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How to quantify the value of energy saving improvements

Posted by greentomatoenergy . on 5 October 2012 at 8:53 am

How to quantify the value of energy saving improvements

A question we get asked a lot is whether energy saving improvements add value to your property. For many of our clients, a positive answer makes the capital expenditure easier to bear as you know that you get the value back on a sale. Traditionally, energy and energy efficiency measur…

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Reader tip of the month - turn it off!

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 September 2012 at 4:22 pm

Reader tip of the month - turn it off!

We talk about technology a lot on the website, but technology by itself is not enough - it's the user that makes the most difference. It's no good having the most efficient boiler, if you turn the thermostat up high, and then open the windows when it gets too hot.  User-behaviour was the the…

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Energy efficiency is the answer to rising fuel bills

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 September 2012 at 9:27 am

Energy efficiency is the answer to rising fuel bills

Four of the Big Six UK energy providers are expected to increase energy prices by the end of this year after Scottish and Southern Electric (SSE) announced plans to increase domestic gas and electricity prices by an average of 9 per cent from October 15. The price rise, set to affect 5 million el…

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Review: Home Energy Handbook: A guide to saving and generating energy in your home and community

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 September 2012 at 9:38 am

Review: Home Energy Handbook: A guide to saving and generating energy in your home and community

I've read a lot about energy in the past four years: how to save it, and how to generate it. But I until now I haven't found any one source that explains how we use energy in our homes, and how to use it more effectively, as well as the Home Energy Handbook. Published a couple of months ago by th…

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How does a passivhaus handle the summer heat: a case study

Posted by greentomatoenergy . on 10 September 2012 at 9:31 am

How does a passivhaus handle the summer heat: a case study

This is our second summer of experience from one of our passivhaus retrofits. The good news is that, with a little bit of occupant management, both summers have been a great success – the house has stayed cool and fresh, with minor instances of localised over-heating.  When we mode…

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How to send a simple signal that energy efficiency is important

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 September 2012 at 10:49 am

How to send a simple signal that energy efficiency is important

We can bang on about the importance of energy effiiciency as much and as loudly as we want, but maybe there are more subtle ways of stating its importance and raising it up people's consciousness. On my recent holiday in France I saw two examples of simple, yet really effective awareness (and consci…

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7 easy wins to improve the energy efficiency of your home

Posted by greentomatoenergy . on 24 August 2012 at 9:19 am

7 easy wins to improve the energy efficiency of your home

With a lot of discussion about rising energy bills, many concerned homeowners now feel compelled to make a positive effort to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.  Easy wins are those measures which can be adopted without major cost or disruption and you can often instal…

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Top tips for disposing of energy saving lightbulbs and other WEE

Posted by Liam Tarry on 22 August 2012 at 9:02 am

Top tips for disposing of energy saving lightbulbs and other WEE

Here in the UK we throw away a million tonnes of household electrical and electronic waste every year - and that’s just from our homes. If that figure wasn’t shocking enough, at least as much comes from non-household sources such as offices, factories, schools and hospitals. Waste electrical …

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Open homes: see how others have improved their homes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 August 2012 at 9:35 am

Open homes: see how others have improved their homes

Every year there are more and more people opening up their homes, so others can see what measures they have taken to make them warmer, more comfortable, last but not least cheaper to heat. With energy bills on a steep upward trajectory, taking action to reduce your need for energy has never made so …

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EPC software seems unable to handle eco improvements

Posted by Martin Hodnett on 2 August 2012 at 10:44 am

EPC software seems unable to handle eco improvements

Recently, we had to get an energy performance certificate (EPC) done to qualify for the feed-in tariff (FiT) for solar panels. We live in an old Devon longhouse constructed of cob. An Esse wood burning range cooker, a solar thermal panel system, and an oil-fired boiler (as backup for very cold we…

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Readers tips of the month - insulation and condensation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 July 2012 at 10:33 am

Readers tips of the month - insulation and condensation

Insulation and condensation often appear in the same sentence - but you surely don't want them to appear together in your house. So my favourite tip from YouGen readers is the following sage advice from Harmsy who says: "Before insulating in the loft to 'modern standards' do check that …

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Online retailers flout legal requirement to display energy labels

Posted by Ross Lammas on 20 July 2012 at 11:57 am

Online retailers flout legal requirement to display energy labels

More than half of online retailers are not displaying full energy label information - yet it’s a legal obligation for them to do so! Wherever you purchase a washing machine, TV or other electrical appliance, energy efficiency information should be displayed, whether you buy it from the …

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Making your house more energy efficient: where do we start?

Posted by greentomatoenergy . on 6 July 2012 at 9:50 am

Making your house more energy efficient: where do we start?

