Most farms have outlying barns and sheds where there’s no mains power. That’s no problem in the daytime, but no fun if you have to rely on a torch after dark. However, Berkshire firm Bright Spark Solar reckons it has the answer with its latest 44-LED solar-powered floodlight. The lithium-ion battery is fully charged after nine hours of bright sunlight, it says, which then gives five nights of light from the low-wattage LED floodlight.
The Government urgently needs to replace the scrapped Zero Carbon Homes policy to avoid locking in higher carbon emissions and higher energy bills for occupants for decades to come, the Solar Trade Association warned today.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has revealed he is seeking to press ahead with plans for all new homes to meet a “zero carbon” standard, despite the government scrapping the target earlier this year. Answering questions from the London Assembly this week, Johnson said City Hall would issue guidance for developers on how it planned to implement the Zero Carbon Homes target in the capital.
In a well-insulated building the energy emitted by a television, a fridge and two human bodies would be enough to heat it, said senior electrical engineer Bill Watts, who thinks we could all save money and energy by adopting Passivhaus building standards. Although central heating systems would be needed on the coldest days, they would be made “all but redundant” in homes built according to Passivhaus standard, said Mr Watts, a senior partner at engineering firm Max Fordham. The standard, developed in Germany in the early 1990s, leads to homes that are so energy efficient they only need an extra 15kWh/sq m per year of heating energy. So, just an hour in front of the box would be “enough to keep you warm when it’s down to three degrees outside. That will give you 21 degrees inside,” said Mr Watts. “It does depend on whether you’ve got very heavy concrete walls. But if it’s a modern construction, things will heat up very quickly.” Mr Watts said those wishing to feel the full heating benefits of a television would need to thoroughly insulate their home through such methods as triple-glazing and wall insulation. “The average home in the UK uses 130kWh/sq m per year to heat. Even in older homes, effective insulation can, in some cases, reduce this to as little as 15kWh/sq m per year, meaning the modest amount of radiated heat from a television in a well-insulated home would keep most of us comfortably warm,” said Mr Watts. Although popular in Germany and Sweden, not enough homes in the UK are being built to the Passivhaus standard, he said. Instead money was being spent on more wasteful systems such as Combined Heat and Power schemes and District Heating, which are switched on all year round and can cost between £5,000 and £15,000 to install. Investing in Passivhaus standard insulation of existing building stock as a national infrastructure priority, would also reduce the need for new power plants. “Maybe we wouldn’t need that next generation of expensive Chinese-funded, French-built power stations after all,” he said.
A major new global campaign calling on cities worldwide to switch all their street lights to LEDs by 2025 has been launched this week by The Climate Group. Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group, said there is no longer any reason to delay the deployment of LED street lighting, describing it as a “no-brainer” for city authorities looking to cut emissions and save money.
A new contender for Britain’s greenest home has been unveiled in North Yorkshire. The four-bed house, known as Furrows, will have a unique renewable energy system, allowing it to generate more than 13,000 kWh of electricity and heat a year. Around 5,000 kWh will be used by Furrow’s homeowners with the remaining 8,000 kWh exported to the grid – enough electricity to run two further houses.
“Certainly, energy efficiency is one of the areas I want to continue to push,” Lucas tells BusinessGreen. “If we’re looking for policies that have a multiplying impact on the economy then super-insulating every home in Britain is just about one of the best you could possible come up with in terms of providing jobs in every constituency, in terms of getting people’s fuel bills down and tackling fuel poverty, in terms of getting emissions down, and stabilising the economy.” Lucas advocated a mass roll-out of insulation in her role as co-president of the All-Party Group on Energy Efficiency and Fuel Poverty and has been a long-standing critic of the government’s flagship Green Deal energy efficiency programme. After a slow start, more and more people are taking up the government’s offer of loans to cover the upfront cost of home improvements, but Lucas remains sceptical about the scheme. “It hasn’t fulfilled any of the promises made for it,” she says.
An estimated 15,000 people died unnecessarily between December and March because they were living in homes they couldn’t afford to heat, new figures show. The news has led campaigners to hit out at what they claim is an inadequate Conservative pledge to help freezing people by insulating homes. Fuel poverty campaigners reckon the number of excess winter deaths surged last winter to 49,260, of which around 14,780 were due to people living in cold homes. The Energy Bill Revolution estimates that the average number of excess winter deaths over the previous five years was 27,830, so last winter saw an increase of 77 per cent above the five year average.
What if you could change your decades-old house into a modern, comfortable, energy-efficient home in less than ten days without having to move out or pay extra? Does it sound too good to be true? That’s exactly what a consortium of construction companies and social housing corporations are doing in the Netherlands. The ambitious program that could drastically cut Dutch residential energy consumption is called the Rapids (de Stroomversnelling in Dutch). Its aim is to collaboratively develop an industrial approach to net-zero retrofitting of the Dutch housing stock, while retrofitting 111,000 social houses by 2020. Social houses are owned by social housing corporations, which rent at least 90 percent of their housing stock to people with a relatively low income. The Rapids focuses primarily on typical Dutch terraced houses that were built in large quantities from the 1950s until the 1970s, making them a significant part of the Dutch housing stock.
Glasgow begins switch to LED street lights after agreeing a £6.3m loan with Green Investment Bank to swap first 10,000 lamps to energy-efficient LEDs. The LED lights last about seven times longer than standard bulbs and are expected to use half the energy of the old versions, paying for themselves through energy savings while saving more than 18,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the next 18 years. The finance package the GIB provided to Glasgow has been designed to finance public sector energy-efficiency projects. In agreeing the deal with Glasgow, GIB has standardised the process so other local authorities can use it to convert their street lighting, lowering the upfront cost. According to the GIB, more than 100 councils have expressed interest in LEDs, but currently fewer than 10 per cent of the UK’s 7.4 million street lamps are fitted with the technology. It says a nationwide switch to LEDs could cut the £300m a year councils currently spend to switch on street lights and prevent up to 475,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere – the equivalent of taking more than 200,000 cars off the road.