News Alert

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

Thursday, November 22, 2012

It's windy out there!

A piece of news that I heard via the AECB (Sustainable Builders Association) and CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology):

In the early hours of this morning (22nd November 2012), electricity production from wind power actually exceeded electricity from gas! Between 3:30am and 5:30am, UK wind turbines produced around 4.2GW whereas gas power stations contributed a bit less than 4GW.

By the way - if you are thinking of checking your draught-proofing around the house, then a windy day is a great time to do it. Hold your hand near to doors frames, window frames, skirting boards, chimneys and so on to work out where cold air is leaking in and warm air is leaking out.

If you have any specific questions about draught-proofing, just email wbecohouses.co.uk and the answer might get posted on this blog.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Energy Event in November

With winter on its way and energy bills rising, you may be considering what else could be done to improve comfort or reduce the bills in your home. If you are in easy reach of Nottingham, why not come along to our next energy event...?

(just click the flyer below to zoom in)




Thursday, October 11, 2012

Nottingham ecohouses visit

10 October 2012: The West Bridgford Ecohouse group were invited to take a tour of the Creative Energy Homes on the campus of the University of Nottingham. There's a group of five of them, demonstrating different technologies. Some are lived in by postgrad students or staff.

Tina asks a question about the BASF house. Many thanks to the kind PhD student who showed us round the buildings. The house has a large south facing winter garden, with solar shading to prevent over heating. The ground floor is built with concrete filled foam blocks and the upper floor walls and roof are SIPS panels, structural insulated panels. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MVHR - a householder's experience

Following a request for more information on Michael and Mo's low energy refurbishment - specifically about their part-house MVHR system - Michael has very kindly written a summary to share.

Just in case you are wondering, MVHR systems usually come in 2 forms. One is the whole house system which draws air from all the kitchens and bathrooms, and puts fresh, warmed air into bedrooms and reception rooms. The other option is to use "hole in the wall" fans with MVHR combined, just in bathrooms and kitchens.

Michael's system, on the other hand, sits between the two. As the air tightness of Michael's house has been improved well beyond the norm for a house of that age, the MVHR system may save some energy from the heating bill by retaining the heat from the outgoing air.

The most efficient of these systems can cost less than £30 per year in electricity to run (even if on 24/7) and can take less energy to run than the heating energy that they save.

Here's Michael's review of his MVHR system to date.

"TITON - HRV-1.75 Q+ unit"

Having installed this newly introduced unit 12 months ago, I am extremely impressed by the performance achieved to date.

The system extracts warm damp air from three areas, bathroom, en-suite shower and kitchen.  It operates on a "trickle" - 24/7 basis with switchable boost in the bath & shower areas.

In the "trickle" mode, it is inaudible but obviously in action when on boost.  The outlet vent in the dining room produces some noise & movement of air. This fresh air is pre-warmed by the outgoing stale damp air which is then vented through the roof, above the unit installed in the loft void. All loft trunking is contained in insulation jacketing to maintain efficiency.  As the house has a good air-tightness, over & above current building regulations, this, too, aids to the total efficiency of the system.

In summary, this efficient unit has produced a stable internal environment within our home. 

At present, no continuous monitoring of humidity levels has been instigated but it would be an interesting exercise to carry out. 

Perhaps one for the future!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Open house visits this weekend



15th September
• David Hill's zero carbon barn conversion in East Leake (superinsulated, renewable technologies and now an electric car)
There will be a tour starting at 2pm.

16th September (10 mins walk between this house and the 2000's house)
• 1950's ultra-low energy refurbishment (passivhaus) in West Bridgford
• Website (http://www.eco-retrofit.blogspot.co.uk/)
There will be a tour starting at 2pm and a later one from 3.30pm.

• 2000's house with cutting edge renewable technologies in West Bridgford, and a ultra-insulated extension under construction
• Website  (http://chargingtheearth.blogspot.com)
There will be a tour starting at 3.30pm.

to book your place and to obtain location details.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Open house visits: more about the Peveril solar

Tina asked me to write a bit about one of the two houses that are on the visit of 16th September at 2pm or 3.30 pm. There is only a ten minute walk between the houses, so we have arranged is so that you can see one and then walk to the other.
http://wbecohouses.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/open-house-visits-in-september.html

The Peveril Solar house is Net-Zero due to an interesting combination of solar technologies - Photovoltaic, Surya Sunbox, Kingspan vacuum tubes, underfloor heating and a Ground source heat pump. During the visit, the way in which these interact will be explained. There are other energy saving things to see, such an an induction hob, light tube, voltage regulator, partial heat reclaim.
Net-zero means that its entire heating and hot water requirements are met by PV power generation, annually. Yes, is entirely solar heated the whole year round using electrical and thermal storage.

Another interesting thing is that a new house extension is being built, being a unique form of construction. The architect is adapting structural insulated timber panel construction but applying hand built methods that avoid thermal bridging, making it ultra insulated, but keeping the walls to half the thickness of a brick-block wall. The extension will include one of the first domestic installations in the UK of PV-Thermal combi panels, the PV providing off grid electricity and the thermal being used to charge the borehole 16 storeys deep under the house.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What to do this weekend?

Just in case you are wondering what to do this weekend (or the next few!)....