When I came to the energy efficiency business three years ago, I didn’t know anything about the technologies involved or the technical detail that goes behind them. What I did know, is that people like me wanted to save energy at home.   The thing preventing me and many others from…

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Eco guest house is first business in Wales to benefit from RHI

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 June 2012 at 10:17 am

Eco guest house is first business in Wales to benefit from RHI

A biomass boiler, solar PV and solar thermal are all the result of a Welsh guest house's belief that you should be able to enjoy a holiday without damaging the environment. Installation of the boiler means the guest house has become the first business in Wales to benefit from the Renewable Heat Ince…

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Monitor and check: one of the key lessons for the Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 May 2012 at 11:49 am

Green Deal measures must be checked and monitored after installation to ensure that the quality is good and they are achieving the expected levels of performance. Speaking at yesterday's FLASH Green Deal Conference, organised by the Institute of Sustainability, Paul Ruyssevelt of the Technology S…

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Readers' renewable energy tips of the month

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 May 2012 at 12:02 pm

Readers' renewable energy tips of the month

We love reading your stories and tips of what works (and doesn't work) for you. Here are this month's favourites: Where you site your air source heat pump is important, as this succinct message from Lizlaw confirms: "Our heat pump warms the house and water consistently, reliably and saves us m…

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How to choose a tumble dryer: vented or condenser?

Posted by Ross Lammas on 11 May 2012 at 9:21 am

How to choose a tumble dryer: vented or condenser?

OK, we know the most energy efficient way to dry our clothes is outdoors, but modern lifestyles don’t always allow for this, and a tumble dryer, for a busy family, is often seen as a necessity. But should you choose a vented or a condenser tumble dryer? And what else should you look for? …

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How to choose the best low energy lighting

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 May 2012 at 9:14 am

How to choose the best low energy lighting

Traditionally we've measured the strength of our lightbulbs in watts. A 40 watt incandescent light bulb was dim, a 100 watt one was bright. However, that measure was misleading. Watts are a measure of power consumption, not of light. A 100 watt incandescent bulb needed 100 watts of electricity to…

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Retrofit of Victorian terrace house reduces energy bills by 89%

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 April 2012 at 7:38 am

Retrofit of Victorian terrace house reduces energy bills by 89%

Described as a "labour of love" by designers Green Tomato Energy the conversion of a Victorian mid-terrace, built in approximately 1870 with solid brick walls, to PassivHaus standard has significantly improved comfort and reduced energy bills. Due to planning restrictions in the local conservatio…

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Energy efficiency of TVs rises by 60%

Posted by Ross Lammas on 11 April 2012 at 9:02 am

Energy efficiency of TVs rises by 60%

When plasma and LCD TVs first arrived in the shops, we were dazzled by their stunning picture quality and screen size, and overlooked the fact that, compared with most tube televisions, these beasts were energy guzzlers. This was something the salesman, wowing us with bright colours and a 42 inch sc…

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Solar PV does count towards new energy efficiency criteria

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 February 2012 at 10:58 am

Solar PV does count towards new energy efficiency criteria

Buildings must meet strict energy efficiency criteria from 1 April to qualify for the full level of feed-in tariff. When the government announced the change earlier this month it was not clear whether or not the solar PV installation would count towards the Energy Performance Certificate level D or …

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Energy efficiency criteria for solar PV feed-in tariff lacks clarity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 February 2012 at 12:42 pm

NB: The position is now clear. Solar PV will count towards EPC level D. Click here to read more. It's not clear whether or not newly installed solar PV panels are included in the new energy efficiency requirement of the feed-in tariff. The government has confirmed that a level D energy perfo…

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How to maximise the benefit of secondary glazing

Posted by Simon Forsyth on 2 February 2012 at 9:35 am

How to maximise the benefit of secondary glazing

Q: Our property is old and the windows are not double glazed but made of oak and have 6 - 8 panes per each half of the window. Any ideas about secondary double glazing appreciated. A: Thinking back to first principles, the aim is to stop 'coolth' getting into the room - draughts of c…

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Act now: insulation will never be so cheap again

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 January 2012 at 9:03 am

Act now: insulation will never be so cheap again

Loft and cavity wall insulation have been heavily subsidised for years now, but this year, the carbon emission reduction scheme (CERT) comes to an end, to be replaced by a loan scheme (the green deal). Insulation is the number one thing that will make your house warmer and more comfortable - and red…

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How can we stop heat loss from our bay window?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 13 January 2012 at 9:31 am

How can we stop heat loss from our bay window?

