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Stupid, or not stupid?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 March 2009 at 9:20 am

Stupid, or not stupid?

I went to the premiere of The Age of Stupid on Sunday night. That's a first for me, having never been to a premiere before. But I didn't walk down the green carpet in Leicester Square - just a trip to Exeter Picture House - where we watched what was going on in London, before the simultaneous showin…

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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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First wall-hung micro-CHP unit due this year

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 March 2009 at 10:58 am

First wall-hung micro-CHP unit due this year

With approval from British Gas under its belt, the Baxi Ecogen micro-CHP boiler will hit the domestic market later this year. It will be the first wall-hung combined heat and power unit available in the UK. Like the boiler that it is likely to replace, Ecogen will use gas to heat your water and …

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Biomass fuels and supply

Posted by Gordon Traill on 9 March 2009 at 10:10 am

Biomass fuels and supply

Biomass fuels encompass a wide variety of products but, not surprisingly, most come from wood. Clean wood is a wonderful fuel, producing up to 5.5kWh per kg dry matter (dm). Wood pellets produce slightly less, at 4.7 to 5kWh per kg. Most suppliers guarantee moisture content to be less than 10…

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Planning for solar panels

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 6 March 2009 at 11:59 am

Planning for solar panels

Living in a listed building or conservation area doesn't mean that you can't have solar panels, as Anne Robbins' experience shows. You may, however, need determination and energy, and money for an appeal, if you want to leap over all the planning hurdles. Anne lives in a conservation area in Gre…

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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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Efficiency or cost per watt - which is most important?

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 2 March 2009 at 1:56 pm

The development of thin film photovoltaics (PV) is progressing fast. It's still not as efficient as crystalline silicone solar panels, but I have read of projects using thin film technologies from single roofs up to large “solar farms” with capacities in the region of 40 MW. Crystalline…

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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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Scots make renewable energy easier

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 February 2009 at 11:06 am

Scots make renewable energy easier

The Scottish Government has made it easier for people to get renewable energy for their home following a consultation on planning reform. The aim of the consultation was to increase renewable energy generation and cut carbon emissions. The result is that anyone living in Scotland will be able to ins…

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Storing your solar heat

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 20 February 2009 at 8:42 am

Storing your solar heat

A vital part of a solar thermal system is storage. The sun is not always shining when you need your hot water! On larger systems molten salt is sometimes used as the storage medium for the heat. Generally however, the heat is stored in water, especially if the purpose of the system is to provi…

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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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Creating the green dream

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 February 2009 at 9:28 am

Creating the green dream

Converting your house to low-carbon luxury doesn’t come without a lot of hard work, and vast quantities of attention to detail. Last week I wrote about what Sue Harley and Neil Tappenden achieved in turning their Devon farmhouse into a low-carbon dream home. This week I look at how they did…

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Grants for Solar PV projects on community buildings

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 13 February 2009 at 9:22 am

Grants for Solar PV projects on community buildings

Grants are in the news again! The tranche of cash recently added to the Low Carbon Building Programme phase 2 looks likely to be exhausted towards the end of this month. If you have a community project that requires funding from this programme, my advice is to make sure that you get the application …

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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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Living the green dream

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 February 2009 at 2:15 pm

Living the green dream

Comfort and beauty don’t have to go out of the window in pursuit of energy efficiency and low carbon living. It is possible to live in beautiful luxury, with barely a fossil fuel involved. Banish all thoughts of The Good Life, I know it’s true, I’ve just seen the evidence. R…

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Who makes wind turbines in the UK?

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 6 February 2009 at 11:55 am

Who makes wind turbines in the UK?

One of the nicer things about the wind industry, especially the small wind industry, is that there are still only a relatively small number of manufacturers and distributors in the UK, so you can get a good feel for the market quite quickly. In the sub 10kW range, the most successful companies a…

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Evacuated tubes: make sure you don’t get burnt

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 4 February 2009 at 8:34 am

Evacuated tubes: make sure you donât get burnt

Evacuated tube collectors are the Formula One of the solar thermal world. They are more efficient than other types of collector as they are almost perfectly insulated, and heat cannot pass through a vacuum. As the tubes are cylindrical, they are always perpendicular to the sun reducing the amount of…

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Good Energy rewards renewable heat generators

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 February 2009 at 10:42 am

Solar thermal panels to heat your water just got more attractive with the launch of Good Energy's renewable heat incentive, or HotROC, contract. This means that customers who generate heat or hot water from renewable sources are paid for the energy they create. This is a first step towards pu…

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How to store heat in a thermal store

Posted by Gordon Traill on 30 January 2009 at 11:48 am

How to store heat in a thermal store

Only a serious biomass nerd can get excited about thermal stores. Sadly, I count myself as one of those people. First of all what is a thermal store and what does it do? Essentially it’s a large water tank (usually round) which is well insulated with a series of bosses to connect pipes …

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Optimising solar pv siting

Posted by Graham Eastwick on 28 January 2009 at 8:34 am

Optimising solar pv siting

It’s obvious that solar PV systems need as much sunlight as possible – so the ideal is to position them at about 37 degrees to the horizontal (in the UK) and facing due South. Even better, if you can afford one, are tracker systems that ensure the modules follow the sun through the sky – altho…

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