There is plenty going on. Over on Transition West Bridgford's blog, there is information about the Small is.... Festival. (Never heard of it - have a look!)

If reducing energy use in the home is on your mind as autumn approaches, or you are just curious about low energy homes, then scroll down this blog for open house events in September.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Aiming for EnerPHit

In line with Superhomes week in September, we've decided to put some local case studies of low energy homes on the blog, some of which will open their doors to interested visitors (see previous posts)


Kate and Geoff's house in Derby is likely to become a Superhome very soon. This house is currently being refurbished to EnerPHit (the Passivhaus refurbishment standard).

This 1950s detached house is East-West facing and has been extended at some point to give 5 bedrooms, and a 1980s single storey extension. 

The refurbishment work includes insulation under floors, a "warm roof", external wall insulation (and some cavity wall insulation - rather odd original construction to say the least).

The work also includes Passivhaus-suitable triple glazing, a new boiler but some old radiators retained, lots
of water saving improvements, a recycled solar PV system, a tank suitable for adding solar hot water in the future, ...plus big fruit and vegetable plots, and ex-battery chickens!

Open house visits in September

Several local homes which have been built or refurbished to use less energy will be opening their doors during September to interested visitors. Visit and ask any questions you like.

Keep an eye on the website as additional houses and other details may be added in the next few days:

1st September
• 1950's ultra-low energy refurbishment (passivhaus) in Derby.
There will be a tour from 10.30am to noon and a later one from 1pm if numbers require a second tour.
(Child-friendly arrangements are possible here - just ask for details).

8th September
• Penney and Gil's 1890's house (now very low energy indeed) in West Bridgford
There will be a tour from 11.30am and 1.30pm,

Edwardian home in Carlton - book your visit on 8th or 9th September via the Superhomes website: (http://www.superhomes.org.uk/superhomes/nottingham-carlton-mayfield-road/)

15th September
• David Hill's zero carbon barn conversion in East Leake (superinsulated, renewable technologies and now an electric car)
There will be a tour from 2pm,

16th September (10 mins walk between these two)
1950's ultra-low energy refurbishment (passivhaus) in West Bridgford
• Website (http://www.eco-retrofit.blogspot.co.uk/)
There will be a tour from 2pm and a later one from 3.30pm,

2000's house with cutting edge renewable technologies in West Bridgford, and a ultra-insulated extension under construction
• Website  (http://chargingtheearth.blogspot.com)
There will be a tour from 2pm and a later one from 3.30pm.

Unless indicated otherwise, contact wbecohouses@gmail.com 
for more details or to book your place.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Green Guardians Awards

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Green Guardians Awards - chance to win cash prize and recognition.

The 2012 Green Guardian Awards are now open for nominations -http://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/green-guardians/

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust says:
"Businesses, community groups, schools and individuals have the chance of winning £1,000 prize and the desirable title of Green Guardian. There are several categories but people don’t have to select a category, if they just tell us about them and the work they have been doing we can put it into the category that is most suitable. The closing date for applications is 1st October 2012."

The categories are: 
  • Environmentalist of the Year
    • Recognising an individual who has shown outstanding commitment to enhancing or protect the local environment.
  • Environmental Community of the Year
    • Recognising the achievements of a group in improving their local environment.
  • Education and the Environment Award
    • Recognising the work of schools, colleges and other educational establishments in developing projects or initiatives that improve either their immediate surroundings or champion environmental education.
  • Coping with Climate Change Award
    • Designed to recognise efforts to encourage sustainable lifestyles and limit the negative impact of climate change. Shortlisted projects in all categories will be considered for this award.
  • Protecting the Environment through Innovation
    • Recognising projects from across all sectors that seek to tackle environmental issues through the use of innovation – whether in terms of new technologies, new ideas or through taking a creative approach to community engagement.
  • First Steps to Sustainability Award
    • Designed to recognise new green initiatives which have already made an impact and demonstrate significant potential for the future.
  • Environmental Business Award
    • Recognising the contribution businesses can make to sustainability through changes to business practice or through support for community based environmental initiatives.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is the leading wildlife conservation charity working to protect and enhance the wildlife and habitats of Nottinghamshire by managing nature reserves, engaging, advising, inspiring and educating people to create a richer natural world for present and future generations.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Energy Bill Revolution

Ok, so August is not the obvious time to be thinking about fuel poverty and rising fuel bills, but the Energy Bill Revolution alliance is gaining momentum, with the support of concerned individuals and a diverse range of well known organisations and charities.

Whether you are worried about your own fuel bills or the growing numbers of people falling into fuel poverty, you may be interested to read more about this campaign, and perhaps to register your support:
http://www.energybillrevolution.org/whats-the-campaign/

The government's current plans to encourage household energy efficiency (the Green Deal and the ECO) look likely to fall short of the kind of step change needed to reverse the increasing occurrence of fuel poverty in the UK. On top of that, the Department of Energy and Climate Change anticipates energy shortages in the UK by 2015 - although the risk could be reduced if substantial improvements in energy efficiency are achieved.

If you are hoping to reduce your energy bills through home improvements in the next year, keep an eye on this blog, or email wbecohouses@gmail.com to receive local (East Midlands) updates by email.







