protective equipment,
31. Do I need to provide extra ventilation to my loft space if I insulate it?
That depends on whether it is adequately ventilated at the moment. Increasing the amount of insulation in the loft can lead to condensation of water vapour on any timber there. If your loft is not properly ventilated your installer will advise you, and can install simple vents that will ensure an adequate air flow through the loft.

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Insulation & double glazing

1. How energy efficient are replacement windows?
When choosing replacement windows, you can check its energy efficiency by looking at the BFRC energy label. The higher the energy rating, the more energy efficient it is. At the moment there is no obligation for window manufacturers to label their products, however by opting for a high rated window you know you will be buying the most efficient window.
2. How many layers of glass should glazing ideally have?
Double glazing has two layers of glass with a gap of around 16mm between them. There's also the option of triple glazing, which has three layers of glass. Both A rated double and tripled-glazed windows are available. Double glazing is usually a cost effective home improvement, but triple glazing can be less worthwhile financially, however it will make your home that much more comfortable temperature-wise.
3. What type of glass is best for double glazing?
The most energy efficient glass for double glazing is low emissivity (Low-E) glass. This often has an unnoticeable coating of metal oxide, normally on one of the internal surfaces - next the gap. It lets sunlight and heat in but cuts the amount of heat that can get out again, instead reflecting it back into the room.
4. What's between the two panes of glass in double glazing?
Very efficient windows might use gases like argon, xenon or krypton in the gap between the 2 sheets of glass.
5. What keeps the two panes of glass in double glazing apart?
The panes are separated by pane spacers set around the inside edges to keep the two panes of glass apart. For a more efficient window, look for pane spacers containing little or no metal - often known as 'warm edge' spacers.
6. Which window frame type would suit my home?
The frame you choose will depend on your home's style and your personal taste, as well as any planning restrictions in your area. The popular material types are; uPVC, wood, aluminium, steel or composite frames.
7. Do you need extra ventilation if you install double glazing?
Because replacement windows will be more airtight than the original single glazed frames, condensation can build up in your house due to the reduced ventilation, so it can be a good idea to get replacement windows which have trickle vents incorporated into the frame that let in a small amount of controlled ventilation.
8. Can fitting double glazing cause condensation?
If there is not a sufficient level of background ventilation in the room, condensation can occur, but some replacement windows will have trickle vents incorporated into the frame that let in a small amount of controlled ventilation to stop this. Condensation can sometimes occur on the outside of new low-e glazing. This is because low-e glass reflects heat back into the home and as a result the outside pane remains cool and condensation can build up in cold weather - this isn't a problem. Low-e glass actually prevents condensation appearing on the inside of your window as it would if your double glazing featured standard glass, as in the inside pane is kept warm by its special coating.
9. Do replacement windows need to comply with building regulations?
Yes, except where there are restrictions that prevent you doing so, such as planning restrictions. Before you do any work, make sure you check with your local planning office, particularly if you live in a conservation area, have an Article 4 direction on your property or have a listed building.

