News Alert

Wondering how to further reduce your energy bills? Have a look at the HOBBS report for a few ideas.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mobile access to the website

28 Dec '10: DNC writes: I just discovered that it's possible to view this blog (and the others that I do) using a Mobile device. Normally, you need a phone with a large screen and very good reception to pick up a full web page. Most of the heavily used sites like the BBC, Eurosport, Guardian have Mobile versions.
   Well thanks to Google blogger, we have too! If you have a mobile phone, try this site with your iPhone or Android phone. (I hope it works for you).
  I already use my iPhone as the hand held device for my PV roof, now it is even more useful, for checking my various blogs!
  I notice that if you log onto the site with an iPad, it is treated as a computer, not as a phone, despite using the same operating system.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Results from an Eco House open day

Hi Karina
My panels are up and running - thanks again for allowing me to visit your house - it was helpful.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Saving Water Event

After the mini event on Renewables on Friday 3rd December at the Test Match Pub, the next main event will be on
17th January 2011, focusing on Saving WaterMore info on that in the coming weeks… This would be at the South Notts College building, in Ruddington.
However, if you are looking into water saving devices right now you might be interested in the following: I've entered the competition at SaveWaterSaveMoney to have a chance of winning one or more of the 250 prizes worth over £8,000.

If you click on the link below and enter your details, then we both stand a better chance of winning.   Click Here

Clearer definition of 'Carbon Zero'

16 December '10:
Quote: A Task Group convened by the Zero Carbon Hub has delivered a report to the Minister for Housing and Local Government setting out its recommendations for carbon compliance levels for new homes from 2016. Carbon Compliance – that is, on-site reductions in emissions – form part of the Government’s overall plan for achieving zero carbon homes; the other part comprises off-site "allowable solutions."
for the details.

One thing they define numerically:
The recommendations are that the 'built performance' emissions from new homes should not exceed:
10 kg CO2(eq) /m2/year for detached houses
11 kg CO2(eq) /m2/year for other houses
14 kg CO2(eq) /m2/year for low rise apartment blocks

What does this mean? The Carbon Trust site gives some help from a table published in 2009:

Conversion to CO2e (gross CV basis)
Grid electricity kWh =0.544 Kg CO2e per unit
Natural gas kWh 0.184 Kg CO2e per unit
LPG kWh 0.214 Kg CO2e per unit
LPG litres 1.497   Kg CO2e per unit
Gas oil kWh 0.277 Kg CO2e per unit
Gas oil  litres 3.029 Kg CO2e per unit
Fuel oil kWh 0.266 Kg CO2e per unit
Fuel oil  tonnes 3229 Kg CO2e per unit
Burning oil kWh 0.247 Kg CO2e per unit
Burning oil  tonnes 3165 Kg CO2e per unit
Diesel kWh 0.253 Kg CO2e per unit
Diesel  litres 2.669 Kg CO2e per unit
Petrol kWh 0.243 Kg CO2e per unit
Petrol  litres 2.331 Kg CO2e per unit
Industrial coal kWh 0.313 Kg CO2e per unit
Industrial coal  tonnes 2,338 Kg CO2e per unit
Wood pellets kWh 0.026 Kg CO2e per unit
Wood pellets  tonnes 121.5 Kg CO2e per unit

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Eco House Group at the Melton Road Christmas Fair

Sunday 5th December, we shall be at the Melton Road Christmas Fair from noon until 4pm
We can be found in the Celebrations shop together with members of Rushcliffe Solar and the Skills Exchange. We shall have a raffle with 3 prizes: A Solar Security Light, A TV powerdown and a Solar trickle charger. All the proceeds will go to Transition West Bridgford to support current and future initiatives.

Post Event Report: Yes, we were there, but somewhat hidden at the back of the shop - and there were musical and filming events between us and the door! However, it was an extremely cold day, and we were glad to be indoors with a good supply of mulled wine only a couple of doors away at the Tall Frog.Our stand was a combination of Rushcliffe Solar, WB Ecohouses and WB Transition.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Renewables "mini event" at the Test Match Pub

3 Dec '10: Fourteen people in total braved the snow on Friday 3rd December to discuss Renewables over a pint or two.
We put our questions to Chris Wheelwright of Solar-Heat and Paul Baker of The Fireplace Centre, and to David Hill and Pete of Carbon Legacy. David Nicholson-Cole (Rushcliffe Solar and University of Nottingham) was also there to provide extra expertise on PV, insulation and heat pumps.

There was a long discussion on Insulation, particularly external insulation - it's one of the most effective energy saving things you can do if your house doesn't have too many projecting bays or flush eaves details. Many of those present have solid wall houses, and require insulation. There was discussion of the best materials with Phenolic foam being preferred for performance and easy fixing, and there was discussion of the chance of a bulk or group deal for WB house owners.

There was detailed information on PV for Electricity generation, consideration of mono- and polycrystalline panels, best makes of panels and inverters, and questions that you might ask to sort the reputable installers from the less good. Even without asking an installer you can intelligently guess if the geometry, trees and chimneys make your house suitable for PV installation. They are far more sensitive than solar thermal panels which can tolerate some shading.

Ventilation systems with heat recovery cropped up again too, because many are considering a whole house approach to reducing energy needs, of which renewable energy recycling is part of the picture. For those who cannot fit whole house heat reclaim (because of the shape of the house or lack of space in the loft) it is possible to fit room-by room heat reclaim units which can go in the place of present day ventilators.

Friday, December 03, 2010

London Passivhaus explained by Bere

3 Dec '10: This PDF of a lecture by Justin Bere is an excellent example of how architects design, and how a Passivhaus is assessed. Some of the work includes add ons to an existing victorian house.
There is a fascinating explanation for how this Passivhaus standard house was designed, with a long sequence of alternative planning ideas.

Crossway Passivhaus vaulted roof

Crossway house in Staplehurst, Kent, is by the architect Richard Hawke. It has been certified to the Passivhaus standard. It featured a few years ago on Grand Designs, as the very risky parabolic vault was being built. It is very well insulated, and with the addition of some renewables is well up to the standard. It is a unique design, nobody has built with vaults like this since Gothic times.
I somehow don't see these appearing in West Bridgford.. but Colston Bassett? perhaps it is possible.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Invitation from Helen to be involved in a straw bale build.

