Renewable energy


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Being environmentally friendly isn’t like it used to be. Nowadays, being green is just a part of everyday life – you don’t have to wear sackcloth, grow your own food or milk any goats. Today, it’s as simple as recycling and trying to save as much energy as you can. But lots of us feel we could be doing more and are looking into renewable energy and how to use it and even how to make it – but is it for you?

Frequently thought questions

Energy’s a funny thing. It’s like magic – it’s just there every time you flick a switch, so the thought of turning sunlight and wind into the stuff that makes your washing machine work, is (quite frankly) mind-blowing. But hold that thought – here are some frequently thought questions about renewable energy.

What is renewable energy?

Sometimes, even the simplest questions can have you stumped. But renewable energy is exactly what you expect it to be – it’s energy that basically never runs out because it naturally replenishes itself – like solar and wind energy.

What’s wrong with normal, old fashioned energy?

One day, fossil fuels are going to run out – so if we haven’t cracked the whole renewable energy thing; we’ll be left in the dark. Fossil fuels also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which influences global warming.

Can I make my own renewable energy?

In short – yes you can. If you can invest in ‘solar photovoltaic panels’ or PV panels for short, then you can harness the heat of the sun from your own rooftop. PV panels harvest the sun’s energy and converts it into electricity that you can use at home. You can also get solar thermal panels – these take the sun’s energy and use it to heat your water through a series of coils which feed it into your water cylinder.

PV and thermal panels are very different, so the one that’s right for you will depend on what outcome you want from your renewable energy. It might sound like it’s nothing more than a few solar mirrors and a bit of fairy dust but the science and technology behind it all is complicated and uses a whole load of words that are hard to spell.

Will making my own energy really save me money?

Potentially, yes. There’s usually a large initial cost when it comes to getting the technology installed in the first place. But there are long term savings to be had and making and utilising your own energy will reduce your carbon footprint considerably.

With PV panels, there’s also the potential to sell back excess energy you’ve made to the national grid via your regular energy supplier.

Alternatively, if you don’t fancy turning your house into a solar hot spot, then you can of course, buy renewable energy from your supplier.

What’s a green energy tariff?

Like with regular energy tariffs you’ll need to decide what tariff will work for your household. Fixed tariffs or standard energy tariffs are the usual choice but there’s a whole new level for green tariffs. The following options are also available:

• You can choose a supplier that offers either a percentage or up to 100% green energy. Your supplier must confirm up front the mix of energy so you’re clear about what you’re getting.
• Some suppliers just offer renewable energy.
• You may end up with a supplier that offers you fossil fuel generated energy, which is then matched by them with a unit of 100% renewable energy and entered into the national network.
• You may end up on a tariff where you pay a premium and the supplier makes a donation to a ‘clean’ energy project.

It’s important that you review the T&Cs of suppliers before you go ahead and make the switch to them to ensure that you’re getting the right green energy type for your needs or preferences.

What’s so great about solar energy?

We all know the sun is very, very hot, but it’s also a much-underused natural resource – for example, did you know that the sun gives out more energy in a single day than the whole planet could use in a year? With this in mind, it’s easy to see the sun’s full energy providing potential. But are solar panels an investment worth making?

It’s easy being green (really)

If installing solar panels feels too much like hard work and a whole load of faff you just don’t need, then you can still do your bit when it comes to green energy. Energy companies have to provide at least some their energy using renewable sources – it’s known as the ‘Renewables Obligation’ and it’s overseen by utilities regulator, Ofgem.

According to Greenpeace, 85% of our energy could come from renewables by 2030, which is all well and good – but what about the here and now? If you’re looking for a new energy deal, then why not comparethemarket.com? You could end up with a green supplier. Just tell us about your energy use (an old bill is handy here) and we’ll do the searching for you– simples (we told you it was easy).

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