Monday, October 30, 2006

Scarier Than Halloween

Hello - good to see you

The Stern report is out - and we had better take heed. Anyone who is concerned about climate change, saving money in their home, worried about the developing nations, the industrial growth in China and India, the US Government's deplorable attitude to energy emissions should read the findings and forecasts.

The BBC's Business Editor has provided a concise summary of the report - the findings are stark if we dont act now.

Interestingly Mr Miliband is quoted as part of the article as saying "For 150 years we have pumped carbon into the atmosphere - whether through energy or transport - as if it had no price" - mmm well Mr M, do something about it then like move EEC3 forward to next year rather than 2008 and stop letting the energy suppliers carry over excess measures just increase the targets as they are obviously too low.

On another salient point, the Partnership For Renewable £10 million fund of "new" money for renewable initiatives for public buildings - it turns out the funding isnt "new" at all !

The funding will be taken from a measures like insulation and double glazing under the EEC programme. So its not a new pot of money at all - its merely redirecting funding that will have to go back into energy efficiency anyway under the "additionality" rules of EEC.

But the Lib Dems and the Energy Saving Trust say money from insulation and double-glazing schemes will pay for it.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the sum was never allocated to a specific project.

At the Labour conference, Environment Secretary David Miliband promised £10m to help fund projects such as wind power.

Mr Miliband said similar schemes on local authority land were being held back, because public and private investors were not working together.

This is outrageous. Both energy efficiency and greater use of renewables are crucial to combating climate change
David Howarth MP

But a spokesman for the government-funded Energy Saving Trust said it was disappointed to discover it was not an extra £10m, but part of money already announced in the budget.

"On three separate occasions, the government outlined that the £20m would be spent on energy efficiency programmes directed at the home owner," he said.

"But it would appear that £10m of it is now being reallocated to the Partnership for Renewables."

'Effective hierarchy'

He added: "Whilst we recognise that local authorities have a potential role in promoting large renewable energy, it is proven that the biggest impact they can have is through promoting energy efficiency in the home.

"This is the most effective hierarchy. Make homes energy efficient first and then look to renewable energy."

BBC environment correspondent Sarah Mukherjee said industry experts had gone even further in their criticism of the cuts.

They claim there is little point putting wind farms up in hospitals when they are providing energy that will be wasted in badly-insulated buildings, our correspondent said.

Liberal Democrat energy spokesman David Howarth accused the government of "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

He added: "This is outrageous. Both energy efficiency and greater use of renewables are crucial to combating climate change."

A Defra spokeswoman said the money had not previously been allocated to any specific scheme.

She added: "Energy efficiency is an integral element of the UK's strong domestic programme to tackle climate change.

"Around 10 million British households have benefited from energy saving measures as part of the first phase of the Energy Efficiency Commitment, which will help to reduce fuel bills."

But I think her argument is very weak.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Professor Nick Stern - Climate Change Report

Hello There

Hope youre well and hope you have enjoyed weekend. I hope you did your bit for Energy Saving Week? If you did, thank you and well done.

If you didnt, its not too late to change your habits and make a commitment - pay it forward. Hopefully it wont ever be too late?

Professor Nick Stern's report on Climate Change is published tomorrow (Monday 30 October 2006). It contains Professor Stern's forecast on the likely outcomes of climate change if we as a species dont alter our attitude and change our ways. Everyone included.

The report is likely to be shocking, perhaps some would say frightening? Some sceptics are bound to say it is fanciful and incorrect. However I bet they dont gamble either.

News reports today have indicated that Professor Stern's predictions include the following risks:

Over 40% of the worlds wildlife species facing extinction
Up to 20% of the world's GDP at risk
The largest period of recorded global recession to date
Up to 200 million people displaced due to flooding and natural disasters

I look forward to reading the full report - hope you do too and I will post a summary later this week. Look forward to your comments.

