News Alert

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

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: 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:

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

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:
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  . 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