Q: Hi we have a semi-detached 1950s bay fronted house and the only part not insulated is the upstairs bay (which sounds like it's made of wattle and daub!) and the flat roof above the bay. The flat roof part is perhaps 3 inches deep only, and covered with lead. Despite the radiator being in the bay,…

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Vote for your favourite

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 December 2011 at 12:18 pm

Vote for your favourite

We asked for your stories on how you've managed to keep warm at home while spending less. This week we published the five shortlisted stories, and we're asking you, our readers, to choose the winner (they will get a Black & Decker thermal heat detector). These are the blogs: DIY double gla…

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DIY double glazing solves chills in a Victorian semi

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 December 2011 at 9:33 am

DIY double glazing solves chills in a Victorian semi

'My wife and I moved into our new home with baby and toddler in tow some six years ago,' writes Dan Saniaszek. 'I say “new”, but in reality it was a late Victorian semi.  Thankfully, not a draughty and cold horror story, but still a long way from being energy efficient.  Over the years…

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Secondary glazing for sash windows cuts cost and increases comfort

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 December 2011 at 9:55 am

Secondary glazing for sash windows cuts cost and increases comfort

'I bought my existing house in 2009 and, although the walls had been well insulated in 1994 by the developer with 100mm expanded polystyrene fitted between the studs, there were improvements that could be made,' writes Brian John Griffiths, one of our shortlisted contributors. 'Firstly, I topped …

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How we reduced electricity consumption from 10,000 to 1,500kwh a year

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 December 2011 at 8:40 am

How we reduced electricity consumption from 10,000 to 1,500kwh a year

"Around the time our second one was on his way and my office at home needed to get converted back to a bedroom for his sister, I was struck by how much energy I was wasting," writes Damon Hart-Davis, one of our shortlisted contributors. 'The single biggest improvement in energy efficiency that I …

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Suffolk community take action to reduce heating costs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 December 2011 at 11:39 am

Suffolk community take action to reduce heating costs

'We live in Walpole, a small village in north Suffolk. It has approximately 240 residents, but lost its pubs, shops and village school years ago,' writes Anne Thomas, one of our shortlisted contributors. 'About 2 years ago, the Parish Council (for Cookley and Walpole - Cookley has approximately 8…

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Freezers: out of sight, out of mind, and eating electricity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 December 2011 at 9:49 am

Freezers: out of sight, out of mind, and eating electricity

'Now here is a serious energy saver,' writes David Ham, one of our shortlisted contributors. 'For years we have run without question - out of sight out of mind - two modestly sized freezers purchased probably 15 years ago. Over the summer with no heating on I questioned why our utility room always …

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Help us choose the best energy efficiency case study

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 December 2011 at 2:18 pm

Help us choose the best energy efficiency case study

Next week we will publish the five shortlisted stories in our competition for the best practical energy efficiency stories submitted by a YouGen visitor.  We’ll post a new one up each day, and we hope you will let us know which you think deserves to win. You can do that by adding a comment be…

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Homebuyer & sellers' guide to reading an EPC: part 2

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 25 November 2011 at 10:30 am

Homebuyer & sellers' guide to reading an EPC: part 2

Energy performance certificate (EPC) gives information that can be very helpful to both homebuyers and homesellers, but only if you know what to do with it. This article should be read in conjunction with previous guides to reading page one of the EPC for the buyers and renters, and for sellers. I w…

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Reducing your energy bills: how to find efficient appliances

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 November 2011 at 9:20 am

Reducing your energy bills: how to find efficient appliances

How we buy and use electrical appliances in the home has a significant impact on how much electricity we consume - and thus, how high our bills are. So how do we make sure that we buy the most efficient appliance for our needs? With difficulty, it seems, according to The Elephant in the Living Ro…

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Products are more energy efficient, yet household electricity use is going up

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 November 2011 at 10:20 am

Products are more energy efficient, yet household electricity use is going up

Despite buying more energy-efficient products than ever before, energy use in the home is on the rise. This is because we are using more gadgets than we used to, and we are using them differently. In a new report, The Elephant in the Living Room, the Energy Saving Trust (EST) points out that: "w…

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How to stop draughts coming through your floor boards: a case study

Posted by Gilly Jones on 18 November 2011 at 8:34 am

How to stop draughts coming through your floor boards: a case study

As I have no DIY skills to speak of, I was particularly pleased with my recent effort to reduce the draughts whistling through the floor boards in my newly revamped bathroom. After a bit of research on the Internet, I sceptically ordered a roll of StopGap, a flexible springy plastic strip which…

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My top five energy saving tips

Posted by Adrian Wright on 3 November 2011 at 3:03 am

My top five energy saving tips

1) Insulate!! Insulation is a no brainer. Why allow all of that expensive heat to escape through your walls and roof when you can receive grant funding from energy suppliers to have your home professionally insulated?  Enact Energy can now do this for you completely free of charg…

