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View blog posts for category: Energy efficiency

6 ways to keep the heat in with sash windows

Posted by Chris Newman on 24 January 2014 at 10:15 am

6 ways to keep the heat in with sash windows

Sash windows are inherently draughty. A combination of age, the hollow boxes and the requirement to slide rather than abut all contribute. A single-glazed sash window has a U-value somewhere between the centre pane U-value of around 5.7 and the whole window U-value of around 4.5W/m2K. As a co…

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Solar, wood, insulation: a case study of a home energy-saving retrofit

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 20 January 2014 at 9:28 am

Solar, wood, insulation: a case study of a home energy-saving retrofit

Heather Hullah and Jenny Barnes are not your average pensioners. Where other 60-somethings might be thinking about winding down, these two are more likely to be found wielding chainsaws and humping logs in their 2.5 hectare woodland. But then Heather and Jenny’s ex-council house is no l…

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Renewable heat premium payment deadline approaching

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 17 January 2014 at 10:34 am

Renewable heat premium payment deadline approaching

If you’re considering installing a renewable heating system in your home and would like to take advantage of a one-off grant to help with the cost, then now’s the time to act. The deadline for applying for a renewable heat premium payment (RHPP) is fast approaching with all applic…

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Homebuyers to get grants for energy efficiency measures

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 9 January 2014 at 9:10 am

Homebuyers to get grants for energy efficiency measures

Homebuyers need no longer be put off by draughty homes under government plans to offer one-off grants for energy saving measures.  The proposal, which is yet to be consulted upon, is likely include a £1,000 discount on stamp duty for basic energy efficient measures and up to £…

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Readers' tips of the month - December

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 December 2013 at 10:16 am

Readers' tips of the month - December

"Cut energy first by improved insulation, air tightness and appliance energy efficiency, then install renewables," is the tip from chartered building services engineer, Gary Bennett.  "You will spend less overall to acheive a better end result," he adds. He practices …

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How to make your windows more energy efficient

Posted by greentomatoenergy . on 10 December 2013 at 12:59 pm

How to make your windows more energy efficient

Windows and doors typically account for 20% of all heat loss in a home according to National Insulation Association figures. A leaky single glazed window also has a big impact on comfort thanks both to draughts and the cool temperature adjacent to the window. This is frequently borne out in our e…

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Green deal advice to be made easier to understand says Government

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 5 December 2013 at 11:34 am

Green deal advice to be made easier to understand says Government

For anyone who has been baffled by the amount of technical information available on their green deal advice report, help may be at hand. The government has announced plans to make green deal advice reports clearer and easier to understand, and to contain more information about what support there …

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Politics wins the day as Government waters down green levy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 December 2013 at 10:41 am

Politics wins the day as Government waters down green levy

The government has just announced a series of measures that it claims will reduce the average energy bill by £50, without slashing the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) which adds about £47 to every energy bill.  While we're glad that they haven't done away with ECO t…

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Worried about energy prices? Take control!

Posted by greentomatoenergy . on 22 November 2013 at 10:02 am

Worried about energy prices? Take control!

According to the department of energy and climate change's (DECC) public attitudes tracker, 28% of us are giving a lot of thought to saving energy at home and 84% of us are concerned about energy price rises in the future.  This 84% of us are right to be concerned as the majority of the …

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10 cheap and easy ways to make your home warmer this winter

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 November 2013 at 4:08 pm

10 cheap and easy ways to make your home warmer this winter

The start of this winter's first cold snap really contentrates the mind on ways to keep warm. While you can just turn the heating on for longer, or turn the thermostat up, that's a very expensive way of managing the problem. Luckily, there are other ways of improving the energy efficiency…

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Research reveals key opportunities for selling energy efficient improvements

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 November 2013 at 10:16 am

Research reveals key opportunities for selling energy efficient improvements

The challenge for green deal providers and installers is to "sell or package" energy efficiency measures as a solution to the trials and tribulations of domestic life according to research published earlier this year by the UK Energy Research Centre.  Researchers debunked the i…

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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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Are green deal providers quoting on reports from independent advisors?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 October 2013 at 10:59 am

Are green deal providers quoting on reports from independent advisors?

Getting a green deal assessment is meant to be like getting a new prescription for your glasses. Once you have the prescription you can shop around for the style of frames you want and have your prescription made up by any provider.  So, the idea is that you invite a green deal advisor r…

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Smart meters: too smart for our own good?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 30 September 2013 at 10:15 am

Smart meters: too smart for our own good?