It would also seem that at last Mr Miliband may be developing some strength - taking the Conservative's idea on a policy of a green tax (especially as a recent poll said that 33% of people questioned said they would vote Conservative now that the climate change issue is one of the top priorities of the Conservative Party agenda). I truly hope that if nothing else to the general population, Mr Stern's report ensures the topic gathers pace much more quickly - and someone who can legislate takes note.

Its the latest buzz word or catch phrase - nothing wrong with that ! I dont particularly care which political party (with the obvious exception of the BNP) takes the lead - who ever jumps on this bandwaggon - as long as actions match words.

Enjoy your week - come back again soon

As my friend Mandy says "Make good choices" !

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Habits Of A Lifetime Report - European Energy Usage Report

Hello There,

Its now the middle of Energy Saving Week - Wednesday. What have you done this week to make your contribution?

Ive filled the kettle on two cups of tea worth of water max, persuaded my other half to remember to switch off his mobile phone charger and turn the Sky receiver off - and Ive been nagging at my friends to turn off lights or not use as many. After all, natural light doesnt show the dust up as much lol !

David Miliband was on Channel Four news this evening - apparently he is keen to encourage incentives for the energy suppliers to sell less electricity and gas to UK consumers. Funny that, I thought that the penalties for not achieving EEC targets would be incentive enough for most?

I bet if more consumers realised just how much of their combined annual energy bills are contributing to EEC, they would soon begin to protest.

A 10% of turnover penalty fine if an energy supplier doesnt meet EEC targets in Terawatt hours - with all the carry over and consultation that is allowed there is no danger and therefore little legislative incentive.

The EST have published an interesting report illustrating the current demographics of our energy use alongside mainland European consumers. It makes interesting reading but its not nearly insightful enough. It isnt shocking enough - its almost as though we are all naughty children - theres good research but not much substance to say what steps can be taken to change those behaviour patterns apart from quoting a behavioural phsycologist on tips to commit to a measure a day ... argghh!! It is as though the EST are frightened to speak out too much ? If they have clearly reported that the main factor behind our careless (or should that be couldnt care less) attitude to energy use is laziness then what can done? Do we need an Energy Angel rather like Super Nanny to change behaviour?

I think it would be interesting to carry out the same poll in a couple of years' time - especially once Mr Blair and Mr Miliband have hopefully made their exits stage left.

Happy reading - enjoy the rest of this week and dont forget to sign up to the Commitment today - email it to a friend - just like those odd chain emails that circulate only this one does really work if you send it to enough people !

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Are You Doing It?

Hello There,

Simple question - are you saving energy this week? Are you saving your 20%?

Have you lobbied your local MP via the Friends of the Earth website (it takes two minutes and sources your MP for you) ?

Have you signed up to the Inconvenient Truth forum?

Have you signed up to the Green Building Forum?

Have you walked somewhere this week instead of taking the car?

Do you care? You should !! Think about your older neighbours and relatives - how can you help them to be warmer this winter and save money on their fuel bills. How can you make sure they arent spending their winter fuel allowance payment on Christmas presents for the grandchildren?

Think about some of the children you may see on their way to school. The ones who look tired and pale might not be on drugs - they could be suffering from the effects of fuel poverty and I have seen how this can manifest itself first hand - its harrowing.

JUST DO IT - do you know that if we beat fuel poverty the NHS could save over £1billion on treating illnesses that are exacerbated by this issue. Peoples lives would be saved, positively changed and our communities would be engaged in communication via local incentives to promote energy efficiency.

On a lighter note, one top quality local installer who is working with a large SHP has introduced a very unusual way to improve access rates on the scheme. More of that on a new posting coming your way soon.

Thanks for reading and now get on with it !

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Monday, October 23, 2006

Changing UK Residents' Behaviour

Hello There,

Ive read a report produced by Friends Of The Earth stating that in the UK carbon emissions have increased - up by 2% on this time last year.

