Sat 9th Sun 10th April Westpoint Exeter
Sat 10am–4.30pm Sun 10am–4pm

Reduce Your Energy Bills in 3 Simple Steps

2014 exhibitors Stove Shop Renewables go through some interesting steps to help reduce your Energy Bills. As well as looking at some Government Incentives.

Step 1 – Take an objective look at your energy costs

Traditional oil and gas fired Aga’s are costing, on average, £55.00 per week to run.  It’s easy to think that it heats the whole house, and therefore constitutes central heating, but it doesn’t.

Oil fired central heating boilers aged between 10 to 15 years old are only 50-60 % efficient.  Propane boilers have a running cost of 20 % greater than oil boilers and propane suppliers tie you in so that you can’t shop around when it comes to propane purchase.

Electricity costs are set to increase by 15% over the next few years and night storage heating increases day rate electricity by 2-3pence per kilowatt hour. Night storage heaters provide adequate heating until noon and lose most of their heat after that requiring some form of additional heating from late afternoon to evening.

So, what to do?

Step 2 – Take an objective look at your finances

Do you have a capital lump sum in a bank account earning 3% interest?  If so, take a look at your roof.  Is it south, south east or southwesterly facing and large enough to take an 8m x 3m of PV panels?  A 4.0KW system is now costing £7,000 to install and will give a 7.5% return on investment under the governments Feed in Tariff scheme and provide the householder with an independent electrical energy supply for a substantial proportion of the year. Combine this with an air source heat pump and every Kilowatt of energy produced on the roof will be multiplied by three to provide heat to run a central heating system.

Air source heat pumps provide an easy swap for oil or gas boilers with a capital cost of the unit, depending on output, of between  £2,000 and £4,500.  Outputs for the domestic market range from 5 and 14 KW at a coefficient of performance of 3:1 in cold weather increasing to even higher efficiencies as the air temperature goes up.

Solar thermal collectors, producing hot water from sunshine, will feed hot water into a thermostore and help run central heating and hot water systems even in the winter.  A three kilowatt collector will only require 2m x 2.5m of southerly facing roof space. So for roofs with limited space, this is a good renewable option.

Step 3 – Think about changing your hot water cylinder for a thermostore

These are 210-300 litre hot water cylinders that store large volumes of hot water and act like a battery. They can be used to run underfloor heating, radiators and heat hot water storage cylinders.  Water stored in thermostores can be heated using wood burning stoves, solar thermal collectors, air source heat pumps, and oil or gas boilers.

Systems can be modular.  It is not necessary to do everything in one go.  Stove Shop Renewables has a design service that will produce an overall installation design to suit your particular needs.  This might include keeping the original oil boiler as a back-up and installing a thermostore with a volume of between 300 and 3000 litres, depending on the heating demand. Thermostores can have anything up to four inputs that can be added to over time.  So initially the oil boiler and solar thermal collectors can be connected.  At a later date a wood burning input can be added and eventually the oil boiler can be swapped for an air source heat pump to take over the automatic element of the system control.

Control priorities can be set so that the lower cost elements of heat generation take priority.  For example.  If the free solar thermal input is coping adequately, the heat pump or oil boiler will not be used to provide heat into the thermostore.  If a manually fed wood burning stove or boiler is fired up, whilst this is being run it can work in conjunction with solar thermal allowing refuelling cycles to be extended.  Finally, if the biomass unit goes out and the sun stops shining, the air source heat pump or oil boiler will cut in automatically and take over the operation of the whole system.

Government Incentives

There are currently two Government schemes providing financial returns for renewable energy installations.

1 – Feed in Tariff

This has been running for a number of years and is fairly well established.  Feed in Tariff is paid for electrical generation using photovoltaic panels.

2 – Renewable Heat Incentive

Currently we have a Renewable Heat incentive Premium Payment in place running until 31st March 2014.  This has been paying a one off payment of £2000.00 for Biomass installations, £600.00 for Solar thermal installations and £1300.00 towards Air Source Heat Pump installations in the domestic market.

The bill introducing the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive is currently going through Parliament.  This will provide for a seven year, quarterly repayment scheme, RPI linked, that will endeavour to make the installation of renewable energy sources as economic to install as traditional carbon based fuel burning units.   The commercial equivalent has been running for just over a year and makes these payments in the same way for twenty years.

Once the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive is introduced, it will make economic sense to take advantage of the scheme when designing new builds or replacing inefficient and worn out carbon fuel based central heating systems.  The scheme will return a proportion of the capital cost of installation over a seven year period and at the same time, reduce our carbon emission levels, give an element of independence from utility companies and help reduce overall running costs going forward.

Neil Austen is the Managing Director of Stove Shop Renewables in Liskeard, Cornwall.  This family run business has been operating in Liskeard for 33. For more information contact Neil Austen, Stove Shop Renewables, 07970 416594.

Come along tomorrow and meet Neil in person at the Cornwall Home & Lifestyle Show at the Royal Cornwall Showground, Wadebridge.