Filed under: Energy Costs, Energy Tariffs, Environment, Green Home
With the swiftly rising energy bills and the oncoming of winter, many people are now switching energy providers, some for the first time in years. It can be hard to find affordable rates even among small companies, when tariffs are rising almost daily for every energy provider in the country. In the short term, there is only so much you can do to keep your prices down. You can use less energy, get your home ready for the winter, and you can use a utility comparison service to help you switch to a more affordable energy plan. Now, however, is the time to consider what you can do to keep your energy bill down in the future.
The British government is hoping to cut carbon emissions by 80% in the next half century. But the government cannot do this on its own; the task falls largely to its citizens. Although the government is pushing for citizens of Britain to make cleaner and greener energy a priority in their homes, it is hard for the average person to justify spending hundreds of pounds on solar panels and other green energy technology. With this mind, the government has come up with a plan to help its citizens begin to create a greener Britain, known as the Green Deal.
The Green Deal, simply put, was designed to help qualifying people put energy-saving measures into place without having to pay a huge up-front cost. Whether that involves replacing old insulation, putting in new boilers and heaters, or installing solar panels or wind turbines, the Green Deal can help you improve your property minus the one-time cost. Instead, the price of the improvement is tacked onto your monthly energy bill, like a loan that is rolled into your utility payment.
Many people are wondering what the Green Deal will do to their already expensive energy bills. If you qualify for a Green Deal energy loan, and you choose to take advantage of it, the payments will be added to your energy bill. Depending on how much you borrow with the Green Deal, you could be paying for the loan for as long as twenty-five years. However, you are guaranteed not to have to pay more per month for your loan than the money you will save by means of your Green Deal improvements. For example, if you save 30 pounds per month because of your new energy-saving improvements, you will not have to pay more than 30 pounds more on your bill. So you can relax knowing that your energy bill will not be significantly higher because of the loan. It may even be lower! Another thing to consider is that the loan stays with the home; if you move house or let your property, the new tenants will take over the payments on their energy bill.
Not everyone will use a Green Deal loan; but will the cost of installment prices fall to the average citizen? Part of the original cost of home improvements may fall on the energy companies, but a large portion of the price will come from Green Deal Providers. Providers include financial companies who lend the money for the improvements. As the money for the loan is repaid through energy bills, the energy companies must be closely knit with the Providers. If someone defaults on their loan, the default will be treated in the same way as a missed energy bill payment; they will lose their gas and electricity. However, it is not up to the energy companies to pay the Provider if the Green Deal loan is defaulted. In other words, the escalating energy prices have nothing to do with the Green Deal, and you won’t have to pay for the home improvements or the default of other energy consumers.
The energy company you have shouldn’t have an effect on your Green Deal loan; whichever energy provider you choose, your loan amount will remain the same. However, as energy prices are still rising, a utility comparison may help you save money whether you have a Green Deal loan or not. Customer satisfaction polls, provided by Which? Switch, show that Good Energy was the number one energy provider in the country for 2013. The poll rated companies based on the way they handled complaints and the value consumers received for their money, among other things. Ecotricity, Ebico, and Utility Warehouse were numbers two, three, and four, respectively. However, depending on where you live and how much energy you use, different companies may help you save more money. A well-researched utility comparison is the only way to find out.
The future of your energy bill is not entirely out of your hands. The Green Deal can help you make energy-saving improvements to your home, minus a massive bill. And you can compare utilities in your area, keeping in mind that people who switch energy companies every few years tend to pick up the better deals. With the Green Deal and an online utility comparison service, a lower energy bill may be closer than you thought.
Renewable energy, such as wind and solar, will increasingly power the UK in the decades to come. We have all heard of the benefits of solar power, from increased cost savings to sound environmental stewardship, but various factors have kept many homeowners from making the final switch to solar power. Those who live in conservation areas, especially, have been relatively slow to embrace PV panels on their properties. Despite the cost of PV systems being lower than ever, and there also being many solar panels on sale, homeowners residing in conservation areas often worry that, due to regulations surrounding their properties, they may be unable to take advantage of solar technology. While those living in conservation areas certainly have to deal with greater restrictions and more regulations on their properties than most homeowners, with a little preparation and the proper research, most conservation area properties can also be equipped with cheap solar energy. We will look at some of the important factors to consider for those living in a conservation area looking to invest in a PV system, and how they can best increase their chances of being approved for such a system.
Rules Regarding Conservation Areas
For most people, installing a solar system presents no major obstacles. If they want to install a series of PV panels on their roofs, there are few people who will discourage them from doing so; indeed, many incentives and grants exist to encourage the adoption of solar power. For those living in conservation areas, however, the task can be a bit more difficult. Conservation areas seek to protect the historic character of England, and, as such, their aesthetic preservation is vital. Approval must often be granted from local councils in order to modify the property in any significant way, and this usually applies towards the installation of PV panels, as well. If a solar system risks ruining the aesthetic appeal of a conservation area, such as its being placed in a highly visible area, then it is unlikely that a council will approve the installation of such a system.
How to Get Solar in a Conservation Area
That said, those living in conservation areas are not shut out entirely from solar power. The UK government, through its increased focus on green initiatives, has encouraged local councils to use common sense when approving renewable energy projects within conservation areas. As such, local councils are becoming increasingly flexible in what type of development they will permit within a conservation area. A property owner will still have to show that his solar system will have the least possible impact on the character and look of the conservation area, but the chances of being denied such a system outright are diminishing. Conservation area homeowners can take a number of steps to ensure they meet with local council approval. The most obvious of these steps is to proposing placing the solar panels in an area of the property (usually the back of the house) that will not be visible to the public. Understandably, however, this solution is not viable for all homeowners, especially if the backend of their properties faces north or is in the shade. For those homeowners who have no choice but to install a solar system in a publicly visible place, options are still available. Instead of hiding the solar panels outright, you can invest in a system that better blends in with its environment. For example, while we popularly think of solar panels as coming only in blue and metal, there are a range of colours currently available. If you live in a listed building with a slate roof, then the Sanyo HIT series of panels could be ideal. Not only does their dark appearance blend in seamlessly with a dark roof, but their high efficiency means that they require less space.
If you live in a conservation area, getting approved for PV panels can seem daunting. But with a government that is increasingly encouraging councils to be more lenient towards property owners who invest in renewable energy, along with PV technology that is becoming ever more inconspicuous, now may be the ideal time to invest in solar if you live in heritage property. By being creative and flexible with your renewable energy demands, you will increase the likelihood of your PV system being approved for your conservation area property.
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