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Greywater systems - reusing your bath water

Posted by Anna Carlini on 10 August 2017 at 10:45 am

Greywater systems - reusing your bath water

Our water is too clean! This seems a strange complaint to make, but in the UK drinking water is flushed down the toilet every day, literally! As UK houses tend to only have one water system, all the water that currently flows around our pipes meets drinking standards. It is estimated that on …

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What makes an energy-friendly garden?

Posted by Anna Carlini on 30 March 2017 at 3:01 pm

What makes an energy-friendly garden?

Don’t we all dream of having a green garden? I know I do. The thought of lush green grass, vibrant leaves and sheltering trees makes me want to retreat into that sweet haven for the whole of spring. But saving water and energy in your garden is something we should all take more care to do. …

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How creative can you get with rainwater harvesting?

Posted by Aderanti Kudehinbu on 7 September 2016 at 9:40 am

How creative can you get with rainwater harvesting?

Rainwater harvesting doesn’t have to start and end with installing a water butt at the end of a drainpipe so you can water your garden. We interviewed Adrian Pickering to find out more about the creative ways he is collecting and reusing rainwater in his home and how you can get started on …

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Can rainwater be used directly for drinking?

Posted by Jason Ramsdale on 3 August 2016 at 9:01 am

Can rainwater be used directly for drinking?

Rainwater isn't as clean as you might think. As it falls it can pick up particulates, pollutants and even bacteria from the air. Not to mention that particulates from pollution are likely to settle on your roof and be picked up by rainwater as you collect it. However, the water collected…

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Can a green roof and solar PV system work well together?

Posted by Jason Ramsdale on 20 January 2016 at 10:05 am

Can a green roof and solar PV system work well together?

What is a green roof? A green roof is a roof fully or partly covered in vegetation. It is a layered system. You'll need a strong, waterproof, roots-resistant membrane at the bottom, then a growing medium like soil, then finally the vegetation on top. In some climates they also include an …

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Reader's tip of the month - April 2014

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 April 2014 at 9:09 am

Reader's tip of the month - April 2014

This month's tip comes from Lehigh51 who has installed solar PV, solar thermal, a ground source heat pump and rainwater harvesting. "Truly everything has worked as well as I could hope and I am very pleased. My expenditure is within acceptable parameters. My electricity bill is …

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Building integrated solar panels help power new office block

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 8 November 2013 at 8:53 am

Building integrated solar panels help power new office block

A new office block built to exacting environmental standards aims to improve the productivity of its tenants by up to 18 per cent.  The Future Business Centre in Cambridge is a 35,000sq.ft. facility intended to provide a mix of office and workshop units and hot desk facilities for up to …

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The UK's most energy-efficient period properties throw open their doors

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 11 September 2013 at 11:01 am

The UK's most energy-efficient period properties throw open their doors

If you’re considering refurbishing your energy-guzzling period property to make it run more efficiently then here’s a chance to see how others have done it first. SuperHomes Open Days is a countrywide open house scheme where owners of 54 older, retrofitted homes throw open their d…

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Reader's tip of the month - July 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 July 2013 at 9:29 am

Reader's tip of the month - July 2013

Mark Boulton is just completing his self-build eco-house: a timber frame / hemcrete construction on a passive slab near Chipping Campden.  The house has a 9.8kW solar PV system and solar thermal panels feeding into an 800 litre thermal store. It has a bespoke energy management system wit…

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Readers tips of the month - January 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 January 2013 at 10:35 am

Readers tips of the month - January 2013

Keeping warm is a bit of a theme for this month's tips. Mark Griffiths lives in a solid-wall 1930s house and works from home. He writes: " we brought in a company to help us dry-line part of our home office - an upstairs bedroom. We lost ten inches of space, but gained immensely in heat …

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How to deal with bacteria in a rainwater harvesting tank

Posted by Barry Nutley on 20 May 2011 at 9:32 am

How to deal with bacteria in a rainwater harvesting tank

Q: I have been told that bacteria is avoided by having small ultra violet light at the top as bacteria collects on the surface A: Yes, UV filtration will kill off any bacteria that develops in rainwater harvesting tanks (both above and below ground). However, UV will kill everything off, so i…

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Smelly brown water from my rainwater tank!!

Posted by Barry Nutley on 4 August 2010 at 8:30 am

Smelly brown water from my rainwater tank!!