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How to bring sunlight into a dark room

Posted by Tim Pullen on 28 October 2011 at 8:51 am

How to bring sunlight into a dark room

Q: Are solar tubes a good idea? A: Solar tubes – also known as sun pipes, sun tunnels or light pipes – could also be called remote windows (but they are not). They are a way of bringing daylight to rooms or spaces with no natural lighting. They consist of a light collector – essential…

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Keep warm; spend less

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 October 2011 at 5:28 am

Keep warm; spend less

Being cold is miserable. Yet, as energy prices rocket, lots of people will be cold this winter. The dominant narrative about how to get round this focuses on knocking the big six energy companies, and urges us to swap supplier to find a lower price. While I don't argue with this, it's also a grea…

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Are carbon savings from CERT as big as they seem?

Posted by Adrian Wright on 15 September 2011 at 5:21 am

Are carbon savings from CERT as big as they seem?

Ofgem has just released a report summarising the activity of the last three years of the Carbon Emission Reduction Target (CERT). This four year scheme requires energy suppliers to reduce CO2 emissions by 292 million tonnes from homes in Britain or receive a huge fine. The activities the energy …

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Money isn't the only motivator for energy efficiency retrofits

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 August 2011 at 9:06 am

Money isn't the only motivator for energy efficiency retrofits

Improved comfort, home improvement and rising energy costs were all motivating factors in encouraging people to improve the energy efficiency of their home, as well the resulting savings in their energy bills. These are the findings of a pilot project undertaken by the London Borough of Sutton, B…

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Incentives, education and more power to the consumer are the way forward for successful energy efficiency retrofit

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 27 July 2011 at 9:45 am

Incentives, education and more power to the consumer are the way forward for successful energy efficiency retrofit

I was astonished to discover today that I last blogged about Retrofit for the Future over 18 months ago, in October 2009, when I was optimistic about the scheme and the way it seemed to be mobilising the whole sector to think about innovation and change. Since then Encraft has been lucky enough t…

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Ashden Awards winner lists ways to increase uptake of retrofit

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 July 2011 at 10:20 am

Ashden Awards winner lists ways to increase uptake of retrofit

Hampshire-based Radian housing association won the Gold at this year's Ashden Awards, for an ambitious and innovative programme of retrofitting hard-to-treat homes and building eco-homes that far exceed the current minimum standards for energy efficiency. Paul Ciniglio, Radian's sustainability a…

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Smart meter introduction moves into phase 2

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 July 2011 at 11:31 am

Smart meter introduction moves into phase 2

Mass installation of smart meters into every house and business in the UK is planned to start in 2014 and complete in 2019. Between now and then, 'early mover' suppliers such as British Gas will begin installing smart meters as part of a testing and foundation phase of the plan. Smart meters will…

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Why bother optimise voltage?

Posted by Matt Cody on 13 July 2011 at 9:12 am

Why bother optimise voltage?

This is an often-asked question. The simple answer is that it prevents energy waste that virtually all homes in the UK suffer as a result of electricity typically being provided at the higher end of the statutory range - and therefore saves energy, reduces carbon emissions and saves money. …

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EPCs should make financial benefits clearer says Consumer Focus

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 30 June 2011 at 12:08 pm

EPCs should make financial benefits clearer says Consumer Focus

Clarity, credibility and comparability are key if EPCs are to be meaningful for consumers, and lead to them increasing the energy efficiency of their home, according to a new report from Consumer Focus. Published today, Easy as EPC looks at the content and format of the Energy Performance Certificat…

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Can wooden doors be as energy efficient as uPVC?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 27 June 2011 at 10:05 am

Can wooden doors be as energy efficient as uPVC?

Q: I need to fit a new back door and want to make it as energy efficient as possible, but my carpenter seems a bit ignorant about what is the best way to go about this. I want to install a wooden door, not uPVC. Should I fit a sill? Or will it rot? It will sit on concrete. Or is one of those brush …

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Small companies in danger of being excluded from Green Deal delivery

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 June 2011 at 1:22 pm

Small companies in danger of being excluded from Green Deal delivery

There's concern that the Green Deal will be the preserve of a few big companies, unless its structure is carefully designed to let small companies in. This was one of the issues highlighted at a debate on the Green Deal at yesterday's Ashden Awards conference. Plain speaking was the order of …

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Renewable energy may be included in the Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 June 2011 at 9:08 am

Renewable energy may be included in the Green Deal

The Government's announcement last week on measures being considered for inclusion in the Green Deal, and its thinking on consumer protection, went some way to allay criticisms of the scheme. The Green Deal is expected to offer loans of up to £10,000 over a period of up to 25 years. To qualify f…

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Does the g-save reduce gas bills?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 April 2011 at 11:26 am

Does the g-save reduce gas bills?