Carbon emissions are on the rise and are at their highest since 1997 - despite the Government funding and utility funding. Ian Pearson MP (Environment Minister) appeared live on Channel 4 news at lunchtime this Monday saying that the UK are going to potentially achieve double the Kyoto target set, although the 2010 deadline for a 20% reduction in emissions will probably only see us achieving 16%? But he failed to say what action was being taken to address this failure.

I agree with Krishnan Gurumurthy who commented during the interview that its always the same soundbites that are used with every interview on the subject e.g. people should not keep appliances on standy-by, mobile phone charges should be switched off. However these messages don't appear to be having any effect whatsoever to the general consumer.

Ian Pearson tried to rally by saying the EST were doing more to raise awareness and that the Government were funding EEC (and we thought it was the energy suppliers doing that ??!) and there will be an additional £1 billion of funding pledged by the Government to energy efficiency - but he didnt say specifically when and one can only assume that he was referring to EEC3 unless the Warm Front/Warm Deal/HEES grants are going to get huge boosts?

But if peoples' behaviour and attitude doesnt change then this is hardly going to achieve the significant reductions we all need to make.

Interestingly, the weather forecast on the show is sponsored by Worcester Bosch - showing their Greenstar boiler range with the caption "Not everyone has energy to waste".

The Government needs to legislate. WE need to encourage legislation as part of their EEC3 consultation that means taxing wasteful commercial users, but how do we legislate for householders? How do you prove who uses what? What would be the benchmark - average usage per property type and number of occupants (NHER Rating?). Or would you mandate a minimum SAP level in the private sector - how do you make people respond in a positive manner to something that isnt a tangible instant hit for them in terms of savings to their household income?

Even generating interest in insulation or heating measures when they are free is difficult in the private sector - just ask any HECA Officer or programme manager?

I hope that the more press coverage this issue gets, the more awareness will be generated and we actually manage to prick the social conscience about this sooner rather than later.

Social housing is relatively easy to resolve - providing there is sufficient funding and good management. However its the private sector that needs the same attention and support if we are to succeed.

Incentives are needed and the confidence of the public to ensure that the good contractors are top of the list - and similarly that the "cowboys" are very firmly at the bottom! I have seen some leaflets lately that frankly beggar belief. I have also seen some technical monitoring results and complaints from customers of a local contractor that are shameful. However they are not being brought to account and continue to trade - they have also been claiming the energy savings from work completed via Council funded insulation schemes and pocketing the energy supplier funding that should be going back into the Council budget - Outrageous!

Its contractors like this and others who similarly carry out poor standards of work who render a huge blemish on the industry and its no wonder that consumers are suspicious - it only takes a few rotten apples to spoil the whole barrel. Its often referred to as the (polite version here) rear end of the construction industry but you can change attitudes in some organisations and I know I have done during the past three years.

Couple this with apathy towards the issue and you begin to understand what an uphill struggle we face - but we cannot and must not give up. I have seen how simple insulation measures and heating measures can literally change peoples' lives for the better and its about relating that benefit to the financial improvements too.

Just ask Mr & Mrs Simpson of Green Lane, Heywood - a couple who are in their dotage (in their mid 80's) and unfortunately Mr Simpson suffers from a heart condition. They received insulation measures to their mid terraced home in 2004 and Im still in contact with them today - I only got to know them because the loft insulation needed relaying as the original job was poor quality. We sorted out the job and also fitted a hot water tank jacket and cavity wall insulation.

The measures have really helped to make their home warmer and Mrs Simpson says she saw an improvement to her husband's health during the first winter and they were able to use more than the living room of the house during the winter for the first time in years. Its strange how some people come into your life but Im glad they did - they are lovely people and I was really happy to be able to help them and befriend them as a result.

They are some of the best advocates of insulation to their friends and neighbours on their weekly shopping trip to their local Morrisons in Heywood!!

