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When it comes to alternative energy, £2500 is a small amount to invest when the returns can be so significant.

If you can see yourself staying in your property for a long time, or if you're converting your property into an eco home you may want to consider your options when it comes to alternative energy supplies.

Take note that it pays to do significant research before you choose a supplier, as you may be eligible for energy-saving grants or funding to support your investment.

The main benefits of investing in an alternative energy supply for your home are:

  • to cut your carbon footprint dramatically;
  • to cut your energy bills;
  • to sell energy back to the grid or reduce energy costs dramatically.

These are some of the energy systems you could consider:

  • wind turbines,
  • solar powered water heating,
  • ground source heat pumps,
  • solar electricity,
  • micro combined heat and power (micro CHP),
  • wood fuel heating: biomass boiler and wood pellet burners.

Wind turbines

A roof mounted system ranges from £2,000 right up to £15,000 or £24,000 for larger mast systems. Some turbine systems could generate income and savings of around £3,200 a year with a Feed-in Tariff .

There are two types of wind turbine; mast mounted and roof mounted. The stronger the wind, the more electricity you can generate. This means that your turbine will be most successful if you are in an exposed location. If your turbine and wind system are connected to the national grid, you can make money back by selling the generated electricity back to the National Grid with a Feed-in Tariff.

Solar electricity

Installing an average sized solar electricity system could cost around £12,000 (including VAT at 5%). Solar electricity systems can also cost in the region of £4,000 to £5,000 to be installed, depending on how large your system is. The price should reduce as system size increases.

Even a small system can generate around 50% of a household's yearly electricity needs. If the system is eligible to receive the Feed-in Tariff it could generate savings and income of around £1,170 per year.

Micro CHP

Micro CHP stands for micro combined heat and power and can cost between £4,000 and £5,000 to install.

Micro CHP is a type of heating technology which generates both heat and electricity simultaneously. Even though most systems use mains gas or oil, the system is more efficient than just burning the fossil fuel for heat and getting electricity from the National Grid.

If the electricity the system generates isn't used, it can be exported back to the grid. The amount of electricity generated ultimately depends on how long the system is running.

Ground source heat pumps

Ground source heat pumps are a clever system that uses warmth from the ground to heat your home. Pipes are buried under the ground in your garden and they pull in heat from the surrounding are, which is then fed into radiators or underfloor heating systems, and is used to heat hot water too.

It sounds unlikely, but the ground is actually warm all year round - so ground source heat pumps even work in cold winter weather.

They are different from a boiler, because rather than giving a sharp burst of hot heat, they deliver lower temperatures over a longer period of time and should ideally be left on 24 hours a day.

Air source heat pumps

Air source heat pumps work on a similar principle to ground source heat pumps, by heating your home with energy absorbed from the air outside. You can then use this energy to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, or hot water in your home. An air source heat pump works all year round, even in winter.

Unlike gas or oil boilers, air-to-water or air-to-air heat pumps deliver heat at lower temperatures over much longer periods, this means that they're most suitable for large radiators or underfloor heating systems, or circulating warm air through your home with fans.

Installing a basic system in a detached home can cost from £6,000 to £10,000, including installation.

Wood fuel heating (biomass boilers and wood pellets)

There are a number of different options for using wood to heat your home and hot water. It's not a good option for everyone - biomass can be expensive fuel, unless you have access to cheap or free wood.

A standalone stove using wood pellets costs around £4300, a log stove around £2000, while more advanced auto-feeding pellet boilers could cost upwards of £11000.

According the Energy Saving Trust, heating and water heating fuel costs for a year would be around £1,000 in a detached property, so if you're replacing electric heating or solid fuel you could save between £170 and £390 per year.

Hydroelectricity

If you're interested in developing hydro-electricity for your home you need access to a fast flowing body of water such as a stream. You also need to make sure you have the right to build around it. 

It's not a cheap option - installing a hydro-electric system can vary a lot in cost, depending on the location and the amount of electricity generates, but an average scheme suitable for a domestic home might cost up to £25,000 (including installation).

Hydro systems can be sometimes be connected to the National Grid so any electricity that you generate can earn you money from a Feed-in Tariff.

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