I've been testing the g-save economiser since the end of November last year. As described previously, it is a widget that claims to save up to 30% on your gas bill - but does it work? Well, I'm afraid that even after three and a half month's testing the jury is still out. I've got gas meter readi…

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Look at a property's energy efficiency before you rent

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 20 April 2011 at 1:05 am

Look at a property's energy efficiency before you rent

While the snow was on the ground at the start of the year, I carried out an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) on a house in a pleasant street in a rural Buckinghamshire village, prior to its owner marketing it for let. Specifically, this house is in the most northerly village in the county, ri…

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Buildings don't use energy: people do

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 April 2011 at 10:46 am

Buildings don't use energy: people do

Smart buildings aren't the solution to reducing energy use, smart people are, according to research by Kathryn Janda of the UK Energy Research Centre.  Architects can specify "zero-energy" homes, which are designed to be energy efficient and produce their own energy through solar power, but …

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Renewable heat incentive - thoughts on deeming, SAP, equity and accuracy

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 9 March 2011 at 3:59 pm

Renewable heat incentive - thoughts on deeming, SAP, equity and accuracy

According to the briefing prepared by the REA (the Renewable Energy Association), the long awaited proposals for the Renewable Heat Incentive are expected this week. Following slowly on from the FIT (feed-in tariff), the renewable heat incentive is expected to apply the long-term tariff approach of…

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Energy grant of £1,000 available for community buildings in the south west

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 February 2011 at 3:28 pm

Energy grant of £1,000 available for community buildings in the south west

Grants of £1,000 are still available for community groups across the South West of England and South and West Wales, who are looking to reduce their energy use. The Western Power Distribution Community Chest is open to all eligible groups (although applications from Cornwall and Wales are partic…

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The best way to draught-proof an old window or door

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 February 2011 at 9:11 am

The best way to draught-proof an old window or door

However high you turn up the heating, a cold draught howling around your ankles is still uncomfortable, yet lots of the products on sale at the DIY shops don't manage to cut it off. Well, thanks to English Heritage, by way of Hook Norton Low Carbon, I've discovered the answer for casement windows…

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Ways in which Green Deal could be more ambitious

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 January 2011 at 10:10 am

Ways in which Green Deal could be more ambitious

The plans for a Green Deal scheme to finance energy efficiency lack ambition and are in danger of only delivering the easy to install solutions such as loft and cavity wall insulation  according to a number of commentators. Speaking at this week's Low Carbon Community Conference in London, …

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New widget aims to reduce gas bills

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 January 2011 at 10:47 am

New widget aims to reduce gas bills

I've just received my gas bill and I'm not surprised to find that December's freezing temperatures mean that I've used a lot more gas than usual (and quite a lot more than the supplier has estimated too). I've been recording weekly readings from my gas and electricity meters for the past 2 and a…

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Finance for energy efficiency: how the green deal will work

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 December 2010 at 10:10 am

Finance for energy efficiency: how the green deal will work

More detail about the Green Deal - the government's plan to encourage us all to make our homes and offices energy efficient - were revealed in the Energy Bill earlier this month. In essence this is a mechanism to enable people to make improvements without having to bear the up-front cost. The 'go…

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Green Deal - will the advice be good enough?

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 3 December 2010 at 9:15 am

Green Deal - will the advice be good enough?

You're probably painfully aware that there's a lot still to be decided about how the Green Deal will work.  According to DECC the Green Deal process starts with the provision of advice: "All households and businesses will be entitled to an energy efficiency assessment as part of Green …

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Why would anyone be interested in the Green Deal?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 December 2010 at 8:42 am

Why would anyone be interested in the Green Deal?

This question was asked of the Question Time panel at RegenSW's conference last week, and their answers weren't a ringing endorsement of the Green Deal, the government's flagship policy for making domestic housing more energy efficient. "I'm pessimistic that it will work," said Ian Marchant, chie…

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Win a GEO Minim energy meter

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 November 2010 at 11:37 am

Win a GEO Minim energy meter

What's the best energy efficiency measure you've taken at home. It may be the one that saved you the most off your heating bills, or the easy, quick fix that blocks off the draught that used to howl around your ankles while you watched TV. Or maybe it's the ingenious bodge job, that didn't cost you …

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Is your fridge an electricity-gobbling monster?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 November 2010 at 8:46 am

Is your fridge an electricity-gobbling monster?