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Feed-In Tariff

1. Will I be eligible to receive the tariff if I move into a home that already has an electricity generating technology fitted to it?
Feed-In Tariff eligibility remains with the installation, even if the ownership of the home or generating technology changes. Therefore the technology must have been eligible before you move in, even if it is not registered yet.
2. What are the benefits of feed-in tariffs?
The feed-in tariff provides three key benefits for anyone installing microgeneration. These benefits include:
  • Guaranteed premium payment for all electricity produced.
  • Guaranteed price for any electricity exported onto the electricity network. This will be deemed based on the amount electricity generated.
  • Onsite usage of generated electricity, therefore reducing the amount purchased from an electricity supplier.
3. I have already installed a system; will I still be able to receive FITs?
Feed-in tariffs are open to all renewable generators <5MWe. Different tariff rates apply depending on type of technology and whether the system has already been registered for government support:
  • Systems installed between 15th July 2009 and 01st April 2010 will be eligible to receive FITs. All customers installing during this period must be registered under Renewable Obligation. As a registered generator customers will be able to receive Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) payments for any electricity generated during his period. Come 1st April 2010 customers registered during the interim period will be automatically transferred over to the feed-in tariff and the FIT applied for generation from this point forward. Please note that customers registered for ROCs during the interim period will receive a 6 month reduction in the lifetime support of the FITs.
  • Systems installed after April 2010 Customer's installations will be registered by an accredited body in order to qualify for feed-in tariffs. Customers must then approach their supplier to begin receiving FIT payments as per the table above.
  • Systems installed before 15th July 2009 Systems installed and registered for ROCs before 15th July 2009 (date of consultation launch) will still be able to receive FITs however they will receive a lower FIT rate at 9p/kWh, regardless of technology.
4. I have already received a grant; will I still be eligible for feed-in tariffs?
Feed-in tariffs are open to all householders regardless of whether they have received a grant or not. The only consideration is whether or not you are already registered for ROCs. If this is the case, you will receive a different tariff rate as explained above.
5. What's the Export Tariff?
You earn an additional fixed income for every kilowatt hour of electricity you generate and sell back to the grid.
6. What's the Generation Tariff?
You earn a fixed income for every kilowatt hour of electricity you generate and use in your property.
7. What is renewable electricity?
It is power produced from a sustainable source such as solar, wind, or biomass. Electricity from fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas or from nuclear stations is not renewable.
8. Why are they called 'Feed-In' Tariffs?
This sort of tariff was first introduced in Germany in the 1990s and it applied only to power which was 'fed in' to the electricity grid, hence the name. The tariffs in the UK apply to all the electricity the system produces, whether it is used on site or fed back in to the grid, so the name is actually a misnomer (they are really 'production tariffs').
9. My system is not connected to the electricity grid - can I still claim the Feed-in Tariff?
Yes, you will be eligible to receive a generation tariff at the tariff rate that is applicable for the type and capacity of the generating technology.
10. Will I need a special meter to be able to claim FIT payments?
Generation must be metered and Feed-In Tariff payments are made to generators on the basis of metered generation. This means that you will need a generation meter, as your meter will need to be able to measure your electricity generation. DECC has announced that for now, the amount of exported electricity used in the calculation of payment of export tariffs can be deemed (estimated), subject to the following:
  • These arrangements will only apply until the finalising of specifications for smart meters;
  • These arrangements do not apply if export meters exist already, or are provided at the generator's expense
11. I rent my property. If my landlord installs an electricity generating technology, who would receive the Feed-in-Tariff?
It will be up to landlords and tenants of the property to come to an arrangement about the receipt of payments and on-site electricity use benefits.
12. What happens to the Feed-In Tariff payments if I move home?
Ownership of the technology is linked to the site and, therefore, in the case where building or home ownership changes, the ownership of the technology would also transfer to the new owner and so would the Feed-In Tariff payments. .

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Renewable Heat Incentive and RHPP