Friday, July 20, 2012

Achieving air tightness

After the first air tightness test at the 1950's refurb (see previous post), we were very honoured to have a visit from Bill Butcher, Director of the Green Building Store. Bill has many years of sustainable building experience and was one of the team working on the world's first Passive House with cavity wall construction (in Denby Dale).

Bill spoke about his experiences of low energy building projects to a gathering of sustainable builders (AECB members). The discussions focused on achieving air tightness, and the 1950's refurb provided many examples of areas that present challenges!

To name a few: round the windows and doors, round pipes and cables, up through the edge of the floor, through the walls where plaster is missing / cracked, round the joists, at the eaves, and almost anywhere in the loft conversion!

Over the next few weeks, we'll be working hard to banish all draughts - with progress updates from time to time at http://www.eco-retrofit.blogspot.co.uk/.




Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Air tightness testing

As part of the "Homes Behaving Badly" project, 4 local homes received air tightness testing. The results from these 4 case studies can be found in the HOBBS Report.

Two further case studies were tested by Midland Energy Services just last week, and the results are in!

The 1930's solid wall detached house (see HOBBS report) has undergone significant improvements to reduce energy use, and has achieved an air tightness figure of 7.44 m3/hr/m2 at 50 Pascals.

This is a respectable figure, given that the average new build must now achieve less than 10 m3/hr/m2 at 50 Pascals and most 1930's houses would be far more leaky than that! However, the owners have made a note of the locations where the test revealed draughts, and will be addressing those to improve the air tightness further.


The other case study to undergo an air tightness test last week was the 1950's solid wall detached house. This house is being refurbished to become an ultra-low energy home (to passivhaus refurbishment standard). It will receive a number of air tightness tests during the works, this being the first (preliminary) test with a result of 4.4 m3/hr/m2 at 50 Pascals


Following this test, the real air tightness work begins, including plastering of the walls and installation of air tightness tapes and membranes around windows, in the attic etc. This internal layer of air tightness will be the key factor in determining the eventual air tightness of this particular house. For this Passive House refurbishment, a figure of less than  1 m3/hr/m2 at 50 Pascal is required (quite a challenge!)


It should be said - while the fabric of this 1950's house is being made extremely air tight, this does not mean that there won't be good ventilation. A ventilation system (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery, or MVHR) will be installed to deliver a constant supply of fresh air to the house, and extract stale air from kitchen and bathrooms continuously. Heat from the stale air will be transferred to the incoming fresh air via a highly efficient heat recovery unit. This kind of system becomes energy efficient in houses with an air tightness of ~3 m3/hr/m2 at 50 Pascals or lower.






Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Energy Workshops and useful info from NEP

If you are thinking of doing some DIY this summer, and maybe making a few energy efficiency improvements ready for next winter, Nottingham Energy Partnership (NEP) are offering free Energy WorkshopsThese workshops are on offer to any groups and organisations who may be interested. 


NEP are particularly keen to help vulnerable groups such as the elderly, families who are less well-off, and people with health issues. So if you belong to or work with these kinds of groups, or if you can spread the word to those who may be interested, please do! 


Also, click to read the first edition of NEP's Greener Living news, their newsletter for community groups. This is usually sent out to their Energy Champions within the community groups that they work with. It includes the latest updates on help available with saving energy at home, so do make the most of it!










Friday, June 22, 2012

Cheap ways to reduce heat loss through windows

Janet has just sent a photo of her newly-installed blinds. She installed them because she was concerned about heat rising behind the curtains. This way, even with the curtains open, a well-fitted blackout blind or thermal blind will reduce heat loss.

Alternatively, if the situation allows, why not double up on window coverings by combining curtains, blinds or shutters?

With a suitable window ledge or a small shelf below the curtains, heat from the back of the radiator goes into the room rather than up behind the curtains. This is even more effective if you put radiator panels behind the radiator to reduce loss of heat into the external wall.


For more ideas, have a look at the HOBBS report on this blog (2nd tab). You can download it for free, allowing you to click on the contents page to read one of the case studies or any other part of the report.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Conservatory considerations

If you have a conservatory, is it a pleasant place to be in the recent warm weather? Or is it more like a cooker than a conservatory right now?

One member of our Eco House Group asks the following question:

"I have seen several ads in magazines recently from firms offering to re-roof conservatories with a new type of glass  which keeps the conservatory cooler in Summer and warmer in Winter.  Has any one gone down this route yet and, if so, would they recommend it." 


Any answers to this question - or other suggestions that have worked well for you, or that you would recommend?

Either post a comment, or if you want to suggest something more detailed, email your response to wbecohouses@gmail.com to be posted here.






Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Gathering May 2012

19th May 2012: DavidNC writes: West Bridgford had its Summer Gathering, and Transition West Bridgford had a stand. It's a kind of green festival, held annually in the Park, next to Central Avenue.
See: http://www.wbsummergathering.co.uk/ for a news report.
Although the weather was cold and overcast, it stayed dry and something like 2000 people visited during the day.