Did you know that 23% of domestic energy use comes from fridges? That's a big percentage of electricity bills. Aaargh! Is your fridge a guzzler? Have you got an A++++ rated fridge? Well that's great, but it isn't the only way to lower the consumption of your fridge. The energy ratings system mea…

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Eliminating the draughts that push up your heating bills

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 November 2010 at 4:58 pm

Eliminating the draughts that push up your heating bills

Leaks and draughts are a guaranteed way of increasing your heating bills. You might as well throw your money on the woodburner! But, the good news is that it's relatively easy to block the worst ones up, and now, with a new gadget it's very easy to find where the worst ones are. …

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Planning an energy efficient renovation

Posted by Tim Pullen on 8 November 2010 at 9:35 am

Planning an energy efficient renovation

Why is it that people starting renovation projects have "so much to think about it is difficult to know where to start"? I am yet to meet a self-builder undertaking a new build that makes that complaint. Maybe the answer is that renovation is not treated with the same consideration and respect a…

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Get ready for winter: make your house cosy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 November 2010 at 9:40 am

Get ready for winter: make your house cosy

Last winter was one of shivering on the sofa, extra jumpers, and exorbitant heating bills. If you haven't already done anything to make your house a bit cosier, and warmer for winter, now's the time to get on and do it. The great news is that there are lots of small, practical and cheap things t…

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Life gets cosy in social housing in Manchester

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 November 2010 at 12:55 pm

Life gets cosy in social housing in Manchester

Warm homes and lower energy bills for tenants have combined with lower carbon emissions from social housing managed by Ashden Award finalist Northwards Housing in Manchester. The company has gone well beyond the minimum standards of energy efficiency required by the Decent Homes programme which i…

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Schools lead the way on energy efficiency

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 October 2010 at 3:14 pm

Schools lead the way on energy efficiency

Electricity consumption has halved at an award-winning Devon school thanks to the energy saving measures it has introduced. Okehampton College’s good practice and leadership role was recognised as it was a finalist at the 2010 Ashden Awards. The college has replaced 3,000 fluorescent lights wit…

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12 things you may not know about the Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 October 2010 at 12:35 pm

12 things you may not know about the Green Deal

The Green Deal is aiming high, with a goal of retrofitting 14m homes in a decade. Minister of state for energy and climate change, Greg Barker spoke in detail about plans at today's online question time event organised by Great British Refurb. Here's some of what was revealed. 1. The green deal w…

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Find out what an energy efficient home really looks like

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 September 2010 at 2:22 pm

Find out what an energy efficient home really looks like

SuperHome owners across the country are throwing open their doors this month to inspire others to reduce the energy needed to run their house. These aren't high tech new builds, but old homes, that the owners have renovated to reduce carbon emissions by at least 60%. Convinced that seeing is beli…

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Poll reveals Government is on the wrong track with Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 August 2010 at 12:01 pm

Poll reveals Government is on the wrong track with Green Deal

The Government is talking to big national retailers about delivering the Green Deal, yet our poll on YouGen found that 84% of people would trust locally-based, specialist suppliers more than national retailers such as M&S, Tesco (15%). The idea for the poll came from Greg Barker saying that "…

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Renewable heat incentive: deeming explained part 2

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 9 August 2010 at 2:11 pm

Renewable heat incentive: deeming explained part 2

In the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) consultation published by the last administration, the incentive will be paid to households against a "deemed" amount of heat, rather than the heat actually used. Put simply, deeming is a method used to estimate how much heat is required to provide comfortab…

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Can Greg Barker, and his Green Deal, make insulation sexy?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 July 2010 at 10:56 am

Can Greg Barker, and his Green Deal, make insulation sexy?

Energy efficiency has been the poor relation of British energy policy, according to Greg Barker, minister for climate change in the coalition government. Speaking in the debate on energy efficiency on 30 June, he outlined how he plans to raise its status. He will: 1.    Introduce t…

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The Green Deal: who would you prefer to deliver it?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 July 2010 at 10:56 am

The Green Deal: who would you prefer to deliver it?