1. Are the Renewable Heat Premium Payment vouchers allocated, restricted and spread across the different technologies? Or is the system just based on customer demand?
Some money has been put aside for a competition between social housing providers. Otherwise the vouchers at this stage are spread between the technologies. We have £15m funding available for the whole scheme (including the competition for social housing providers) (with a review after £10m has been allocated). Money to some technologies may be restricted in later months to ensure a fair spread of technologies. There are indicative scenarios which mean that we will, for example, review monies going to solar thermal once it has been allocated money for more than 10,000 installations.
2. Is there a penalty for missing the survey deadlines?
DECC reserves the right to withhold access to the Renewable Heat Incentive if the terms and conditions of the RHPP are subsequently discovered not to have been met after the payment of the grant. If you have been asked to fill in a survey, those administering the RHI will check to see if it was completed, and may contact you when you apply.
3. Where do I send the results of the customer survey? How often is it required to be sent?
Our current plan is for two surveys about six months apart. Details of where to send the survey will be provided nearer that time.
4. What happens if I am very disappointed with the performance of my chosen technologies or it fails to work? Do I have to return the grant if I remove the system say after 4 months?
Yes, If you get a refund from the installer, you have to return the grant. Contact the Energy Saving Trust for details of how to do this.
5. Who do I contact if my heating system does not work?
Start by contacting the person who installed the system.
6. I am proposing to install a new biomass boiler system/heat pump which will serve lots of houses. Can I apply for RHPP?
No, because such systems are eligible under Phase I of the main RHI you should apply under that.
7. Will the scheme support second hand kit or renewable energy systems replacing existing renewable systems?
No, the kit has to be new and the system should normally replace a fossil fuel or electric heating system (except for self build new-build).
8. What information will you gather for the monitoring and what will you do with all the information you collect?
It is important to make sure you are comfortable with the idea that you may have to complete a survey on aspects of your heating system such as its performance. It is possible that this information may become public (but not your name, your full address, your date of birth or any other information which would allow the comments to be attributed to you). In addition, the Government will pay for a percentage of houses to have additional meters put in them, to monitor energy use from the new equipment. These meters are likely to send information about energy use automatically back to the Energy Saving Trust, who are administering the system, so this will not require any additional work from the householder.
9. Are biomass hot air systems or wood burning stoves eligible?
No, only biomass systems which heat water to provide space heating are eligible. However, if your wood burning stove provides the main heating source through a back boiler, it will be eligible. Please be aware that Government is currently considering whether biomass stoves, even where they are the main heating source through a back boiler, will be supported under the long-term Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). At this stage, there is no guarantee that they will be. DECC will be consulting on support for domestic participants in due course.
10. Are exhaust air heat pumps supported?
No
11. Are bioliquid heating systems eligible?
No
12. Are air to air heat pumps eligible?
No
13. Will I need an environmental permit for my installation?
For biomass boilers and some ground source heat pumps (open loop, or closed loop systems which are also near a river or body of water), an environmental permit will be needed. Contact the Environment Agency for more details.
14. Will I need planning permission for my installation or to notify my Local Authority?
Most installations are now classed as permitted development which means planning permission is not needed, but this will depend on the technology you are installing and where you live. Please check with your Local Authority before proceeding to ensure you have all of the correct permissions required and see further information on Planning Permission.
15. Can I pay a deposit before I apply for my Renewable Heat Premium Payment voucher?
Please note that any payment you make to your installer is done at your own risk. Making an application does not automatically guarantee that you will receive a voucher.
16. If I make a successful application to the scheme and receive a Renewable Heat Premium Payment voucher, how long is it valid for?
This depends on the technology you have applied for. The voucher validity periods for each of the technologies are listed below.
  • Solar Thermal Hot Water - 3 months
  • Air Source Heat Pump - 5 months
  • Ground Source Heat Pump - 6 months
  • Biomass boiler - 6 months
The date on the voucher refers to the date that the valid claim is received by the Energy Saving Trust. In any case, no voucher will be valid beyond 31st March 2012 and no extensions will be given. The completed voucher claim together with the invoice and the Microgeneration Certification Scheme certificate should be sent to the address indicated on the voucher. It is recommended that this is sent by recorded delivery.
17. How long will it take to receive my Renewable Heat Premium Payment voucher?
If the information you have given in your application satisfies the eligibility criteria of the scheme then you will usually receive immediate confirmation of whether your application has been successful. If you have been awarded a voucher, this will be emailed to your nominated email address within 24 hours. Occasionally applications will be referred to our administration team for further checking. You will be alerted to this once your application has been submitted and you will receive notification of whether it has been successful within 5 working days.
18. Can I still receive a grant if a non-certified installer performs the installation?
Only if an MCS certificated installer commissions the system after the non-certified installer has finished the installation. In this case, the certificated installer must fill out the completion certificate, and you must provide a suitable chain of invoices showing all of the costs of the installation.
19. Is there any guarantee should my technology not work to expectations?
If you use an MCS installer and product (or equivalent) for your installation you should receive a warranty for both the equipment and workmanship of your installation. Ask your installer about this; it is always a good idea to seek more than one quotation and you may wish to consider the type of warranty on offer alongside other considerations such as price. We will introduce you to 3 installers to ensure you get a good range of quotes.
20. Why do I have to use an MCS installer and product or equivalent?
Installers and products used for the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme are certified by MCS (or an equivalent) which is an independent certification scheme designed to certify microgeneration products and installers in accordance with consistent standards. The primary aim of the MCS is to provide consumers with confidence and protection by guaranteeing that microgeneration products and installers who carry the mark meet, and will continue to meet, these robust quality standards.
21. What if I can’t install the required basic energy efficiency measures?
