Jul 032014
 

energy-houseIn world terms, the UK is a cold country. The winters may be mild relative to other countries at the same latitude, but it is still a place where central heating is a lot more important than air conditioning.

Heating a house of course requires a lot of energy. Fortunately, improved technology means that there are now ways to achieve a comfortable living temperature in a more environmentally friendly way. Two relevant terms here are ‘insulation’ and ‘insolation’.

We all know about insulation. It comes in many forms and is what keeps heat inside our houses. The less heat you lose, the less you need to generate to maintain the same temperature. Insulation can mean double glazing, cavity wall insulation, lagging in the loft or any number of similar measures. A properly insulated home needs astonishingly little energy to heat it.

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The word ‘insolation’ is rather less familiar. It relates to solar energy, which is increasing in popularity these days. Many newly built homes will feature solar panels on the roof as standard and a lot of people are paying to have them installed on older buildings as well.

But is the UK really sunny enough that such efforts are justified? This is where insolation comes in. Insolation is the measurement of how much solar radiation is received on a surface in a given timeframe. It is effectively a means of telling how successfully solar panels will gather energy.

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Surprisingly, the UK is actually perfectly well suited to gathering energy via solar panels. Places further south, like Spain or areas on the equator might be able to generate more energy in this way, but it is worth remembering that the UK gets almost 17 hours of daylight in the summer – way more than most countries on earth. The light may be weaker, but a lot of energy can be gathered in this time. For example, it is estimated that a thousand square metre solar energy farm would be sufficient to provide all of Scotland’s power each year along with a surplus.

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With rising fuel costs, the prospect of being able to generate hot water for your central heating system via solar panels is increasingly appealing to people. Once installed, all you need is light and light arrives free of charge.

Even better, you can often get a grant to cover the cost of the solar panels, meaning far less cost at the outset.

 

Vince Harlow is looking at getting tubular radiators from www.aelheating.com

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