A survey by the Energy Saving Trust has found that almost three quarters of respondents support the installation of smart meters in their homes.  But commentators are warning that the meters pose risks to individual privacy and national security.  The survey, conducted ahead of …

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Are there really brand new boilers available free of charge?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 27 September 2013 at 9:22 am

Are there really brand new boilers available free of charge?

Q: I have had a phone call from someone offering me a brand new boiler, absolutely free. Is this a scam? A: The phone rings and someone on the end of the line offers you a brand new boiler - absolutely free.  Naturally you are sceptical. After months of unsolicited calls offering you…

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Deadline to register your renewable heat installation looming

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 24 September 2013 at 9:15 am

Deadline to register your renewable heat installation looming

The government has issued a deadline for registering renewable heat installations under the microgeneration certification scheme (MSC). The deadline, of 4pm on October 22, 2013, applies to all renewable heat installations made since July 15, 2009. If you believe your installation has yet …

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How to choose internal solid wall insulation

Posted by Chris Newman on 23 September 2013 at 9:37 am

How to choose internal solid wall insulation

10 million properties in the UK which are solid walled. This accounts for slightly less than half of the total properties. Energy loss through the walls accounts for around one third of all wasted energy in solid walled properties and with rising energy costs and tougher building regulations …

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How to choose low energy lightbulbs

Posted by greentomatoenergy . on 20 September 2013 at 9:20 am

How to choose low energy lightbulbs

Somewhere between 16 and 19 per cent of global power consumed is used for lighting so it makes sense to look at how efficiencies can be made. Traditional lightbulbs, also known as incandescent bulbs (for the purposes of this blog this includes halogens), work by passing electricity through a …

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Big businesses to undergo compulsory energy assessments

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 17 September 2013 at 8:50 am

Big businesses to undergo compulsory energy assessments

The average big UK business could save £56,400 a year on energy bills under a government scheme to force businesses to undergo energy assessments. At least that’s the bold claim of the department of energy and climate change (DECC) who are consulting on proposals they hope will en…

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Should I buy a device to store my solar generated electricity?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 13 September 2013 at 10:18 am

Should I buy a device to store my solar generated electricity?

Q: I have solar PV panels on my roof. There are now some devices becoming available that enable one to store the surplus electricity to use at another time, for example after dark. They are expensive to purchase though. How do they work; are they a good investment; and are there any models y…

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Why is my EPC rating so poor with my new biomass boiler?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 12 September 2013 at 9:58 am

Why is my EPC rating so poor with my new biomass boiler?

Q: Following the installation of a super-efficient biomass boiler, my energy bills dropped but my energy performance certificate (EPC) rating plummeted 26 points to a G. I’m convinced that the report is incorrect but where do I turn to get this corrected? We removed a 20-year-old boiler…

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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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How to choose a green deal advisor

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 23 August 2013 at 9:41 am

How to choose a green deal advisor

Choosing a green deal advisor is the first step on your journey to participating in the green deal scheme. It is important to choose an advisor in whom you have confidence as it is their findings that will inform the energy saving measures your provider is able to install in your home. There …

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Will the green deal pay for a boiler replacement in my kitchen extension?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 August 2013 at 9:36 am

Will the green deal pay for a boiler replacement in my kitchen extension?

Q: I'm planning on extending the kitchen and updating the boiler. We live in a 20s house with no cavity and a gas Aga running the heating. Can I access money from the green deal? I spoke to the energy efficiency people as well as British Gas and they said I'd have to wait to complete the …

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Will the green deal really make my home overheat?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 7 August 2013 at 9:06 am

Will the green deal really make my home overheat?

You’ve got to pity the poor department for energy and climate change. No sooner have they announced a flagship green deal scheme to beef up our home insulation and make us all cosy and energy efficient then the weather goes and gets all hot and we all start opening the windows and swit…

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I have heard that a green deal provider can increase my repayments by two per cent a year. Is this true?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 5 August 2013 at 9:49 am

I have heard that a green deal provider can increase my repayments by two per cent a year. Is this true?