There is a straw bale ecobuild (a farm visitor centre, out at Screveton on the A46 past East Bridgford). You are invited to visit and I can show you round and tell you about the features of the build, with the owner’s permission (David Rose). There is a Farmeco Community Carefarm Facebook website which has some pictures of the build so far…

We shall be looking for volunteers for lime rendering, and/or providing low cost introductory lime rendering courses, once the weather becomes more appropriate, and those who are interested in knowing about that can email David (see Farmeco webpages or to be on a contact list. David is very interested in getting people from the local communities involved at all stages, and so far, local people have been involved in the rammed earth wall and the straw bale wall-raising.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Green Deal

1 Dec '10: All the energy pundits agree on one thing - that for all the small number of new ecohouses there are, there are thousands or even millions of homes in the UK that are poorly insulated or have inefficient boilers - the cumulative effect from them is more harmful than the good we might get by focusing only on New build.
The Green Deal is addressing the issue of existing homes and business premises. There is financial support for energy saving measures, including insulation, and energy generating schemes such as PV.

See the page on the DECC website that explains more.

See also the leaflet from the Energy Saving Trust.

Government redefines 2016 target

29 Nov '10: DNC writes: Regrettably, but inevitably the coalition government have bowed to the pressure from the commercial house-builders and dropped / redefined the 2016 target.
    I am not surprised for two reasons, 1. The house builders have tremendous influence with a goverment that is trying to make a bonfire of regulations, and 2. The 2016 target was extremely difficult to meet if you took it quite literally. It has never been totally clear what Carbon-Zero means anyway, does it cover the heating cost, or must it cover the entire heating, hotwater and power requirements? Here's a page from the Guardian trying to define it:
   The german Passivhaus standard is very clear, although it is extremely prescriptive, and no doubt house-builders will hate that too.
   To make matters worse, the Government invites developers to make suggestions for further deregulation of the industry.
  However, the good thing seems to be that there is greater encouragement for renewable technology, power generation etc. to compensate for the house itself not being carbon zero in the Passivhaus sense. PV is a major part of this new strategy, so if you are in the business of designing houses, make sure they have clear south facing roofs! (if you weren't doing it before). As PV is a choice that the householder can make, presumably this is shifting much of the cost from the developers to the occupants.
  There is more information and diagrams here:
  As you would expect, the eloquent Georges Monbiot is able to deliver powerful criticism of this policy change.
  Sorry to namedrop here, but I met David Miliband in 2007 at the Hay Festival when he was Energy minister. I told him that 'Carbon-Zero' was somewhat mythical and could not be achieved by builders of affordable mass housing in suburban environments (with whatever certainty I have from working at the University in a department full of people trying to do this). He brushed this aside politely assuring me that his experts thought it would be possible. About a week later, he was no longer Energy Secretary, handing over to his brother, Ed. This is why I am not totally surprised by the Government's decision.
  Thanks to this decision, this definition does make my house Carbon Zero, as the PV generates 3,325 kWh/yr and the Space Heating cost is 3,000 kWh/yr of electricity...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mini event on renewables

For anyone who missed the recent event on Renewables, or for anyone who has further questions, there will be a “mini event” at the Test Match Pub on Friday 3rd December at 7.30pm. All are welcome, feel free to bring friends along too.

If you can give me an idea of which renewable(s) interest you, it would be handy ( There will be at least one installer present and he has expertise in all realistic options for houses.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Trip to Hockerton

22 Nov '10: DNC writes: I was very lucky, queuing in the coffee bar, and one of the students told me he was about to get on the bus to visit Hockerton houses. On finding there was a space on the bus, I made an immediate decision to join them, for the rest of the day.
   This must have been the first set of houses built that would meet the Passivhaus standard (although I don't think they have had them PHPP certificated because of the date of construction, mid 90s, and because they rely on Thermal Mass).
  We were shown round by Simon Tilley, and it was nice that we started with the allotments, the reservoir (they are off the water grid) and the wind turbines, the reed bed before we actually looked at the houses.    
   This demonstrated the holistic nature of the whole scheme, it is not about just the house design, it is also about the whole community and the order of living. He has a very professional presentation (in the Learning Centre nearby) and we also enjoyed seeing the interior of one of the houses.
  Really. They do not have heating! They get by with sunspace, thermal mass and heat reclamation of internal gains. Power needs are met by the combination of PV and wind power.
  The lake in front of the houses is recreational, although it does provide carp for the occasional treat. There is another small lake behind them, to the north, as a reservoir for their fresh water.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Interview with Jenny Johnston

Installation of PV panels in September 2010.

Jenny has been along to a few Eco House Group events and has recently installed photovoltaic panels (PV) on her roof. Tina Holt asked her a few questions:

When did you start considering putting PV panels on your roof?
I first considered putting PV panels on my roof when I heard about Rushcliffe Solar via Transition West Bridgford. I had considered solar panels for heating hot water previously but decided the amount of hot water I used did not make it worthwhile.

What was your main motive for installing PV?
My main motive was to lower my carbon footprint but also think it is a good investment as I will gain tax free income equivalent to any rate of interest available at the moment and it should increase the value of my bungalow if I need to sell.

How did you get the information that you needed? Who did you talk to, etc?
I received most of my information from the Rushcliffe Solar team.

What made you choose EvoEnergy?
EvoEnergy was one of the companies Rushcliffe Solar approached for a quotation for me. They seemed to offer the best value for money for the number of panels appropriate for my roof.

When was the install and how long did it take?
Monday 27 September - Scaffolding erected
Tuesday 28 Panels fitted to roof and main electrical work carried out
Ken Clarke visits Jenny's house,
as an example of a PV installation
19th Nov 2010.
Wednesday 29 Electrician returned for less than hour and put installation into commission and explained everything to me
Thursday 30 Scaffolding removed

How did you find it in terms of disruption etc?
There was no disruption to speak of. The only internal work was in my roofspace. The electrician ran cables from panels to inverter etc in the garage via the loft area so no cables visible from outside.

What would you say to someone else considering doing the same thing?
“Go for it” The initial outlay is high but I am hoping both the environmental and financial rewards will also be high.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two Events in November

More than 30 people gathered for the third Eco House Group event held at South Nottingham College’s Ruddington site. David Hill of Carbon Legacy and Tim Saunders of the Energy Saving Trust gave a talk on Renewable Energy and the Financial Incentive Schemes available to home owners.

Afterwards the audience put their questions to David and Tim. Two SAP assessors and a number of other renewable energy companies also introduced themselves to the group.

Full details of the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive scheme) have not been finalised by the current government. There will be an update on this site once the information is available.

The next day, 12 of the group met for a pint at the Test Match Pub to talk to Sean Stevenson of Westville. Westville is a local company that installs insulation of all kinds. Many in the group have the specific problem of living in solid wall houses, so Sean answered many questions on internal and external insulation as well as queries relating to cavity walls, cellars, floors and lofts.

