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View blog posts for category: Energy saving

At last some vision and ambition from a government scheme

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 21 October 2009 at 4:10 pm

At last some vision and ambition from a government scheme

Encraft is fortunate enough to be involved in the government's Retrofit for the Future competition. This is a national scheme to find innovative ways of reducing carbon emissions from housing by 80% or more – something we urgently must to do to deliver the carbon dioxide reductions we need. Wha…

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Energy: out of sight, out of mind?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 October 2009 at 10:17 am

Energy: out of sight, out of mind?

This week is Energy Saving Week, so it seems as good a time as any to think about energy and what it means to us. Despite the constant calls on us to be more energy efficient, the reality for most people is that we know next to nothing about our energy consumption. Most of us have a grasp of how …

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Scots pilot loan scheme for energy efficiency

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 October 2009 at 9:43 am

Scots pilot loan scheme for energy efficiency

Homeowners in Scotland can apply for interest free loans to improve their insulation, replace inefficient boilers or install small scale renewables thanks to a new government pilot scheme. The £2m Energy Saving Scotland home loans scheme is being administered by the Energy Saving Trust in Scotla…

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Making the most of passive solar energy

Posted by Tim Pullen on 14 October 2009 at 9:24 am

Making the most of passive solar energy

Using passive solar energy is a matter of design. To put it another way, if you don't design the house to use passive solar energy, it is difficult to use it well. So pretty much the same as any other form of energy then. What you need is three things; thermal mass (something to absorb …

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Whole house approach to energy efficiency needed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 October 2009 at 4:32 pm

Whole house approach to energy efficiency needed

Government must make a major shift in policy to transform the energy efficiency of our residential housing stock according to the Committee on Climate Change's first annual report. A whole house, street by street approach in which  households are offered an energy audit, with a follow up pac…

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Is Carlos Tevez a green god?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 September 2009 at 9:36 am

Is Carlos Tevez a green god?

Manchester City's Carlos Tevez has "signed for the greens", according to the Daily Star following his move into "the country's most environmentally friendly superhome". A claim in the article that this makes him "probably the greenest footballer in the country" overlooks  David James' long-s…

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Low carbon UK is well down the pecking order

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 September 2009 at 11:35 am

Low carbon UK is well down the pecking order

How much does the government really care about shifting the UK to a low carbon economy? Not a lot is the only conclusion I can come to from its spending figures. Yesterday's Guardian published a wonderfully simple, easy to read, chart called the definitive atlas of UK government spending, created…

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Warm Front leaves many households cold

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 August 2009 at 2:29 pm

Warm Front leaves many households cold

The Warm Front scheme may be failing the poorest and most vulnerable households according to a report from the Public Accounts Committee published last month. Warm Front is meant to  improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty through installing heating and insulation in eligible house…

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The case for secondary double glazing

Posted by Tim Pullen on 21 August 2009 at 12:08 pm

The case for secondary double glazing

I recently helped a lady refurbishing a typical 1960s three-bedroom semi with energy efficiency issues. A quick heat loss calculation gave a peak heat load of 8.5kW which should have equated to a use of about 10,000kWh of gas per year. Her actual gas consumption was 15,000kWh p.a. which was used…

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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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Lag your pipes

Posted by Tim Pullen on 16 July 2009 at 8:18 pm

Lag your pipes

I've just been asked whether it's worth lagging hot water pipes. The questioner said: "We have quite long hot-water pipe runs in our home. We've fitted the system boiler and thermal store nearer the bathroom, but we still have to run a lot of cold water to get hot water in the kitchen 2 floors …

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Do you want warmer homes at an affordable price?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 July 2009 at 11:47 am

Do you want warmer homes at an affordable price?

