Small-scale solar thermal energy and traditional buildings

This guide is one of a series examining options for the small-scale generation of renewable energy.

Cutting demand for energy is as important as finding alternative means of generating it. Before deciding whether to install a renewable energy technology in a building, all available energy-saving measure, including low-energy lamps, heating controls and improved insulation, should already have been taken. The installation of renewable technology implies in most cases the fixing of equipment to the historic fabric of a building. Historic England seeks to ensure that any works to historic buildings do not unnecessarily disturb or destroy historic fabric. In decisions on how best to incorporate a renewable technology, the principles of minimum intervention and reversibility should be adopted whenever and wherever possible. Installation of a solar water heating system will probably need planning permission. The local planning authority can grant permission under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and will be looking for any issues concerning visual impact and proximity to land boundaries.


  • Introduction
  • Planning a solar water heating system
  • Installation options
  • Maintenance and working life
  • Grants and costs
  • Useful contacts
  • Acknowledgements


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