The Transition stand was mostly to do with house improvement and WB Ecohouses. We were telling people about the building case study visits on the 20th and 27th May, which included the Peveril Solar house (PV and Surya heat pump technology), the Harms house (external insulation of a 1920s house) and the Holt house on 27th (extensive low energy refurbishment of a 1950s house). There is still a chance to sign up for this one. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More open house visits in May or June

For the last two years, members of Transition West Bridgford have organised an eco house open day linked to the West Bridgford Summer Gathering.

This year's Summer Gathering is on 19th May, and if you are interested in visiting a local home with eco features, you can sign up there or contact us directly on wbecohouses@gmail.com for more information or to book a place.

For anyone interested in renewable technologies, David's house is worth a visit. With solar PV panels on the roof generating electricity and a ground source heat pump system linked to "sunboxes", this well-insulated house is a great example of how these technologies can work really well.

Peveril Solar house: PV, Heat Pump, Solar thermal, Light tube
If solid wall insulation is something you are considering, there are two homes that might be of interest. One has been insulated externally with 100mm of Phenolic boards on the back and side walls.
Harms house: External Insulation, done very thoroughly
The other is undergoing a whole house refurbishment and should achieve the Passivhaus standard for retrofit when complete. This youtube video gives a flavour of the work involved, or check out the blog to follow progress.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Solar PV some amazing feedback

Today over a drink with a user of Solar PV panels, installed a year ago, she told me with great excitement that no only did she receive a £900 for the energy she had produced (12 panels on a south facing roof), she also got a letter from her electricity provider that they were going to reduce her monthly electric standing order from £36 to £15. She was over the moon. Thought to share that bit of good news with you all.

West Bridgford Summer Gathering on 19th May

This year's Summer Gathering in West Bridgford Park is not far off - fingers crossed for good weather and a most enjoyable event.

To see the full list of what's on this year, go to the Summer Gathering blog.

The WB Eco House Group will be there, alongside other current Transition West Bridgford projects on the Transition West Bridgford stall. We'll have info of an eco house nature to give out, and there will be the chance to sign up for open house visits again this year to see local homes with eco features on a date after the Summer Gathering.

If you are there, we hope you will come along and say hello.

And if you would like to join us on the stall, we are looking for volunteers. No technical knowledge required!! The idea is to have 2-3 people on the stall through the day, each person for just an hour. It is very sociable and not too arduous! Just contact wbecohouses@gmail.com if you would like to know more.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More on good insulation deals

If you want to add to your loft insulation but have found that you don't qualify for the various free and subsidised schemes going on at the moment because you have more than the minimum amount, what can you do?

Phil at Nottingham Energy Partnership (NEP) has just emailed me to say that for DIYers, there are some exceptional offers on loft insulation at Homebase right now.

If you have less than 60-100mm of loft insulation, you will be able to get free loft insulation (e.g. via the Rushcliffe Borough Council's Warmstreets scheme in the previous post, or via NEP's scheme). Details vary slightly from scheme to scheme, so don't give up if you are excluded from one scheme - you may qualify for another scheme or a subsidised deal. Don't miss out!

If you don't qualify for free loft insulation but have less than 130-150mm already, you can probably find a subsidised deal by phoning around (e.g. via the Rushcliffe Borough Council's Warmstreets scheme in the previous post, or via NEP's scheme). Details vary slightly from scheme to scheme, so don't give up if you are excluded from one scheme - you may qualify for another.

These same schemes also provide free and subsidised cavity wall insulation. They all look likely to end next year, so 2012 is the year to "GET A ROUND TUIT"!!!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Race Is On: Free Insulation in 2012


The race is on to get your home insulated for free during 2012! Until the end of this year households in Rushcliffe (and elsewhere in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire) can take advantage of free loft and cavity wall insulation for their home regardless of their income, thanks to Warmstreets, the only insulation scheme endorsed by Rushcliffe Borough Council.

This time limited offer includes free loft insulation for any private household (owned or rented) that currently has less than or equal to 100mm, as well as free cavity wall insulation. Those who already have over 100mm of loft insulation can pay a subsidised price of just £99 to have it topped up to the recommended level of 270mm.

Sheila Hood, Community Energy Officer at Rushcliffe Borough Council, said:
‘This offer is better than free! Not only can we now install loft and cavity wall insulation without charging, but you will save money on your energy bills for years to come as your home will be easier to heat – up to £175 a year if you install loft insulation and £135 if you install cavity wall insulation. It will also reduce the impact of your home on the environment.’


She added a warning:
‘Free insulation is only possible due to government subsidies which are due to end in December 2012. After that we expect loft and cavity wall insulation to cost several hundred pounds. Take advantage while you can! Almost 400 Rushcliffe residents already have!’

Householders who are interested can call Warmstreets on 0800 043 9569, or if calling from a mobile, 0333 577 9569, to arrange a survey today. Alternatively, visit: www.warmstreets.co.uk. Offers are subject to survey and depend on house size.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The HOBBS reports go live

As the Homes Behaving Badly project comes to an end, the suite of reports created as part of this project are now publicly available.

Click here to download the HOBBS Reports

(If you spot any errors, do tell us. We have found one so far.)

Sections 2 to 5 are specifically for householders, providing an introduction to energy efficiency in the home - from the free and low cost options to the medium and high cost options.

With separate sections devoted to houses of cavity wall construction, houses of solid wall construction and  rooms in the roof, there should be something useful here for a wide range of householders.

