Some people decide to carry out improvements which can generate energy. These improvements are called microgeneration schemes.
This section of the guide gives an introduction to these schemes, and other things to consider if you want to make these sorts of improvements to your home.
Biomass boilers – these burn things such as wood and wood chips, waste from chicken coops and straw. Usually, you will get biomass fuel from local suppliers.
Ground-source heat pumps – these use a loop (made of lengths of pipe) which is buried in the ground to transfer heat from the ground into a building. It can provide heating and, in some cases, it can warm water, so that it takes less energy to heat the water up. As well as ground-source heat pumps, you can also buy air-source and water-source heat pumps.
Wind turbines – these use wind to produce electricity. How well they work depends where they are put up. The amount of electricity they generate also depends on the speed of the wind. Trees and buildings can affect the speed of the wind, so they are normally put on a mast or tower, or on the top of buildings.
Solar photovoltaic cells – these generate electricity from sunlight, even on cloudy days. They usually come as panels you fix to your roof or roof tiles.
Solar water heating – this is the most common use of solar energy. It can usually provide all the hot water you need during the summer months, which means it can provide about half of the hot water you need each year.
What else do I need to know about renewable sources of energy?
If you are thinking about using a microgeneration scheme, you may need to get planning permission or building regulation approval.
For example, you will probably have to get planning permission for a wind turbine.
You may also need planning permission for the other types of improvements too, for example, if you need to build onto your home to provide room for a boiler, or need to change the chimney or flue (you may need to make it bigger, higher or change the lining). You should check with our Planning Services, or Building Regulations sections before starting.