Creating your own energy

Creating your own energy

There are many ways to create energy, from sunlight or wind and heat from the earth, to air or water sources, plants grown for fuel and the movement of water.

Why create your own energy?

By creating your own energy you will helping to reduce our reliance on non-renewable energy sources and cutting your carbon emissions. It can also save you money on your energy bills and you could be paid for your electricity under the Government's Feed-In-Tariff scheme or the heat you generate from renewable sources under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Is my home suitable?

The majority of homes are capable of creating energy by one method or another, however there are some factors which could influence which method is most appropriate for your property. For example, which way your roof faces could have a significant impact on your ability to generate energy using solar PV and solar thermal systems.

The amount of space inside and outside the property could dictate whether solar water heating, heat pumps or wood-fuelled heating are possible. The proximity of your home to a river or stream would dictate whether hydroelectricity was an option and, for wind turbines, the average wind speed where you live would be a factor. 

What methods are there?

There are a variety of methods available to create your own energy depending on whether you want to generate electricity, heat or both. Micro-combined heat and power (Micro-CHP) generates both, while hydroelectricity, solar panels (PV) and wind turbines generate electricity and air source heat pumps, wood-fuelled heating, solar water heating and ground source heat pumps generate heat.

  • Micro-CHP systems are powered by mains gas and generate heat and electricity simultaneously from the same energy source. The main output is heat, with some electricity. They are similar in size to a standard domestic boiler and but can generate electricity while heating water.
  • Small hydroelectricity systems can produce enough energy for lighting and electrical appliances in an average home. The systems use flowing water to turn a turbine connected to a generator which produces electricity. 
  • Solar PV panels capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic cells. The cells convert energy into electricity which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.
  • Small scale wind turbines use the power of the wind to generate electricity. The UK is ideal for domestic turbines as 40% of Europe's wind blows over this country and, in an exposed site, you could generate electricity to run your household appliances and lighting. 
  • Air source heat pumps absorb heat from the outside air even when the temperature is as low as -15. The heat can be used to run radiators, hot water systems, under-floor heating or warm air convectors in your home. They do require electricity to run but the heat they extract is constantly being renewed naturally.
  • Wood fuelled heating (or biomass systems) burn wood pellets, chips and logs to power central heating and hot water systems or provide warmth to a single room.
  • Solar water heating systems use heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water and can be used in conjunction with a conventional boiler.
  • Ground source heat pumps circulate a mixture of water and antifreeze around a loop of pipes buried underground. Heat is absorbed by the fluid in the pipes and this is passed through a heat exchanger into the heat pump. This can then be used to heat hot water, radiators, warm air heating systems and under floor heating in the home.

How much could I save?

How much you could save varies from method to method as does the cost of installation. As an example, solar PV panels could save you more than £170 per year on your energy bills.