Main ways of producing energy at home
There are three main ways to produce renewable energy at home, that could be used in most British houses:
- Solar power uses the sun’s energy either to directly heat water (solar water heating) or to generate electricity (Photovoltaic or Solar PV).
- Biomass (plant products or animal waste) can be burned to directly heat your home or to heat water - the most common fuel used is wood, although plant oils and other crops can also be used.
- Heat pumps extract energy in the ground, water or air, and concentrate it into a form that can be used to heat homes or water. Ground source heat pumps make use of heat that has been left by the sun's rays warming the ground; water is then pumped through pipes buried in the ground and the heat is captured and transferred to radiators or to a hot water tank. Air source heat pumps suck in air from the outside, and lower its temperature by a few degrees (a bit like a fridge); the heat extracted can also then be used to heat water.
Other ways of producing energy at home
In addition, there are two other, more rarely used ways:
- Wind power can be used to generate electricity using turbines (windmills), although the evidence is that micro-turbines mounted on a home's roof in towns are not usually worth installing - you need to mount them on a pole or mast in a relatively exposed location.
- Running water can also be used to generate electricity using a turbine (small-scale hydropower) if your home has a convenient mill stream or similar.
To learn more about each of these types of renewable energy and the technology to make it happen, see our page: Renewable Energy Technologies.
Incentives to producing energy at home
There are the following incentives for people to produce renewable energy at home: