It’s rare to find a man, woman or child in a developed country that hasn’t heard the term “Global Warming.” Likewise, it’s near impossible to find a homeowner who isn’t interested in reducing energy bills. For these reasons, surveyors at Opinium Research are baffled by their findings that the vast majority of UK households don’t understand how renewable heat technology works.
Renewable heat energy has been popping up all over the media, especially since the Renewable Heat Incentive launched in 2011. So, why do homeowners know so little about this form of clean energy?
Background of the Opinium Research Study
The study surveyed 2,000 UK households about their understanding of renewable heat energy and their energy-efficient behaviours. Researchers found that most people focus on small measures, like installing energy-efficient light bulbs. Very few had considered switching to renewable energy as a heat source.
But most respondents stated their willingness to install renewable heating solutions if the annual savings reach £247 per year. Fortunately, this figure is much lower than the estimated savings that come from innovations like biomass boilers, which can save up to 45 per cent on energy bills.
Although most UK residents know the importance of reducing energy use, many do not understand the benefits of biomass systems and heat pumps, let alone how they work.
Conclusions of the Survey
Researchers found that nearly 66 per cent of UK adults could not correctly identify solar PV or wind turbines as renewable energy technologies. Similarly, one-fourth of those surveyed could not identify biomass boilers or heat pumps as energy-efficient solutions. This is particularly revealing because biomass boilers and heat pumps are the only two heat sources that are completely sustainable.
The study also showed that more than 80 per cent of UK households believe that energy consumption must reduce. However, only 63 per cent had taken steps to do so within the past two years.
Possibly the most shocking statistic is that 74 per cent of households did not know the term “biomass heating system.” Of the 26 per cent that could identify the term, less than half actually knew the purpose of the system.
More than half of respondents didn’t know the power source of biomass boilers. The majority of those that knew how to power biomass boilers did not know where to acquire the materials to do so.
Finally, about 75 per cent did not know what a heat pump does.
According to Innasol CEO Silvio Spiess, this survey is particularly revealing of how little consumers understand about renewable heating solutions. Although the vast majority recognize the importance of energy efficiency and how it can reduce energy bills, they aren’t familiar with the available solutions, let alone the Government incentives that make renewable heat energy affordable for almost any home or business.
Spreading the Word About Renewable Heat Energy
Proponents of renewable energy can’t agree on who’s responsible for spreading public awareness. Some say it’s the Government’s responsibility; others say it’s the responsibility of companies in the industry.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that a lack of public understanding is one of the major obstacles in the way of clean energy reform. According to a recent report by Environmental Leader, this is the reason why many applications for biomass energy plants fail.
The report states that there are several steps a company can take to increase the likelihood of getting their plans approved, but the first step is to rally public support. The site encourages companies to develop informational webpages, create pamphlets and send out mailers. The theory is that if the community understands the environmental and economic benefits that come with biomass energy plants, they are more likely to advocate the project.
Gabriella Johnson is the Marketing Executive at Innasol, the renewable energy supplier that commissioned Opinium's recent research into renewable heat technology.
The UK government's ‘Green Deal', which came into force in October, 2012, tries to persuade homeowners to cut the carbon footprint of their home in return for cash incentives.
This had led to one obvious query: What happens if the property is sold? Normally, the buyer would be expected to settle any loans pertaining to the property before it changes hands. The catch here is that such Green Deal loans do not count as charges, and are therefore not registered at the Land Registry.
It is the obligation of the seller to inform a potential buyer of any outstanding Green Deal loans, but what happens if the purchase goes through without the buyer being informed?
About the Green Deal
In 2011 the government announced it was allotting £200million to its Green Deal scheme. Its aim is to deliver over £1.3billion in energy savings by 2020.
Many homeowners are savvy enough to understand that improving the energy-efficiency of their homes by, say, insulating their loft or installing solar panels, creates long-term benefits and makes their home more attractive to potential purchasers.
