One third of UK CO2 emissions come from energy used in the home. More and more easily accessible, inexpensive and DIY green solutions for the home are becoming available. The Spark takes a look at the latest ways that we can all make simple changes in our living to huge effect. From insulation to water saving, heating to energy awareness… it’s all here…
Energy efficiency measures in the home can reduce your domestic carbon count by a third – good insulation being a key factor. If you’re thinking of (re-) insulating your home why not chose a green product? Warmcel is a loose fill loft insulation made from recycled paper. It is non-toxic, non-irritant, safe to handle, fire/insect resistant and CFC-free. It uses little energy to manufacture so will boost your eco-ego to the max. One bag, when distributed at a depth of 100mm, covers 2.5 square metres and costs just £8.49 from www.greenplanetinsulation.co.uk
Thermafleece – is a wall, roof and floor insulation material made in the Lake District from British sheep’s wool. One pack covers 20.16 square metres and costs £112.75. Warm in winter and cool in summer, totally safe to handle, this is the ultimate eco-insulation. Made by Second Nature UK and available locally from: Ser-enity, 112 Beechwood, Yeovil BA20 2NG, tel 01935 411818 www.ser-enity.com
Wood-burning stoves: Goodness gracious me… the argument for and against the wood burning stove as a sustainable heating source is as long as your arm. You’ve got those that say if wood is locally sourced and replaced/replanted, then wood burning is cool – no hot! Fumes contain virtually no sulphur dioxide and very low levels of nitrous oxides, so won’t cause acid rain. Others say emissions from wood burning are more carcenogenic than tobacco fumes and that we should all steer clear. To join the growing debate, tune in to discussions on Green Building Forum’s website: www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum
What’s clear is that there are ways to burn wood and then there are ways to burn wood… if you are a wood-burner, here are some pointers to keep things clean, energy efficient and non-toxic:
(a) Season your wood (for two years – recommended!), burn it fiercely and do not shut the burner down before fuel becomes charcoal – as this creates toxicity and tar
(b) Try alternating between burning waste wood and recycled products such as pellets or paper bricks
(c) Insulate your flue well, to prevent tar from building up.
To get the most impact from a wood burning stove, try using an ecofan. I’ve lived with one on my boat for the last 18 months and can highly recommend them. Heat-powered fans designed to circulate the warm air created by a wood-stove, they require no additional power other than the heat from your burner. They prevent cold-toe syndrome and push heat away from the burner and through your living space. Particularly suited to long narrow spaces like boats and caravans. Check out the website: ecofan.co.uk
Local suppliers are: Alvechurch Boat Centre, Hilperton Marina, Hammond Way, Trowbridge BA14 8RS, Tel 01225 765243
I’ve also heard of a new technology in development: a heat pad that sticks to your burner flue and creates an electric current, from which you can run your low energy lights, for example. Available in America – but not yet an off-the-peg product. Check out www.hi-z.com. Any engineers in the area? Methinks it could do with a bit of product development, import and marketing.
These days, you can get gadgets that monitor how much electricity your home is using, how much it is costing and CO2 emissions that go alongside so that you can keep track of those carbon credits and eliminate waste. Electrisave is an award-winning wireless monitor providing instant feedback and should be proudly positioned in every carbon-counting home. Easy to install yourself, it will set you back about £75. www.windtrap.co.uk tel 07900 242 901
Why not hook up a DIY grey water recycling system, taking water from your sink/bath/shower outlet to a water butt in a garden, which in turn feeds a bought or home-made irrigation system? Remember to use eco vegetable-based shampoo, soap and toothpaste! For fact sheets on this and many other a cool DIY solution, contact Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth SY20 9AZ, tel 01654 705950, www.cat.org.uk. Information sheets can be downloaded for free or ordered for 50p a go! Visit their online green shop or order a catalogue for other water saving devices such as the variable flush (£18) and variable tap output (£4.80) gadgets.
Check out the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) for grants for householders. They say:
“You must undertake a number of energy efficiency measures before you are eligible to apply for a low carbon buildings grant. These measures will ensure that you are minimising your energy requirements.
“Before applying we require you to have:
(a) insulated the whole of the loft of the property to meet current building regulations eg. 270mm of mineral wool loft insulation or suitable alternative
(b) installed cavity wall insulation (if you have cavity walls)
(c) fitted low energy light bulbs in all appropriate light fittings
(d) installed basic controls for your heating system to include a room thermostat and a programmer or timer.
They have grants of up to £2,500 available per household for up to 50% of costs of the technology, depending on the type of renewable energy you choose. See www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk tel 0800 915 0990
The Energy Saving Trust also has information on local grants available, as well as green product suppliers in your area. Enter your postcode in their website grant search engine to see what you could win! www.est.org.uk tel 020 7222 0101
Written by Kate Burrell
First published in Spark issue 51, Winter 2007-2008
Disclaimer – details were correct at time of going to press, but may now have changed. Please make your own checks.
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