If you would like further information or wish to contact one of the experts or suppliers present at one of these events, please email with your request.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rushcliffe Awards Scheme

11th Nov '10: Members of Transition West Bridgford attended the evening Rushcliffe community awards ceremony at Beckett School. We had a little bit of hope as we had some nominations - for example, for services to local business, or to the environment. But with so many things going on, and so many worthy volunteers deserving the prizes, we will have to wait another year.
   Well done to Kinoulton for their Mayor's special award, for a Greening Campaign that managed to get 50% of the village involved, which is, apparently, a national record!
Pictured are: Tina Holt (WB Ecohouses), Karina Wells (Transition WB and other things), David Nicholson-Cole (Rushcliffe Solar), Mrs Marie Males (Mayor of Rushcliffe), Sheila Hood (Sustainability officer for Rushcliffe BC)
We notice that Nottingham City Council had an award scheme on Wednesday night, focused on environmental issues with seven distinct categories for Environmental work.
Nottm Evening Post link 

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Glass Roof tiles

2 Nov: DNC writes: Here's an interesting thermal panel system. Glass roof tiles, from Soltech of Sweden.

Capturing hot air, and then you have a heat exchanger to retain it.

I am interested in the Fabric they use to hold the heat with. Anybody considering an extension or partial new build might find this an option to consider. I am not sure if there is a UK importer yet.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Climate change lecture

28 Oct '10: David NC and Tina Holt went to a meeting arranged by Derby Climate Change Coalition, for an excellent lecture on 'Zero Carbon Britain 2030'. Peter Harper, senior researcher at CAT (Centre for Alternative Technologies) is joint authored of a major report on this title, addressing the question of whether Britain can meet its future obligations (Kyoto, Copenhagen etc) by reducing its CO2 emissions, or going even further, to be considered Carbon Zero - by reducing emissions, and balancing the remainder by using renewable energy generation, nationally.
Peter started by reminding us of our obligations to future generations "The Fierce Urgency of Now". If you are lucky enough to have grandchildren, it reminds you starkly of the risks they face in the future. In all other aspects of life, we take precautions when we see a risk, we don't wait until after the house burns down before taking out insurance. The Stern Review of 2006 makes an economic case for taking care to combat climate change now, rather cheaper than waiting until after the disasters have occurred (and when major climate-responsible ones do occur, such as the floods in Pakistan does it affect public opinion in USA and UK? probably not...)
  We are getting close to a point in time... a parting of the ways... that future historians will look back to and say "in that decade, when CO2 levels were ***, that would have been the time to finally face up to the risk, the runaway effect started then". Once the runaway effect occurs, the time scale will be hundreds of human generations, as occurred with previous climate cycles. A Zero Carbon approach will be tackling both Peak oil and Climate Change, interlinked issues, both urgent.
  Different countries are at different stages - the developed world is burning more than the planet can support, but is recognising it has to cut back energy consumption, the middle world is enjoying its new affluence, and the developing world expects to reach a higher standard of living in the future - all 'high standards of living' involve high energy consumption.
  What effect can dear little Britain have? a mere 2% of the population? Well.... with climate change we are not one single country in an air tight box. All countries share the same air, so we must all be concerned, and if we wait for the others, nothing will happen. Some countries (i.e.the UK), the ones who consume MOST should be leading by example and a bit of self sacrifice (some energy abstinence).
  Hence, the Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report presented to the government in 2010. We can identify three main tasks, 1. the Reduction of demand for energy, 2, Improved delivery of Zero carbon energy supply, and 3. Net negative processes to reverse the levels of CO2 such as planting and sequestration.
  The first one, which influences our actions and decisions is TO POWER DOWN! UK buildings and construction are more than half the CO2 emission, we need not just ecohouses, but to retrofit every building in the country, millions of which are insufficiently insulated. We need a shift in our Transport, to use more public transport, travel less, avoid air transport, more trains, more sharing and cycling. We need to rethink the generation of Electricity - much more wind power (on a large scale, enough to overcome intermittency), develop ways of storing energy, e.g. with heatpumps, and we should consider a European Supergrid - for example, solar power delivered by the hot southern countries, hydro from the north and wind power from the coastal countries, and sharing of nuclear if we have to have it.
  Local generation, such as domestic PV is important for stabilising grid and reducing transmission losses.
   For the UK, there is an abundance of Wind in the North sea, and if the country invested as much in that as it did in the oil rigs of the 80s and 90s, there would be a source of energy that could never run out. Electric cars are improving in performance, image and range. Hydrogen - which the US favours - is a great technology, but it has been promised for the last 40 years and still seems to be in a state of infancy, with so little delivered or accepted.
  Agriculture is a major user of energy, but crop production uses vastly less energy and land than meat production. More land could be devoted to Biomass farming if we grew less meat, and crop growing reduces CO2 levels. The overpopulation of grazing animals emit Methane and Nitrous Oxide, both greenhouse gases. We have managed a paradigm change in land use before - in the early 1900s much of our land was still devoted to horses, our previous prime form of transport. We made a major change in 100 years - much of the land devoted to airports, motorways, transport depots, and large scale farming, with the space for horses statistically negligible. Peter brought up the idea of Carbon Farming - a policy of financial incentives for farmers to grow crops not animals.
  One of the problems for the environmental movement, in our efforts to influence government, is that we have conflicting objectives, perhaps because we interpret 'environment' differently. We may all want to stop global warming, but some will also say Nuclear No Thanks, others to Save our Land from Wind Turbines, others No to Trams or No to Tidal barrages. Some propose Carbon Offsetting, but does that work? Some propose Carbon Capture and storage (whatever the cost) but does that work? Could Biofuels enable us to continue our consumptive lifestyle - we think not! Can Lifestyle changes bring down energy consumption? yes, but who is the first to turn off the lights? Can we invest in giant geo-engineering schemes to get heat from below?
  But in the face of the major hazards ahead, we should be prepared to consider Every possible option, have no taboo about discussing them, we have to be prepared to compromise our faith or opinions if necessary to achieve the larger target.

A full copy of the Zero Carbon 2030 book is available free as a PDF on line.

David NC writes: I hope you enjoyed this summary of Peter's talk, now I hope you will enjoy seeing the full copy of the document on line!

WB Ecohouses Meeting on 16 November

Renewable Energy Technologies and their financial incentive schemes
Tuesday 16th November 2010
7pm for refreshments, prompt start at 7.30pm

SNC Training, South Notts College
Mere Way, Ruddington Fields Business Park, NG11 6JZ

The third in a series of free evening events:
Short talk and experts to answer your questions

The talk will cover:
  • Generating your own electricity via Solar PVs and wind turbines
  • Ground and air source heat pumps
  • Solar hot water, wood/pellet stoves and boilers
  • FITs and RHIs (i.e. the financial incentives)
First, Talk by: David Hill - Carbon Legacy
followed by the chance to put your questions to a panel of suppliers and independent experts.