Its cases like the Simpsons that make it all worthwhile - and I look forward to repeating that success thousands of times over in the future.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Energy Saving Week

Hello There,

If you are thinking about installing energy efficient heating, lighting, water heating sytems, or renewables then without doubt this is the week to JUST DO IT !!!

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

PS - you can get cheaper CFLs from supermarkets starting at around £1 for a standard 100W equivalent (or if youre a social housing provider or Council get in touch with a utility for a free supply as most of them offer a boatload of CFL's as part of their EEC programmes)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tesco's Energy Bills

Hello There,

Hope youre well and have plenty going on.

One of the many challenges for the forthcoming Energy Saving Week - I do hope you have signed up to the commitment to save your 20% - could be to spread the word about champions of energy efficiency both in the housing sector and also industry in the UK?

Take our high street (or outlet park) superstores. I have already commented about Tesco's pioneering efforts to reduce their emissions in their UK stores by reviewing lighting, logistics and also packaging (reusing carrier bags, recycled food packaging materials).

Mr Ken Carter is the chap with a huge challenge to reduce Tesco's energy bills. His experience thus far is that strong commitment and funding is transforming the retailer's attitude to energy efficiency.

What a shame that our Government doesn't appear to show the same attitude to energy?

To quote Mr Carter, "The Board know what is going on in the energy market. Tell them once and they understand. Tell them twice and they say 'Why havent you done it?'"

With a recent report that Councils in this country have faced a massive increase in energy costs in the first six months of this year - an additional £364 million ! Since January 2005, gas prices have risen by 37%, electricity by 33% and petrol/diesel up by 9%.

Councils face a combined energy bill of £1.81 bn which equates to a rise of 25% in the last six months.

Incredible isnt it - how many Council buildings, public buildings, offices etc do you pass on your journey home or when you are out during the evenings or at weekends that have their lights on, burning away electricity? It would be slightly easier to accept if the bulbs were CFLs or the lights were motion sensitive ? The amount of times I have seen refuse trucks and Council vehicles in my town left with their engines idling whilst the workers sit in the cab or have a smoke roadside is infuriating. To make matters worse, I was passing the town centre on Wednesday evening this week and the Council has already put out the Christmas decorations and they were all switched on. I asked one of the guys if it was just to test them out and he laughed at me ?! I would like to think that perhaps it might be to coincide with Diwali but then all the display messages said "Merry Christmas".

Many of the public buildings I have been in have poor insulation or ventilation. However there are some older properties that have been renovated to good standards and incorporate renewable technologies to assist in their overall efficiency plus they are great at communicating how effective such measures can be to the communities that use them. One great example is the UCAN Centre in Halliwell Bolton. Its an old library building that has been turned into a community venue in the heart of one of the wards in the Borough. It is a vibrant place, with a welcoming atmosphere and uses a great solar PV system with a large display unit that shows the output of the system and is easy for visitors to understand. Its a great place for a meeting too !

Its all about having a social conscience - I know I talk about this a lot - but its imperative that we work hard to get the message across.

I'd like to take a huge leaf out of Ken Carter's book and challenge every Council and industry leader to be more aware of the impact of individuals and collectives. You can say that its about the impact that rising energy costs have on company profits and I would agree. However if the right spin is put on something that has a positive direct or indirect effect then why should that be viewed as a negative?

We live in a cynical society. We sometimes have a tendancy to revel in shadenfreuden - lets hope thats not the case with Mr Carter and I wish him and Tesco every success in achieving their objective of a 12% cut in its £220m energy bill in one year.

However, Mr Carter also says of the overall progress of energy efficiency in the UK, "I don't see the same leadership from our Government as I see from Tesco. We all know that we could all do a bit more. Even people in the (energy management) industry arent perfect. How many energy managers do you see getting into their high-powered Lexus?"