For mass take-up of energy saving measures we need effective financing schemes, so we welcome the glimpses of detail on the Green Deal that Greg Barker gave us at the end of June. However, it’s not enough to get a clear view of how the scheme will work. How will it be delivered? Barker said…

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Ashden Award winner an inspiration for community energy schemes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 July 2010 at 12:12 pm

Ashden Award winner an inspiration for community energy schemes

Energy use on the Isle of Eigg is half the national average and carbon emissions have fallen by 47% since the islanders switched to renewable energy. The islanders' pioneering approach has won them the 2010 UK Ashden Award, and you can watch the video case study here. Until Febuary 2008 each …

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Eco-renovation transforms Devon village hall

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 June 2010 at 9:02 am

Eco-renovation transforms Devon village hall

With thick insulation, ground source heat pumps feeding underfloor heating, and solar panels on the roof to power the heat pump, Branscombe village hall in East Devon must be one of the most energy efficient in the country. However, managing an ambitious project like this wasn't an easy task. It …

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Energy efficiency is focus of the Coalition's Green Deal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2010 at 9:09 am

Energy efficiency is focus of the Coalition's Green Deal

Domestic insulation is top of Chris Huhne's plans for A Green Deal for housing he said yesterday at the Economist UK Energy Summit. He also touched on the (much awaited) renewable heat incentive as he revealed measures in the pipeline from the self-acclaimed "greenest government ever". To summarise…

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Introduction to draught proofing your home

Posted by Tim Pullen on 9 June 2010 at 8:37 am

Introduction to draught proofing your home

Have you insulated your house, yet some of the rooms are still cold? Draught proofing may be the answer. Two clients I saw in recently both had this complaint and the solution was the same for both. The complaint; a room that has been insulated is still cold. In one case the problem was immedia…

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Tell Dave and Nick what you think of their energy plans

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 June 2010 at 9:22 am

Tell Dave and Nick what you think of their energy plans

The government is asking for our views on its programme for government. We've had a look at its proposed measures for energy and climate change, and our response is below. You can comment too - but get your skates on, they want to hear from us by Thursday 10 June. Our first thought is of motherho…

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Coalition plans for renewable energy and energy efficiency

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 May 2010 at 4:20 pm

Coalition plans for renewable energy and energy efficiency

So now we know what the department of Energy and Climate Change's priorities are. It believes that "climate change is one of the gravest threats we face, and that urgent action at home and abroad is required. We need to use a wide range of levers to cut carbon emissions, decarbonise the economy and …

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Goodby HIPs, Hello EPCs: a homeowners guide

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 21 May 2010 at 10:15 am

Goodby HIPs, Hello EPCs: a homeowners guide

Until yesterday, home sellers had to have a Home Information Pack (HIP) in place before they could put their home on the market. HIPs have now been suspended, pending primary legislation for a permanent abolition. Before the election, the Conservative Party promised a consultation on their complete…

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Why on earth would an energy company want me to use less energy?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 May 2010 at 2:03 pm

Why on earth would an energy company want me to use less energy?

It's so counter intuitive, I struggle to get my head round it. Why would an energy company want me to use less energy? And, stemming from that, why would the Government use energy companies – whose main interest is surely to sell more energy – to deliver their main energy efficiency measures?&nb…

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The future of home energy advice

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 30 April 2010 at 9:16 am

The future of home energy advice

Regulation of Home Energy Advisers (HEAs) is one of the recommendations of a recent strategy report from the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes has recommended. In addition, strategy document Warm homes, greener homes identified a need for well qualified, regulated HEAs to advise and encou…

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How much loft insulation is enough?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 19 April 2010 at 10:22 am

How much loft insulation is enough?

Everyone understands the need to insulate the loft but few people know how much is enough. The loft is second only to the walls in terms of the proportion of the heat lost at 25%, but it is by far the easiest to deal with. I often get told that the house is “super-insulated” as …

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Does DIY double glazing work?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 14 April 2010 at 9:10 am

Does DIY double glazing work?

Q: Would attaching a 4mm polycarbonate sheet to a single glazed window with magnetic tape (giving an air gap of 3mm) be worthwhile as thermal insulation? Is a 3mm gap too small to be effective? A: A single glazed window will have a U-value of around 5.4W/m2K. A 4mm thick sheet of polycarbonate (a…

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5 tips on choosing a home energy advisor

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 8 March 2010 at 9:35 am

5 tips on choosing a home energy advisor

Every home is different so a visit from a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) or Home Energy Advisor is the best way to get energy efficiency advice. However, choosing the right advisor can be a challenge. A DEA can provide the same energy audit that is legally required if you are selling or l…

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Warm homes, greener homes: the government's vision for 2020

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 March 2010 at 9:32 pm

Warm homes, greener homes: the government's vision for 2020

Reduced energy use, savings on energy bills and more comfortable homes in cold weather are the benefits claimed by government of its household energy management strategy, Warm Homes, Greener Homes launched on Tuesday at Ecobuild by Ed Miliband. Its aims are that: Every home, where practic…

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Energy efficiency a priority: call to politicians

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 March 2010 at 10:05 am

Energy efficiency a priority: call to politicians

Companies and NGOs set a benchmark to measure energy efficiency policy against with the release of an energy efficiency statement yesterday. Signatories included Cooperative Group, Friends of the Earth, Green Building Council, Marks & Spencer, the TUC and YouGen. The statement said: We are fa…

