Before you start...
If you're thinking about installing a system to generate your own heat, make sure your home is as well insulated as it can be so your heat-producing system can be most efficient.
Stop wasting energy; start taking action! This is the section to get you started on energy-saving, whether it's changing your habits or improving your home – save energy and save money!
The better insulated your home is, the less money you'll spend heating it. Find out more about different types of insulation, including draught-proofing, double glazing, and insulation for lofts and walls.
The latest on energy-efficient boilers to save you energy and money, and the right controls to use as little energy as possible, whatever the age of your boiler. No boiler? Find out about controls for electric systems too.
Renewable and low-carbon technologies are good for the environment and good for your pocket too - with government financial incentives, it’s never been a better time to install. Find out more now!
Get inspiration for your own community projects from a range of case studies in PDF and video format; find extensive advice about funding your project; and explore our range of project tools.
Information, advice and resources about energy-saving travel – how you can avoid using the car, and how to drive more efficiently when you can't avoid it.
Heat your home and generate electricity at the same time with a micro-CHP unit.
‘Micro-CHP’ stands for micro combined heat and power. This technology generates heat and electricity simultaneously, from the same energy source, in individual homes or buildings. The main output of a micro-CHP system is heat, with some electricity generation, at a typical ratio of about 6:1 for domestic appliances.
A typical domestic system will generate up to 1kW of electricity once warmed up: the amount of electricity generated over a year depends on how long the system is able to run. Any electricity you generate and don't use can be sold back to the grid.
Domestic micro-CHP systems are currently powered by mains gas or LPG; in the future there may be models powered by oil or bio-liquids. Although gas and LPG are fossil fuels rather than renewable energy sources, the technology is still considered to be a ‘low carbon technology’ because it can be more efficient than just burning a fossil fuel for heat and getting electricity from the national grid.
Micro-CHP systems are similar in size and shape to ordinary, domestic boilers and like them can be wall hung or floor standing. The only difference to a standard boiler is that they are able to generate electricity while they are heating water.
There are three main micro-CHP technologies. The difference is the way in which they generate electricity.
This is new to the market, although the principal of the Stirling engine is well established. The electrical output is small relative to the heat output (about 6:1) but this is not necessarily a problem for micro-CHP. The only system currently available with Microgeneration Certification Scheme accreditation is a Stirling engine unit, and these are now being installed in homes in the UK.
This is the most proven technology. These are essentially, and sometimes literally, truck diesel engines modified to run on natural gas or heating oil, connected directly to an electrical generator. Heat is then taken from the engine’s cooling water and exhaust manifold. They can have a higher electrical efficiency than a Stirling engine but are larger and noisier and are not currently available for the normal domestic market.
This is also new to the market in the UK and globally. Fuel cells work by taking energy from fuel at a chemical level rather than burning it. The technology is still at developmental stage and not widely available to consumers.
This technology is an eligible measure under the UK government’s Green Deal which is a financing mechanism that lets people pay for energy-efficiency improvements through savings on their energy bills.
Further information on Green Deal.