The case studies in Section 2 demonstrate the big savings that can be made through energy-saving habits and run-of-the-mill improvements to our homes.

For those who are interested, the case studies also illustrate what else can be done to turn an ordinary house into a low-energy home and how much effort and money might be required.

An overview of local housing stock and a summary of the HOBBS project as a whole can be found in Sections 6 and 7 of the HOBBS report.

We hope you find them useful!

Click here for Homes Behaving Badly final press release

Monday, March 26, 2012

HOBBS project draws to a close

The final event of the 'Homes Behaving Badly' series took place on Saturday 24th March when 36 people visited the site of an ultra-low energy refurbishment to see progress to date. So far, the roof is weather-tight and the external insulation has begun, but there's a bit of work to do on the extension still.


This open day was also part of Superhomes week - when all over the UK, Superhomes which have cut energy use and carbon emissions by at least 60% open their doors to visitors.

Tina and Richard talked about the house from the home-owner perspective, and Gil Schalom (the architect) and Sean (from Westville) shared their technical knowledge and experience.

Earlier in the week, another local Superhome in Radcliffe on Trent (also a HOBBS project case study) opened its doors to visitors. It was a friendly and informative visit according to those who took part, showing  solid wall insulation and other low energy solutions.

While the HOBBS open days and the workshops held earlier in March are now complete, this project will also have a lasting legacy in the form of the HOBBS reports. Detailed energy information was collected from 8 local houses to form a set of case studies showing what each house was like when the current occupants moved in, what efficiency improvements have been made so far, and what further work is intended. The impact on the energy bills for each house is included.

These reports and a film of the 1950's ultra-low energy refurbishment in progress will be posted here in the next week.



Thursday, March 22, 2012

HOBBS open house visit 24th March






Nottingham: Harrow Road
House Summary
Owner(s): Tina Holt and Richard Middup
House Type: 3 bed 1952 detached
Carbon saving: Predicted saving: 80%

Measures installed:

PLANNED MEASURES:

Planned PassivHaus renovation
180mm Phenolic board external insulation to all walls
Passivhaus certified triple glazing throughout
Loft insulation, uValue: 0.13W/(m2K)
300mm EPS floor insulation, uValue: 0.13W/(m2K)
Extensive air tightness work, ≤ 1.0 m3/h.m2 at 50 Pa
Whole house mechanical ventilation heat recovery system to be installed
Photo voltaic panels to be installed on south facing roof
Low energy lighting throughout
Low energy appliances throughout
Water saving devices to include; Low flush loo, low flow taps and shower.
Water butts for garden use.
Other energy efficiency implements to include; designed to include draught-lobbies: porch on front door, utility room for back door.


If you would like to book a place click here:
Visit to Tina and Richard's open house on Saturday 24th March

Thursday, March 15, 2012

SuperHomes Week set to inspire your eco makeover

Pioneering owners of some of the UK 's most energy efficient SuperHomes will be hosting free Open Days between Sat 17th - Sun 25th March. SuperHomes are older homes that have been refurbished for greater comfort, lower bills and reduced emissions (at least 60% less). Joining a tour will give you actionable ideas for greening your own home.

Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and post-war houses are amongst the 65 renovated homes open to the public. Most have superior insulation; many have alternative heating sources and some produce their own energy. To find out more or to pre-book a place on a tour, visitwww.superhomes.org.uk

Several Nottingham SuperHomes will be holding Open Days during SuperHomes Week:

Tue 20 Mar 10am – 4pm

Sat 24 Mar 10am – 5pm

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The first two Homes Behaving Badly workshops on Saturday 3rd March 2012 attracted an audience of home owners looking to make energy efficiency improvements to their own homes.


Tina Holt, Penney Poyzer and Gil Schalom ran the workshops, which started with the free ways to save energy. The audience were already saving a packet between them, with a host of money-saving tips like "using the hot tap with the shortest pipe run" or "only using hot water when really necessary".


For those who were looking to make free or very low cost improvements, Julie "Queen of Mean" told her story - and entertained the group with her humorous promotion of the low-tech solutions.


Great low cost options were discussed - bubble-wrap over north facing windows that are obscured anyway, plastic film over window panes (fix it on with double-sided tape and a hair-dryer), or the power of the humble curtain - with thermal lining or an older curtain behind for extra insulation.

Gil Schalom, green architect, gave information of a more technical nature, as the audience asked specific questions about their own homes and the issues they want to tackle.


Rushcliffe Borough Council's Energy Officer provided a stand and gave out information during the tea breaks, and Michael and Mo brought samples from their low energy refurbishment project and shared their experiences. At the same time, a short film of an ultra-insulated loft conversion (one of the case studies) ran in the background.

One person noted on the feedback form: "I thought I had a pretty good energy efficient house. Now I know there's a lot more I can do!"


The next 2 workshops on 10th March will focus on whole house retrofit (generally a higher cost option!) and on low and high cost ways to make attic rooms and loft conversions more energy efficient.

To book your place on a workshop or to visit the 3 Nottingham homes which will open their doors this March during SuperHomes Week, contact sarah.goodman.ehg@gmail.com.

