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Installing renewables

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There is a lot to consider before and after installing a renewables system. Our useful guide will help to ensure you cover all important first steps for installation, so that you can get the most out of your system.

What should I do before installing my new system? 

1. Find a reputable installer

We recommend you use an installer who is certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and uses MCS-certified products.

All installers or suppliers should be able to provide a detailed breakdown of the specification and costs of their proposed system. They should also be able to:

  • explain how they have calculated the size of the system to be appropriate for your needs.
  • supply clear information and operating instructions.
  • explain how you should maintain your system.
  • provide an estimate of how much heat and electricity will be generated by any proposed system, and illustrate what this means in terms of your current energy needs.
  • provide an estimate of the savings you could make after installation.

2. Get a quote

We recommend you get at least three quotes from three different installers. Beware of heavy-handed sales techniques, such as pressure to sign on the day, high prices with large discounts for signing on the spot, or bogus monitoring scheme discounts.

Don’t compare installers on cost alone – the cheapest may not be the most appropriate.   

Check quotations for details including:

  • Will the installer project manage the whole job or will you need to arrange and pay for other trades such as electricians, plumbers or ground work contractors?
  • Do the prices cover the distribution system (radiators and associated pipework) and the safe removal and disposal of any existing equipment, for example your old boiler?
  • Do prices cover the cost of commissioning the system? All accredited installers are certified to commission systems once fully installed to ensure that they are fit for purpose. Make sure that you receive a Commissioning Certificate from the installer.
  • Available options e.g. size, fuel type, hot water storage, and maintenance cycles.
  • The efficiency values of the system.
  • Payment options - your deposit should not be more than 25 per cent of the full cost. You should check that this will be protected with insurance.
  • For heating systems, ask whether the cost of integration with your home’s heating system, or a proposed heating system, is included.

3. Check planning permission and building warrants

Depending on the kind of property and installation, you may also need to get planning permission or a building warrant from your local planning authority. Make sure you have the right permissions in place before beginning installation.

  • Find out if you need planning permission

    You should always check with your local planning department to find out if planning permission or building warrants are required. If your home is a listed building you will almost certainly require consent from your local authority. 

    For more information on planning permission in your nation use the following links:
    Planning Portal - for England and Wales
    Scottish Government website - for Scotland
    Northern Ireland Planning Portal - for Northern Ireland.
     

  • Check and comply with building regulations

    Find out more about the relevant building regulations in your nation using the following links:
    England and Wales
    Scotland
    Northern Ireland

4. Check your insurance policy

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.

5. Get financial support

There are many schemes offering financial support and incentives for installing renewables. You may have to apply for funding before proceeding with the installation so it’s worth checking beforehand.

 

Check out this Top tips video from RECC (Renewable Energy Consumer Code):

 

What should I do after my system has been installed? 

6. Check your MCS certificate

Once the renewables system has been commissioned you should receive an MCS installation certificate from your installer. MCS requirements state that your MCS installer should have registered your system within ten working days of the system being fully installed. Householders must use an MCS certified installer and product for most funding schemes.

7. Organise a follow-up EPC

You may wish to get a follow-up EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) carried out to update the energy efficiency rating of your property.

An EPC is now required if you wish to rent your property in the UK or sell your house in Scotland. EPCs are also required to pre-qualify for certain government financial incentive schemes for renewables systems and insulation.

If you get any energy saving measures retrofitted in your property such as wall, floor or loft insulation which will not be visible, it is very important to keep evidence of this work. Take photos before and after installation, keep receipts of materials and builders' invoices and building warrant plans.  

If an EPC surveyor cannot visually see the measure because it's inaccessible they will need to see documentary evidence of the work undertaken in order to validate the EPC. 

If you do not have evidence of retrofit insulation, this insulation cannot be factored into the EPC rating and will be ignored. Instead the level of insulation will be assumed based on the building’s age. This may significantly affect the EPC energy rating and the rating may not be as high as it could be.

8. Claim financial support for which you applied

Check to see what paperwork is required to complete your application. Most schemes will require your MCS certification to process your claim.

9. Learn about your system

Make sure your installer explains how your system and its controls work 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 take you through this.

More information

Get advice

If you want more information and advice on planning and you live in England or Wales contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234. If you live in Scotland contact Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282 (Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm and Saturday, 9am-5pm). You can also contact your local planning department.

Live in Scotland?

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