Q: Smelly brown water is coming through my rainwater harvesting system. I have been advised to add chlorine to the underground tank. What do you think? A: Whilst that will work. It's not the ideal solution. Adding chlorine will probably solve the problem in the short term, but realistically you …

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Is water the new carbon?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 15 July 2010 at 11:20 am

Is water the new carbon?

I've mentioned the importance of water saving in previous blogs, but is it set to become the most talked about environmental issue? I recently read an article eluding to this: David Symons, director of consultancy WSP Environment & Energy, before his presentation at IWEX on Wednesday, Is w…

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Rainwater harvesting: how to avoid sharks

Posted by Barry Nutley on 28 May 2010 at 9:31 am

Rainwater harvesting: how to avoid sharks

A recent report by Which?, suggested that there are many "solar sharks" in the industry. We have been asked if there is a similar problem in the rainwater harvesting industry? And what to look out for? Firstly, let me say that I don't believe that there is the same sort of problem in the industry…

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Population pressures could make water shortages a UK crisis

Posted by Barry Nutley on 16 April 2010 at 9:20 am

Population pressures could make water shortages a UK crisis

We've had one of the wettest winters in history, and it would be easy to think that we have no issues with the level of potable water in this country. I've mentioned in previous blogs that there are other issues that suggest that water (or potential lack of it) is still a problem we need to address.…

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Rainwater harvesting: where are the incentives?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 5 March 2010 at 9:06 am

Rainwater harvesting: where are the incentives?

The recent announcements surrounding the feed-in tariff (FIT) and renwable heat incentive (RHI), are (generally) fantastic news for the renewable industry. But the Government seems to have forgotten about rainwater harvesting. Whilst technically not a renewable technology, water is still an impor…

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How do rainwater harvesting systems cope with frost and snow

Posted by Barry Nutley on 20 January 2010 at 9:07 am

How do rainwater harvesting systems cope with frost and snow

As the snow and frost begin to thaw we look at the impact that has on rainwater harvesting, and what to do about it. Underground tank: 1. As far as the tank, and any components housed within it are concerned, very little, if any, extra care is needed. The temperature of the ground at …

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The wettest winter for years

Posted by Barry Nutley on 14 December 2009 at 10:20 am

The wettest winter for years

With all the rain we've had recently, it's difficult to convince people that water really is in short supply for some of us. However, what we need to consider is where does it all go, and why, if it's so wet, is it scarce? To answer those questions very briefly: 1. Population is increasing, as…

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Prices vary hugely between renewable energy installers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 November 2009 at 11:17 am

Prices vary hugely between renewable energy installers

Prices for renewable energy installations vary wildly, making buying decisions difficult for homeowners, according to Power from the People, a new study by researchers at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. In addition, there is little correlation between price and the gener…

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Will it cost me more to harvest rainwater?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 26 October 2009 at 2:32 pm

Will it cost me more to harvest rainwater?

Rainwater harvesting systems tend to be pumped, causing people to ask the following questions : 1. "Does the cost of running the pump negate any savings made?" 2. "By running a pump, are we increasing our carbon emissions, and negating any environmental benefits?" Well, to answer those…

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Rainwater harvesting: small is beautiful

Posted by Barry Nutley on 5 October 2009 at 11:49 am

Rainwater harvesting: small is beautiful

When we think of rainwater harvesting, we tend to envisage a full scale domestic system with a large tank, say 4000 litres, buried underground, providing water to the toilets, washing machine et al. This can be a costly business (especially if it's a retrofit project) with not much change from £7,0…

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Solutions to common rainwater harvesting problems

Posted by Barry Nutley on 19 August 2009 at 2:30 pm

Solutions to common rainwater harvesting problems

This months blog offers solution to some of the possible problems people with rainwater harvesting systems may encounter. Some may appear obvious, but... 1) Toilet cisterns do not refill after flushing. i. Possible power failure to pump. Check power supply is OK.ii. Pressure switch fail…

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Welsh ease planning rules for renewable energy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 August 2009 at 9:40 am

Welsh ease planning rules for renewable energy

Welsh planning rules for domestic renewable energy installations have been changed to make it easier for homeowners to generate their own heat and electricity. Following Scotland's lead, the Welsh Assembly has announced new regulations which mean that some microgeneration technologies will no lon…