Well, yes, it is. It has been widely publicised that a green deal plan offers a fixed rate of interest, meaning that in most cases, your repayments will remain the same throughout the course of your loan. But a little bit of digging has revealed that there could be circumstances in which your…

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My experience of staying in a Passivhaus

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 August 2013 at 10:31 am

My experience of staying in a Passivhaus

Having lived in a series of draughty old houses over the years, I've always wondered what it would be like living in a Passivhaus. So when i discovered there was a Passivhaus bed and breakfast in the South of England where I was due to attend a conference, I booked in. The B&B is one …

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What will my electricity bills look like with a green deal plan?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 30 July 2013 at 9:30 am

What will my electricity bills look like with a green deal plan?

So, you’ve had your green deal assessment and you’ve chosen a green deal provider with whom you’ve agreed the terms of your loan.  You know the cost of the work proposed and how much energy you are predicted to save over the course of your loan. And you’ve reassur…

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Green deal to be delivered street by street with DECC funding

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 July 2013 at 10:26 am

Green deal to be delivered street by street with DECC funding

Plans by the government for energy efficiency experts to go street-by-street to encourage people to make their homes warmer and cheaper to heat have met with suspicion on Twitter. Concerns expressed are mainly about conmen and pressure sales. But how likely is that in reality? The local c…

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Mortgage lenders give tentative thumbs up to Green Deal homes

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 25 July 2013 at 10:38 am

Mortgage lenders give tentative thumbs up to Green Deal homes

If you’re considering taking out a green deal loan on a house you’re planning to sell in the future, your prospective buyers will not find it harder to secure a mortgage.  At least that’s the message the body which represents mortgage lenders is keen to get across. …

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Demand side management uncovered

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 1 July 2013 at 9:18 am

Demand side management uncovered

Demand side management of energy is not a new concept. It’s been around since the energy crises of the 1970s and refers to the management of consumer demand for energy. You may know it is energy efficiency or simply reducing your use of energy. However, it has become more relevant than ever…

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How do I make my home more energy efficient? Green Deal or independent assessment

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 June 2013 at 8:34 am

How do I make my home more energy efficient? Green Deal or independent assessment

Our 1950s chalet bungalow home is cold and quite expensive to heat even though we have installed cavity wall and loft insulation, and it is double glazed. It would be warmer if we put the heating on longer, but it would also cost more to heat, and emit more carbon dioxide, and we're want to a…

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Energy efficiency can add up to £25k to the value of your home

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 June 2013 at 9:15 am

Energy efficiency can add up to £25k to the value of your home

Improving the energy efficiency of your home can increase its value by up to £25,000 depending on where you live. New research for DECC (the department of energy and climate change) found that increasing the energy performance certificate (EPC) of an average home in England from band G to E…

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How to get started with the green deal: my experience

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 June 2013 at 11:37 am

How to get started with the green deal: my experience

The Green Deal is the government's scheme to encourage people to increase the energy efficiency of their homes, by taking away the barrier of upfront cost. While the government is keen to meet carbon emissions targets, the benefits for the rest of us are also warmer homes, and lower energy bi…

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Review of Elios4you energy management system

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 June 2013 at 9:25 am

Review of Elios4you energy management system

I'm often surprised about how much electricity my solar panels generate, even on a cloudy day. Despite it being June, I'm writing this wearing a thick fleece to keep warm, and looking out at around 90% cloud cover, yet my Elios4you device shows me that our 2kWp solar PV array has been ste…

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Revolutionary solid wall insulation system wins Ashden Gold Award

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 June 2013 at 9:17 am

Revolutionary solid wall insulation system wins Ashden Gold Award

Internal solid wall insulation is generally accepted to be pretty disruptive, with residents often moving out for up to a fortnight while their home is insulated. Not any more. A new system developed in partnership by the Sustainable Energy Academy (SEA) and social housing contractor United …

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How can I future-proof my heating and hot water?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 17 June 2013 at 10:04 am

How can I future-proof my heating and hot water?

Q: I need to upgrade my heating and hot water system.  I am on mains gas and will move to an unvented system. I have looked at heat pumps but the size and location of my property does not seem to make this a sensible choice at the moment.  I even considered a thermodynamic solar pa…

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What makes an energy efficient vaccum cleaner?

Posted by Ross Lammas on 3 June 2013 at 9:21 am

What makes an energy efficient vaccum cleaner?

