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Bristol’s green new deal is on the way

April 7, 2011

Last Friday I called on a truly remarkable house in Easton.  The new tenant is a very lucky lady.  She will be living in what might be the cheapest to manage house in Bristol. She will have low energy bills and a very small carbon footprint.

We know we need to change the way we live in order to give our planet a sustainable future.  We must stop burning carbon fuels to generate electricity.  We should drive and fly much less, at least until science gives us cleaner cars and planes.  We should stop chopping down forests, which act as a green lung for the Earth.  But in Britain we could probably make the greatest reduction in carbon emissions by saving energy in our own homes.

Spring may have just started but I’m sure we all remember the recent Arctic conditions.  I was horrified by my own gas bill received a few weeks ago.  In Sweden they’re used to freezing conditions for several months of the year.  But your average Swede has a lower carbon footprint than your average Brit.  How can this be?  The answer lies in the design of their houses.  Tough building controls give the Swedes well insulated houses and lower energy consumption.

My own Victorian house in St Andrews is typical of the problem in Britain – solid walls and sash windows that leak heat.  Most of us have done the small things like low energy light bulbs and a bit of draught proofing.  But to make a real impact I’ll have to think about my walls and windows, which will be expensive.  I also live in a conservation area so I’ll have to balance preserving the look of my house while improving the feel.

That’s where the remarkable house in Easton comes in.  The Technology Strategy Board, a government funded science body, has paid for the complete retro-fitting of a typical Victorian house.  The walls are now thicker and the modern sash windows have double glazing.  There are solar panels on the roof to heat the water and there’s the latest energy efficient boiler, which won’t actually be needed very often, so good is the house insulation.

This needs to be done on a mass scale and the Coalition Government has announced a revolutionary Green New Deal to make it affordable and easy.  From 2013 loans will be provided to finance home improvements that improve energy efficiency.  They’ll be paid back via the energy bills for the house, even if you move property in future.  Expect to hear a lot more about this great new scheme over the next year.  Pretty soon a repeat of our last bitter winter won’t make us feel cold in our homes.  We’ll be doing our bit for the planet, too.

Note: this was originally written for the Bristol Evening Post and was published on 6 April 2011.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. John Rippon permalink
    April 8, 2011 1:29 am

    Lucky Lady: how much did it all cost both in terms of cash and the CO2 emmissions to make all the raw materials for this conversion?

    I live in a basement flat in a converted Georgian listed grade II house. No cavity walls nor roofspace. Last Year the Government-backed “Warmfront” Scheme team visited my flat to see what could be done. They turned out to be a bunch of “Cowboys” and the Government has now scrapped the scheme.

    Their briefing was: Draught-proofing, cavity wall/roofspace insulation and installation of new or upgrading of existing Central heating systems, but NO double glazing.

    They advised that in the abscence of cavity walls and roof space, intermal wall insulation was also impractical: though I never got a satisfactory explanation as to why. They carried out draught exclusion work which was an improvement. My existing 30-year-old Gas Fired Central Heating they said could not be upgraded and a new system would be needed at a cost way beyond the “Warmfront” grant limit, which I would not afford, and ugly surface-mounted pipework would be needed.

    At this point I asked “Warmfront” about electric storage heaters and abandonment of GFCH.
    This threw them into consternation because THEIR company was only for GFCH and they said they would refer me to the section of “Warmfront” which could deal with this. Some time later the advisors duly arrived and advised me that the existing GFCH radiators could be replaced by electric night storage heaters on “Economy 7” tarif within the grant available from “Warmfront” and I went for this system.

    The firm (Based in Wakefield) said that the work would take “A few days”. In fact it took them three weeks and the workmanship was appalling: I had to get a Bristol City Council engineer to sort out the worst of the mess: like the front door not closing any more because the cable had strained the steel door frame!!

    However, I am now proudly all-electric non CO2 producing, ready for Nuclear Power to reduce MY carbon footprint to ZERO: I have never had a car and I get around using my Electric Wheelchair and the occasional bus.

    But it isn’t going to happen, is it? Chris Hune, who I have conversed with on the subject several times, is very anti-Nuclear. He has said that no Coal-fired NEW Power Stations will be allowed unless they include CO2 sequestration plant: yet no viable plant has so far been even demonstrated which could provide an economically viable solution.

    Strangely silent on GAS fired power stations, which now provide the bulk of our power and spew out copious amounts of CO2: will they need CO2 sequestration plants too???

    The bulk of homes use GFCH and are all spewing out CO2.

    Windpower is utterly laughable and don’t please anyone talk about Japan: Britain does not experience force 9 earthquakes and 40 metre Tsunanis. We need CLEAN CO2-free Nuclear power and we need it NOW.

  2. April 3, 2013 6:35 pm

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    College educated
    Won’t smoke, consume or do medication
    Does not use profanity as a means of expressing his displeasure
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