This is a classic situation: a couple living in a cold property, with uninsulated cavity walls, single glazing and electric storage heaters - and a quarterly electricity bill of £900.
I thought I'd take a minute to introduce myself - I'm Nicola, and I'm in charge at the Green Deal shop in Winchester, which is a free help centre offering advice on domestic energy efficiency. My background is in climate research, which is why I support WinACC, but I'm also interested in people not wasting money on expensive energy bills if they can avoid it!
I don't mean my first blog post to be negative! But...
Green Deal finance is a good option for some. It allows you to take out a loan to pay for home improvements (e.g. cavity wall insulation, an energy efficient boiler) and pay it off in installments through your electricity bill, which considering not everyone has the money to pay for e.g. a new boiler, could be handy.
But I read something the other day which alarmed me. To pay the loan provider through your electricity bill requires your electricity company to be taking part in the Green Deal scheme. They require the necessary software, and some admin, to manage the payments - this makes perfect sense! The Big Six companies are participating.
What worries me is that some electricity companies aren't taking part in the Green Deal scheme. Click 'Read More' to continue.
Blimy, what a wet day!
I walked 7.5 miles yesterday to raise money for WinACC and it rained persistently the whole time!
My son Adam agreed, without any coercion, to join me on the walk and we walked into town to the start at the St Maurice's Covert on the High Street about 10:30. Jess Lloyd joined us on the walk and we set off in good spirits at 10:50.
I arrived in central Germany on 18th April, having travelled by Eurostar, Thalys and Intercity Train with my folding bike. I had tried to limit luggage but still found it challenging going through customs at Eurostar with a bike and possessions for seven months' travelling. A useful lesson perhaps.
I am here to travel the country looking at German eco communities, green initiatives (there are several Transition Towns), innovations, ideas, general attitudes to the environment, politics and so on...
I might go into more detail about my first week later but I wanted to pick out something of particular value to WinACC... A visit to a PV invertor factory in central Germany (Hessen) .
Ever since attending a Pond Conservation training session in Oxford this year I have been inspired to create a wonderful wildlife habitat in my garden (in my front garden to be precise).
The provision of a garden pond is a great way to increase biodiversity or wildlife in your garden. However typical garden ponds tend to be 'unfriendly' to wildlife and so I have designed and built a pond which mimics the most diverse watery habitat in the country - the temporary clean water pond!
The journey starts here...
I have been thinking about reducing my personal carbon footprint for a while now. I have signed up to the 10:10 campaign. I will be signing up for the 20:12 campaign by WinAcc.
My current carbon footprint (household) is over 9 tonnes per year. I have an energy monitor which is currently displaying the greenhouse gass emissions of our local library which has a display of our up and coming events related to our low carbon living project - see www.alresfordgreening.org for more details.
There are many hidden food miles, chemicals, packaging and other nasty issues in our everyday food. It is nearly impossible to find out exactly where it has been, and how many processes it has been through to arrive in our own kitchens, therefore we can't be held entirely responsible. But armed with the facts, we can make the right choices.
One process that really grates on me is freeze-drying. Think instant coffee, powdered milk, dried fruit (in those expensive cereals), even your goldfish flakes! Freeze-drying is a wonderous invention that removes moisture, making the product light, long-lasting and easy to transport.
At hope cottage, our household of two adults, three small-to-medium size children and four chickens has been trying to practice low-carbon living for many years now. We are helped along by our semi-rural situation, love of retro-living, and general techno-phobia. A few years ago we ripped out our ancient gas boiler and replaced it with biomass heating (stove). It was a moment of bravery which led to the odd domestic dispute, but is gradually paying off with energy-saving fringe benefits. Boiling a kettle on the wood stove, for instance, and cooking sunday lunch whilst heating the house.