It sounds almost too good to be true – invest in a wind turbine or some solar panels and watch your electricity bills disappear. In fact, they could even make money for you by feeding more power into the grid than you consume. And all the while, you will be doing your bit to save the planet, and adding value to your home. Surely there must be a catch?
No such thing as a free lunch
Of course, if it was quite as rosy as that, we would all have been doing it for years. There are two main constraints to investing in renewable energy. The first is that it needs significant upfront investment – budget on £3,000 at the very least. And if you are considering a wind turbine, there could be planning and surveying costs to consider too.
The second factor is that these energy sources are great while the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, but if you were to rely on them 100%, you could find the lights going out.
Upfront costs are not necessarily a problem if you have the funds available. You can carry out some detailed projections to work out payback periods, and make an informed decision about whether this sort of investment is right for you.
Making it work
The second constraint suggests that a blended approach to your energy needs might be the most sensible course of action.
Unless you have plans to adopt an off the grid lifestyle, then the easiest way to utilise renewable power generation is to generate it directly into the main power grid. You will effectively have two meters, one showing what you create and the other showing what you consume.
This gives you excellent flexibility to still choose the best energy and fuel suppliers to meet your everyday needs. If your house has an oil-fired central heating system, then there is no need to change it, and you can continue to use local suppliers like Emo Oil to keep your tank full and your home warm whatever the weather.
You also retain a good degree of flexibility as to your electricity supplier – even if you are feeding power back into the grid, most of the major companies can still accommodate you.
What is right for you?
It might sound obvious, but it is worth reminding yourself that the viability of solar and wind generation ultimately depends on how sunny or windy it is where you live. Explore all the options, do the mathematics, and then do it all again before you make an investment.
If you find a solution that will be financially beneficial for you, it is worthwhile scaling it – whether you opt for sun or wind power, the more solar panels you have, or the bigger the wind turbine you install, the more energy you will generate, leading to bigger savings and even a useful revenue stream.
It is always easier to start out big than to upgrade later, so make these decisions at the outset. Plan it right, and you can watch the money roll in while you save the planet!