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Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 March 2010 at 10:31 am

Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

"I'm just popping down to Tesco for a solar panel" doesn't sound right somehow. Maybe it's just me, but I not sure that the entry of the supermarkets into the renewable energy market is a good thing.  Sainsbury is first out of the starting gates. It opened Home Energy Centres in three of its…

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How to use heating controls to reduce your energy bill

Posted by Tim Pullen on 15 February 2010 at 9:27 am

How to use heating controls to reduce your energy bill

The importance of good controls on the heating system cannot be over-emphasised. There are two main reasons: 1. An analogue room thermostat in the lounge or hall will make the heating system heat the whole house to the same temperature as the air around the thermostat, for the whole time the heat…

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Energy efficiency a priority for M&S home insurance

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 February 2010 at 9:41 am

Energy efficiency a priority for M&S home insurance

Recently I asked whether renewable energy affects your house insurance. In the twittering that followed the blog's publication I discovered a home insurance policy that stands out from the crowd for the approach it takes to energy efficiency. Ever since Stuart Rose announced its Plan A, M&S h…

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500 households to try Pay As You Save schemes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 February 2010 at 8:53 am

500 households to try Pay As You Save schemes

Talk on how to finance making your house more energy efficient has turned to action - that's the good news. The bad news is that it's a small scheme that will only reach about 500 households in five areas of England between December 2009 and April 2011. Households in Birmingham, Sunderland, Londo…

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How to find the best energy efficiency information and advice for your home

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 29 January 2010 at 9:24 am

How to find the best energy efficiency information and advice for your home

Making your home as energy efficient as possible makes sense for many reasons. Whether it's keeping warm, reducing bills or reducing carbon pollution emitted. YouGen is a first resource for many householders, but it's worth looking at where else you can go for help and advice on energy ef…

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Six steps to claiming £400 for a new boiler

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 January 2010 at 12:10 pm

Six steps to claiming £400 for a new boiler

Households with inefficient, old boilers (G-rated) can get £400 off the price of a new A-rated boiler thanks to the new boiler scrappage scheme launched yesterday by Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband. You can also put the money towards a renewable heating system such as a biomass boiler or heat pump. …

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Is it worth insulating under the floor boards?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 4 January 2010 at 12:20 pm

Is it worth insulating under the floor boards?

Around 15% of the heat leaving a house exits through the ground floor. And that does not account for the draughts coming up through the floor. So the simple answer is Yes - it is worth insulating under the floor boards. The problem is that, unless you have space to get under the floor boards, it …

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Potential for energy bill savings are huge

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 16 December 2009 at 9:32 am

Potential for energy bill savings are huge

If new boilers were installed in all homes sold in a year, where recommended in the energy performance certificate, it would lead to total cash savings of almost £80 million on energy bills. On the same day last week that the Chancellor announced the boiler scrappage scheme in his pre-budget rep…

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Win a GEO Minim Home Energy Hub

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 December 2009 at 4:56 pm

Win a GEO Minim Home Energy Hub

YouGen will be giving away a GEO Minim Home Energy Hub every month for the next year, to thank people who recommend their renewable energy installer on the site. Everyone who makes a recommendation in the month will be entered in the draw. We're especially pleased to be able to offer a Mi…

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Test may lead to fall in cost of running a fridge

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 December 2009 at 9:52 am

Test may lead to fall in cost of running a fridge

Fridges and freezers tend are some of the most expensive home appliances to run,  and least energy efficient, as they constantly draw electricity. A new trial aims to manage the amount of electricity used to reduce carbon emissions associated with fridge use.  Appliances fitted with dyn…

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Pedal power

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 December 2009 at 10:46 am

Pedal power

I've written before about how difficult it is to get a grip on energy, and understand how much it takes to do different things. Well, you really find out when you try to power a whole house for 24 hours just using cycle power. Luckily for those of us whose muscles don't  feel up to the task,…

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Green party promises best finance scheme for microgeneration

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 November 2009 at 11:59 am

Green party promises best finance scheme for microgeneration

Proper insulation for every home and interest-free loans for domestic renewable energy are just some of the policies promised by the Green party if they win the next election. While it would be expensive, says Paula Black, Totnes councillor, and prospective Green Party parliamentary candidate for Ex…

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Sash windows can be made energy efficient

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 November 2009 at 11:24 am

Sash windows can be made energy efficient

Traditional timber sash windows are often associated with howling draughts, and are under threat as people replace them with plastic double glazed units. But before you throw yours on the scrapheap, read English Heritage's research which shows that simple repairs and basic improvements can significa…

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