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Ecoliving Micro-renewable Energy Masterclass

Video Transcript

The first thing we always recommend in an existing building is do what you can to eliminate drafts and to insulate. That's absolutely the first thing that you should concentrate on. And if you are building a new home don't skimp, make sure you invest and design around as much insulation as possible and air tightness as well in a new home. So the best approach really is to look at the complete dwelling and understand all the energy requirements. So that typically is, the big one is the heat demand and it is important to calculate that. But also how are you going to use the building, what sort of lifestyle do you have. Are you somebody that is going to be able to install a wood boiler and load that every second morning in the winter and light it. Or do you want something that is more convenient and is going to look after itself. And then we also need to look at the site. What does the site offer in terms of what we can tap into and harness in terms of renewable energy. Is there a south-facing elevation that we can look at for solar? Is it a very large piece of land that we could consider a small wind turbine 100m from the property.

All of these sorts of things are important to look at to get a complete picture before deciding on the most appropriate solution. There are lots of things that can be done and I'm just going to go through a few of these technologies very very quickly. Ground source heat pumps are where we are harnessing stored solar heat energy in the ground or in the air or in water, and the earth acts like a battery that is charged with solar energy in the summer and we can harness that and use that during heating season during the winter. Different ways of harnessing energy through a horizontal loop about a meter beneath the surface or a borehole if there is not space for that.

For a typical 3 bedroomed house you need about 400m for a horizontal loop or 140m down in a borehole to provide the heat required. And a lot of people ask us how does a heat pump actually work? Because how can we get enough heat from the ground. And here it's all about 3 circuits really. So we have a circuit outside in the ground in the case of a ground source heat pump. We have a circuit inside the heat pump which is a refrigeration cycle and then a circuit inside the house which is the heating distribution system - so an under floor heating system or radiators. And the secret is this is the circuit inside the heat pump, so we have heat coming from the ground which might only be 0 degrees but that's enough to make the refrigerant inside the heat pump evaporate because it has a very very low boiling point. So that's enough to change the refrigerant from a liquid to a gas, and as a gas, it gets pumped through the compressor, and the temperature goes way up to 100 degrees before the gas delivers its heat in the condenser transferring the heat to water, which is then usable for heating and hot water. And it's the same process with an air source heat pump except instead of coming from the ground we're tapping into stored heat in the air.

This is an example of an air source heat pump which needs to be positioned outside. The ground source, the actual unit can be inside the house. This is an example of a project which we have done where we have retro-fitted an air source heat pump into an old cottage. This family were paying £200 a month for oil heating and we installed an air source heat pump over a year ago and have been monitoring the costs and over the year they are paying just £60 a month for heating a hot water. This photograph shows the unit inside the house - the outdoor part, the indoor part which incorporates the hot water cylinder.

For those of you building a new home, it is very important to consider heat recovery ventilation. As the building regs improve and we want to build more air tight houses, better insulated, so the importance of ventilation increases because we must get moisture out of the property to prevent sick building syndrome - problems with moisture, dampness which can lead to allergies, asthma, and illnesses etc. It's something Scandinavians came across and dealt with 30 years ago but only now are we building new homes to that sort of standard so it is very very important that you consider that.

Solar thermal can work integrated into a heating system or for hot water and can be providing free energy when the sun is shining, but can only really be considered as a secondary heating system along with a primary heating system.

Biomass, wood pellet boilers which provides a high temperature, so very good at retro-fitting into an existing building where the insulation levels aren't as high because we are still getting a high temperature which can go through an existing radiator system.

Just to let you know, those of you who are considering replacing an oil boiler or an LPG boiler for example and you are off the gas grid, the Government this week has just announced an extension of the Renewable Heat Premium Payment which gives a grant of these amounts towards those different technologies and it is a one off payment. And the Government has also talked about the Renewable Heat Incentive which will be an annual payment which we anticipate starting in the summer next year. But if you install now and that happens in the summer next year, you will still qualify for the ongoing payments.

Solar thermal you can install even if you have gas heating but the other technologies you need to be off the gas grid. Solar PV has been very much in the news - a lot of awareness around that. The feed-in-tariff rate has now dropped but so has the price of solar modules and we are even now, with the lower feed-in-tariff looking at a payback of around 10 years with the feed-in-tariff lasting 20 years. So this is all driven the feed-in-tariff, the Renewable Heat Incentive, and other incentives, and other initiatives like the Green Deal which the Government is planning to launch later this year to encourage us to improve the energy efficiency of our homes. It is all driven by the UK and EU targets improving energy efficiency, increasing the percentage of our total energy which comes from renewables. This is a chart of all the 27 EU member states and how much energy comes from renewables. Sweden is at the top performing country as one might have expected, with about 44% at the moment and their target is 49 for 2020. And as you see you have to go second to the bottom for the UK. I think we are on about 4% at the moment. Our target is 15, so well short of the EU average. We have one of the oldest housing stocks in Europe so a lot of work to be done.

So why should you consider installing renewables? Well to become more self sufficient and become less exposed to increasing fuel prices. Also, this is latest technology we are talking about and can improve the comfort levels inside your home. Obviously reduce your carbon footprint and importantly reduce your running costs. And potentially provide an income through things like the feed-in-tariff and the Renewable Heat Incentive.

So potentially going back to the original slide about typical energy use in the home, through draft proofing, insulation and installing renewable heat we can reduce that 25,000 Kilowatts down to 10,000 Kilowatts hours a year that we actually pay for. And then installing for example solar PV, we can reduce the 5,000 required for appliances and electrical usage down to say 3,000 in the average home, which gives us instead of 30,000 the potential to reduce that way down to 13,000. So substantial savings are possible.

 Just very quickly, this is a new build project that we have been involved with. The figures are very different; the energy usage figures for a new build where the insulation levels are much higher and the air tightness. So we can get heating way down from 80% to 34% of the total energy requirement. And it means things like solar thermal can have a much bigger impact in the greater scheme of the total energy requirements. So here for example the actual running costs 3 years down the line in this house averaged about £883 a year for heating hot water and all energy requirements for the property. This customer has just installed 4 Kilowatts of solar PV and plans to do another 4 Kilowatts which will potentially bring the total running costs down to £350 a year, which I think you will agree is pretty impressive.

So a very quick run through a few of the options, but the key message is to look at the whole project, the whole house, the energy requirements, and work out, do your research, work out what the most appropriate solution for your particular situation is. We are exhibiting just around the corner here if you would like to catch up with us and ask any more questions. Thank you.

Written by Ecoliving at 00:00

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Ecoliving is a specialist provider and award winner of micro-renewable energy solutions - heat pumps, biomass boilers, combined heat and power (CHP), underfloor heating, solar and wood burning stoves. We also offer service, repair and maintenance.

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