To see details of these open SuperHomes, just search for Nottingham on the SuperHomes "Open Homes Events" list.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Energy Workshops Everywhere!

In addition to our own Homes Behaving Badly (HOBBS) workshops on 3rd and 10th March (see the press release and previous posts)...

...There are other FREE energy workshops and drop-in surgeries at local libraries around the City. These are run by Nottingham Energy Partnership - booking details are on the flyer. If you live in the City, it's a great opportunity to get good advice. And do spread the word!

The Homes Behaving Badly workshops will cover the free ways to save energy and the more "standard" energy saving improvements that can make your home more comfortable. It is amazing just how much of an improvement these simple things can make, and some of them are so often overlooked!

At the other end of the scale, the "solid wall" workshop on 10th March will also look at what it takes to turn a "hard to heat" house into a really low energy home. If you want a sneak preview, the refurbishment of one of our case studies can be followed on its own blog: http://eco-retrofit.blogspot.com/. The other case studies are a little less drastic! There are some very low energy refurbishment examples which involved similar disruption to standard home improvements (and a lot less in some cases).

Maybe see you at a HOBBS workshop very soon!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Help for older people in Nottinghamshire this winter



Nottinghamshire County Council has secured additional Government funding so that older people can get help to keep warm this winter. The new Warm Homes Healthy People Fund will pay for:
·       Emergency heaters delivered to the older persons home if their own heating stops working
  • ·       Installation of temperature monitors to alert a central monitoring team if temperatures drop below a certain level
  • ·       Approved handyperson checks on thermostats and insulation. They can also bleed radiators
  • ·       Electric blanket check and exchange
  • ·       Energy advisors to visit homes to help switch to a cheaper tariff and to give energy efficiency advice
  • ·       Free information packs – including wall thermostats


Nottinghamshire County Council is working closely with various statutory and voluntary organisations including Rushcliffe CVS (whose drivers will deliver heaters), Rushcliffe Borough Council, NHS and Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.

To access the scheme contact: 08449 80 80 80

Produced by Rushcliffe CVS in support of this initiative:
RCVS, Level 3a, Bridgford House, Pavilion Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 5GJ. 0115 9699060

Visit to Julian Marsh's house

18 Feb 2012: DNC writes: "Project Nottingham organised a visit to Julian Marsh's house in the Meadows, Nottingham. Although I have seen it from the outside, and heard Julian's lecture and read the article in the Architects Journal, I hadn't seen the interior. 
Panoramic image of the front, with the house closely touching the neighbours at the corner - significantly reducing their heat losses. The front entrance has steps because it was built before the recent Severn-Trent flood prevention bank was built, and there is disabled access at the side door.
Steel Stair and Bottle Wall - the stair is of bent mild steel plate, and the baluster has stretched flexible PVC curtaining of the sort used in warehouses - a reminiscence of the old Meat Factory on the site. The wall is of concrete shelves alternating with recycled Ecover bottles filled with salt water. This has a high thermal capacity (4 times that of concrete) and soaks up winter sun, and releases it later. I am inspired to start collecting bottles myself now! The grilles in the floor allow cool air from the cavity below the ground floor during the hot months of summer.
 Wood-burning stove and flue at the centre of the house in the double height living space. There is also a large roof light above, cascading the room with daylight. Most of the floor is light cream coloured rubber surface, giving high daylight levels internally.
Rainwater purification filters - these provide most of the cold water, except the main CW tap in the kitchen that remains connected to the mains. The house is heated by a Dimplex ground source heat pump, with underfloor heating. There is a MVHR system for ventilation support, and the ground and first floors have concrete ceilings for optimum thermal mass.
 Teak washbasin in the bathroom - and there is teak flooring in the shower. As the ensuite bathroom is furthest from the stair, it has a concealed door which leads to a fire escape.
Entrance courtyard elevation - the garden is full of raised vegetable beds, and under the walkway is a 4000 litre rainwater storage tank. The PV array is facing due south at the perfect angle. There are more PVs behind the beam above the roof. There are fixing points for a wind turbine that never happened because of opposition from the planners.
  There are many other features, such as the composting toilet, the use of a larder instead of a fridge, the sunspace design of the front facade, the use of flitched parallax beams and columns, multi walled polycarbonate panels, parking space for electric car, and more that make this house totally unique and unrepeatable - it is totally born of the spirit of its location and of Julian's ingenuity."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Homes Behaving Badly workshops

These free workshops (one devoted to cavity wall houses, two to solid wall houses and one to rooms in the roof) are a fantastic chance to get some really good information about all the ways you could improve comfort or reduce the energy bills in your home. (see full details in recent posts)

The workshops will be based around 8 examples of typical house types in West Bridgford, each example having undergone improvements small or large. Some of the home owners will be there to talk and answer questions about their energy saving experiences.

If you live in a house of solid (not cavity) wall construction and are not sure which solid wall workshop is for you - the first covers free and lower cost options and the second covers higher cost options and whole house retrofit. Why not come to both?

The Homes Behaving Badly workshops will be held at Edwalton Primary School, Wellin Lane, Edwalton, Nottingham NG12 4AS.
Click on the link for a map and details of the no 6 bus stops near Edwalton Primary School.

