Cutting costs is a welcome idea for many and embracing green energy can do just that, whether you are looking to save money or improve your green credentials, installing renewable energy products can be a very rewarding process. The use of renewable energy on a national scale is still limited with fossil fuels currently generating about three-quarters of electricity in the UK. Generated from natural resources, such as the sun, wind and water, green energy enables you to reduce your carbon footprint, help reduce climate change and become less dependent on fossil fuels, which are becoming more expensive and difficult to find.
Reasons to go green:
Reducing energy use
Before going ahead with any installation, it is important to address current energy usage. Energy efficiency should take priority over renewable energy and when comparing cost and carbon reduction, reducing the total amount of energy you use is the better option.
To minimise the amount of wasted energy, consider reviewing your insulation, making sure all buildings are draught-proof, as well as the energy rating on appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines.
Lighting can be a massive energy drain and any incandescent bulbs should be replaced with low energy varieties, such as compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED.
Any appliances that aren’t used regularly should be unplugged instead of left on standby, especially items such as radios and phone chargers.
CFL bulbs do not work as well when temperatures drop below -15 degrees Celsius so alternatives may be needed during bad winters.
The most talked about producer of renewable energy is solar. Easily installed and with no need for planning permission (unless the property is listed or in a conservation area), solar panels usually have a 25-year manufacturers’ performance guarantee. Solar panels are made of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which turn sunlight into electricity, which is then fed into your premises’ mains electricity supply. Although the technology behind solar is relatively old, the efficiency has improved dramatically in recent years and the cost of installation has gone down. The electricity produced by solar panels is used to power any appliances currently in use within your premises, while any electricity unused will be sent to the grid.
Although they can be expensive at first (costing on average between £6,000 and £9,000) many companies offer a long-term payment plan or free solar panels as part of the governments Feed-in Tariff.
However, for properties that qualify, you can receive free solar panels through schemes referred to as “rent–a–roof.” Solar companies install the solar energy panels free of charge, and pay for any maintenance and connection charges. Then they collect any profit from the green electricity that is generated. You benefit from the free electricity generated from the solar energy panels, without any of the cost.
It is worth noting there are also solar thermal panels on the market, but these are only used to heat water. The solar panels heat water filled pipes, which is stored in a hot water tank until ready for use. This is a particularly beneficial option for premises with a high hot water demand.
The Feed-in Tariff scheme–also known as FiTs or the Clean Energy Cashback scheme–means that people who generate their own green or renewable energy will be paid for doing so.Anne Christopher of Solar Technology International, believes solar power is a great resource for equestrian properties. “Solar power can well match the demands placed upon it by equestrian properties, it provides an excellent alternative to electricity and allows users to do their little bit for the environment by using a clean energy that will not run out or harm the environment.
“Possibly the single, greatest benefit for the horse or yard owner is the freedom from the electricity grid, this means that lighting or power is available instantly at almost any location, no matter how remote. There is obviously a big cost benefit to using solar versus wiring a location up for electricity and as a company we are passionate about solar and see a brighter future for Solar on a national and global level as we continue to innovate and develop its broader use.”
For those looking to reduce energy spent on heating, biomass boilers will be most suitable. Using wood pellets, chips or logs, these boilers cost an estimated £600 a year to run and emit around 3 tonnes fewer carbon dioxide a year in comparison to a gas boiler. While using wood pellets to fuel the boiler is most practical, as they can be automatically fed into the system, logs are cheaper and may be useful for properties with a readily available supply. These boilers can be used for general heating as well as drying hay and straw, but require plenty of space to set up the boiler as well as store the fuel.
Currently the government offers the Renewable Heat Incentive, which can give you regular payments over seven years if you install an eligible renewable heating system, such as a biomass boiler or heat pump.
For many yards, lighting is a huge energy expense and also the most difficult to install if there is no immediate access to mains power. However, in wake of their success with the SolarHub at last year’s British Equestrian Trade Association international trade fair, Solar Technology International has recently released another ingenious solar powered lighting rig.
The SolarMate Arena Light offers a solar-powered floodlight system, giving an instant, mains-free solution for horse manèges, riding schools, livery yards and sports fields. Supplied with brackets and fixings, the light can be clamped to any scaffold pole or wall and requires little maintenance. Offering up to six hours during summer and at least one hour a day in winter, this product is a great choice for those wanting all the benefits of floodlights, without the energy bill.
Additionally they have also released a powerful PIR security light, perfect for use outside tackrooms and paddocks, making it a very economical way of bolstering security. The SolarMate Secure Professional is a movement-activated security light that uses a powerful 2.5watt solar panel and an ultra bright 45 LED light unit to illuminate areas with the equivalent to mains brightness. Again it is easily installed and comes supplied with a connection cable and wall fixings.
Owners of large yards may find it beneficial to put up notices reminding people to turn off lights and appliances once finished using them.
Reducing energy bills, gaining an income through government tariffs and incentives in addition to cutting your carbon footprint, are just a handful of the reasons green energy is such a rewarding investment. Whether it’s for home or equestrian use, renewable energy is certainly worth consideration.