Please email if you are likely to be attending: it is not obligatory, but it helps with planning the refreshments and leaflet printing.

Directions: Follow Mere Way through Ruddington Fields Business Park. Pass the first SNC building on the left, and take the next turning to the second SNC Training building. It has a distinctive suspended curved wall with car parking beneath it. Park here or on the roadside.

Buses to Ruddington village: Ruddington Connection (Trent Barton) & No. 10 (Nott City Transport)

For more information about the Eco House Group, go to

The WB Eco House Group is a project inspired by Transition West Bridgford:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Slimming or slashing the heating bill?

Insulation and draught-proofing

22 Oct: Tina Holt writes: At the second event in this series of talks, David Hill of Carbon Legacy gave an overview of the aspects to consider when reducing heat loss from a building. He included some very useful facts, figures and general advice. This covered insulation of walls, roofs and floors, what to look out for when considering new windows, and ways of reducing draughts and providing suitable ventilation without excessive heat loss. A short report summarising the options is available on request from

Following the talk, people put their own questions to one of the experts present: David Hill, Tim Saunders, Sean Stevenson, Gil Schalom, Mike Siebert and Sheila Hood. Some of these conversations were continued in the pub!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spending Review - did it affect renewables?

20 Oct: Despite this day being a much feared day (for budget cuts), and one that will have many consequences in other parts of our life and economy, there is a small glimpse of relief, in that the situation for renewables is presently unchanged.
The Good Energy website sums it up well, Feed in Tariffs will continue in their present form for PV, and the Govt will continue with intended plans for the Renewable Heat Incentive.
    The degression rate - the rate at which the rate of FiT payment is reduced annually - might be reduced a bit faster than the originally proposed 7%, but this can only be good for those who get their panels up before 2012. The degression system was always intended to encourage early adopters, and discourage the "We'll wait until prices come down" brigade.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Slimming or slashing the heating bill? Insulation and draught-proofing

Slimming or slashing the heating bill? Insulation and draught-proofing
Tuesday 19th October 2010 7.30-9.15pm

Location: SNC Training, South Notts College
Mere Way, Ruddington Fields Business Park, NG11 6JZ

Please bring
 Your questions!
 A photo of your house and any area within it that relates to your query (e.g. a room that you wish to insulate).

Topics our experts can cover include:
 Cavity walls, loft insulation and other standard options and DIY tasks
 Loft conversions, ceilings and floors, windows and doors
 What to do about solid walls?
 What about air quality in a super-insulated, air-tight house?

Experts: David Hill - Carbon Legacy; Tim Saunders - Energy Saving Trust,
Sean Stevenson - Westville Insulation; Gil Schalom - Architect

Please email if you are likely to be attending, or can't but need to be kept informed.

Directions: Follow Mere Way through Ruddington Fields Business Park. Pass the first SNC building on the left, and take the next turning to the second SNC Training building. It has a distinctive suspended curved wall with car parking beneath it. Park here or on the roadside.
Buses to Ruddington village: Ruddington Connection (Trent Barton) & No. 10 (Nott City Transport)
For more information about the Eco House Group, go to
The Eco House Group is a project inspired by Transition West Bridgford:

Chris Huhne Passivhaus conference speech Oct '10
Chris Huhne, in a speech to the UK Passivhaus conference Oct 11 '10:

"I would like to see every new home in the UK reach the Passivhaus standard – and there are some beautiful examples on display tonight. We are making progress.
We will ensure that all new homes post-2016 can be zero-carbon,  without letting the costs of new build stop the sustainable development we need.
And we will introduce a minimum standard for fabric energy efficiency, based on the recent consultation on the Code for Sustainable Homes.
This will help us to break away from the model of homes being developed at low cost, but which are expensive to run. Moving toward a new concept of value in home ownership."
It is great to see the present government keeping the 2016 target in existence, and taking on the recognised standard of Passivhaus.  He also mentions the importance of retrofitting the existing housing stock:
"We also need to make homes that have already been built more energy efficient.
The Technology Strategy Board’s ‘Retrofit for the Future’ Competition is providing some fantastic examples of what is technically possible. Even in the UK, with some of Europe’s oldest housing stock, the Passivhaus standard can be achieved.
But it also highlights the cost and disruption, as houses are stripped to their bare bones before efficiency measures are installed.
The biggest challenge we face in retrofitting is not just getting householders on board, but having a credible answer when the going gets tough. When cost or inconvenience is a real barrier to improvement.
At the heart of the Energy bill which we will be introducing later this year will be the Green Deal: a radical programme backed by a completely new finance mechanism.
In times of rising bills and tight family budgets, one of the major barriers to energy improvement is the upfront cost. 
The Green Deal will provide a straightforward way for people to find out about energy efficiency measures, finance the work and feel the benefits.
It will offer households the chance to improve their homes without covering all the upfront costs, with the option to repay through savings on the energy bills of them and their successors in the home. "

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Beacon of External Insulation

West Beacon Farm, near Loughborough, demonstrates what can be done with external insulation. This 1950s house - originally built with almost no insulation - has been insulated with Straw bale external wall cladding, and render.
Even when the roof won't fit exactly over the insulation, a special flashing can be used to deflect rain. There is a detailed PDF about the project.
Insulation design is by Jerry Tseng of Pick Everard.
Photos from the PDF document.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Choosing PV Panels

2 Oct '10: We get quite a lot of questions about 'Which panels to use' - this is difficult to answer, as it takes 25 years of living with them to know if a class of panels is truly successful, and what the replacement percentage may have been in that time. Some panels are tested merely by quick 'Flash' tests, and that says nothing for the 25 year  reliability of the panel or the responsiveness of the manufacturer to technical queries or claims.
  David Hill of Carbon Legacy has written a long and detailed article on Rushcliffe Solar site about some of these questions.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Support for the Feed in Tariff

30 Sept '10: DNC writes: It's unfortunate that the Coalition government, having promised to be "Greener than Gordon Brown's government" have allowed rumours to grow and destabilize our confidence in the Feed in Tariffs.

If you are an early adopter, and installed PV before July 2009, they will not retro-engineer the FiT, so the best deal going seems to be with Good Energy. GE will continue to pay microgenerators on its HomeGen scheme who had their systems installed before 1st February 2010, and aren't eligible for the higher FiT rate. This amounts to15p per unit generated until April 2011, 5 times the amount that other utilities will pay. I don't know if this applies to you if you join them now, because initially, it seems to be a loyalty payment for those who have been with GE for a while. For my system they kept their word and sent me payment at 15p a unit for the period Oct 2009 to April 2010.

