Renewable energy technologies are improving day on day, so switching to a green energy supplier may soon be the best way to save money on your bills. But let’s back up a second, and talk through exactly what we mean by green energy.
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Green energy is energy which is generated from sustainable sources. It’s also known as renewable energy or sustainable energy. Historically, we have burned fossil fuels – such as coal, oil and gas – in order to create energy, but the major drawbacks of fossil fuels are twofold: using ‘brown’ fuels not only releases high levels of pollution into the environment, but they’re also finite, so we’ll eventually run out. Energy suppliers and consumers alike are starting to look elsewhere.
First, let’s talk about green electricity, which is generated in many different ways. In the UK, by far the most popular methods are through wind power and solar power, but we’ll also look at other forms of renewable energy.
Wind power is produced by turbines: wind forces the turbine to move, which in turn generates energy. Here’s a fun nugget: the UK is home to the largest offshore wind farm in the world (well, we’ve got to take advantage of all that windy coastline, don’t we?!) although turbines can also be installed small-scale on your property, too.
Solar power is generated using solar panels, which absorb the sun’s rays and convert them to energy. These panels can be huge, as seen in their thousands on large-scale solar farms abroad (where there’s considerably more sunshine!) or small enough to fit on the roof of your house or car.
There are a few other ways of creating renewable energy. Tidal power is generated by the force of the tides being converted into energy, and is in fact more predictable than soolar and wind energy. Hydroelectric power takes advantage of moving water to generate electricity; on a grand scale, this is what’s going on at river dams. There’s also geothermal power, which uses the heat in the earth’s core to generate energy, and biomass power, made from burning natural matter like manure and wood.
As it stands, we’re currently not as far ahead with creating green gas in the UK as we are with green electricity – but we’ll get there! Rest assured, there are high levels of research and development involved, and with other countries already succeeding in developing green gas, it’s only a matter of time before it’s a common feature of our energy deals.
While we don’t yet have the means to create green gas in the UK, it is still included in some suppliers’ fuel mixes – they just source it from abroad.
Demand has made renewable energy market much more competitive, meaning it’s easier than ever to save money by switching to a green energy deal. Within the last year alone there has been a marked shift in the number of consumers choosing renewable tariffs. And, as we know, the suppliers follow the money – it’s a tale as old as time. As a result, we’re seeing more cheap green energy deals on the market.
In fact, you could potentially even make money by switching to renewables…
It’s possible to create your own power supply by installing renewable technologies in your own home. In a nutshell, you become somewhat self-sufficient. In the UK, by far the most popular way to do this domestically is by installing solar panels on the roof of your house. But imagine we had another heatwave like the one we’ve seen this summer, with long days of eternal sunshine. You could then find yourself with a surplus of energy – more than what you need.
When this happens, you can usually sell some of that energy back to the National Grid, saving you money on your energy bills both upfront and in returns. If this sounds tempting, then look for feed-in tariffs when you compare energy deals. How much you’ll get paid will depend on a few factors such as when your system was installed, how big it is and how energy efficient your home is.
Do be aware though, that the initial cost of installing your own power supply won’t be cheap. For solar panels, it could be as much as £9,000. So, it is worth calculating how long it’d take to recoup the cost and reap those savings. However, don’t be deterred by the cost either – there are also government schemes to help people ‘go green’, so you could get a subsidy.
It’s never been easier to switch to a green tariff. Compare energy providers through Simply Switch by taking advantage of our energy comparison tool. You’ll just need to pop in a few details so we can be sure to find the best energy deals available in your area, and then choose your new renewable energy supplier. They will handle the transfer process for you, so you can relax in the knowledge you’re investing in green energy!