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Dealing with silt in your rainwater harvesting system

Posted by Barry Nutley on 29 July 2009 at 4:13 pm

Dealing with silt in your rainwater harvesting system

Over time, silt will build up at the bottom of a rainwater tank. Imagine you have a bucket of mud and water. If you leave it, the mud will settle at the bottom leaving clear water at the top. If you then empty another bucket of water straight in, the pressure of this water stirs up the mud, making t…

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Old homes can be energy efficient: visit a superhome and be inspired

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 July 2009 at 9:08 am

Old homes can be energy efficient: visit a superhome and be inspired

Old homes tend to be the worst offenders when it comes to leaking hot air out into the atmosphere. This means higher than average energy bills, and correspondingly high carbon emissions. Often labelled 'hard to treat', older homes can be more complicated when it comes to installing energy eff…

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Maintaining your rainwater harvesting system

Posted by Barry Nutley on 22 July 2009 at 9:10 am

Maintaining your rainwater harvesting system

How much maintenance of a rainwater harvesting system is needed, is a common question. As with any appliance, regular maintenance ensures optimum performance, and increases life. So here I aim to answer some of the common questions: 1. Do I have to clear the leaves out of the filter?Not necessar…

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Rainwater tank: underground or overground?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 29 June 2009 at 9:26 am

Rainwater tank: underground or overground?

In rainwater harvesting retrofit projects, the cost of installing a kit underground can seriously impact the financial viability, and ultimately put people off the idea. Below are some considerations to help you make the right decision: 1) Pros for underground: a). No unsightly equipmen…

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Rainwater harvesting is good for business

Posted by Barry Nutley on 18 May 2009 at 11:08 am

Rainwater harvesting is good for business

Rainwater harvesting systems can provide a variety of economic benefits to businesses. Alongside the standard irrigation and toilet flushing, it can also be used for cooling systems. In some areas it also reduces the risk of flooding. Generally, the systems with the fastest payback periods us…

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Renewable energy made normal

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 April 2009 at 8:19 am

Renewable energy made normal

Congratulations to the Forestry Commission in Wales which is doing a great job of bringing renewable energy into the mainstream. We had a well-earned rest over Easter at Nant yr Arian, near Aberystwyth. Though our main reason for going there was the excellent mountain bike tracks they've built there…

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Ban power showers?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 11 April 2009 at 10:15 am

Ban power showers?

Banning power showers was the subject of a debate on Jeremy Vine's show on Radio 2 last Monday. It prompted many a response from listeners. The facts surrounding our lack of water in many parts of the UK are reasonably well documented (including on previously blog posts on this site), so the idea is…

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Building a new home?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 23 March 2009 at 8:57 am

Building a new home?

Houses are being built, even during these hard, economic times, in particular in the self-build market. These homes tend to be more bespoke, and often the client wants them to achieve higher standards of energy efficiency. So I have put together a brief summary of how rainwater harvesting can help. …

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Bigger is still best!

Posted by Barry Nutley on 25 February 2009 at 11:24 am

Bigger is still best!

Domestic applications of rainwater harvesting have been the focus of previous blogs. However, there is even more potential in commercial buildings. With current economic conditions, we all need to reduce costs, and/or increase sales. Rainwater harvesting can help both: Rainwater can be used to…

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Is bigger better?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 11 February 2009 at 9:38 am

Is bigger better?

Renewable energy can be a little confusing. For example, explaining to some people that doubling the size of a solar thermal system isn't necessarily a good thing, but doubling the size of a solar PV system is; doubling the size of a heat pump isn't a good idea, but doubling the size of a wind turbi…

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It never rains, it pours

Posted by Barry Nutley on 22 January 2009 at 8:54 am

It never rains, it pours

Rainwater harvesting was the focus of my last blog. Today I want to get you thinking about water, and what it means for us in the UK. Keen gardeners and allotment owners, are well aware of the issues with water. While a good bit of rain is great, a torrid downpour isn't. As an allotmenteer …

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Rainwater harvesting: isn't it just a large water butt?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 8 January 2009 at 11:40 am

Rainwater harvesting: isn't it just a large water butt?

For many people, the idea of collecting rainwater, doesn't seem as sexy as, say, solar, and I know from personal experience, it's not a conversation for a first date. But it is just as important as solar and other renewable energy technologies. For my first blog, rather than write an essay on ra…

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