Toggle menu

Cost of living support

Financial advice and emotional support on how you can ease the cost of living squeeze.

Installing your own renewable energy

Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind and geothermal.

Generating energy from renewable sources can help reduce our dependence on non renewable sources like fossil fuels which take millions of years to replenish. They also produce much less carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouses gases, a major cause of climate change.

Renewable and low carbon energy

Solar water heating

Each year, every square metre of the British Isles receives 60% of the solar radiation found at the equator. Solar collectors do not require direct sunshine to work, but use radiated light. 

Solar water heating absorbs the sun's energy and converts it to heating hot water. The system works alongside your existing water heating system. During summer months the system can provide all the hot water needed by a household. It can also be used to heat larger applications including swimming pools. 

Find out how solar hot water heating systems work on the Energy Saving Trust website.

Solar panels

Photovoltaic systems use cells to convert solar radiation into electricity. The PV cell consists of one or two layers of a semiconducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers, causing electricity to flow. The greater the intensity of the light, the greater the flow of electricity. 

Individual PV cells are connected together to form a module. Modules are then linked and sized to meet a particular load (need). The result is a PV array. A PV array supplies power to the building it is fitted on. If the building has mains electricity, any excess electricity can be exported to the grid. 

Find out more about solar panels on the Energy Saving Trust website.

Heat pumps

A heat pump is a device which moves heat energy from one place to another and from a lower to a higher temperature and can be used for both heating and cooling. Heat pumps are economical to run and can be powered by renewable electricity. 

You probably own a heat pump without realising it - a refrigerator is a type of heat pump! 

There are different types of heat pumps - ground, air and water source heat pumps, heat is collected from different sources. The two more popular heat pumps are ground and air 

A ground source heat pump collects heat using ground loops which can either be buried in a borehole or laid in trenches, this option is cheaper but requires more ground surface. A water/anti-freeze solution is pumped around the loop in a plastic pipe. 

The type and length of ground loop and hole will depend on the space available and the ground conditions. 

An air source heat pump absorbs heat from the outside to heat buildings. There are two types of air source heating systems. Air to air systems provide warm air, which is circulated to heat the building. The other type, air to water, heat water to provide heating through radiators or an under floor system. Heat pumps are a similar size to a fridge. 

Find information on planning permission for ground source or water source heat pumps on the Planning Portal.

Wind turbines

Wind turbines harness the wind to produce energy. When the wind blows, the rotor blade stops a percentage of the wind. That percentage is converted into energy. Wind turbines use the wind's forces to turn aerodynamic blades that turn a rotor which creates electricity. Open, high, flat areas are best suited to wind turbines, but they can also be used to provide domestic wind power on a smaller scale than those you see dotting the landscape. 

The Planning Portal has information on planning permission for stand alone wind turbines.

Wind turbines should only be considered if the average wind speed is at least 5 metres per second. You can get an indication of this by using the Energy Saving Trust's domestic wind speed prediction tool.

The Energy Saving Trust website also has information on renewable technologies.


Hydropower systems convert energy from water flowing downhill in streams and rivers  into kinetic energy in a turbine, which drives a generator to produce electricity. The greater the height and the more water there is flowing through the turbine, the more electricity generated.

The amount of electricity a system generates also depends on how efficiently it converts the power of the moving water into electrical power.

Find out how hydropower systems work on the Energy Saving Trust website.

Microgeneration Certification Scheme

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) includes clear standards to support the installation of wind turbines and air source heat pumps.

The scheme certifies, quality assures and provides consumer protection for microgeneration installations and installers. These consist of small scale renewable electricity technologies such as solar PV, biomass, wind, heat pumps and heat products.

Find more information about the MCS on the Planning Portal.