Please join the website group and send the emails to Chris Huhne and others, to make sure that there is no regressing on the Feed in Tariffs. To me, there is a fair case for reviewing the original FIT idea on other systems such as Biomass and Heat Pumps, as it was hard to quantify the income and earnings. With PV, there is an OfGem meter, and the amounts generated and the amounts imported through the house meter are completely clear, and are very difficult to falsify, so there should be no altering of this scheme. Flexibility is built into the existing scheme by their ability to tweak todays's figure of 41.3p, so it would be better to let that scheme continue. Home generators are, collectively, reducing the need for power stations to be burning Columbian coal or imported oil or gas, so are good for the country as a whole, making use more energy independent.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nottingham Evening Post features Rushcliffe Solar

28 Sept '10: Many thanks to the Nottingham Evening Post (and Jon Robinson) for a well written article on the Rushcliffe Solar project.

Quite often when you see something about you written in the media, you are grinding your teeth at the inaccuracies, but Jon is an experienced writer on environmental matters and has written it perfectly. I am glad to see that he got a comment there from a member of Rushcliffe BC.

So, congratulations to Jon on a good write up, and I have only one small addition which is to add that people wishing to get a free PV survey from Rushcliffe Solar should use the website and leave their details on the ENQUIRE Tab.
Rushcliffe Solar is a Photovoltaic campaign jointly initiated by Rushcliffe BC, Transition West Bridgford, Energy Saving Trust and University of Nottingham, with subsequent sponsorship by ten solar installers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rushcliffe will be a power generator!

27 Sept '10: Councils can Create & Sell Electricity: when the Feed in Tariff came in, it was for householders, institutions and businesses, but somehow Local Authorities were not allowed to take part. This seemed anomalous as they have many many roofs in their ownership - the prime purpose of the legislation would seem to have been to reduce power generation transmission losses from distant fossil fuel power stations by local generating. So why were LAs not included?

Chris Huhne as part of the Coalition Government removed the ban - so that Councils are now able to generate electricity for sale to the grid.

In the light of this at the first available Council Meeting, Lib Dem Councillor Rod Jones proposed at a Council meeting on 23rd Sept: "in the light of the decision of the Secretary of State for Energy to remove the ban on Councils selling renewable energy, this Council recognising its scope from land and premises to produce energy from wind, solar, ground source and other sources, will review as soon as is practicable, the available options and the associated costs and income in the long term."

Well it is good news that this was approved!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Starting to plan October's event: Insulation and draughts

Now that I’ve looked at the feedback from the first Eco House Group talk on 14th September, I’m planning the next event (for mid October). So far the most likely date will be 12th or 19th October, subject to confirmation. It would be good to get some idea if you can make one or both of those (if the event itself is of interest to you). If neither is any good, do let me know – I may have a backup option. Please email:

From the discussions generated on 14th and the written feedback, it seems that many people are interested in insulation of some sort. And insulation and draught-proofing are normally quoted as the place to start when considering eco-improvements in the home.

So, whatever questions you may have regarding insulation and air tightness / draught-proofing, the intention is to bring in one or more experts and take a workshop/surgery approach to give you the chance to ask your questions and discuss possible solutions in detail. There is also likely to be a short talk covering the general points to keep in mind.

If you have come across an expert in insulation (independent expert or a supplier) who you would recommend, please do – I hope to get a range of expert perspectives on the subject.
Kind regards

Dataloggers ahoy

20 Sept: We are thinking of a bulk order for portable dataloggers - in their large form they are infernally expensive, but it is possible to get small USB sized ones for between 35 and 50pounds plus vat and post, depending.   The results can be read into a normal PC, and converted into graphs. 

Ones can be bought to measure temperature or humidity or  other conditions. The idea is that they store the data for long periods. Eg you can leave one in the garden or loft for six months, to have a complete temperature record for the whole season. If you have a few, eg in the interior, one in an external weather proof box, you can then compare the effectiveness of your insulation measure, day and night, week by week, months, and finally comparing seasons.
If you wish to share in a purchase, please email to Tina Holt and we can combine into a larger order. Indicate if you want only temperature, or ones for other purposes (there are ones for temperature, humidity, current, voltage, pressure, shock.Next year the VAT goes up, so some of the WB Ecohouse group already have an order lined up, so please add your order too, so you have no postage to worry about.

Explanation of Passivhaus

20 Sept: DNC writes: The Isover website has a very succinct explanation of the principles of the Passivhaus, and to avoid the risk of upsetting someone at the Passivhaus institute, they call it the Multi Comfort house. There are good diagrams, and some downloadable PDFs.
   It is impossible for an existing British house to be brought up to the standard of Passivhaus as the requirements for insulation extend to the tiniest levels of detail, such as avoiding cold bridges at every conceivable junction. No matter how well insulated your main surfaces are, there are heat losses at the junctions, eg. roof to wall. Traditional houses, and ones being built have cold bridges all over the place. Also, British houses are naturally ventilated, and Passivhaus should mostly be nearly airtight, with a heat recovery ventilation system.
  In a well insulated house, the ventilation in winter becomes the main cause of heat loss. It is difficult to build an airtight house, let alone persuade a British family to live in one and operate it correctly.

So what is the next best thing you can do? Well, the first thing is to INSULATE! 
Note: External insulation is vastly more effective than Internal.
The cost of getting it applied externally is mitigated by the benefit of leaving your interior unchanged in size and appearance. It is better because the thermal mass of your house remains within the shell, acting as a conditioner of the air temperature. It will cover a large number of the thermal bridges. External insulation works better if you take it below ground level, with just a metal expansion joint along the line of the old damp proof course.
If you have a garage up against your house, it is an easy DIY job to stick insulation to the external wall within the garage, not requiring to be weather proofed.