You must install the appropriate energy efficiency measures to be eligible for a voucher so this is a requirement only where it is possible to install the measures. So, for example, if you live in a solid wall property that does not have cavities then you do not need to install cavity wall insulation.
22. I received a grant under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme/Clear Skies Programme, can I apply for a voucher for a new different installation under this scheme?
Yes, although in these cases you cannot apply for funding for your existing installation and the new system must be used instead of an existing fossil fuel or electric heating system.
23. Can I apply for more than one technology?
Yes, although you must complete a separate application form for each technology. You cannot apply twice for the same technology at the same installation address.
24. How much are the Renewable Heat Premium Payments?
It depends which technology you are applying for. The voucher values for each of the technologies are listed below.
  • Solar Thermal Hot Water - £300
  • Air Source Heat Pump - £850
  • Ground Source or Water Source Heat Pump - £1250
  • Biomass boiler - £950
25. If I receive a Renewable Heat Premium Payment, will I be eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive when it is introduced?
The Government has confirmed that renewable heat installations installed in homes since 15 July 2009 will get the Renewable Heat Incentive once it comes in, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. They have also confirmed that this will include those who receive support under the RHPP scheme. However, the Government has not yet published its proposals for how the RHI will work in the domestic sector, so we cannot at this stage provide more information on this. In particular we cannot guarantee that those eligible for an RHPP grant will also be eligible for the RHI.
26. What is the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)?
The RHI will provide payments over a set period of time to generators of renewable heat. It starts in September 2011 for industrial, commercial and public sector installations and Government has announced its intention to make support under the scheme available to households in Autumn 2012.
27. Will I need to pay for any monitoring that is carried out?
A significant proportion of applicants will be approached by Energy Saving Trust to have additional meters attached to their installation which will monitor the performance of the heating system. They will not have to pay for these or take readings themselves. Everyone has to agree to let a meter be installed as part of the terms and conditions of the scheme. For everyone else, any meters and controls which come with the product already will be sufficient. You will be asked through surveys information about these meters and the bills that you get; and in particular how easy it is to understand the meters and the controls, as well as general feedback on your satisfaction with the system installation and its performance.
28. Can I install the heating system before applying for a Renewable Heat Premium Payment voucher?
You can, but at your own risk. Installations made from the announcement of full details of the scheme on 21st July 2011, but before the application for the voucher, will be eligible, including installations made between 21st July and 1st August 2011. If you as a householder do commission or carry out an installation before receiving a voucher, please make sure that you have read the terms and conditions of the scheme carefully. The Government or Energy Saving Trust, who administer the scheme, will not be liable for any costs in relation to decisions you have taken on this basis.
29. What are the Renewable Heat Premium Payment eligibility criteria?
The main criteria are as follows:
  • Applicants must be the owners of or reside in the property for which the grant is applied (alternatively applicants who have leasehold ownership or tenancy occupation must have permission from the property freeholder) and it must be their primary residence.
  • For heating systems other than solar thermal, this must be the main heating system in the house.
  • The installation address must be situated in England, Scotland or Wales (the scheme is not available to addresses in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) and must be the applicant primary residence or a property occupied for the majority of the year.
  • Eligible technologies are Solar Thermal Hot Water, Air to water source Heat Pumps, Ground Source Heat Pumps, water to water heat pumps and biomass fuelled boilers (eg wood or wood pellet). Air to air heat pumps, wood fuelled stoves (unless they are part of a system with a back boiler) and bioliquid fuelled systems are not eligible for this scheme.
  • Solar Thermal Hot Water systems will be available to all householders.
  • For other technologies applicants must not currently use mains gas supply for their heating system.
  • Applicants must use a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificated installer (www.microgenerationcertification.org) and product or equivalent.
  • Renewable heating systems must supply a permanent residential building (mobile homes, caravans, house boats and systems heating swimming pools only are not eligible).
  • Basic energy efficiency measures must have been installed at the installation address (loft insulation up to 250mm where appropriate, cavity wall insulation where practicable).
  • Applicants must have received all relevant permissions for the installation including planning permission where required. If in doubt, please confirm with your local authority whether planning permission is required.
30. Who can apply for a Renewable Heat Premium Payment grant?
Individuals who own their own property and reside within England, Wales or Scotland can apply for installations at their primary residence. Please note that this scheme does not apply to residents of Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands. If you rent your property privately, approach your landlord as you may need to work with them to apply for the scheme.
31. How do I apply for a Renewable Heat Premium Payment?
The scheme opened to applications on 1st August 2011. You can apply online by going to the Energy Saving Trust website (www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/RHPP). Your should ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria. It is very important that those with vouchers check they have met all the conditions on that voucher, as claims may not be paid if the scheme terms and conditions and the terms on the voucher have not been met. Receiving a voucher is not sufficient evidence that you are entitled to a grant.
32. How will the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme work?
Individuals will be able to apply for a voucher which will be issued once they fill in the form. Once one of the qualifying technologies has been installed the voucher can be exchanged for grant money. If you are issued with a voucher you are not required to then install equipment but if you do, the voucher is a promise that you will receive the appropriate grant once your equipment has been installed and as long as the relevant conditions of the voucher are met. If you decide you will not use the voucher please inform the Energy Saving Trust, who are administering the scheme, as soon as possible.
33. What is the Renewable Heat Premium Payment?
The Renewable Heat Premium Payment is a scheme to support people who want to install renewable heat technologies. It will also help the government learn more about how these technologies work in practice, prior to the expansion of the Renewable Heat Incentive to the household sector.