We typically spend one hour a week vacuuming according. Although rather dull, this fact makes it easy to work out how much it costs in electricity usage.  You simply look for your vacuum cleaner's motor power, which is usually quoted in watts, then use Sust-it’s energy calculator t…

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Reader's tip of the month - May 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 May 2013 at 11:13 am

Reader's tip of the month - May 2013

Retired, and living in a detached dorma bungalow built in the 1960s with almost no insulation, Tony Seaford and his wife were interested in reducing their domestic carbon footprint as much as they could without moving. "After double glazing and cavity wall insulation, we spent £800…

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How does underfloor heating work? Your questions answered

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 24 May 2013 at 9:52 am

How does underfloor heating work? Your questions answered

What is underfloor heating? Underfloor heating can be either a system that pumps warm water through piping under the floor (a ‘wet’ system) or electric coils placed under the floor (a ‘dry’ system). Taking advantage of the basic principle that heat rises, warmth from u…

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Will solar PV power my underfloor heating?

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 20 May 2013 at 9:29 am

Will solar PV power my underfloor heating?

Q: We are having a 4kW solar pv system fitted. We are also considering electrical underfloor heating. After reading some very interesting pages on your site I am beginning to wonder if electrical underfloor heating is the best option as this will mainly run when it is dark? Is my thinking flawed …

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Old House Eco Handbook: a review

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 May 2013 at 11:15 am

Old House Eco Handbook: a review

Old houses can be green. This is the title of the first chapter of Old House Eco Handbook: a practical guide to retrofitting for energy-efficiency & sustainability by Marianne Suhr & Roger Hunt. It's an encouraging start, as not everyone believes it's possible, and as a result too…

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How LED lighting can cut commercial electricity bills

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 2 May 2013 at 9:27 am

How LED lighting can cut commercial electricity bills

LED provides a more efficient method of producing light than other bulbs. This efficiency is because LEDs (light emitting diodes) produce light via through the movement of electrons. In contrast, traditional bulbs pass an electric current through a thin wire, halogen bulbs produce light via the c…

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Why isn't draught-proofing EPC's number one recommendation?

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 29 April 2013 at 10:44 am

Why isn't draught-proofing EPC's number one recommendation?

Q: I've been wondering about how often the EPC suggests-draught proofing and extreme draught-proofing as the number 1 recommendation? 

Most homes built before the 1950s are really draughty, even if the new builds have low U values for walls, floors etc or good thick insulation, it is rat…

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Readers tips of the month - April 2013

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 April 2013 at 9:30 am

Readers tips of the month - April 2013

"Most cost effective measures are to improve thermal performance of property with good insulation generally," says architect Clinton. "But watch natural ventilation/airtightness to avoid condensation problems unless you are installing a mechanical ventilation system. Use as man…

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Infrared panel heating: your questions answered

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 19 April 2013 at 9:30 am

Infrared panel heating: your questions answered

What are infrared panels?  Infrared panels emit a very high ratio of heat as radiant heat. This heats objects directly, rather than warming the air (which is what convection heat does). Other examples of high-radiant heaters include portable halogen heaters, infrared outdoor patio heatin…

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I'm ringing on behalf of the government says rogue Green Deal company

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 April 2013 at 9:44 am

I'm ringing on behalf of the government says rogue Green Deal company

MPs receive more letters and emails about unwanted phone calls than anything else, culture minister Ed Vaizey told Parliament last week. Well Ed and my MP are about to get another one about the dodgy callers that pretend they are calling with the government's blessing. Last week I had a c…

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Radiator reflectors and boosters can keep you warmer

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 5 April 2013 at 4:21 pm

Radiator reflectors and boosters can keep you warmer

More efficient heating doesn’t always have to come with a big investment, as these two simple devices for your radiators show.  Radiator reflectors* work by reflecting the heat emitted from the back side of the radiator toward the wall back into the room. Depending on your circumst…

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How do I pay for energy efficiency improvements to my home?

Posted by Adam Hewson on 5 April 2013 at 12:36 pm

How do I pay for energy efficiency improvements to my home?

This is a very simple question and, a bit like Murphy’s Law, a pretty complicated answer. But, here are a few, hopefully helpful, thoughts. When we go to buy something, we all make conscious and subconscious decisions about why, when and how we do this. We often don’t realise that…

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Eco showerhead can save money, energy and water

Posted by NicoleYouGen on 4 April 2013 at 9:14 am

Eco showerhead can save money, energy and water

While most of us are aware that we’ll pay higher water bills for longer showers, many people don’t realise that heating water for taps and bathing represents close to a third of the average home’s heating bill, or around £200 per year (Energy Saving Trust). Simple water sa…

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