Archive for the ‘Energy’ category

Green Deal Talk, The Fleece

June 9th, 2013

PD1210_49_1_BWant to future proof your home against higher energy bills? Here’s an incentive to think about it now rather than later; there’s still time to have your home assessed for FREE – it’s set to cost £150 from July.

Come and find out more at The Fleece, 7:30pm on Thursday 13th June where Green Deal Advisor Jackie Williams will be giving a short talk to explain the benefits and the drawbacks of the Green Deal to Witney residents.

Is there an offer or a grant you don’t know about? Come and find out.

 

 

Green Deal Talk

June 9th, 2013

PD1210_49_1_BWant to future proof your home against higher energy bills? Here’s an incentive to think about it now rather than later; there’s still time to have your home assessed for FREE – it’s set to cost £150 from July.

Come and find out more at The Fleece, 7:30pm on Thursday 13th June where Green Deal Advisor Jackie Williams will be giving a short talk to explain the benefits and the drawbacks of the Green Deal to Witney residents.

Is there an offer or a grant you don’t know about? Come and find out.

 

 

Words & Numbers

June 6th, 2013

TinTinThis week the ‘greenest government ever‘ voted down an amendment to include a 2030 decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill. This was despite its own Tim Yeo tabling the amendment and that touchstone for environmental thinking among zillionaires, Zac Goldsmith, voting in favour.

It seems targets, like statistics, can be misused. While other numbers, like this unhelpful 3 digit offender lurking within 400ppm, can be safely ignored.

Sigh

I’d intended to take a look at just what the phrase ‘greenest government ever’ actually meant alongside a new power to veto windfarms. I was going to draw a witty parallel between Europe interfering in the affairs of a certain member state and Britain blocking Italy’s ban on plastic bags. I’d lined up a seamless segue into tonight’s Beecause talk in the Fleece by way of said member state opposing a ban on harmful pesticides based on crap science. But what’s the point?

If words don’t mean what they say and numbers can’t be used to measure them what’s the point in writing them down?

Yesterday was World Environment Day.

Thermal vests, but no hair shirts

May 26th, 2013

HandbookCover200px-1Twelve months on from starting our Carbon Conversations.

The most useful part of the six session course was training myself into the habit of measuring carbon output. It became a little obsession to improve on my personal best by being clever rather than causing ourselves any hardship. Over the last few weeks I set up a first annual review looking at four areas ; transport, water, electricity and gas usage.

» Read more: Thermal vests, but no hair shirts

Our thermal imaging open evening in pictures

April 17th, 2013

As Dale so rightly mentioned, our thermal imaging project was a tremendous success. We took images of around a hundred houses, and we had over half of those householders turn up to our open evening!

Here’s a few photos to give you an idea of what went on:

Katherine from SW chats to people in the queue for Dale's sage advice

Katherine from SW chats to people in the queue for Dale’s more in-depth advice

SW chair Brigitte chats to an attendee

SW chair Brigitte discusses the results of the imaging with an attendee

Noticeboard with printouts

Useful information on thermal imaging and options for insulation/improvement, for while people waited

Despite the sheer number of attendees taking us by surprise, it was still a fairly relaxed event. And as you can see, it was very informal. Because the event was run by a volunteer organization (i.e. us!) and West Oxfordshire District Council, then there was no unnecessary “hard sell” that you might get with private thermal imaging.

We’re hoping to do some more thermal imaging next winter: subscribe to our news emails and watch this space.

The heating’s still on, but is your house now losing less?

March 29th, 2013

Before the Easter break is fully upon us, I wanted to provide a brief follow-up to the thermal imaging project. The Sustainable Witney volunteers have worked extremely hard on this project and given up their evenings to venture out into the cold, all in aid of helping residents of Witney to spot where heat (and therefore money!) is leaking from their homes. On behalf of them all, a huge thanks goes out to everyone who has been interested in this work, requested a survey of your property, and especially those who were able to attend the ‘See Your Results’ public event on 12th March. This took place in the early evening at West Oxfordshire District Council’s offices, and arriving slightly late, straight from a meeting in Oxford, I was confronted by a long queue stretching out of the door to the committee room and around the lobby – a fantastic turnout of residents eager to receive a one-to-one analysis of what their photographs showed.

At this point, I would have liked to have included a couple of nice photographs of the event, reported back on the number of people who attended, and provided summary feedback from the typical issues seen by Witney residents, from their thermal images. However, for me, the evening was a blur: I would estimate that I must have spoken to at least 30 residents, and my colleague Viviane a similar number, so a really good event, if not a little rushed. We did get round to everyone in the end, as we were being ushered out of the building as our booked time was well and truly over!

As the cold weather lingers on, I hope at least some of you have had chance to make improvements to your home in places identified by this project; whether that be a simple DIY job such as installing radiator foil to reflect the heat back into your home (were we able to spot the heat impression of all the radiators on your thermal images?!) or some draught-excluding brushes around that front-door, or perhaps some seal strip around the window, or a squirt of expending foam around the kitchen sink waste outlet. Perhaps you’ve got around to doing a bigger job; topped up the loft insulation, progressed wall insulation?