The other aspect is to check your windows, and consider a programme of window replacement with modern panes and frames with thermal breaks in them. Do not consider expensive options like mechanically assisted heat recovery ventilation until you have made the house more airtight and better insulated.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rob Hopkins Lecture

13 Sept: Rob Hopkins leads the Transition movement by virtue of his guidebook, and he is a great motivational speaker. In his lecture at Derby, he started off with a quote from Moomin : 'Why do things always change?' and discussed the way we respond to Change. Discovering the theory of Peak Oil is what got him into Transition movement, and we do seem to be reaching the end - we have had 100 years of very low-cost abundant energy which cannot continue. See for a long discussion of Peak Oil and other energy issues.
The news is that the UK's energy balance is back in deficit, and the wealth that flowed from it went into tax cuts and de-manufacturing redundancies - unlike in Norway where it was better invested. Global warming is happening - the weather and ice mass statistics prove it - the revealing of more dark sea and dark tundra will make it happen even quicker.
So, with Peak oil happening, and climate change happening, what do we do? We need to Plan - plan to Power Down (reduce our consumption), and plan to Power Up - find clean sources of power. We need to avoid anomalies like eating air freighted beans from Peru that could be grown in our own garden. is the starting point for the Transition network, and the movement has been viral, with many local areas joined, or waiting to join. Last year's annual conference had energy Secretary Ed Miliband present and listening. Transition is fun, its creative, it is necessary as part of the historic change process to a low energy future. It had become international, indeed global.

He ran through a number of key points worth remembering,
• Tips on getting started (be inclusive, make it locally relevant)
• Transition training (for the group to run well, the key people should train)
• Run successful meetings (retain the talent, don't put people off)
• Foster Arts and Creativity (generate leaflets, posters etc)
• Form working sub groups (to address topics, eg Food, Power, Recycling)
• Visioning (have an eye to what the future could be like in low energy society if we get it right)
• Backcasting (evolve strategies for Now that could lead us to the best part of the vision)
• Financing (groups need funds to be effective, consider Pledgebank, events etc)
• Avoid Burnout (workers doing too much need emotional support)
• Celebrate Success, and take Failures philosophically (you get nowhere without taking a risk)
• Practical Manifestations matter (you need solid achievements like trees planted, or people insulating)
• The great Re-Skilling (we need to return to times when people can repair clothes, grow food etc)
• Work with Local businesses (you need their support and they benefit from yours)
• Unleashing (if starting a new group, make a splash with early events)
• Outreach (work together, share support, get community involved)
• Group Brainstorming (find out what people are concerned about locally and build on that)
• Oral history (older people have useful lessons to teach about living more simply)
• Engage young people (schools are a resource, and often children can teach their parents)
• Form networks and partnerships (we are all rowing boat in same direction, so cooperate!)
• Use Maps successfully (can be used to overlay information, eg schools, employment, brownland, routes)
• Adaptation - form an Energy Descent Plan - this is how Transition started
• Anticipate how the Energy Descent can be carried out
• Social Entrepreneurship (some of the subgroups may evolve into new forms of employment and activity, e.g. Sustrans)
• Consider the options for Community Energy companies (co-ops for wind turbines, water turbines etc)
• Plugging the Leaks (cant remember what this was about.... :)
• Exchange scheme (for example the Brixton Pound, Totnes pound, forming local currency for services etc)
• Strategic thinking (look at regional maps and see how things relate, eg food circles, power transmission distances etc)
• Strategic local infrastructure (what is needed locally?)
• Community Assets  (e.g. retain buildings if more energy efficient to do so)
• Policies for Transition (if you have a descent plan, help the Local Authority to plan for post-Peak-oil)

So.... the big question is: Peak Oil is ending ... and what's on the other side?
As Moomin would say: 'The path ahead seems very twisted, but it may still be the quickest way home'
Notes taken by David Nicholson-Cole 
The Transition Derby Website contains a mini version of his presentation 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eco renovation meeting

15 Sept: We had the meeting as advertised (see earlier part of this blog). It was held in one of the new buildings established by South Notts College on the Ruddington Business Park. The Eco-houses group is a subset of Transition West Bridgford, focusing on ideas for house adaptation and eco-renovation.
   Tina Holt opened with an introduction for the group - it is the first meeting, and we want to encourage this to be a regular event.
  Architect Mike Siebert presented the main talk, concluding with 4 key points 'in a nutshell', which were to Insulate, Control Airtightness, control Consumption (wasteful appliances and lifestyle), and only after all that has been addressed, consider Renewables (technological fixes).
  Tim Saunders concluded with a summary of documents and energy saving ideas from the Energy Saving Trust.
  Tina collected ideas for future meetings and events. There may be another eco-renovation open day. She has a strong interest in External insulation and that was debated quite vigorously until the building manager had to throw us out at 10pm! Hopefully, she will organise another meeting soon! She collected requests from the audience for focused topics to cover in later meetings.
  David Hill of Carbon Legacy (a heat pump, rainwater catchment, windturbine and photovoltaic installer) was in the audience and DNC (author of this little piece, and creator of the RushcliffeSolar and ChargingtheEarth projects) visited David H's house the following day to view the heat pump and heat recovery system - and was very impressed with the Swift wind turbine.

PDF of Tina's introductory talk / PDF of Mike Siebert's talk /

Summary of Tim's points:
Tim of Energy Saving Trust recommends a few pages on the EST site that have good advice:

Home energy check - this will provide a tailored next steps report.

Carbon Cutter

Sustainable Refurbishment guide and house type summaries

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Transition Derby and Rob Hopkins

Initial briefing for the session
13 Sept: DNC writes: Tina Holt and DavidNC and Kate Troy and Julie Lygo from Transition West Bridgford took a short ride to Derby to take part in a Transition Derby meeting, with Rob Hopkins as a main speaker. There were delegates from all over the Midlands, Birmingham, Wirksworth, Lincoln, Nottingham to name ones that I noticed.

The evening began with some audience participation exercises, such as talking to neighbours, and writing ideas onto post-it notes. I was most impressed at the effectiveness of this ice breaking process.
Sorting out the post-it notes
and selecting discussion topics.
The notes were all collected in and were organised into distinctive groupings, such as Power generation and conservation, Food, Transport issues, Waste recycling, Social Skills, Events, Group organisation etc. Volunteers were found to chair a 35 minute discussion group for each of the main topics, after which there was a reporting back. I am sure some of the ideas will appear on Transition Derby's website eventually. Then we had some vegetarian dinner and home made cakes.

The rest of the evening was a lecture from Rob Hopkins from Totnes who started the Transition movement in the UK (it is now becoming global). I took notes and will try to summarise his lecture in a later posting.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Evening Seminar -- Prioritising your eco-refurbishment actions:

Prioritising your eco-refurbishment actions: Environmentally? Financially? Logically?

Tuesday 14th September 2010
SNC Training, South Notts College
Mere Way, Ruddington Fields Business Park, NG11 6JZ

You are invited to a free evening seminar for an introduction to eco-refurbishment options small and large. What saves money straight away? What’s a good financial investment for the future? What are the most environmentally friendly options? How do you work out what to do now and what to do later?

  • The likely future of energy costs
  • Home comfort in a future climate
  • A whole house approach to eco-refurbishment
  • Low-cost and no-cost options for saving cash and carbon

Speakers: Michael Siebert, Architect and Tim Saunders, Energy Saving Trust
Come along, invite your friends. All welcome.
If you can, please email so we know how many to expect.