Fuel poverty is in the news again with oil prices on the up. The traditional way of dealing with this has been to give people in need a bit of cash to help them over the winter. This strikes us as a sticking plaster approach. You have to go on doing it year after year, and vulnerable people are stil…

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Pioneering renewable energy finance scheme wins award

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 July 2009 at 8:50 am

Pioneering renewable energy finance scheme wins award

Loan schemes and finance for energy efficiency or renewable energy schemes are thin on the ground, so it's always good to hear about a new one. It's especially good to hear about a pioneering new approach that has the potential to be replicated around the country. I recently wrote about Kirklees…

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Breakthrough ideas for sustainability

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 July 2009 at 10:26 am

Breakthrough ideas for sustainability

Energy efficiency and renewable energy ideas featured heavily in the 19 breakthrough ways to transform the UK into a sustainable society launched by the Sustainable Development Commission last week. In the normal deluge of doom and gloom (and Andy Murray being knocked out of Wimbledon) it made a nic…

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How important is air-tightness to energy efficiency?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 24 June 2009 at 11:07 am

How important is air-tightness to energy efficiency?

A reader recently asked about a seeming conflict between the  modern approach to building energy efficiency which, amongst other things,  focuses on good air-tightness standards, and combustion appliances, such as  wood stoves, most, but not all, of which take their air from inside …

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Insulation is free for everyone in Kirklees

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 June 2009 at 11:37 am

Insulation is free for everyone in Kirklees

You don’t read much that’s complementary about our elected representatives at the moment but at last week’s Ashden Awards I met a councillor for whom I have enormous admiration. As leader of Kirklees Council, Councillor Kath Pinnock persuaded her fellow councillors to invest £9m in Kirklees W…

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Electricity meters about to get smarter

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 May 2009 at 1:55 pm

Electricity meters about to get smarter

A smarter grid, more suitable for transmitting renewable energy, is a step closer with the Government’s announcement on Monday that every home in the UK must have a smart meter installed by 2020.Smart meters transmit and receive information from your electricity or gas supplier in real time. This …

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Energy measuring brings highs and lows

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 May 2009 at 11:27 am

Energy measuring brings highs and lows

I find energy use and carbon emissions difficult to get my head around. You can’t see them or touch them. A monthly direct debit or quarterly bill are distant from the actual use you make of gas, electricity or oil. However, I’ve found a way to make them more visible. I’ve been measuring my us…

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What's the point of a cavity wall?

Posted by Tim Pullen on 5 May 2009 at 2:30 pm

What's the point of a cavity wall?

Once again I recently surprised a client by suggesting that single-skin timber-frame wall construction would be a good idea. Shock and horror hardly describe it. It was like I suggested that his children be sold into slavery to fund the new home. But think about it, what is the point of the cavity? …

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Kevin McCloud champions energy efficiency

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 April 2009 at 8:03 pm

Kevin McCloud champions energy efficiency

Self-build guru Kevin McCloud has added his weight to the call for more energy efficient homes, with the launch of the Grand Designs Great British Refurb campaign. While we know and love him for bringing the ups and downs of building a dream home into our living rooms, Kevin is focusing firmly on ex…

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Draughts can be cured

Posted by Tim Pullen on 22 April 2009 at 10:11 am

Draughts can be cured

“What is the one thing everyone should do?” is the question I get asked most often by newspapers, interviewers and the like. What they want are some pearls of wisdom on solar panels or heat pumps or some such. But the, perhaps disappointing, answer is draught proofing. In an older property dr…

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Great British Refurb gets the thumbs up

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 April 2009 at 2:34 pm

Great British Refurb gets the thumbs up

Generating your own renewable energy, increased energy efficiency and whole-house eco-makeovers received the thumbs up from the UK public yesterday, according to new research. The survey aimed to establish what is needed for the public to take action to install renewable energy and generation and en…

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Every home a low-carbon home

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 April 2009 at 1:55 pm

Every home a low-carbon home

Friends of the Earth reacted to Gordon Brown's promise today that he would set out measures to make Britain a world leader in producing and exporting electric cars in this month's budget with calls for investment in renewable energy. "Gordon Brown's electric dream is commendable but essent…

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Insulation is king - part 2

Posted by Tim Pullen on 3 April 2009 at 8:20 am

Insulation is king - part 2

A question I am often asked at exhibition seminars is should cavity walls have cavity wall insulation. Almost invariably the answer is yes. The typical cavity is 50mm (2 inches) wide and 50mm of foam insulation will reduce the heat loss through the wall by around 75%. As 35 per cent of the total hea…

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Inspiring people to act - or spying on them?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 April 2009 at 1:41 pm

Inspiring people to act - or spying on them?

