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Getting started with renewables
Instead of buying all of your energy from suppliers, you can install renewables technology (also called micro generation and low-carbon technology) to generate your own. And in some cases, you can sell the surplus energy you generate back to the grid.
Why install renewables?
There are lots of good reasons to use renewables. You will be:
- making use of secure, local resources
- reducing your dependence on non-renewable energy
- helping to reduce the production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases
- creating new jobs in renewable energy industries
- saving and even earning money.
Get started with our steps to consider
Make your home energy-efficient
To ensure you get the most out of your renewables technology, make your home as energy-efficient as possible before you start. Think about:
- insulating, draught-proofing and double-glazing wherever you can
- reducing electricity use from lighting and appliances
- saving water.
Find out the options for your property
The factors to consider for your property are:
- for solar PV and solar thermal: which way your roof faces
- for solar thermal, heat pumps and biomass: space inside and outside
- for hydroelectricity: whether you have a stream or river running past
- for wind turbines: what the average wind speed is
Find a suitable renewables technology for your property with our renewables selector.
Decide what you want to achieve
Most people want to save money and reduce their emissions, and it is becoming more possible to achieve both. There can also be other factors that might influence your choice.
- If you need to replace your boiler or central heating system anyway, installing a new biomass boiler or heat pump becomes more cost-effective.
- If you want to save the most carbon dioxide, consider wood-fuelled heating, a large wind turbine or a large solar PV system.
- If you want to do a bit for the environment but have limited funds, think about a cheaper option such as solar water heating.
- If you live in an isolated rural property with no mains electricity, you may get the most reliable off-grid supply from hydro if you have the resource, or from a mixture of wind and solar PV.
Narrow the options
Now you know which options suit your site and your needs, you can narrow down the options and consider:
- the size of the system
- what products are available
- the costs
- any issues about the installation
It's worth talking to or visiting homeowners in your area who have installed similar technologies. If you live in Scotland, visit the Green Homes Network page.
Check planning and insurance
Check whether you need planning permission. Many domestic generation systems are now classed as ‘permitted development’ - meaning they do not need planning permission provided they meet certain criteria. The rules are different for different technologies. Find out more about getting permission.
Check with your home insurance provider to make sure your policy covers the changes to your home, and make any adjustments you need. Some policies cover the more common systems such as solar PV.
Work out what you can save
All the systems detailed on our renewables webpage can potentially help you save money by reducing the amount of electricity or heating fuel you need to buy.
How much you save and earn will depend on a number of factors, including technology, the size of the system, your location, and the size of your house.
There is more information about savings on the pages for each technology and you can find out more about financial support available for installing renewables.
Find an installer
We recommend you use an installer who:
We also recommend that you get three quotes from different installers before deciding who to use.
Search the renewables installer finder tool.
Learn how to make the most of your system
Research has shown that it's essential to learn how to use your new system – make sure your installer explains the system and its controls fully before they finish, and that they hand over any manuals that come with the system. This is a standard part of the installation process, and any competent installer should be happy to spend time talking to you.