11 Sep 2010

Feed-in tariffs make renewables a must

This weekend - today and tomorrow is Stroud's Eco-Renovation Open Homes - see details here. On Wednesday night we had the Preview talk - these photos in this blog are from that evening and a great talk that covered all from insulation to the new feed-in tariffs.

You can click on the photos to see them better but the talk was so good I reckon we ought to put it on again locally. Lucie from the South West Energy Agency (pictured left) and Dave from Greenerbuild - part of the group of the Greenshop companies. The Greenshop is also open for tours today - see more here.

Anyhow the evening started off with tea, coffee and biscuits and a chance to meet folk - even a guy from a Transition-style group down near Salisbury. The SNJ kindly turned up and took pics of Lucie, Dave, myself and Neil Buick who is Coordinating this years Eco-Renovation Open Homes.

The photos here give a flavour of some of the issues covered - they talked for over 90 mins which was too long in one go - plus we only got to the feed-in tariffs right at the end - but what was great was that the talk went back to basics and covered 'Why eco-renovate?' and the basics re insulation - I learnt lots.

There was also lots of good statistics to back up the info - a look at how the bulk of our energy is used in space heating - why it is important to do energy efficiency measures first etc.

I found the discussion about what types of insulation useful - looking at the differences between external and internal insulation - and the debate between those who think breathability is not so important and those who think it is crucial and has health implications like mould.

Indeed put your insulation in wrong and it is clear it can lead to more problems - I am aware for example the District Council has a load of houses with cavity wall insulation that went wrong or was put in badly years ago and in some cases makes the homes colder - the District have an approved list of installers. See the list here.

As an interesting aside some might remember my disappointment in the loss of the hard-to-treat project re insulation - see here - the project had built up experience and expertise and then was cut - well I am delighted to hear that a Glos-wide project will be starting soon - still small but at least we can get back to that essential job of cutting the heat loss.

Anyway I must race on as I need to be in town very soon helping to set up the installers fair and more - a few more slurps of tea - looking forward to Nightingale's cafe cakes which will be at the fair at The Exchange - just down from Sunshine/Church St carpark.

In Dave's talk (see photo) he also covered the areas that loose heat and highlighted why basic stuff like dfraft exclusion was so important - a point repeated last week by the loft insulation installer that my stepdaughter was having done - amazing to see how much heat goes out an uninsulated loft hatch! As the diagram shows don't forget all those other places like cat flaps, pipes (I've got one of those I should look at) and more. See also photo here about loft insulation considerations.

The talks were illustrated with lots of photos and examples - Lucie covered stuff about heating - See SWEA website for lots of excellent factsheets about renewables and more.

We also got onto looking at PV in more details - this has always been a bit of an issue for me as the roof is not in the best position but using the chart you can get an idea of how much energy you can get.....in may ways the solar thermal is better but with teh feed-in tariffs PV makes sense financially.....

Take a look at these figures - they are pretty amazing when you think the leccy costs about 13/14p at the mo - so rates like 41.3p are good - guaranteed until March 2012 - but of course who knows what will happen with cuts and changes to lots of stuff - with the rush to solar PV there is now a waiting list and no doubt prices have gone up for installations...

Indeed we are talking what looks like 10 to 12% returns on 20 years - now that is a better bet than any bank - and fuel prices look set to rise more so that could be an even bigger saving. We must do better - Britain is bottom of the league in renewables (see here).

Of course regular blog readers will have heard me repeat many times the lament that the District Council is too slow at investing in PV itself - lets borrow £10m and get it done - lots of new local green jobs, a financial return, fuel poverty tackled in many places, climate change tackled...hey I could on.....and indeed do....and have to say we do seem to be getting places - at least the discussion is being had at the District. Indeed I was in for a meeting this week - or was it last - anyhow I was talking about the £100,000 project re sheltered accomodation and renewables (one of the measures the inquiry I chaired got through this year) - unfortunately a delay as procurement legal hoops need to be jumped - but the good thing was that it shows significant returns - we need to get on with it!!!

Anyway this last slide is an example from a house showing the payback time - I always think that figure is a bit weird - we never talk about payback of a gas boiler or other heating system yet renewables are 'expected' to payback....ah well I must dash....but of course renewables are a must even without the tariff!

If you would like to find out more about saving energy and the grants and discounts available to help you improve your home please call your local Energy Saving Trust advice centre on 0800 512 012.

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