Although you can turn up on the day, it would really help us to anticipate numbers if you book your place by contacting Sarah on 07772 330779 or by email: sarah.goodman.ehg@gmail.com

3 March 9.30-12.30 - Cavity wall workshop
3 March 1.30-4.30pm - Solid wall workshop (lower cost options)
10 March 9.30-12.30 - Solid wall workshop (higher cost options)
10 March 1.30-4.30pm - Rooms in the roof - improving attics and loft conversions new and old

Loft and cavity insulation...

Loft and cavity wall insulation are currently subsidised - so if you haven't already got a good deal on your insulation, do think about it!

Look out for Warmstreets - a scheme offered by Nottinghamshire County Council.

In January 2012, Westville insulated the walls and loft in the house that I am currently renting - a couple of hours and job well done, as we can see from the thermal imaging photograph...
The green whispy bits to the left of the front door are where hot air comes out of the boiler vent. The walls themselves are a lovely insulated blue colour!
The red patch on the roof is another vent, but the roof insulation is keeping us warm.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Can radical energy efficiency solve the energy crisis?

A new report by the AECB - the sustainable building association - challenges Ed Davey, the new Secretary of Energy and Climate Change, to get serious about energy efficiency.

Why? Well, as AECB CEO Andrew Simmonds says "None of the energy efficiency measures cited in our report would cost the UK more than about 3p per kWh electricity saved." 

That's well worth doing when most consumers currently pay 8-13 p per kWh!

For the full press release, click here.

To read the full report.... Less is More: Energy Security after Oil 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Homes Behaving Badly - which workshop is for you?

As part of the Homes Behaving Badly project, there will be 4 free workshops for householders (details in previous posts and this press release).

But which workshop (or workshops) would be relevant to you?

The first workshop is for people living in cavity wall homes. It does not matter whether your cavity walls are already insulated or not - we'll cover both. There are plenty of ways to reduce the energy bills or deal with issues such as cold, condensation and mould. Some options are completely free, others are basic DIY tasks, and others have a medium or large price tag.

If you want to talk to someone who has trimmed their bills right down (in a perfectly ordinary cavity wall house, on a very ordinary budget), this is the workshop for  you. Maybe your home is already pretty good but you are thinking about renewables, come along and find out whether it's worth it. Maybe you've heard about the Green Deal - the government's finance scheme for efficiency improvements, due to be launched in autumn 2012. We'll have the latest update on that as well.

(If you don't know whether your home has a cavity between the two skins of brick that make up the wall, step outside and look at the brickwork. If all the bricks are lengthways on (i.e. no end-on bricks in the pattern), and this pattern continues all the way up the wall, then your house is likely to have a cavity, which may or may not be filled with insulation already.)

The second and third workshops are for people living in solid wall homes. The workshops will cover similar topics, but on the 3rd March, the focus will be on lower cost and DIY improvements, while on 10th March we will go into more detail on the higher cost options that can result in bigger changes in energy use and comfort.

Maybe you've heard about the Green Deal - the government's finance scheme due to be launched in autumn 2012. Will the Green Deal and the related "ECO" scheme help towards the costs of improving solid wall homes? We'll have the latest update on that as well.

(If you think your home may have solid walls (rather than cavity walls), look at the external brickwork for end-on bricks. These end-on bricks go right through the wall and indicate that the 2 skins of brick forming the wall have no gap between them.)

In these three workshops, we will use energy modelling (SAP) to show how houses of different types and ages can be made more energy efficient in different ways. And we'll use real case studies to show what the reality of different options can be like. Some of the home owners whose houses form the case studies will be at the workshop to talk about their homes and their experiences.

The final workshop will focus on saving energy in loft conversions, attic rooms, and any other locations where there is a combination of roofs and walls. Whether you are considering a new loft conversion, or trying to improve one that was built some years ago and needs upgrading in some way, this workshop will consider the products and methods that work best in different situations. Again, we'll look at DIY and higher cost options, the pitfalls and the top tips.


Booking is recommended so book your place with Sarah Goodman
07772 330779 or by email sarah.goodman.ehg@gmail.com

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Homes Behaving Badly - workshops



The dates are now set for the Homes Behaving Badly workshops:

3rd March 2012 - 9.30am to 12.30pm:
Saving energy in homes of cavity wall construction

3rd March 2012 - 1.30pm to 4.30pm:  
Saving energy in solid wall homes (with emphasis on the lower cost options)

10th March 2012 - 9.30am to 12.30pm:
Saving energy in solid wall homes (with emphasis on the higher cost options)

10th March 2012 - 1.30pm to 4.30pm:
Saving energy in loft conversions and attic rooms

18th March am and pm       Eco House Tour (Nottingham Ecohome)
25th March am and pm       Eco House under Construction Tour (1950's refurb)


Each workshop will focus on real life examples of homes that have undergone small and large energy-saving improvements. By comparing the actual energy use of these homes we will show what is possible in reality, not just in theory! 

In each workshop, we will also demonstrate just how much energy can be saved without spending any money at all - just with energy saving habits. And we'll talk about how to become your own energy expert, so that you can suss out the best energy-saving options for your house and the way you use it. (One size does not fit all!)

And finally, the workshops will introduce the Green Deal - the government's new scheme to help finance home energy improvements from autumn 2012. Find out how it works to make sure you get the right deal for you and your home!