Directions: Follow Mere Way through Ruddington Fields Business Park. Pass the first SNC building on the left, and take the next turning to the second SNC Training building. It has a distinctive suspended curved wall with car parking beneath it. Park here or on the roadside.
Buses to Ruddington village: Ruddington Connection (Trent Barton) & No. 10 (Nott City Transport)

The Eco House Group is a project inspired by Transition West Bridgford. For more info, go to

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Case Study on the Peveril Solar House

2 Sept: DNC writes: wow! I am really happy that Good Energy (renewables-based electricity supplier) have written a case study about the PV roof on my house and the research on the Sunbox project.
See the Greenenergyrepublic Page

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Bjorn Lomborg turns at last

31 Aug: a few years ago, the Climate Change debate was countered by the energetic influence of Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish academic who gave cheer to all the deniers, such as Nigel Lawson. In more recent times I read that he now believed in Climate Change, but now felt that it was too late and too expensive to do anything about it (having no remorse it seems for his part in having things go beyond the tipping point).

  In today's Guardian, the front page story leads with his total U-Turn, in which he now agrees that it is the most important thing to make a major international investment in - countering Climate Change.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The value of Metering

31 Aug: DNC writes: If you have not started storing the meter readings of your house, now is the time to start, using a spreadsheet to store the principal readings. See how the house performs during the Winter.  Using GoogleDocs, you can have the pleasure of putting your meter readings on the web for public viewing!

  • Weekly readings are useful, and you will never again have the annoyance of an "Estimated Bill" - you will be charged correctly. 
  • If you are doing something to the house to improve its performance, the winter is coming soon, and you should start metering, so you can assess its performance compared with last year. 
  • Keep all previous bills, water, gas and electric, so you can build a spreadsheet of previous years performance, and compare with more recent ones.
  • My own house metering for the Peveril Solar House is slightly crazy, as I meter EVERY day and have lots of things to  meter, and lots of consequences to calculate - the entire house is a 'Research Rig', and we are testing the Sunboxes for future manufacturing, so this level of metering is important. Yours do not have to be this complicated. 
  • We also test the Water consumption, as we have a supplementary meter on the Hot water, and a normal supply meter on the Cold. If you do not have a water meter, now is the time to ask for it, and I gather that the water utility will do it for free. Water is a precious resource that costs energy to capture, store, purify and deliver.
  • See the Metering Tab above for info on how to interpret your Gas meter readings
It seems tedious, but becomes an easy daily routine, and you will be grateful a year later if you are trying to assess the 'payback' on your insulation, PV, draught proofing, or any other eco things you have tried on the house.

2016 Target to be modified

30 Aug: DNC writes: Water down the 2016 target? Methinks that this was bound to happen:

3 years ago I met David Miliband, then Energy Secretary, at the Hay Festival. he is actually very approachable, although personally, I am more likely to vote for his brother Ed Miliband who has been a far more effective Energy Secretary since 2007 - we have him to thank for the Feed in Tariff. In the discussion I told Mr David M that the zero carbon target for 2016 was impossible, it is too tough a standard for 100% of homes to meet, both technically (systems etc), environmentally (microclimate effects in high density cities) and economically (getting builders to do it affordably!).
   Being in the trade, I know how impossible a target it is to meet in any one of those areas. Unless you build freakishly specialised houses like Hockerton, it ain't gonna happen!
He persisted in parroting the official 2016 line.

This new decision is not a backing down, it seems more like getting to grips with reality. The idea of softening the target was mooted a month ago (27 July), but it would be done by getting builders to pay into a Carbon Offsetting fund, a bit like air travellers paying into a tree planting website to overcome their guilt for flying - but even this is too difficult for housebuilders, it will still put the cost up, and are there enough tree planting schemes to absorb all that money? 

The previous 2016 target was as dogmatic and untested as Blair's idea of 50% of the population going to University, but then bumping the fees up astronomically. It is actually considerably more difficult than Kennedy's famous ten year promise to send a man to the moon by 1970.
btw, This is an interesting site: 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

PV Milestone reached!

28 Aug: DNicholsoncole writes: Today, in the Peveril Solar House, the PV roof galloped through another milestone, that of 3,000 kWh generation since it was installed last October - that is magnificent! about 200 more than expected in one year, and still a month to run before the anniversary! Three megawatts sounds like a lot to me, and we've done it in under 11 months.
   Once the Feed in Tariff has been running for a year, this sort of performance will be bringing in over £1,500 a year, and in our case somewhat more, as we use more of our own power than the average house - having a Heat Pump for heating.
  And for anybody who still doubts, we had a negative electricity bill this week. This doesn't mean that the house meter goes in reverse, it was negative because they owed for power generation prior to April 1st, and also their previous bill was based on an estimate of normal consumption, when our real daily import at this time of year is abnormally low, less then half that of a year ago.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Seminar at the Environment Agency

25 Aug: DNC writes: I was invited to talk at a lunchtime seminar for staff at Nottingham's Environment Agency Office. These are for topics linked to Climate Change and Energy shortage. I had only about 25 mins, but covered four subjects.
  • First the West Bridgford Transition group and WB Ecohouses group, and the importance for activists of communicating the message widely, not just doing things privately.
  • The Rushcliffe Solar campaign, to encourage people to take up Photovoltaic panels, to increase the home generation of electricity in Rushcliffe, and for them to benefit from the feed in tariff.
  • The Charging the Earth project, building Sunboxes to augment the performance of the ground source heat pump - appropriate because at this very moment, my research poster on the sunboxes are on view at the SET conference in Shanghai.
  • The Sustainable Tall Buildings course at Nottingham University - where we are trying to teach our students bioclimatic principles for tall buildings - our next project is based in New York, trying to apply Passivhaus principles to the units in a 60 storey structure. 
I was sharing the floor with Penny Poyzer, the owner of the West Bridgford Ecohouse in Patrick Rd. Compared to my technology oriented topics, she was talking about the virtue of growing your own food, plus many observations on green lifestyle. A major learning point from her house is that you can apply extreme levels of insulation to a 120 year old house, and make it airtight enough for heat reclaim to work.
   As a nice human touch, we could see out of the window that the staff in the Environment Agency are indeed growing their own, there was a well managed cuban-style micro farm with members of staff having their own little 2 sqm patch, full of healthy looking vegetables.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Well maintained houses save energy!

