News Alert

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

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Event - Know your energy efficiency options, grants and loans!

When and where: 28th November from 7-9pm in West Bridgford, Nottingham.

Whether you are just thinking about a few low cost options for saving energy or wanting to find out about current loans and grants for energy efficiency work, this is the event for you.

For example, would you be interested in Solid Wall Insulation if there was a government scheme to reduce the cost?
If your home is not suitable for Cavity Wall Insulation, there is a new scheme to subsidise the cost of External Wall Insulation (EWI) and Internal Wall Insulation (IWI), which extends to a range of other energy saving improvements made at the same time. This subsidy, called ECO, can reduce the cost of the work by several thousand pounds and is not income-dependent – so it is worth knowing more about it!

There will be 10 minute talks on:
  • ·        Insulating solid wall homes – what is the ECO subsidy? Could it help me?
  • ·        Is the Green Deal a great deal? Or are there better alternatives?
  • ·        Energy Efficiency and a Healthy House – how to do both.
  • ·        Draught-busting and other low cost / DIY ways to save energy.
Then from 8-9pm there will be mini-surgeries, giving you the chance to put your questions to the speakers in small groups or individually.

If you would like to know more, why not come along to this information evening at Jesse Gray Primary School in West Bridgford, Nottingham on 28th November from 7-9pm?

For more information, email To reserve your free place and get full details, go to Event Brite at Numbers are limited so please book in advance.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Open Homes in September

Two homes in Nottinghamshire will open their doors this month to people who are interested in low energy new build and refurbishment.

On Saturday 28th September at 2pm, there are still spaces available to visit an ultra low energy home near Newark. See the previous post for more about the house and email if you would like the chance to join the tour.

On Sunday 29th September, an ultra low energy refurbishment in West Bridgford will open to visitors. All spaces have now been taken for September so a second date will be arranged. Just email to join the waiting list if you are interested.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Another ultra low energy new build here in Nottinghamshire

How is it that here in the UK our new build standards match what the Germans were doing about 30 years ago in terms of energy efficiency? Surely the government could set the bar a bit higher? It is by no means impossible - individuals are quietly getting on with it and showing what can or should be done....

It's great to hear the experiences of others as they build or refurbish their homes, and make them energy efficient in the process. I met Roger in 2011. At that point he was planning the construction of his own home - with the Passive House standard as the target.

And now it is done, he's spent his first year in the house, and he has very kindly agreed to open his home and share his experiences with a limited number of visitors interested in low energy new build. (Just email if you would like to know more about that.)

Here are the vital statistics of the new house, in a village which is off-gas:
Built to Passive house standards using traditional materials
High Thermal mass (to maintain a more stable temperature, to soak up excess heat in summer)
`A` rated EPC
8.1 kw solar PV built into roof structure
No gas boiler , no ground scource heating  
Just a 3 kw immersion heater sufficient to keep the house at 21 degC through last winter.
PV also powers an electric car.
Rain water recovery.
Contemporary design detailing in a conservation village setting.

Some innovative construction details such as no strip foundations, house built on raft of insulation.
Precast concrete 1st floor.
SIPS panel roof.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Open Homes events in September 2013

During September, there will be Open Homes events running in many parts of the UK, many of them belonging to the Superhomes network.

Here in the Nottingham area, we'll be joining in the fun with Superhomes and other local low energy homes opening their doors to the general public.

Whether you are mulling over the most cost-effective ways to save energy next winter, or considering more costly ways to save energy and improve comfort in your home, keep an eye on this blog or email to make sure you get all the details. It's also a chance to find out more about the Green Deal and government incentives to help with the cost of external wall insulation, other energy saving measures and renewables.

If you already live in a low energy home and would like to open your home as part of this event, do get in touch - it's always great to have a wider range of examples.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Low energy home in Derby offers tutorials

If you are interested in learning about a local low energy home (in Derby), this could be the perfect opportunity.

Homeowner, Kate, is offering some free tutorials about her experience of transforming her home from a very ordinary brick house into a "passive house" that needs almost no heating.

Click here for more details and to book:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

An intro to the Green Deal Loan and the ECO grants

Like me, you have probably been cold called recently by companies offering you "free" stuff under the Green Deal.

