Renewable and low energy options should only be considered in conjunction with energy efficiency measures. Increased insulation, air tightness and control of solar gain are the most economically viable means of reducing both energy use and carbon footprint.
Publicly funded grants are available for electrical generation (Feed-In-Tariffs) and thermal generation (Renewable Heat Incentive) which provide a government backed subsidy for 20 or 25 years. The efficiency and cost of each technology is changing all the time but each type can provide very effective solutions to different circumstances.
The most common types of renewable energy for general construction projects are as follows:
• photovoltaic cells (PVC’s)
• solar hot water
• wind power
• air and ground source heat pumps
• micro combined heat-and-power
In order to achieve a high percentage of renewable energy it is first essential to ensure that the building is designed to achieve fundamental basic principles which will reduce the overall level of energy consumption:
• very good levels of insulation with minimal thermal bridges
• well thought out utilisation of solar and internal heat gains
• excellent level of air tightness
• maximum use of natural light and use of low energy lighting
• good indoor air quality provided by a whole house mechanical ventilation system with highly efficient heat recovery