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Can you be Energy Self-Sufficient?


1st Jan 2015 Home & Garden

Can you be Energy Self-Sufficient?
Generating some of your own electricity is a great way to reduce your reliance on power supplied from the National Grid, cutting down your bill and reducing the need for electricity to be generated commercially at the same time.
Solar power from photovoltaic (PV) cells and electricity generated by domestic wind turbines are all still in their infancy in the domestic and DIY market. There is a limit to what a DIY installation can hope to achieve and even a new house built with a home micro-power-generation system in mind is unlikely to be fully self-sufficient, but any power you can generate yourself can be used in place of paid-for electricity supplied via the National Grid.
Both systems have high initial set-up costs – both in the purchase of the equipment and in professional fitting costs, since few systems are designed for DIY installation – and it will be many years before you recoup the cost in savings on your electricity bill. But they are an investment in your home, will contribute towards a good rating on the property's energy performance certificate (EPC) – now required by law when you come to sell – and may help to make your house more attractive to potential buyers. Whether or not your personal finances benefit, you will be making a positive contribution towards reducing your carbon footprint and lessening the western world's reliance on fossil fuels.
Solar panels for heating water are now more established and much more efficient; for more information see Using Solar Power in the Home.

If you want to be self-sufficient, consider setting up a renewable energy system at home:

  • An effective way to do this is to install solar panels (photovoltaic cells) on your roof. They convert sunlight into electricity, storing it in batteries for subsequent use.
  • In remote areas, consider using a small wind generator if you have an appropriately windy site, and/or a micro-hydro generator if you have access to a river or creek.
  • Find out if you can link these systems to the grid, for back-up and so that any surplus energy you create can be traded for energy credits.
  • Check whether rebates are available for installing such systems.
  • Discuss your needs with specialist suppliers before buying.
  • Change to energy-efficient products to cut household greenhouse gas emissions in half.