However confusion often arises when the property is sold and the title is transferred to a new owner.
Commenting on the solicitor's approach to Green Deal loans, Fridaysmove Panel Director Tony Lilleystone said “It is the task of a conveyancing solicitor to identify Green Deal loans during preparations for a potential house purchase, but the seller is required to inform the buyer anyway.”
“The property's EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), which is made available to anyone expressing an interest in buying the property, will contain a reference to the Green Deal loan on its first page.”
In spite of this, professionals within the property-purchasing industry have expressed concerns over the ambiguous nature of a Green Deal loan. If the loan qualifies as a charge, then the seller is obliged to settle the loan before the property is sold.
If it is not, then does the buyer inherit the need to repay the loan? The buyer will, after all, be benefiting from the home improvements made by the previous owner.
Whose Loan is it Anyway?
The Government's position seems to be that responsibility for paying the loan lies with whoever is paying the bills at the property in question.
This has led to further confusion – just because you own a property does not means you live in it. If you rent it out, does payment of the Green Deal loan now fall to your tenants? This confusion about the ownership of the loan – seller, buyer or occupants – may add weeks onto the time it takes for a sale to be completed.
The fact that an EPC is generally valid for ten years means there is no guarantee an EPC has been updated to reflect that the property has a Green Deal loan attached to it.
If the information about a Green Deal loan only comes to light several weeks down the line, and the seller is not happy about having to take over the loan, then both parties will have wasted a great deal of time and money for nothing.
In summary, it seems that advice on how conveyancing solicitors advise their clients about a property where a Green Deal loan remains outstanding is sorely required.
Tony Lilleystone is Panel Director at Fridaysmove, 1-6 Speedy Place, London, WC1H 8BU, and has over 30 years experience in the Property Sector.
We currently live in a world primarily powered by coal, oil, and natural gas. There is a worldwide awareness, however, that these resources are not infinitely available. More now than ever before in history, governments and individuals alike are seeking out ways to rely more heavily on renewable energy sources.
Over the course of the previous 2 decades, there have been significant advancements in renewable energy and higher goals are set annually by governments around the world to use more renewable energy than the previous year. Still, though, the amount of renewable energy being used is still a fraction of that of fossil fuels. In the UK, for example, less than 15% of the country’s energy is derived from renewable sources. Here are the most common types of renewable energy used today in the UK and around the world.
While fresh water is among the list of diminishing natural resources, there is no shortage of ocean water and tidal activity. Hydro energy is one of the lowest renewable energy sources used, and it hasn't seen much growth in the past 10 years. As a matter of fact, hydro energy only accounts for about 5% of the renewable energy used in the UK. While hydro power in the UK is slow and steady, use and development of other sources of renewable energy are on a rapid and steady incline.
Wind power accounts for a significant portion of energy around the world, and the production and use of wind farms has increased steadily every year in the past couple decades. This type of renewable energy is becoming more and more controversial, however, as more and more wind farms are being perceived to diminish the beauty of the natural landscape. Currently, wind power accounts for just over 15% of the renewable energy used in the UK and many residents are urging officials to seek other methods of obtaining renewable energy.
Bio energy is actually a broad topic which covers many different types of energy generation, including landfill and sewage gas, domestic and industrial wood, cofiring, waste combustion, animal and plant biofuels, animal biomass, and a few others. Representing 20% of all bio energy utilized in the UK, landfill gas is the predominant source. All together, bio energy accounts for over 75% of the renewable energy powering the UK.
While solar energy is used quite a bit throughout the world, it is actually used so little in the UK market that it’s quite commonly placed in the ‘other’ column when reporting annual goals for use of renewable energy. Solar power and a variety of other minimally used resources including heat pumps and small scale shoreline activity account for less than 5% of the renewable energy harnessed in the UK. This is primarily due to the general climate of the country, as wind, water, and waste are all more bountiful than sun rays.
