About Geoff Godfrey

Getting Started With Small-Scale Home Renewables

by Erik Evans

In today's modern era, one of the most hotly discussed issues is regarding 'green' initiatives. Typically, this means large energy companies making an effort to develop renewable technologies; however, as a consumer you can also make a big difference. Rather than buying all of your energy from suppliers, you can actually install small-scale renewable energy technologies around your home. 

Why Install Renewables? If you're considering installing renewables within your property, you are likely doing so to reduce your dependency on electricity suppliers. This is definitely achievable; however, there are a few other benefits that you may not have realized:

  •     Making use of secure, local energy resources that help your community. 
  •     Reducing your dependency on fossil fuels and other sources of non-renewable energy. 
  •     Reducing your home's carbon dioxide emissions. 
  •     Helping the renewable energy sector to grow and flourish. 

Also, in addition to saving money on your monthly bills, you can even earn money by feeding unused electricity back into the grid! 

Getting Started

Preparing Your  Property

It's easy to jump in at the deep end when installing renewables; however, your investment will be much more secure if you take the proper preliminary steps. The best way to do this is to prepare your home by making it as energy efficient as possible - you want to utilize all of the renewable's power. Three great ways to get started are: 

  •     Switching of all electrical appliances when not in use. 
  •     Insulating your attic and basement and wind-proofing all windows and doors. 
  •     Saving water by only running faucets when required.

Assess Your Technology Options

Not every technology is suitable for every home, so it's important you find out what options are available to you as a consumer. Some things to consider are: 

  •     Which way your roof faces, if you wish to install solar panels. 
  •     The closest source of running water, if you wish to use hydroelectric power. 
  •     The average wind speed in your area, if you wish to use personal wind turbines. 

In most cases, the most efficient way to utilize renewables in your home if to use an energy mix. Rather than relying heavily on one technology, you should aim to diversify where possible and use all of the energy sources available. This may lead to a higher initial investment, but it will pay off in the long run as you will have continuous renewables all year round. 

Check With Your Local Authority and Insurance Regulations

Before you go off and start contacting contractors, you should always check your local authority's guidelines on planning permission. This varies between properties, however, many areas try to encourage renewable developments and so have fairly straightforward planning procedures. Of course, this depends on the size of development proposed and whether or not in will infringe on your neighbor's property, so it's best to have this clarified. 

Also, if you are making any adjustments to your home (such as adding solar panels), you should check with your home insurance provider. Most modern policies will cover common technologies (solar panels, etc.); however, if you plan to install a more bespoke system then you should contact your insurance company beforehand. 

Find and Installer and Maximize Efficiency

Installing renewable energy sources isn't an easy task, therefore it's crucial that you find a competent contractor rather than trying it out as a DIY project. Within the renewables sector, efficiency is key — any energy wasted defeats the purpose of installing the technologies. As such, make sure your contractor fully explains how to operate the system and how to get the most bang for your buck. This should be a standard part of any installation routine, so your home renewables system should be up and running in no time.