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Green Deal

1. Can I install the measures now and apply for Green Deal Finance at a later date?
There is no information is yet available regarding retrospective Green Deal Finance.
2. How will I repay the Green Deal Finance / Green Deal Grants?
The loan will be attached to the property in question as opposed to the individual. Green Deal Finance payments are calculated to ensure that all homeowners are financially better off by making sure that the total repaid is less that the resulting savings. The repayments are expected to be added to the energy bill and come from the energy savings.
3. Will Green Deal Finance & Green Deal Grants cover renewable energy?
Currently the green deal finance is focused on insulation, draught proofing and double glazing, but it is understood that the green deal finance and green deal grants will stretch to include some renewable energy sources also.
4. How much will be made available via Green Deal Finance & Green Deal Grants?
Originally, the government suggested that around £6,500 will be available per home. However, the coalition government have hinted at that figure rising to around £10,000. Nothing is confirmed however, a home will only receive what is needed to sufficiently improve the energy efficiency.
5. Who is entitled to Green Deal Finance & Green Deal Grants?
It is understood that the Government will place no restrictions on who can apply for Green Deal Finance. Applicants current or past credit history will not be taken into account and applicants do not need to own their own home to benefit from Green Deal Finance as private tenants will be able to apply. More specific information is expected to be released soon.
6. What is the Green Deal?
The Energy Bill introduced to Parliament on 8 December 2010 includes provision for the new 'Green Deal', which is intended to revolutionise the energy efficiency of British properties. The Government is establishing a framework to enable private firms to offer consumers energy efficiency improvements to their homes, community spaces and businesses at no upfront cost, and to recoup payments through a charge in instalments on the energy bill.

