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.
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. 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.
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)
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://openengineering.scienceontheweb.net/