Generating Energy in Your Home
This page outlines some of the options available to homeowners wanting to generate their own energy.
You can generate your own energy from the sun, wind, water, or even from the heat of the ground. Before you consider any of these options, it is important to make sure you have done what you can to cut your energy consumption. This way the amount of energy you will need to generate will be lower, saving you money and reducing carbon emissions.
What method should I choose?
Where you live will have an effect on what kind of technology you choose. Is there enough wind? How much sunlight falls on your roof? Do you have enough outside space to install a ground source heat pump?
As an owner of an older home you need to think about the effect any equipment would have on the significance and character of the property, both visually and physically. Could you reuse parts of the existing heating system or will you have to replace all of it?
In some circumstances you may need approval under the building regulations, planning permissions or listed building or conservation area consent, particularly if you live in a listed building or in a conservation area. We recommend contacting your local authority conservation officer at an early stage to discuss your proposals.
You can use the sun’s energy in several ways, but the two most common are via solar panels (for electricity) and solar collectors/thermal panels (for heating water).
Solar electricity panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV), capture the sun's energy and convert it into electricity you can use in your home. The amount of electricity generated will depend on the size and type of the panel as well as the amount of sunlight it receives.
Solar collectors/thermal panels use sunlight to heat water, which is generally used for domestic hot water.
Solar panels (both for electricity and hot water) are usually mounted on roofs to catch the most direct sunlight – an unshaded sloping south-facing roof is ideal. Check your roof is strong enough to support the panels and make sure you can access them to maintain them.
Heat pumps offer an efficient low carbon means of providing space heating and hot water.
Heat pumps work by using refrigerants to absorb and release heat energy from the outside air, water, or the ground. The refrigerant is compressed from a low temperature to a higher temperature and then condensed back into a liquid to release its stored heat.
The design and installation of a heat pump needs to be carefully considered so that its efficiency can be maximised and the impact on a historic building and its setting is minimised.
A turbine can be driven by running water to generate electricity. The amount produced will depend on the rate of flow of the water and the height (or head) from which it falls. In addition to any permissions related to historic properties, you will also need to contact the Environment Agency.
Find expert advice and contractors
Historic England's Low and Zero Carbon Technologies guidance gives free detailed advice on choosing and installing systems for generating energy. We recommend you find advisors and contractors who have plenty of experience working on historic buildings.