I'm not sure if two councils makes a trend, but last week Exeter City Council and Broadland District Council both reported that they've been taking aerial pictures of homes their areas (of Devon and Norfolk respectively) with thermal imaging equipment. This allows them to see which homes and busines…

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Calculators shed light on renewable choices

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 March 2009 at 11:16 am

Calculators shed light on renewable choices

Comparing costs of different renewable technologies and working out potential savings in cash and carbon has just got a whole lot easier. Encraft has developed a range of calculators that help you work out all the figures, so that you can see what's best for your house much more easily. Anyone can u…

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Insulation is king

Posted by Tim Pullen on 13 March 2009 at 11:46 am

Insulation is king

Let’s be clear, the greatest environmental impact of a house is from the fossil fuels it burns for its energy. No amount of eco-certified, recycled bamboo flooring can compensate for the impact of a gas guzzling house. Conserving energy, minimising the energy needs of the house has to be the first…

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Bring back pelmets...

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 4 March 2009 at 8:26 am

Pelmets always struck me as a bit old hat; I associate them with big, bold patterns, rich fabrics, swags, tassels and stately homes. But maybe it’s time they were rebranded because pelmets are a key element in making your home more energy efficient. Especially if, like most of us, you haven’t go…

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Celebrating passive solar

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 February 2009 at 10:11 am

Celebrating passive solar

Sitting at my desk, luxuriating in the warmth of the sun, while the temperature outside is round about zero, made me think that we don't always pay enough attention to the benefits of passive solar heat. By choosing to have my office in a south facing room, with a huge window, I'm sure that I s…

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How much do you spend on heat and power?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 January 2009 at 10:42 am

How much do you spend on heat and power?

Gas and electricity bills gobble up a significant chunk of income for most of us, but do you know how much you're spending week to week? I didn't, until a few months ago, when I discovered imeasure. By just putting a weekly reading into the site, I can find out how much I spent last week on gas…

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Microgeneration high among Tory proposals

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 January 2009 at 9:07 am

Microgeneration high among Tory proposals

Large scale use of renewables are part of the Conservative party's plans for a low carbon economy published last week. With a feed-in tariff, they hope homes, businesses, schools and hospitals will contribute the electricity they produce into the national grid, earning money in the process. To m…

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Monbiot launches war on Agas

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 January 2009 at 10:34 am

Monbiot launches war on Agas

Agas are the antithesis of energy efficiency and renewable energy, so when I heard on the Today programme this morning that George Monbiot has launched a war on Agas in today's Guardian a lightbulb pinged on. Why didn't I use Agas as the ultimate example of the heart winning over head in yester…

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Low-carbon living = improved quality of life

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 January 2009 at 4:21 pm

Low-carbon living = improved quality of life

Part of the difficulty of encouraging people to invest in low-carbon living is the difficulty of imagining what it will be like. Too much of the media coverage paints a picture of deprivation and hair shirts, leaving us shivering at the thought, and tempted to stick our heads in the sand. Now a…

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Insulating every home relatively cheap says Stern

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 31 December 2008 at 12:26 pm

Insulating every home relatively cheap says Stern

Insulating every home in the UK would be relatively cheap compared to what the Government has spent shoring up the banking system, according to Lord Stern. In a festive change to the normal BBC Radio 4's Today programme agenda of haranguing politicians, guest editor Jarvis Cocker took a look at how …

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Government fails to lead on energy efficiency

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 December 2008 at 2:36 pm

Energy efficiency is the main way that we can cut carbon emissions fast (also saving us money while we stay cosy and warm). So it's a big disappointment to read in this morning's Guardian that, despite the government's ambitious plans and positive rhetoric, energy efficiency in public buildings is d…

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Welcome to YouGen

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 December 2008 at 5:29 pm

This is a great week for YouGen to go live, as renewable energy is high on the international agenda. On Tuesday EU leaders agreed that a fifth of Europe’s energy mix should come from renewable sources by 2020. Politicians and green campaigners alike welcomed the decision (“a ray of hope admidst …

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A mini power station in every building

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 August 2008 at 10:17 am

Renewable energy is at the heart of new proposals to solve the triple crunch of the credit crisis, climate change and high oil prices. The goal of ‘every building a power station’ is just one of the ideas outlined in the recently published. A Green New Deal. The proposals put forward by t…

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