Free Energy Audits
One of the best ways we can limit our exposure to ever-increasing energy prices, as well as doing our bit for the planet, is to ensure our houses are as energy efficient as they can be. SHS is a not-for-profit company specializing in energy efficiency and the Green Deal, and have offered members of Ealing Transition free energy audits and, depending on the level of interest, the possibility of a workshop on draught-proofing your house.
The ‘Green Deal’ is a government initiative which allows householders to make energy-saving improvements to homes or businesses without having to pay all the costs up front: money is paid off in instalments through your electricity bill.
You can participate in one of four ways
1. A free 10- minute “door-step” evaluation of your property and circumstances to determine what energy-saving options may be possible and what grants may be available to you. A trained volunteer will visit you at a convenient time, and talk you through a questionnaire that is presented on a small tablet computer. The questions are very simple, e.g. does your house have solid walls or cavity walls? Do you have central heating or individual heaters in each room? Do you have double or single glazing? Is you loft space insulated? The volunteer interviewer does not have to enter your house and the whole process takes between 10 and 15 minutes. The results are reviewed by the specialist energy-saving company SHS, which will subsequently write to you with energy saving suggestions and if appropriate offer you a full technical survey to determine the best solution and potential sources of grants or other funding possibilities. SHS has recently evaluated hundreds of such surveys from Southall on behalf of Ealing Council.
2. A free full technical survey of your property to determine which energy saving options would be most cost-effective, and which support funding options are available. While working in the Ealing area over the next couple of months, SHS have offered free technical energy-saving surveys of Ealing Transition members houses. In this case a qualified surveyor will spend a couple of hours in your house making measurements and calculations about a range of potential solutions. They will discuss with you what would be most practical and cost-effective and follow up with a proposed programme of work and potential funding arrangements. You can then choose whether or not to continue with this plan or to do something different.
3. Train as a volunteer interviewer to conduct the “door-step” surveys for your local friends, family, neighbours etc. If you would like to help others become aware of the energy saving help that is available, SHS can provide you with a couple of hours of basic training for conducting the surveys. You are provided with a Samsung Galaxy touch pad on which the survey is pre-loaded in the form of questions in text and graphics forms. You don’t have to type in anything except the name and address, since the range of potential answers to the questions are already defined and shown in words and/or pictures on the touch pad. You just touch the appropriate answer on the screen. After completing all of your surveys, the touch pads are collected by SHS for data analysis. SHS will then write to those surveyed offering a full technical survey if the property is eligible for energy saving grants or loans. You can choose whether or not to take up their offer.
4. A practical workshop on draught-proofing your house (and/or those of your friends, family, etc.) SHS, in collaboration with Transition Belsize and Camden Council, has developed short draught-proofing workshops for people who would like a little guidance in reducing energy use. A 15% reduction in energy use is possible just from simple steps like stopping draughts through floor boards, around doors and windows. The workshop also covers heat reflectors behind radiators and simple secondary glazing. We will run a workshop if there is sufficient interest locally.
If you would like to know more about or participate in any of these activities, please drop Graham an e-mail with your name, address, e-mail / phone and if you are interested in
- A free door-step survey
- A full technical ‘green deal’ survey
- Volunteering to conduct door-step surveys
- Attending a draught-proofing workshop
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org [subject: Ealing Transition Energy Audits]
Members’ Energy Saving Renovations
Much of Ealing’s housing stock is Victorian or Edwardian. Here are some of the ways in which members of Ealing Transition have renovated their houses to conserve energy:
Grant and Trevor have both re-glazed the (north-facing) fronts of their houses. The original glass from 1907 was approx 2mm thick and therefore had a U-value of about 8. Factoring in ill-fitting 100-year-old timber frames meant very high energy loss.
Replacing this with triple glazing has reduced the U-value to about 1, and had an instant effect on the house’s ability to retain heat.
Grant used Henry & Sons http://henryandsons.co.uk/henryandsons
Trevor used Grace Windows http://gracewindows.co.uk/index.html
Another local supplier and supporter of Ealing Transition is Peerless Windows in Northfield Ave http://www.peerlesswindows.co.uk
Transition member David replaced all his original sash windows with identical looking double-glazed wooden sash windows, cutting down drafts enormously. The next project was to insulate his loft, using wool insulation from Black Mountain Insulation (http://www.blackmountaininsulation.com) – chosen because it is natural, uses a resource that would otherwise go to waste, and is nicer to handle than more conventional glass- or rockwool.
The large loft space was insulated at a cost of £450 and again David reports that the house felt much warmer as a result. Finally his Schott solar PV panels have been in place for a year and these are performing well.
The Wood family have installed Photovoltaic panels on their south-facing roof. They used Techfor Energy http://www.techforenergy.co.uk who helped them with the technical specification and strengthening supporting rafters, at a total cost of £7500. They used 8 Hyundai panels and with a micro inverter on each (more expensive, but longer lasting, than a single inverter). Production is estimated at 1800 kWh per year, and at present the family is making about as much electricity as they are using.
Investing in Green Energy
Due to the unsuitability of his roof for solar panels, Grant has invested directly into Ecotricity via their Ecobonds scheme http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/about-ecotricity/ecobonds
The company is able to pay a better rate of return than the banks because it has cut out the middle men.
A new scheme has just been announced by the creators of Zopa. This is called Abundance (not to be confused with the fruit harvesting initiative!) https://www.abundancegeneration.com It allows investments as small as £5 into the country’s future energy infrastructure.
Passive House Refurbishment
‘Passive House’ is a highly insulated, draughtproofed housing construction method which reduces the energy consumption of a building by 90% or more. A building is deemed ‘passive’ when little or no ‘active’ inputs are required to keep it warm.
Ealing Transition member Dora and her family have become passive house pioneers by refurbishing their semi-detached house according to passive house principles. This is actually much harder than building a new house from scratch, as existing air gaps and thermal bridges have to be eliminated, and e.g. foundations have to be insulated.
A photo diary of the build is available at https://picasaweb.google.com/112910450826396826156/PassivHausRefurbishment?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCKeGyYG3i6TD4QE&feat=directlink&gsessionid=5lubECatxYESaRLQBUtJTA
More information on this building method can be found on the following blogs:
http://transitionhomes.info is a new and growing resource for energy efficient home refurbishment, including PassivHaus and other techniques.
http://passivhausrefurb.blogspot.com is the story of a refurbishment of a 1970s house
http://www.greenbuildingstore.co.uk/page–passivhaus-diaries.html is the story of a passive house built in the British vernacular (i.e. using cavity wall construction)
Positive Energy: how renewable electricity can transform the UK by 2030
A new Report from the WWF shows that it is perfectly feasible for renewables to deliver at least 60% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2030, enabling us to reduce emissions without resorting to new nuclear power. By reducing our demand for energy we can reduce the costs of new low carbon generation capacity by around £40 billion by 2030, making it easier and cheaper to hit our climate targets. You can read the report here:
Zero Carbon Britain Zero Carbon Britain 2030 was produced by the Centre for Alternative Technology last year and remains a riveting read. You can download it for free at http://www.zerocarbonbritain.com
Open Engineering is the website of Ealing Transition member Donald Power, who has worked in Engineering for over 30 years. The site features a number of thoughtful discussions of the various energy options available to us as the end of cheap oil draws to a close. You can read it at http://www.openengineering.talktalk.net/index.html