The Government has announced grants of up to 50% are available through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, for householders seeking to install renewable energy systems to provide heat and power in their home.
These include solar panels, small scale wind turbines, wood fuelled boilers and geothermal heat pumps.
To date the Department has paid out more than £2.5m, to allow over 1000 people from across the country, to install a domestic renewable energy system.
Local man, Nick Finnegan received a grant from Reconnect to invest in a hot water solar panel for his new-build home in the Greater Belfast area.
He said “I chose solar because it was a renewable source that would save money and be particularly useful for the family. Since having our solar water heating panels installed we have not needed to use the immersion at all in six months.”
Nick believes planning is key when it comes to the installation of renewable energy systems in a self-build project. He said: “It is vital decisions are made at an early point so once you ascertain that the aspect of the house is suitable for solar, then make sure everyone involved in its installation knows well in advance, so that the roof joists and tiling are right.”
“I’d definitely recommend the Reconnect grant to anyone in a position to take it up; whether in an existing house or building a new property. The grant money is there and it cushions the blow for the homeowner, while the benefits are reaped forever.”
Dr Andy McCrea, Director, Action Renewables says even in Northern Ireland, a solar hot water system can perform very well: “Provided solar hot water panels are placed on a south facing roof, there is sufficient solar resource to provide around 50% of a typical household’s hot water.”
For further information including how to apply for a Reconnect grant, the range of technologies on offer and a list of approved renewable energy technology installers across Northern Ireland, log on to www.reconnect.org.uk .