22 Aug: DNC writes: We all know how disastrous it can be to let a roof leak into the house for any length of time. We all know that a draughty loose window can cause big ventilation heat losses in winter. But even the small things can have consequences! 
    I had a dripping tap in the ensuite in our bedroom. Like one does, the thing goes ignored for a while, wrap something round it at night to keep it quiet, and resist incurring an expensive plumbers call out for a while. Old taps are easy to replace washers, but modern washbasin mixer taps could be more difficult.
I meter the water consumption every Sunday evening. Cold water and Hot water. The HW was exactly the same as normal, about 300 litres in the week. We normally use about 1.06 tonnes of CW per week, about 75 litres per head per day - this is better than Code 6 levels!
   On 22 August, the cold water was 2,000 litres, a whole TONNE more than a usual week's consumption, yes, one thousand kilograms, one thousand litres more than a usual week! It never seemed so much, but perhaps it's like leaving something on standby for along time - it all adds up!
   Water costs a lot of Energy to store, purify and pressurise to send to each house, and it is part of the larger energy equation.

Friday, August 20, 2010

We are in the news!

Yesterday Rushcliffe Solar and Transition West Bridgford were featured in the Nottingham Evening Post.

"Recently, Transition West Bridgford organised the West Bridgford Eco House tour, (, where some local home-owners, who already use alternative technologies, opened their doors to thegeneral public to give them a chance ... to read the whole article click here:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Need for leafletting volunteers

The Rushcliffe Solar project is well underway with hundreds of homes in West Bridgford having been identified as suitable for home power generation on their roofs. The project is focused on raising awareness about the benefits of Solar Photovoltaic panels on houses, both for reducing our dependence on fossil fuel based powerstations, and for the financial benefits to householders.

Leafleting of these homes is currently being carried out by members of the Rushcliffe Solar team in parts of West Bridgford. Other areas will be leafleted in due course by members of Transition West Bridgford.

The next Rushcliffe Solar surgery will take place on Saturday 21 August outside Belle and Jerome Bistro on Central Avenue, West Bridgford between 10am -1pm.

Please email if there is a chance you can help with leaflet delivery.

For more information go to

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Open day at Karina’s house

There is an Open Day on AUGUST 23 at Karina’s House. Visitors can call between 2 and 4pm. The focus is on Photovoltaic (PV) systems, but Karina also has a solar thermal system linked to a wood-burning stove and gas boiler for hot water and central heating.
Evo Energy will be on hand to provide technical information on PV, and Karina will be able to talk about her experience as the home-owner.
Please email so that we know how many to expect and so that we can give you the address details.
There will be further events on a wide range of eco-retrofit topics – keep your eyes on the blog or email us asking to be added to the Eco House Group list to receive invitations by email.

New directions for Ecohouse group

Tina Holt writes:

Dear Eco House Group,

Following on from the two PV events on the 15th and 23rd August, I’m making final arrangements for an evening event in September. You will be invited as soon as the date and venue have been confirmed!

I have in mind to run around 6 evening events, the one in September being the first in the series.

For each, the plan is to have a couple of experts to speak, then have some refreshments, then have time to mingle, have a chat with the speakers and the chance to ask them the more in depth questions that you may have.

Please have a look at the draft overview below for each event. I’d like to have some feedback, as follows:

Can you let me know which you would want to attend? (e.g. 1, 4 and 5, or “all of them” or “none”)
Any subjects not covered that you’d like to see included
Any suggestions
Any offers of help!

This first event should be absolutely free as I think I’ve secured a free venue plus refreshments, and free speakers.

The events proposed are as follows:

1. Prioritising your eco-refurbishment actions: Environmentally? Financially? Logically?

□ The low-cost and no-cost options
□ How to make the most of your house based on its existing features and orientation, through the seasons.
□ How hotter summers and other climate related trends may affect your house in the future
□ How future energy costs may affect you

2. Insulation, insulation, insulation: roofs, walls and floors.

□ Draught proofing
□ Attic, basement and garage conversions
□ Internal and external insulation
□ Cavity walls and loft insulation

3. Green extensions, conservatories and sun spaces

□ Benefitting from solar gain
□ Too much sun and what to do about it
□ Windows and doors – solar gain and heat loss
□ Blinds, shutters and curtains
□ Environmentally friendly building materials and methods

4. Solar hot water, solar PV and wood-burning boilers and stoves

□ Feed in Tariffs and Renewable Heat Incentives
□ Is my house suitable?
□ How green is it really?
□ Is this your best option (financially? environmentally?)
□ Can you have them for free?

5. Heat pumps and Ventilation systems

□ Ground, air and water source heat pumps
□ Is my house suitable?
□ Passive and mechanical ventilations systems
□ Air quality, heat recovery and cooling

6. Build and refurbish to PassivHaus standard

□ What does it mean?
□ What’s involved?
□ Can it really be done?

We want your Eco Renovation stories!

We want you to add details of your house if you are doing any of the more interesting Eco-renovations to it - Please! This will be nice for you, and will help Transition West Bridgford to measure the benefits of the campaign.
Please send a photo, with a summary of what you have done, and aspects of it which readers would find interesting, primarily the performance benefits (energy saving or improved thermal comfort). Costs, and warnings about what works best will be of great value to the readers. We will turn it into an article and post it here.
   Send your suggestion to: or to - this is not an academic website, so don't worry about spelling or technical jargon.

Ecohouse Open day at Peveril Solar

15 Aug: We had a Photovoltaic open day at Peveril, hosted by EvoEnergy . Approximately 20 people called round, singly or in couples. Appropriately, it was a nice sunny day, with about 14 kWh harvested. Nicola, Jessica and Aidan joined us from Evo.
  We started the session out on the field looking at the house from the south east. Everybody arrived at 12, so it became a single long session with plenty of time for questions.

Here is my Powerpoint for the Open Day, although I didn't get a chance to deliver it, because we were all so busy communicating directly.

Most people were there for their interest in Photovoltaic, but there was also interest in the Surya sunboxes for those who were considering heatpumps, especially now that I am more aware of their performance, and contribution.
   There was one couple who already have a heat pump, but it is air source, and every year it is unable to cope in the colder parts of the winter, so they have a 'bivalent' system, meaning that it switches over to the oil central heating when the ASHP gives up. I wish they had a ground source heat pump like mine, so that it could bivalently switch over to Sunboxes like the one in Peveril Solar house!
----david nicholson-cole

Monday, August 09, 2010

More about "Getting it for Free"

There is an an article on the Rushcliffe Solar website enlarging on the pros and cons of the free photovoltaic installation. 

The 'pro' sounds pretty obvious, but what at the 'cons'?.... and is the 'pro' worth having? Is there such a thing as a free lunch?

The article can be read by linking to the Rushcliffe Solar website