Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

 

Our Renewable Energy Roadshow will be coming back to a venue local to you in the New Year. Check back here in January for our event schedule. In the meanwhile we would like to wish all of our customers past, present and future a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2016.

Our offices will be closed from 5pm on Wednesday 23rd December 2015 and we will reopen on Monday 4th January 2016 at 8.30am.

Green Your Business: 3 Energy (and Money) Saving Tips

Did you know? “UK businesses waste 10-20% of the energy they buy.” (Source: Confederation of British Industry).

Wasteful energy consumption doesn’t just affect the environment – it impacts your overheads too. Cut down on waste and reduce costs with our top tips.

1. Office Activities. Keeping a computer in standby mode or utilising a screensaver may seem like energy-efficient behaviours, but in truth your device will be consuming just as much energy as when it’s being used. To keep energy consumption low, switch your equipment off if you’re not using it. If turning your computer off just isn’t practical, turn the monitor off when you’re taking a break.

2. Minimise artificial lighting. Clear your windows, rearrange your office space and ensure you’re making the most of natural light. If you’re only working in one part of a building, keep the artificial lighting you are using limited to that area. If you have the budget, consider daylight or motion sensors.

3. Solar power your business. Whether your company employs hundreds of people or your office doubles as your family home, running any kind of business requires electricity. Those who work from home often find that their electricity bills shoot up when they’re inside during the day. To bring down your electricity costs, consider solar panels. The sun’s rays are at their strongest from 10am-3pm, when most people at work. Consequentially, during the peak of your workday, solar panels are producing most of their electricity. A small system can be a great investment for businesses of many sizes, but larger businesses may prefer a Power Purchase Agreement. Speak to Solarwall for more information.

Working with Harrogate Borough Council

Harrogate Borough Council are providing residents with warmer, more energy efficient public buildings, with Solarwall providing insulation for several of their properties.

Ripon Spa Baths, Ripon Leisure Centre, Harrogate Hydro, and Starbeck Baths were selected by Harrogate Borough Council to have loft and suspended ceiling insulation. The insulation measures will increase the warmth and comfort of the buildings, providing users of the swimming pools and leisure centre with a much better experience. As heat rises, and insulation allows properties to retain heat, the buildings will be much cheaper to heat, permanently.

Energy efficient buildings are also much better for the environment, as the reduced need for heating helps to lower a property’s carbon footprint. Insulating the buildings will not just benefit residents immediately, but for the lifetime of the properties.

Property Annual Fuel Bill Savings Annual Carbon Savings
Ripon Spa Baths £475 1.61  tonnes
Ripon Leisure Centre £831.25 3.325 tonnes
Harrogate Hydro £735 2.94 tonnes
Starbeck Baths £364 1.456 tonnes

Please note, these figures are estimations only, based on the square footage of the properties and typical energy bill and carbon savings.

#ColdHomesWeek

#ColdHomesWeek

February 2nd-6th is #ColdHomesWeek- part of the Energy Bill Revolution, the biggest ever public campaign to end fuel poverty.

Energy Bill Revolution is operated by an alliance of organisations with the shared aim of spreading awareness of fuel poverty and the suffering it causes.

The campaigners want to encourage involvement in the scheme from UK politicians with the hope that this could motivate the Government to launch a much more ambitious home energy efficiency programme. So far, 230 MPs have already signed up in support of the campaign, including York Central MP Hugh Bayley, who visited Solarwall late last year.

By spreading awareness of the campaign, the runners hope for home energy efficiency to be made a UK national infrastructure priority and for low income homes to be given grants to make their homes highly energy efficient. If this is achieved, it is hoped that the thousands of deaths that occur annually due to living in cold homes could be avoided.

If you would like to show support for this campaign, the easiest way to do so is to tweet using the #ColdHomesWeek hashtag, to raise awareness of the campaign to those who you know. Energy Bill Revolution are also encouraging advocates of the campaign to contact their local MPs and ask them to pledge their support.

To read more about Energy Bill Revolution and what the campaign hopes to achieve, please visit their website.

How to maximise your savings and ROI with solar panels

Solar photovoltaic panels are an intelligent investment.

As the UK government rewards those who choose to proceed with installation by offering them Feed-in Tariff payments – payments that are guaranteed for 20 years, index-linked and tax-free for domestic domiciles, awarded for each unit of electricity generated by an eligible system – investing in solar panels is an opportunity to earn a substantial supplementary income.  The benefits are environmental too: switching to solar energy could reduce your carbon footprint by around 1.8 tonnes annually, according to Energy Saving Trust.  Solar energy is a renewable, sustainable and non-polluting energy source. But how can you make the most of your system?

Solar photovoltaic panels are also a popular home-improvement measure as they can save you money on your electricity bills. For each unit of electricity you use that your panels have generated, you are saving what you would have previously paid to import electricity from the national grid. As your Feed-in Tariff payments are paid at a fixed rate – presuming your system isn’t metred – you won’t be able to increase them. But by making a few simple changes, you can increase your electricity bill savings.

Maximising the amount you are saving on your electricity bills is achieved by ensuring you are using as much of your free solar energy as possible.  Here listed are a few suggestions for how you can easily do this, including simple lifestyle adjustments and one relatively inexpensive but potentially financially-rewarding technology. As DECC expects electricity costs in the UK to rise by between 26-44% for households by 2020, and by between 33-77% for commercial consumers, now is the time to invest in solar panels and future-proof yourself against rising energy prices.

