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...