That doesn’t mean, however, that solar energy cannot still be harnessed in the UK. As a matter of fact, use of solar energy and installation of solar panels by residents, business owners, and as a result of government initiatives has risen in recent years in places such as London, Scotland, Wales, Derbyshire and other counties in the Midlands such as West-Yorkshire and South-Yorkshire, and various other places in the UK.
Research on solar energy is leading to greater developments, and it’s becoming easier for engineers to create more powerful solar cells than ever before. That means more energy can be harnessed from less sun light and stored for future use. It also means that for generally overcast climates like the UK, solar cells can be specifically engineered to capture as many as the sun’s energy-providing rays as possible through the clouds and mist; so – despite the overall climate – solar panels, solar gadgets, and other solar powered devices are not only available in the UK, British Residents are getting regular use out of them and slowly transitioning the UK into a country reliant upon renewable energy.
Where Are We? Where Are We Going?
While there’s still a way to go before we consume more renewable resources than we do diminishing natural resources, the UK is making great strides. In 2011, for example, the UK usage of renewable energy in relation to that of fossil fuels rose almost 3% from just below 7% in 2010 to nearly 10%. That percentage continued to rise in 2012 with initiatives such as The Energy Bill and national increase of funding for grants on renewable energy projects all geared to meet the goal of relying upon renewable energy for at least 30% of all UK electricity by 2020.
Featured image license: Creative Commons image source
Laura Ginn likes to pay attention to the latest developments in the field of renewable energy in the hope that she can find ways to save money on her monthly utility bills. Using uSwitch.com she can find the best energy deals from renewable energy sources used by the major suppliers.
Everyone aspires for a greener world and even the IT industry is pitching in. Green IT is a new branch of this field which is tasked with minimizing the negative effects of the IT industry on the environment and the thrust towards sustainability. This may be a very tricky thing for the entire industry to accomplish given the fact that computers are rapidly invading the world and these computers contain harmful elements as part of its hardware and that these gadgets consume energy. However, IT experts are eager to heed the call of Mother Nature and are already well into making the world a safer place for the next generations.
One question which the entire IT industry has long had to answer is the issue regarding how computers and other parts should be disposed of once they are no longer useable or if they have become obsolete. The wastes are rapidly increasing and not doing anything about it will mean accumulated wastes harming our planet. These gadgets contain not just plastic but also metal components which may include toxic substances such as arsenic. When a computer is dumbed, what usually happens is that the substances and elements in the hardware could leach and seep to the soil and go all the way to the water table. When this happens, water sources are contaminated with potentially toxic substances.
You can reduce the amount of computers and computer parts which landfills receive by choosing to purchase computers only when there is a pressing need and to use up these gadgets until they are full depreciated and can no longer be made use of. When there are lesser computers out there, the need to dispose of them also dwindles, and you get landfills without any toxic substances.
Computers are hooked up the power line. Without electricity, the computer which you are lugging with you is basically worthless. However, with every kilowatt of electricity you use, fossil fuels and coals are burned in order to produce energy, and alongside, greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide are produced. Hence, increased power consumptions leads to more emissions, and the world much closer to its demise. Virtualization has done a lot in order to solve the problem on energy efficiency. This is because instead of using multiple physical servers, all of which are plugged in, hosts can then consolidate all of the virtual servers into just one physical server. So while you are supporting multiple servers, you are actually just spending emissions on just one actual server.
There is a need for everyone to promote green IT and save the Earth. There are a lot of ways to examine the benefits of the green IT. These are the impacts on environment, economy and society.
Green IT is getting popular because the three advantages above prove great results. It is environment-friendly. It adds up to the collective effort of eliminating pollution brought about by oil, coal, fuels, gas and other non-renewable energy source. It is about time we strongly adapt it.
The writer, Phil Smith, loves to blog about websites, servers, and data storage. He shares his best insights about www.macquarietelecom.com
Image courtesy of Flickr.