To book your free place on the workshops or the tours:
email sarah.goodman.ehg@gmail.com
tel. 07772 330779


This is a Transition West Bridgford project, made possible with LEAF funding. The Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF) is managed by the Energy Saving Trust on behalf of the Department for Energy and Climate Change. The project is also supported by the Sustainable Growth Group, supplying 250 state-of-the-art low energy LED lightbulbs for householders taking part in the project.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

More thermographic images

10 Feb 2012: DNC writes: "I have returned the loaned camera now, but here are a few of the key pictures. Each picture tells a small story."
"My house, SW corner external, shows heat loss around the window head, when that was being built, I was convinced that the builder wasn't taking care to close up the jamb correctly, and now I have proof."
"Same house SW corner interior… further proof. Builder promised that when the window was enclosed he would seal back the insulation correctly. Cavity insulation omitted! I am wondering whether to contact NHBC."

"DNC house back elevation. It shows that we heat the kitchen-dining room well, but leave the bedrooms unheated. Also, when there is no windspeed, the wall adjacent to the drainpipes gets warmed."


"Victorian semi-detached, lived in by a WB architect and his eco-campaigning wife. Ear elevation picture shows contrast between externally insulated and non insulated neighbour. Also the effect of an extractor fan. The front elevation photos is showing how much they need a door lobby! (the front walls are internally insulated)"

"Detached West Bridgford house (right) recently externally insulated with 100mm Kingspan and render. House on the left is solid walled. The house has the insulation continuing to below the ground, so there is no bridging, just a little tell tale yellow line to indicate the DPC line."

"A near neighbour's terraced stepped house, with PV solar panels above and cavity fill, but note the house next door, glowing brightly! Radiators against the wall are a thermal giveaway. The house on the extreme left? perhaps the neighbours are out."
"House in Lady Bay has had a 2 storey extension [Left] added to the existing house, [Right]. Extension has been built with solid wall and external insulation. Side wall of the existing house has been externally insulated [extreme right]. The bedroom above the front door has a giveaway radiator, and the front door needs a lobby and double glazing."
"Another of DNC's near neighbours has had house cavity filled last year, and it is working. The other half of her semi-D needs wall insulation, and to consider the wall mounted radiators."

"Large house in Musters Rd, but solid walled, with secondary glazing by Storm Windows. Central pane in upper bay window has been de-secondary-glazed specially for the camera to show the effectiveness of Sec-Glazing. Front door has no lobby, and a single glazed glass viewing panel. Entire house needs insulating (all walls are glowing slightly) but it would be a large and expensive project. "

Friday, February 10, 2012

Check your Loft insulation

9 Feb 2012: Your loft may have been insulated, but has the insulation been tucked closely up against the rafters and other edge conditions - or are there gaps showing? This thermographic photo tells a story.
This loft has 400mm of insulation off to the left, and in the foreground, it is 200mm of insulation with boarding over. Both of these are effective, but the junction between needs looking at. Where they meet, there is an awkward gap, with plenty of heat leaking up into the loft space.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Thermographic images

8 Feb 2012: DNC writes: At this time of cold weather, it is an ideal time to get out with a Thermographic camera - forms the image from infrared radiation. This is a FLIR T400 which I have borrowed from my Faculty at the University of Nottingham. It's chinese made, and very easy to use, and copying the images to computer is like copying from a memory stick! There are a few things to learn, but it only takes a few experimental pictures to get the balance right. After more experience, there are deeper subtleties one can employ. But the initial results are very good, and I had the coldest night of the entire winter, ensuring maximum contrast between interior and exterior temperatures.
My first picture, the car parked just after driving it a couple of miles.
The remaining images are of the Peveril Solar house, which is has a cavity wall with 100mm full cavity fill.
Front wall of the house, revealing conduction at window heads
Window of my home-office, revealing the thermal bridge of the lintel
SW corner, including the Surya Sunbox, showing that there is a warm zone
below the Sunbox. The temperature inside the sun box is almost always warmer than
the surroundings, even at night, so I am not surprised to see the brickwork being warmer,
and warmth leaking out at the edges.
Interior ceiling corner of my home-office. There is a cold bridge where
the blockwork goes up into the Loft. 
This could be useful for the West Bridgford Ecohouses group, to check if their insulation has been done effectively, especially at junctions and corners.
  I have to return the camera tomorrow, but if you are nearby and read this, and want your house thermally photographed, then please email me on dnicholsoncole@gmail.com  . I can reborrow it at any reasonable time up to end of February. Beyond that, the weather may be too mild to be worth testing.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Homes Behaving Badly!



Our new project, Homes Behaving Badly (HOBBs), is now under-way.

For all the details, do have a look at the press release. (we are very proud of it!)

We are busy preparing for the free HOBBs events in March, and to make that as relevant as possible for people who are considering home energy improvements, we have created a questionnaire.

If you would like to tell us a bit about your house and your home energy priorities, click here to take part in the questionnaire. (It is entirely up to you whether you provide your name or contact details, or complete it anonymously.)

If your home is not a paragon of energy-efficiency and comfort, the HOBBs project could be right up your street!

Tina and the HOBBs team