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ECO (Energy Company Obligation)

1. What does CERT mean to me?
Energy suppliers will provide grants and offers to help you pay for energy efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies for your home. The key thing to note here is that you can take up grants and offers from any energy company, regardless of whether they supply your gas and electricity. This could help reduce the amount of energy you use, reducing your CO2 emissions as well as helping you to save money on your energy bills too.
2. How does CERT work?
Electricity and gas suppliers will be obliged to promote things that:
  • improve energy efficiency, for example, loft and wall insulation
  • increase the amount of energy generated from renewable technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels and ground source heat pumps
This means that they will support you to introduce these measures to your home, and even contribute to the costs.
3. Why do we need CERT?
The UK has committed itself to a number of targets to reduce harmful emissions and CERT has been designed to make a significant contribution to achieving these targets:
  • cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 22 per cent from 1990 levels by 2008-2012, as part of the Kyoto Protocol
  • cutting emissions of CO2 by 34 per cent and 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020 and 2050 respectively, as part of Government policy
4. What is CERT?
The 'Carbon Emissions Reduction Target' obliges energy companies to take steps to ensure that the amount of CO2 emissions from homes is reduced. It is all about reducing CO2 emissions, one of the main causes of climate change. CERT came into effect in April 2008, and is in the third phase of a programme that has been running since 2002. The previous phase was known as the Energy Efficiency Commitment.

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SAP – Standard Assessment Procedure

1. Why does DECC need to carry out further reviews of SAP?
It is necessary to periodically review SAP to keep it up dated and fit for purpose. In support of this aim DECC may consider issuing an interim revision of the SAP document, if this was necessary. Such a revision would enable minor changes to be brought into SAP before the next formal revision. It could possibly take account of information from work in progress, for example, field trials assessing the performance of products under installed conditions. Though, Appendix Q remains the principal route for introducing new product performance information in advance of a full revision to SAP. Interim revision would have no material impact on assessments previously carried out under SAP 2009.
2. Is SAP meant to be a design or compliance tool?
SAP is a compliance tool. However, there is no reason why designers could not use it to predict the performance of different dwelling designs. Given that the assessment methodology and calculation principles are fully set out in the SAP document then software suppliers could easily make a design version available.
3. Why are we using the 2005 SAP methodology to assess CO2 emission factors?
It has been decided to continue using the SAP 2005 methodology for producing carbon emission factors based on the most up-to-date information available. Nonetheless, it was recognised that further work was required to examine the difference in carbon savings between distributed generation and grid based generation in terms of transmission losses. This will be considered, amongst other issues, as part of a proposed extensive review of SAP.
4. Will the new version of SAP produce the same results as the previous?
Because of changes to SAP, such as moving to a monthly based energy calculation and reduced water heating demand, and the assumptions used in relation to Part L of the Building Regulations there may be very small differences in the results compared with those produced using SAP 2005.
5. Are there any significant differences between the previous version of SAP and SAP 2009?
The most significant change is the move to calculating the energy demand on a monthly basis. The purpose of this is to provide more accurate assessments of energy use across the different seasons of the year. Similarly, the other changes are focused on improving the accuracy of dwelling assessments, particularly low energy dwellings.

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EPC – Energy Performance Certificates

