Renewable energy


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Compare renewable energy suppliers

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 how the energy that makes your washing machine work is actually created, is (quite frankly) mind-blowing. But as our carefree approach to energy starts to disappear and we become more conscious about our planet’s resources, you might be thinking about how you can contribute to a greener environment with your home energy.

With those considerations might come a bundle of renewable energy questions that you have thought about, but don’t have the time to ask or find answers to. So we’ve made it simple, providing you with the answers to some frequently thought questions you may have about renewable energy.

What is renewable energy?

The answer really is straightforward – it’s energy that basically never runs out because it naturally replenishes itself – like solar, tidal or wind energy. 

Why should I compare renewable 'green’ energy?

It’s always important to keep your options open and even if green energy isn’t top of your priority list, it’s worth checking out. Because doing your bit for the environment isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for the soul.

Regular energy comes from fossil fuels which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and influences global warming.

But you don’t have to get all your energy from renewable sources, you could compromise and find a supplier that supports environmental projects or sources just some of its energy from renewables. 

How do I compare renewable energy?

It’s exactly the same as comparing regular energy – answer some questions and wait for the results to come back – that’s all there is to it.

When you start a search with us, we’ll ask you things like, where you live, who provides your current energy, your tariff name, how much you use and how you pay your bill.

Based on the answers you’ve given us, we’ll find suitable, available tariffs for you to choose from – you can then filter your results so that they show you green energy suppliers – that’s all there is to it.

How else can I get renewable energy?

If there aren’t many green energy providers supplying your area, then what about making your own? Households that generate their own energy don’t just save money on their electricity, they’re also entitled to payments for any energy sold back to the National Grid under the ‘feed-in-tariff’ scheme.

What is a feed-in-tariff? (FIT)

The feed-in-tariff is a government scheme aimed at encouraging people to generate their own electricity using renewable or low carbon technology. Any excess energy that’s created is sold back to the National Grid.

Most green technology aimed at households will entitle you to FIT support – such as solar panels, wind turbines and hydroelectricity (energy from water). How much money you could get back via the FIT scheme, depends on how much energy you generate, and how much you sell back to the National Grid.

It’s important to make sure that you use a qualified and registered FIT installer and the technology you use must be certified under what’s known as the ‘microgeneration certification scheme’ (MCS).

Payments can only be made by a FIT licensee – most of the big energy suppliers are licensees but if in doubt – check. 

What's the difference between a renewable (green) energy tariff and FIT?

A green energy tariff, is just like any other tariff – the only difference is that there’s a focus on renewable energy. A feed-in-tariff on the other hand, is a scheme that gives money back to households that generate their own electricity.

If you want to do your bit for the planet but can’t be doing with investing in solar panels and wind turbines, then finding a green tariff is the alternative. Green tariffs come in all shapes and sizes, so here’s what to consider:

- Suppliers can offer up to 100% green energy; if they offer a mix of energy (some renewable and the rest from traditional sources), then they have to be upfront about the percentage mix so that you know what you’re getting.

- Some suppliers only offer 100% renewable energy.

- Suppliers may provide you with conventionally sourced energy from fossil fuels but match your energy usage and give back an equivalent in renewables to the National Grid.

- 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 any T&Cs before you go ahead and make the switch, just so you can be sure you’re getting the right green energy type for your needs or preferences.

Can I make my own renewable energy?

In short – yes. There’s a variety of technology aimed at anyone who wants to generate their own energy, such as PV (photovoltaic) panels which enable users to harness the heat of the sun from their own rooftops.

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.

But it’s not just about solar panels, other technology can help you create your own renewable energy, including wind turbines and hydroelectricity. Whatever route you go down, if you’re a domestic user, then you’ll have to make sure your installation meets certain criteria in order to be eligible for payments under the feed-in-tariff scheme (see above). For more detailed information, visit the Energy Savings Trust who can provide all sorts of practical advice and information about generating your own energy.

What's so great about solar energy?

We all know the sun is hot, but it’s also a much-underused natural resource – for example, 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 – we just need to tap into it.

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.

If you did decide to generate your own energy, then you’ll benefit in a number of ways. Firstly, you’ll of course save money on your bills because you’ll be making your own power so you won’t need to buy as much in the first place.

Plus, for every unit of energy that you make yourself, you’ll receive what’s known as a ‘generation tariff’, then for every unit that you don’t use and sell back to the National Grid, you’ll get a payment called an ‘export tariff’. The amount of money you’ll get back per unit of energy you create or sell, is set by Ofgem.

If I switch energy supplier, what will happen to my Feed in Tariff?

Switching energy supplier doesn’t mean anything has to change regarding your feed-in-tariff set up.

The supplier that provides you with electricity doesn’t have to be the same as the one that pays you under the FIT scheme – you can keep the two separate. So, you can still search for a better deal on your energy and keep your FIT licensee as it is.

Alternatively, you can switch your FIT licensee as well, although this won’t affect the amount of money you get (because that’s set by Ofgem, remember). But before you switch, make sure whoever your new provider is, is happy to oblige and make the payments to you.

It's easy being green (no really)

If installing solar panels or setting up a wind turbine feels too much like hard work and a whole load of faff, then don’t worry. Energy companies have to provide at least some their power using renewable sources – it’s known as the ‘Renewables Obligation’ and it’s overseen by Ofgem.

But there are other ways of being good to the environment – doing simple things like opting for paperless billing will save a few trees (or at least a few branches). You can also try and save as much energy as you can at home – our interactive energy saving house will show you how.

Saving energy isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for your pocket too so why not give it a go. And whilst you’re in the mood for making changes, see how much you could save by switching your energy supplier – it’s easy when you comparethemarket.com.

 

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