First published: 21/02/2024 -

Last updated: 21/03/2024 -

Reviewed by our Editorial Panel

Renewable energy systems

Renewable energy systems such as heat pumps and solar panels are among the more substantial investments we can make to reduce our homes’ fuel bills and carbon emissions. But they will make a big difference and save money in the long term.

To reach net zero, we need to move away from using fossil fuels to heat our homes. One way to do this is to install renewable energy systems, such as heat pumps, solar water heating, or biomass boilers. These systems are powered by sources that naturally replenish, such as the sun or the wind. 


Contact the Warm Homes Nest scheme for free advice on home energy improvements and to see if you're eligible for. for a package of free home energy efficiency improvements. Also see the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which is open to households in Wales and England to cover part of the cost of replacing a fossil fuel heating system with a heat pump or biomass boiler. 

What can we do? 

New natural gas boilers will be phased out over the next decade; because their emissions add to climate change. Wales’ new build standards for social homes cover both energy efficiency and phasing out fossil-fuelled heat by 2025.  

Discover more about the transition to renewable energy heating systems: 

Heat Pumps  

A heat pump captures heat from outside and moves it into your home. While it uses electricity to do this, the quantity of heat delivered into your home is much greater than the electricity used to power the system. Heat pumps are suitable for almost all homes and could also reduce your energy bills, depending on the system you’re replacing. For more about installing heat pumps in historic buildings specifically, this guide is useful.  There are three main types of heat pumps – air source, ground source and hybrid systems.  

  • Air source heat pumps are the most common type of domestic heat pump in the UK and are suitable for many types of home. Also known as air-to-water source heat pumps, they transfer heat from the outside air to water, to heat your rooms and hot water. 

  • If you have a garden or large outdoor space, ground source heat pumps may be a good option. Also known as ground-to-water source heat pumps, these transfer heat from the ground outside.  

  • Hybrid heat pumps systems use a heat pump alongside another heat source, such as a fossil fuel (gas, oil or LPG) boiler. This boiler could be an existing boiler, or you may consider installing a heat pump at the same time as a new boiler. 

Tens of thousands of heat pumps have already been installed across the UK. The UK Government expects that millions of heat pumps will need to be installed in homes over the next 10-15 years to meet our net zero targets.   

Biomass boilers 

Biomass boilers generate heat from burning woodchip or pellets. They emit carbon dioxide just like fossil fuels when burnt, as well as particulates and other pollutants. There are also some carbon emissions caused by the cultivation, manufacture and transportation of their fuel so while they are appropriate in some buildings. they are not the most ideal source of green energy for general usage. Read more on the Energy Saving Trust website.  

Solar panels 

Solar panels convert sunlight into energy. There are two types of solar panel: solar water heating systems which heat water, and photovoltaics (PV) which provide electricity in your home. There are various styles and sizes of solar panel, from large to more discreet. By installing solar panels, your property will generate its own renewable electricity. 

To determine if solar panels are right for your home, consider whether there’s enough roof space, whether the roof is south facing (ideal for maximum electrical output), east or west facing (could still be considered), or north facing (not recommended), and whether anything is shading the roof that could inhibit performance. It’s also worth being aware that on older buildings, your roof may need structural support for solar panel installation. Find out more about installing solar panels, as well as other renewable energy systems, in this guide from Cadw.  And be sure to contact your local planning office for guidance on any required permissions for installing a solar PV system.  

Find out more about solar panels in the Energy Saving Trust’s in-depth guide, and on our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page. You can also compare the returns on investment of different renewable home energy systems here.  

Why take action?

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Help to decarbonise your home

Renewable energy systems such as heat pumps, solar panels and biomass heating systems can significantly improve the energy efficiency of a home and reduce its carbon footprint. 

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Reduce energy bills

Renewable energy systems can help save money on energy bills.  

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Access support available

The Welsh Government’s Optimised Retrofit Programme helps social landlords and local authorities make social housing more energy efficient through the installation of renewable energy systems.  The Warm Homes Nest scheme offers free advice on home energy improvements and for those who are eligible, provides a package of package of free home energy efficiency improvements. The UK Government Boiler Upgrade Scheme is open to households in Wales and England  

Solar panels save family hundreds

This Rhondda-based family saves £600 a year with Nest-scheme solar panels. 

Find out more

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