Being quite well up on the ins and outs of the Green Deal, I do like to ask a few questions for my own entertainment and suss out whether the company concerned is prepared to be honest and give good info about the Green Deal, or whether they are being deliberately misleading.

Here's a very basic summary that includes some useful info about the Green Deal and the ECO. The key point to note - the Green Deal is a loan (and not a particularly cheap one), and the ECO is a grant.

Or if you have a warped sense of humour and would like an alternative overview (but perhaps not quite as useful), here's a little parody on uTube. (Warning - contains some strong language and may cause offence.)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Carbon Dioxide levels reach 400ppm for the first time in ~4 million years

This week, we've reached 400ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere for the first time in about 4 million years. In other words, efforts so far to reduce carbon emissions are not enough. Much more needs to be done just to stop emissions rising. What is really needed is to get back to safe levels (350ppm would be a good start).

So what did the world look like the last time there was 400ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere? Click here.

And here's a short and to-the-point slideshow which illustrates where we are at.

Are we destined over the next generation or two to see 40m sea-level rise, a large increase in pests and diseases as temperature zones shift, challenging weather conditions, impacts on our economies and food supplies? To some extent, we are seeing these things now. But a massive and widespread effort to reduce emissions would minimise the chances of seeing such dramatic changes in the future.

Ironically, we have the capacity to make huge changes straight away with hi-tech and low-tech solutions (including options as humble as changing behaviours). What is urgently required politically, in communities and individually is the will. So simple and yet so difficult.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Old gas boiler? Big bills?

If you live in West Bridgford, have an old gas boiler, and maybe a large or solid wall house that is expensive to heat or just doesn't get that warm, read on....

(click on the image to see at full size) Call 07962 453037 for further details.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Lots going on in March

Transition West Bridgford's Eco House team have had a busy winter helping people towards saving energy...

We organised a dozen thermal imaging surveys carried out by David Hill of Carbon Legacy - which were very illuminating judging by the comments from householders who now see their homes in a new light! Seeing where the cold comes in and the heat goes out can be quite informative!

Volunteers in the group have been helping to write and circulate information about a local offer of free Green Deal Assessments to householders who may have high gas bills if they live in a large or hard-to-insulate house with an inefficient gas boiler (see details on an earlier post).
Some of the team will be helping out on the Energy Bus in West Bridgford's Central Avenue on Saturday morning (9th March) from 9.30am until 2.30pm. Come along and have a chat, particularly if you or someone you know would like a free assessment - available only in March so you'll need to be quick!

Three homes in West Bridgford held an open homes day on 3rd March as part of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Ecohomes Open Week, attracting about 50 visitors in total.

And if you missed out on those visits, the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Ecohomes Open Week is not yet over - click here for other open houses.

Later in 16-24 March, it is National SuperHomes open week, when some of Nottinghamshire's Superhomes will open their doors again - click here to find a SuperHome open day near you.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Peveril Solar on Ecohomes open day

There is a programme of visits to Ecohouses in the region, from 3rd-10th March.
Peveril Solar is one of the houses on the list and we are open on Sunday 3rd March at 2pm and 330pm. You need to book ahead by emailing or DNC at .

This is the leaflet by Everybody's Talking, who have arranged the event. It includes a succinct explanation of the technology. Peveril Solar is the first house in the UK to be entirely solar heated all year round.Although the official time is 3rd March, you might be reading this after that date, but please be assured, that visitors with a serious interest in Solar Earth Charging are welcome at any reasonable date, by first emailing the DNC address above. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Energy saving schemes and events

Looking into ways of making your home more energy efficient and cheaper to run?

If you live in West Bridgford and your home is heated by an old gas boiler, see the post below for details of a scheme which may interest you.

If you are looking for inspiration or information about a range of energy saving options, why not go along to an open house event and see what other home-owners have done? Details on our local open home day (3rd March and additional dates now added) are given in the second post below, together with links to regional and national open homes events in the same month.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Open Homes, March 2013

As part of regional and national open homes events in March, 3 houses in West Bridgford will open their doors to visitors. If you want to take part, click here to register your interest, see which homes are open and when, and to request a booking.

The oldest, built in the 1890's, was a G rated house before it was turned into the "Nottingham Eco Home". Full details can be seen here.

The next, a typical 1950's house of solid wall construction, has been extensively refurbished and now approaches the new Passivhaus Refurbishment (EnerPHit) standard. Further details can be seen here and here.

