Whether you prefer to generate electricity using solar panels, wind turbines or biomass boilers, generating your own energy means you can stop worrying about further price increases and do your bit for the environment at the same time.
You can even get government funding to help with the initial costs. And once your home is generating its own energy, you can even play the suppliers at their own game by selling any excess electricity you produce to the National Grid at a "feed in tariff" fixed by the government.
Scott Byrom, energy expert at moneysupermarket.com, said: "Generating your own energy not only benefits the environment, it can also work wonders for your finances in the long run.
"Despite the initial upfront cost, customers can see a return on their investment in less than 10 years and continue to reap the benefits of "feed in tariff" rates of 43p per kilowatt generated for the next 25 years giving a great return on your investment."
What are the options?
Renewable technologies are powered by abundant, free sources of energy such as the wind, the sun and even plant and animal matter. The best one for you will depend on the specific features of your home.
If you have a south-facing roof, for example, solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity for use in the home or to export to the national grid, or simply heat the water you use in your home, are likely to be a good option.
The initial outlay for electricity-generating solar panels or tiles is about £12,500 (but can earn you around £1,200 a year), while you can generally install panels for water heating purposes for about £5,000.
If, however, you live in a rural or coastal area that gets a lot of wind, a domestic wind turbine that can either be integrated into the local electricity grid or operate as an off-grid device, charging batteries when excess electricity is generated, could be a better choice - especially as small-scale, roof mounted wind turbines only cost about £2,000 to install.
Another option if you live by a stream is to invest in a hydroelectricity system that generates electricity from running water.
These are the most expensive of the three at between £20,000 and £25,000, but can prove a good investment long term as they often produce plenty of surplus energy to sell back to the grid. Alternatives include biomass boilers and wood-fuelled heating systems.
How can I get involved?
The large energy companies offer a range of micro-generation products. EDF Energy, for example, offers both solar panels and solar water heating systems.
There are plenty of solar panel companies offering to fit solar panels for free, but bear in mind that if you choose this route, the company involved will get the feed-in tariff. That means if you are able to pay for your own system, then you are likely to see bigger rewards over the long term.
What grants are available?
While the initial outlays for many energy generation technologies are quite high, you can get help with the installation costs via the government's renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme.
The amounts on offer vary depending on the technology you want to put in and cost involved.
Those keen to install solar panels for water heating purposes, for example, could get £300 off the total cost of about £5,000, while larger grants are available for other, more expensive systems.
http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/ to find out more and to find out which grants you might qualify for. How do "feed in tariffs" work?
"Feed-in tariffs" first became available last year and there are two different types, Generation Tariffs and Export Tariffs.
Generation Tariffs set the amount that renewable home energy producers are paid for every kilowatt hour of electricity generated, whether they use it themselves or export it to the grid, and they depend on the technology used and the date the scheme is joined.
Once set, however, they are fixed for 25 years.
For every unit exported, meanwhile, home producers also qualify for an extra payment - or Export Tariff - currently set at 3p per kilowatt.
The Energy Saving Trust has a Cashback Calculator to help you work out how much you could hope to make and save a year with the various technologies available.
What else can I do to reduce my energy bills?
There are lots of small changes that can make your household more energy efficient and slash your bills accordingly.
These include always turning the lights off when you leave a room, closing your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping and turning off electrical appliances rather than leaving them on standby.
Even if you are not quite ready to invest in renewable energy technology for your home, you can also cut your costs by making home improvements designed to minimize your energy consumption.
Fitting energy saving glazing, for example, can cut your costs by about £140 a year, while upgrading to a condensing boiler could save you £225 a year and putting in loft insulation could provide annual savings of £145.
And you can get help with the installation costs of these home improvements as well.
The government provides grants for insulation or new boilers to households in receipt of certain benefits via the Warm Front scheme (known as the Energy Assistance Package in Scotland and NEST in Wales), while energy suppliers and local authorities run a variety of schemes.
Finally, you can also significantly reduce the size of your bills simply by switching to a better energy deal.
Scott Byrom said: "Anyone hoping to keep their energy bills low in a volatile energy market should opt for the best value fixed price tariff, currently offered by EDF Energy. Its 'Fix for 2012' product costs on average £1,050.68."
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.
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