1. Will I have to issue an EPC if I have a lodger in my house?
Letting of a room within your larger household does not constitute a rental of a building or part of a building therefore an EPC is not required.
2. Will an EPC be needed for holiday accommodation?
If the agreement between the parties expressly allows for a short period of holiday occupation only and no intention to create a tenancy can be inferred, then an EPC is not required.
3. Is an EPC needed for shared ownership dwellings?
The first equity purchase of the dwelling creates a trigger for an EPC to be produced. The purchase of subsequent equity does not create a need for a further EPC.
4. Can a landlord charge a tenant for the provision of an EPC?
It is not permitted for the landlord to charge for the provision of the original EPC. However it is permissible for a tenant who has already received the EPC to be charged for the provision of a copy document.
5. Is an EPC needed if tenants are moving via a mutual exchange?
If advertised for exchange via a choice based lettings system, then an EPC will be required. If the exchange has been agreed privately than an EPC is not required.
6. What if the tenant wants to buy the dwelling they already occupy? Can I use the same EPC as I used when they took the tenancy?
Yes, if the tenant wants to purchase the dwelling they rent, the same EPC can be used. However, if the dwelling is also being placed on the open market, the EPC should be no more than 12 months old, but your agent will be able to advise you.
7. If an EPC is being produced when the dwelling is empty, what impact will occupying tenants have on the accuracy of the energy and environmental ratings?
The occupying tenant will have no impact on the EPC ratings, as these are produced using standardised occupancy data (ie number of occupants and hours of heating per day).
8. Is it possible to advertise a property before the EPC has been produced?
There may be occasions when it is possible to offer a dwelling for rent before the EPC is available. However this should not be the norm. The landlord will be expected to have made contact with a DEA and commissioned the EPC with a view to receiving it within two weeks of the date it was commissioned.
9. I want to check the energy efficiency rating of my house but I am not looking to sell yet?
It is possible to arrange an EPC at any time and if you are not moving you will benefit from finding out how good your home is in terms of generating and retaining the heat energy used and what improvements could be made to reduce your energy bills.
10. I know I have loft insulation but it is hidden under boards?
Every reasonable effort is made to identify where insulation is installed including cavities and loft. Where no access is possible, the owner will be asked to provide an installation certificate or guarantee/warrantee as evidence if there is one avaiable.
11. Will you need to lift floorboards?
No, only a visual inspection is required and therefore there is no need to remove or move fixtures. Access will be needed to all rooms including the loft and any cellar as well as access to the boiler, heating controls, hot-water storage and gas/electric meters.
12. Will I invalidate the EPC if I carry out changes to the property?
No, you will need to point out to perspective buyers that you have made the changes and therefore increased the energy efficiency rating to that stated. If you make significant changes you should consider getting the certificate renewed (which would require a re-visit) so that it is representative of the new energy performance of your home.
13. Will my current spending on energy bills be taken into account?
No, the estimated energy bill calculations on the EPC are based on standardised living conditions and not on the individual owner's lifestyle. This allows benchmark comparisons between properties of a similar type.
14. What is the assessment procedure?
It uses the efficiency details of the heating and hot water provision for the property and also the structure characteristics of the building including walls, floors, roof and glazing type present to rate the energy performance of you home. Therefore access to all rooms is required to log information on radiators, glazing and lighting and the loft area is checked for insulation. Sometimes photographs are taken during the assessment to support site note statements and are not released with the EPC.
15. How long does an EPC assessment take?
Typically around 45mins to 1 hour for a 3-bed house. Complex properties with one or more extensions can take longer.
16. I have an existing EPC for my property - is it still valid?
Existing EPCs are now valid for 10 years from there certificate date.

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Other Grants & Offers

1. Can more than one landlord claim LESA for the same property?
If a house, flat or bed-sit is owned by more than one landlord, they can claim a share of the allowance either in proportion to:
  • their ownership of the property
  • the money they have spent on buying and installing the energy saving product
2. Can you claim LESA for more than one property?
Since 6 April 2007, it's been possible to claim a maximum allowance of £1,500 for each house, flat or bed-sit you rent out. For example, if you rent out a building that contains four flats, you can claim up to £1,500 for each flat. Previously, the maximum allowance was £1,500 for the whole building.
3. How do you to apply for LESA?
You claim the allowance when filling in your tax return.
4. When was the allowance available from?
Individual landlords have been able to claim the allowance since 6 April 2004 - for corporate landlords it's been available since 8 July 2008.
5. When does the LESA Allowance expire?
You can claim LESA up to 1 April 2015, when the availability of this allowance will end.
6. What does LESA cover?
This allowance can be claimed for properties you rent out in the UK and abroad. You can claim LESA for the costs of buying and installing certain energy saving products for properties you rent out, but only for what you actually spend. You can claim LESA for what you have spent on:
  • cavity wall and loft insulation, after 6 April 2004
  • solid wall insulation, after 7 April 2005
  • draught proofing and hot water system insulation, after 6 April 2006
  • floor insulation, after 6 April 2007
7. How much is LESA?
LESA is a tax allowance (not a cash payment) that allows you to claim up to £1,500 against tax every year.
8. Who can claim LESA?
You can claim LESA if you are a landlord renting out residential property and are either:
  • an individual landlord – someone who pays income tax on profits from letting
  • a corporate landlord – someone whose rental business is registered as a company and you pay corporation tax on profits from letting
However, you can't claim if you are a landlord:

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