9 Jul 2012, 6:40 PM
A growing number of homeowners are choosing to combine different types of renewable energy products as part of a concerted drive to reduce costs and live a more sustainable life.
Renewable energy company Eco Environments says the move demonstrates a maturing of the consumer market and a shift away from customers mainly being interested in Solar PV and the Government’s feed-in-tariff incentives.
The Solar PV feed-in-tariff rates available for homeowners will be reduced from 21p/kWh to just 16p/kWh from August 1 with further reductions planned thereafter. David Hunt, a director with Eco Environments, said: “August 1 is a significant date for the Solar PV industry because it means the returns homeowners can expect from a small-scale domestic installation will decrease dramatically. While there is a still a respectable return to be had, particularly compared with more traditional investment opportunities such as ISAs, the days of 10-12% or more return on investment are over.
“What we are finding instead is that a growing number of customers are looking at how they can combine different types of renewable energy and energy efficient solutions in their homes, not just solar PV but also solar thermal, heat pumps, low energy lighting and even wind turbines when people have a decent amount of land.
“These are generally customers who have done their homework and are committed to reducing their energy costs as well as leading a more sustainable life.”
Airline pilot Chas and Thess Jutla are among those to have combined multiple renewable energy technologies and they did it in an 1870 house in Aughton, Lancashire. The couple, who have three young children, used Eco Environments to install an air source heat pump, a solar thermal system and a solar PV array.
Prior to going renewable they were faced with monthly bills of £150 for their gas and £60 for electricity and were concerned these were only going to rise. Chas said: “We no longer have a gas bill and, even better, British Gas has just sent us a cheque for £160 for the energy we have generated, while electricity costs about £90 a month. This may reduce as we are still adjusting the systems to suit our needs.
“Our running costs in terms of heat and light have effectively halved and we expect our investment to have paid for itself within seven years. The return from the banks is nowhere near as good as a project of this kind – and you are actually helping to make the planet a better place in the process!
“The demand for heat is much less than before and on sunny days we generate our own electricity. It is amazing how much warmer – and quieter – the house is since we had the work done. We have two tanks – one for heating and one for water. Both are heated to different temperatures – one by solar thermal and one by the heat pump – and they are super efficient.
“The children love what we have done, particularly the fact that we are harnessing the natural free energy of the sun and they are constantly fascinated to see our electricity meter go backwards.”