If you have any general questions about improving the energy efficiency, saving money on fuel bills, accessing financial assistance through Green Deal funding etc, the Oxfordshire Affordable Warmth Helpline is a good resource: 0800 107 0044. Lines are generally open 9 – 5, Monday to Friday (but is closed over the Easter break). There is still limited funding to be able to install some energy efficiency measures for free (such as described above: radiator foil, thermostatic radiator valves, draught-proofing) for qualifying residents in Oxfordshire; more information on the above Freephone number, or at www.usea.org.uk/AffordableWarmth

For more information on the work I do at United Sustainable Energy Agency (merging with National Energy Foundation in the new financial year), please see my profile here. As a Witney resident myself, I look forward to a similar project being repeated next year hopefully, building on the success of this year…

Reminder: general meeting and woodfuel talk on Thursday 4 April

March 27th, 2013

A week tomorrow on Thursday 4 April, Sustainable Witney will be hosting a talk on procuring woodfuel from Riki Therivel at the Oxfordshire Community Woodfuel Programme. The talk starts at 6.30pm and the meeting is at The Fleece.

From 6pm we’ll be doing committee business and administration: you’re welcome along to that too, but you might get volunteered for something….

Time to think differently about energy

February 13th, 2013

When the power station Didcot A closes down in 2015, what do we replace it with? Another giant belching chimney? Perhaps a nuclear power station that takes years to build?

Didcot A currently supplies half of Oxfordshire’s energy needs, and even the most idealistic greenie knows that it’s a tough call to replace that output from a renewable source in the time available, whatever technology you choose.

It’s time to think differently about energy. And that’s how the People’s Power Station was born.

» Read more: Time to think differently about energy

Sustainable Witney meeting with woodfuel discussion

February 7th, 2013

On 4 April, Sustainable Witney will have its regular meeting in the back room at the Fleece, starting at 6pm.

After a short admin meeting, at 6.30pm we’ll move onto a discussion with Riki from the Oxfordshire Community Woodfuel Programme. They’ll be discussing smarter (and cheaper) ways of sourcing wood for fuel including “logs for labour” swaps, and also funding for installation of woodfuel boilers.

Green Deal

February 4th, 2013

In this article, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce Sustainable Witney readers (those of you not already well acquainted with this new landscape of gaining energy-efficiency improvements, as I know a lot of you already are!) to the ‘Green Deal’ which officially launched last week.

» Read more: Green Deal

Thermal Imaging & The Local Plan

November 21st, 2012

WODC’s Creating Futures magazine has also created another influx of requests to have homes in the area thermal imaged. We’re coming to the end of our first slot for the use of the council’s camera but fortunately we do have another booked for February.

Two things are clear though, people are really keen to reduce heat loss from their homes, and they do read Creating Futures!

If you haven’t read it yet there’s also a very good piece on the reshaping of the Local Plan following the demise of the Cogges Link Road. The Draft Local Plan is open for consultation with roadshows coming up in Witney, Carterton and Brize Norton – more details here…

The easiest way to support Sustainable Witney

November 12th, 2012

It’s amazing that so many people come along to our organising meetings; even those who can’t commit much time, still help out with specific events and make them such a success.

Nonetheless, Sustainable Witney appreciates that there are lots of you out there who really like what we do, but simply don’t have the free time to give us a hand. If that describes you, then please know that your vocal support for Sustainable Witney is enough!

… But if you do find yourself thinking “I wish I could help more” but not finding the time, then you can quote this code – SUSW1 – if and when you switch your energy supplier to Ecotricity.

» Read more: The easiest way to support Sustainable Witney

A visit and residential course at the Centre for Alternative Technology

September 26th, 2012
WISE Building

The WISE Building at the Centre for Alternative Technology

Since hearing from a friend who is doing her Masters there, and reading their Clean Slate magazine, I’ve wanted to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), near Machynlleth in Wales. CAT is a world renowned eco-centre with interactive displays and practical examples of the following:

  • sustainable living
  • renewable energy
  • and organic gardening.

To make the most of my train trip to Machynlleth, 3 miles from CAT, I combined a visit with a three day residential course: “Introduction to renewable energy systems”.

» Read more: A visit and residential course at the Centre for Alternative Technology

Carbon Conversations

April 25th, 2012

Concerned about climate change and want to reduce your carbon footprint? How about coming along to Carbon Conversations?

The aims of Carbon Conversations are to:

· help you explore feelings about climate change

· use your creativity to look for solutions

· make plans you feel comfortable with

The details are:

· Six 2 hour meetings held in the evening locally over 3 months with a small group of 6 to 10 people and 2 facilitators

· Each meeting addresses the key areas of a person’s carbon footprint eg the home, travel and food in a supportive and non-judgmental way and involves discussion, understanding and practical plans. See the Carbon Conversations website for more information.

· The cost of attending the sessions would be about £20 to pay for the Carbon Conversations Handbook

If you are interested in attending a course then please email Sustainable Witney: just click on Contact on the green bar at the top of the page, fill in your details and click the Submit button.

LCCN Session: Low carbon communities working with the wider community

January 22nd, 2012

In the afternoon at the Low Carbon Communities conference I attended the workshop entitled: Low carbon communities working with the wider community.

There were presentations from the following people representing a range of groups:

» Read more: LCCN Session: Low carbon communities working with the wider community