Home Energy - Act Now to Save the Future!

11th November 2021

ACTING NOW TO SAVE THE FUTURE: Green Steps towards a Greener future

This is a longer version of the first leaflet produced by the Eynsford Green Team and distributed to all homes in Eynsford, to provide information to help us take steps to tackle climate change

Helpful ideas: reducing energy use in our homes

We have provided information to help you save money, help protect the planet and waste less through better energy efficiency in your home. We hope it is also thought provoking; some of the information we've discovered has certainly have made us think!

We had a look at what the energy we buy does for us. The picture shows an average home, so it won't be quite the same as any of our houses but it does give us a reasonable idea of the split.

green_team_house_image

Whist many of us have roof and cavity insulation and are careful with our heating and lights, what is hugely clear from government and energy experts is that the country's homes must become even more efficient. In fact, a recent report suggested that whilst an average detached home uses about 216 Kwh/year for every square meter of floor space, in future this will need to be reduced to just 50 Kwh/m2. That is a big change.

Want to check how close your house is to the 50Kwh future goal?

You need two bits of information to work out your 'energy use intensity' figure. Firstly look at your energy bills for an actual or estimate of your annual kWh usage. Then you need to work out the area of your 'liveable' space. To do this you need to measure the floor area inside the house, excluding stairs, cupboards and doorways.

The calculation is then annual kWh/m2 of floor. This will give you an estimate of your energy use (kWh) per m2.

So, with winter fast approaching and the cost of gas heating rising fast, we thought it would be useful to start off with some home heating quick energy efficiency wins. And we've been able to borrow a thermal imaging camera for the next couple of months to help us all spot where heat is escaping from our own home.

Quick Wins for energy reduction

1. Insulate your loft or roof: up to 25% of heat loss is through the roof - remember the right level of ventilation is really important (see the guide from the Energy Saving Trust). (Worth checking: lots of houses now have insulation depths below recommended levels AND no insulation across the joists).

2. Insulate your walls - cavity or solid wall. For a qualified supplier go to CIGA.

Home Insulation: Home energy use is driven predominantly by heating and lighting and consequently predominantly by gas and electricity consumption. The climate change impact of electricity is reducing through decarbonisation of the electricity grid, which leaves home heating from fossil fuel use as a tough remaining issue. We can decarbonise supply (see below) and we can reduce demand. The driver of demand is how warm you want your house and how well it retains the heat. It makes sense both to our wallets and to climate change to reduce our demand and therefore insulate our homes and find out where heat losses happen.

One often overlooked area of heat loss are numerous, small draughts around the house. Often around the windows themselves or around the window and door frames. This time of year I go around the house and check for draughts around the windows and doors with the back of my hand. If I can feel them I either using decorators cork to fill the gap (around window sills and doors) or sticky window draught excluder strips in the windows. My experience is by reducing even small draughts a room goes from feeling cool to cosy.

3. Draught proof your windows - you might find it useful to check out the Energy Saving Trust guide to draft proofing. Borrow the infra-red camera to find your house's hot spots.

4. Have your boiler serviced regularly which may make it more efficient; consider upgrading your boiler, and when replacing look at alternatives to gas boilers such as...

  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Air source

5. Install solar panels : The sun provides an abundant source of clean, renewable energy. This can be converted into electricity using solar photovoltaic panels, usually referred to as 'solar PV'. Electricity generated by a domestic solar PV system can be used to power your home, leading to savings on your electricity bills and reduced demand on the national grid.

How does it work?

Solar PV systems turn sunlight into electricity through the 'solar cells' they contain. Electricity leaves the panel as direct current (DC) and passes through an inverter that converts it to 240V alternating current (AC), so that it can be used in your home. This electricity can then power any appliances that are switched on - washing machine, TV and so on - while the surplus (if there is any) is exported to the electricity grid, or stored in a battery if you have one. There is no longer a fee paid to you for the electricity that goes to the grid but the cost of PV panels and the cost of installing them is coming down. If you do not have a battery the greatest benefit is gained by using your electrical equipment while the sun is shining, so set your washing machine, dishwasher etc. to operate during the day. Alternatively, if you want to use your own energy more, you can have a battery fitted that stores electricity for use when the sun is not shining. The cost of these is also coming down and the capacity is increasing. Look for a certified supplier.

6. Other little things that can make big changes

- when you buy new electrical equipment make sure it is at least A rated and use LED or other low energy lighting

- Turn off lights when not being used, turn down heating by 1 or 2 degrees, put on a jumper if cold, use a stand-alone radiator in one room rather than central heating, bleed your radiators once a year.

Thinking about the whole building!