The youngest house on the list was built in 2006, and the owner was able to dictate above average levels of insulation as it was built. This house uses solar energy to match its entire annual heating and hot water requirements. For more details, click here.

If you live in or near to Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, a diverse range of events running in early March will be listed here:

And later in March, it is national Superhomes Week, when homes all over the UK will open their doors. Look for events running near you on

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Thermal imaging

This time last year, a few lucky householders (those who put their homes forward as case studies in the HOBBS report) had thermal images taken of their homes.

Within the Eco House Group, many have expressed an interest in having this done and I promised that I would look into it. I've just had a trial run on my own home (see the blog for the full details), and I'll be emailing out to the Eco House Group when I have dates and details for those who would like their homes to be assessed in the same way (for a very reasonable fee to cover the cost).

If you are in or near West Bridgford and would like to join the Eco House Group email list, just email and ask to be included.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Arguments for and against PVT

9 Jan 2013: DNC writes: There's an interesting article on the Solar Blogger website by Stuart Elmes. It's about PVT (Photo-Voltaic-Thermal) panels, and he has a more technical PDF linked to it.

PVT panels are, in essence, a PV panel with a mesh of liquid cooling tubes behind the PV surface. For higher PV capture, the panel is uncovered, but for a higher thermal capture, the panel has a glass cover over it and insulation behind.

   I am a great believer in PVT, but the only properly productive application for it that I can see is when it is associated with low-grade thermal storage and heat pump.
   It could also good for those who have a limited area of roof, and haven't enough space. If you have enough roof surface to play with, the best place for PV might not be the best place for thermal. Ideally, a house needs 28-30 square metres of PV to attain the 4 kW that is recommended for the Feed-in-Tariff in the UK - a smooth, unobstructed and unshaded area facing south is the best. PV arrays normally have an air space under them and they work best on sunny days with a cooling northerly breeze that can get under the panels.
   For solar thermal, the size can vary from 1sqm to 4sqm. Above that, it gets a bit silly unless you are addicted to hot showers all summer. So Solar thermal can often work well in smaller locations on hipped roofs, or large dormers, providing you can get a south aspect. Another criterion for best place might be closer to the optimum positions of a tank and the plumbing.
   The idea of PVT is that you get a larger area for thermal, and the PV element is cooled by the liquid passing under it.

   The paradox is this: for you to get useful heat to a water tank, you want the panel to run very hot, but for the PV panel to run well you want it to run very cool. Stuart's article explains the paradox well.

   So for a solar thermal water tank you want the circuit to run at 50-70ºC, and when the tank reached 60ºC, the circulation would stop. If you ran PV at these temperatures it would be unworkable. If you want PV to be optimised, the purpose of the liquid has to be to cool the PV, so it should be circulating at 15-20ºC. A normally air cooled PV panel reaches 40-50ºC surface temperatures on a hot summer's day, but the PV cells run better is the wind is blowing.
   If the water tank reaches optimum temperature and turns off the pump, the sun will make the PV even hotter, and as there would be insulation behind the PVT panel, there's nothing to stop the liquid temperature getting dangerously high. Stuart's article refers to the risk of temperatures as high as 220ºC. (I am informed by Newform that this might be a mistake, as Powervolt panels permitted to stagnate seriously haven't gone higher than 100ºC, although the glass topped Powertherms might get hotter.)

Therefore, for thermal storage for a heat pump, the panels running at 15-20ºC would be warming an infinitely large tank size, the earth, whose base temperature would be 10-12ºC, so there will always be a benefit. There is no risk of any of the system reaching stasis and turning off because earth has a vast thermal capacity in relation to the size of the panel array or the size of the building above it.
    Having a larger surface area than normal solar thermal panels (28sqm instead of just 2 or 4sqm) the solar thermal gain for the store - large volume of low grade thermal energy is going to be very good! One thing that my experiment has shown is that the ground does not get 'hotter', but the volume of earth that is warmed up to a moderately warm temperature gets larger.
    One thing about any of these systems, is that they must keep running. If the system circulates reliably everything is the right temperature. If a future owner of this house just turned the solar circulation off in summer, there would be problems if temperatures rise and there isn't sufficient capacity for expansion of the liquid.