Making the Most of Solar Panels                                                         

1. Take advantage of the brightest hours: Solar photovoltaic panels are generating electricity whenever they are exposed to light. Therefore, it is advisable to use any electrical items with a high electricity demand during the sunniest hours of the day, to maximise your savings.

For example: the average washing machine cycle requires 700 watts of electricity, accumulating an estimated cost of £55.48 annually – which could be avoided if you were to schedule your washes for during the hours when your panels are generating energy. Many models of washing machine have built-in timers, which are useful if you are not at home during the brightest hours of the day. But if you don’t have in-built timers, external timers for your appliances are available cheaply. Products such as Belkin’s WeMo enable you to wirelessly control your electrical items from anywhere via your smartphone or tablet, using your home’s Wi-Fi network.

2. Stagger use of your appliances: To avoid accidentally importing electricity from the grid by using more than your panels are generating, try not to allow multiple appliances to draw electricity simultaneously. So when making breakfast, boil the kettle for your morning drink before switching on your toaster. Small changes like this will lessen the chance of you using more electricity than you are generating.

3. Heat your water: Solar immersion diverters are small, automatic power controllers that are programmed to divert the surplus energy that your solar panels are generating, which would normally be exported back to the grid, to your immersion heater. These devices will generate a large portion of your hot water and are expected to save an average family £250 annually.  They’ll also help to reduce your carbon emissions, as you won’t rely as much on your typical, non-renewable heating measure. Marketing-leading brands include immerSun and Solar iBoost.

4. Storing the surplus: An often enquired-about method of maximising self-consumption from solar panels is to store your surplus electricity using a form of solar battery. These products can certainly help you in eluding rising electricity costs, and are particularly useful for those with off-grid properties.

For those connected to the grid, these types of systems typically will only feed electricity to the utility grid once the battery has been fully charged. You can then draw from your battery when you require electricity at moments when your panels are not generating. Solar batteries tend not to be the ideal choice for most domestic homes as, unlike a solar immersion diverter, these devices tend to be very large and expensive, resulting in a much longer payback period for your system.

With current installation costs and Feed-in Tariff rates, we expect most Solarwall customers to earn a 13% return on their investment – adopting any of these tips could help you to earn an even greater return. Please browse our website, www.solarwall.co.uk, for more information on solar panels, solar immersion diverters and other renewable technologies and insulation measures.

How to choose your solar panels installer

Solar Photovoltaic Panels

Solar photovoltaic panels are a popular home improvement choice: they can significantly reduce your electricity bills, lower your carbon footprint, improve the energy efficiency of your property and, in certain countries, and provide you with an additional income through government incentives, such as the UK’s Feed-in Tariff scheme.

However, choosing the right solar panel installer for you can be a confusing process – there are all sorts of installers to choose from, variously offering installation of different panels at different prices. There are also companies offering to install solar panels for you for free, but such companies retain ownership of the panels and would collect any government incentive payments you may otherwise be entitled to for themselves.

This checklist-style guide is intended to offer guidance to anyone living in England, Scotland or Wales (who can apply for the UK government’s Feed-in Tariff) who is interested in investing in solar photovoltaic panels. Ensuring your installer meets all of the criteria we have specified should guarantee that you are investing in a credible and trustworthy company and that your system components are of good quality.

If you are looking for more information about solar panels, other renewable technologies or insulating your property, please feel free to look around our website, www.solarwall.co.uk. A print-out version of this checklist is also available.

How to choose a solar photovoltaic panel installer

Before Installation:

  • Check your home has an EPC rating of D or above
  • Ensure you have the available space for an array and an inverter
  • Make sure you have chosen an installer who is MCS certified and installs MCS certified products
  • Have any planned works approved by your local authority, if your property is in a conservation area, area of outstanding natural beauty or if the building is listed
  • Check the warranties on offer from the installer for parts and labour, as well as warranties offered by the product manufacturers

During Your Installation:

  • A trained surveyor should complete a thorough, accurate technical survey – not a salesperson. The surveyor should ask you about your lifestyle, energy usage, etc. They should check that the roof area is suitable for panels and that the loft can contain an inverter.
  • You should receive a quotation containing essential information about the system the installer has designed for your property. This would include: a system specification (details of the panels, inverter, isolators, etc), SAP calculations, projected savings and Feed-in Tariff payments. The quote should include VAT at 5% for domestic properties and 20% for commercial.
  • After the panels have been installed, the system must be commissioned by an MCS qualified electrician. Once this has been done, your installation will be submitted to MCS and you will be provided with an MCS certificate. This is essential for you to receive your Feed-in Tariff payments.

After Your Installation:

If your installers have met all the criteria stated previously, then your solar panels should be covered by product and performance warranties, offered by the part manufacturers, and a good installer would have offered you their own warranty, for parts and labour.

Experienced installers will typically offer an aftercare service; this service should be performed by a technician and include: cleaning and checking of the panels, inspection of the condition and tightness of roof fixings and seals around roof penetration, examining the condition of the inverter, checking and recording open circuit voltage and current levels, and ensuring optimum functionality of the system.