We've been looking at what the experts are saying about the future of home energy use. The first thing that comes over strongly is that we need to look at the building as a whole - not just do ad-hoc stuff. They recommend a retrofit plan, so working out what needs to be done, maybe over several years, and making sure that one action doesn't cause problems later on.

Renovating a whole house - or wanting to future-proof

It's really important that you have people with the necessary expertise - it may be an architect, an experienced builder or a retrofit co-ordinator. They need to be able to work on technical stuff such as whole house insulation and airtightness, ventilation and thermal bridging. If you want to understand what a retrofit plan should include or just have more information on what your contractor will need to cover see the LETI Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide. It's a rather techy but useful.

Home Improvements

Even smaller changes to your home can be opportunities for better energy efficiency. Here are a few examples:

  1. New Kitchen - better ventilation, insulation behind units, insulate kitchen floor
  1. Floor repair/subsidence - floor insulation
  1. And for jobs such as loft conversions and extensions many builders will already be required to include some of these features……but it is worth checking. And don't forget, if you have an idea of a change you want make in a few years, getting the extension or loft set up for this at the time of building is a lot easier than adding later.

BUT it is also clear that badly fitted or poorly thought through insulation can cause damp problems - make sure you use qualified suppliers.

Alternatives to Gas Boilers

Current Government policy is for gas boilers to be phased out during the next twenty years and replaced with a low-carbon heating system. There has been a lot in the press about the alternatives which we have been trying to understand and The Energy Saving Trust website is a good starting place with lots of detailed but clear information. In summary it would appear either an Air Source Heat Pump or a Ground Source Heat Pump will be the most viable alternative.

Air Source Heat Pump

An air-to-water heat pump transfers heat from the outside air to water, which heats your radiators or underfloor heating and can heat a water tank. They are installed on an outside wall and need good air circulation. They do need a small amount of electricity to run and are only efficient if the home is well insulated.

Ground Source Heat Pumps

A ground source water heat pump transfers heat from the ground outside your home to heat your radiators or underfloor heating. It can also a heat water cylinder. A mixture of water and antifreeze flows around a loop of pipe, buried in your garden. This system is worth considering for new build properties.

Until 31 March 2022 there is the government pay back scheme called the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive to promote households to use renewable heat, which includes Air and Ground Source Heat Pumps. This scheme is due to end on 31 March 2022 and will be replaced by the Clean Heat Grant in April 2022.

Grants to help make changes

Sevenoaks District Council - there can be up to 100% funding for people in their own or rented homes who are in receipt of a government benefit, a low income and/or in poor health. The scheme is offering to provide new boilers, if the existing one is broken, or home insulation. From what we have read there are a lot of factors that seem to decide if or what can be funded so we suggest you contact the company managing this for Sevenoaks, and all the other councils in Kent. They are Aran, www.aragroup.co.uk/kent, tel 0800 587795 or 01284 812520.

Until 31 March 2022 there is the government pay back scheme called the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive to promote households to use renewable heat, which includes Air and Ground Source Heat Pumps. This scheme is due to end on 31 March 2022 and will be replaced by the Clean Heat Grant in April 2022.

Borrow our Thermal Imaging Camera - how much energy is my house losing?

In November and December you can borrow a camera from the Parish Council to find out more about your home. A thermal camera is capable of scanning and capturing an overview of the whole building, offering infrared images that clearly identify where you are losing heat.

How does it work?

All objects radiate infrared energy. The amount of energy radiated is based on the actual surface temperature and how good the surface of the object is at emitting heating. The thermal imager senses the infrared energy from the surface of the object and uses this data to calculate an estimated temperature value which is then represented over a colour scale. Many common objects and materials such as painted metal, wood, water, skin and cloth are very good at radiating energy and it is easy to get relatively accurate measurements. Shiny surfaces or unpainted metals do not work as well.

thermal_image_of_house

To borrow the camera for one or two days, please contact the parish office on info@eynsfordparishcouncil.org.uk or 01322 865320 to book a slot. We will require a £20 cash deposit for loan of the camera. Full instructions will be provided.

Let us know how it goes!

We're all going to be trying out the camera, checking our insulation and draughtproofing in our own homes over the next few weeks and we hope that this leaflet helps you to cut energy use too.

And finally………..we would love to hear any tips that you have for energy saving and indeed let us know anything you have been able to do this autumn to cut your energy use.

Contact us with your ideas or feedback at info@eynsfordparishcouncil.org.uk

Author: Holly Ivaldi

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Upcoming dates

EPC Committee Meetings
6th December 2021, 19:30

EPC Council Meeting
16th December 2021, 19:30

Green Team Meeting
20th December 2021, 19:30

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