And I echo that with how many energy efficiency industry contractors do you see getting into their Mercedes Benz, BMW X5's. 4x4's (or other Chelsea tractors) and Porsches...? I see too many !

Hope you have enjoyed this entry - now please go forth and multiply the answers to the challenge.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Hello There,

Lots of highlights in the media recently about Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, which is an excellent documentary looking at the impact of climate change and how our behaviour effects the eco system. But Im a firm believer that there are two sides to every story and that a lot of people may feel that the jury is still out as the cause and effect of our chaning environment.

I would recommend that anyone who has a social conscience and who cares about future generations should watch this film and then take some action - even if its only small scale - to change behaviour and attitudes to this issue despite what your own personal views may be. Ive looked at a few forums where people debate the actual existence of global warming and the reasons behind the changes. Some people still vehemently believe its not happening or the scientists are wrong as to the potential causes (GW Bush included !)

Its all too easy for people to have a "manana" attitude - that is fundamentally what has got to alter and we are all responsible for encouraging people to view things differently and understand the implications without erring too much on doomsday but looking at the short term benefits too - like the money that they can save of heating their homes by installing measures that have a relatively quick pay back and theres some funding around currently (if you hassle and press hard enough). But we do need much more funding to achieve the 2011 target of irradicating fuel poverty in all vulnerable homes - its the law, not just something on a lot of campaigners' wishlists. All four million people out of fuel poverty. Pause and reflect on that for a moment ....

Its interesting to note how people can change their attitudes - surprisingly so in some quite high profile examples. Professor David Bellamy, international botanist, author and broadcaster, is one of Britain's best-known environmental campaigners has recently helped to promote and launch the first domestic wind turbine in Birmingham with Family Housing Association. They have created their first Eco Home by converting one of their properties installing a wind turbine along with solar panels, energy efficient lighting, heating and high levels of insulation. The project is reported to have cost £25,000. The Eco Home is part of a £10 million project in the regeneration area and the residents have heavily influenced the content to transform Summerfield into an Eco Neighbourhood.

In stark contrast to the opposition that Mr Bellamy led against two new wind farms in the North West in the last couple of years - one in Saddleworth near Oldham and one on the outskirts of Cliviger in Burnley - the largest rural parish in England. Its great to see that attitude appears to have changed for the better now ! Perhaps now people can be persuaded that the wind turbines are not a blot on the landscape and are a necessary part of our future sustainable energy resources if they can be improved to generate larger amounts of electricity and without breaks in supply and dont use 1000 tons of concrete to secure their footings. Too much NIMBY and not enough foresight - Professor Terry Payne MD of Monodraught may have the small turbine solution - a new range of wind turbines called Vortex that are small scale but are combined with a PV panel - each system is designed to provide 50% of electricity demand for a household's usage and Mr Payne claims they are virtually silent. Thats infinitely better that the "standard"1.5kWh outputs and noise from the gearing!

Another positive case in point is Ashford Hayes - a small rural village in Cheshire (approx ten miles east of Chester) were the community is working together to create the first carbon neutral village in the UK. Ironically my partner and I are looking to move to the area - its great to see solar panels and water saving devices on a great deal of the properties and the sense of community there is really tangible.

Present funding to help tackle fuel poverty is shamefully inadequate. The Government's own Fuel Poverty Advisory Group has repeatedly highlighted this in annual reports year in, year out. And with the onset of increases in energy prices it will mean that the figure of people at risk from fuel poverty will rise ever higher. The Treasury is reviewing and negotiating spending levels for public programmes to take us up to 2011. So up to the deadline by which time NO ONE should be in fuel poverty by LAW.

The law states that remedial schemes are funded so that a reasonable person could conclude that all the effected homes can be improved to the required standard by 2011 to eliminate the risk of anyone suffering from fuel poverty. The responsibility for delivering the Warm Homes & Energy Conservation Act 2000 lies with Ian Pearson (Minister for Environment) and Malcolm Wicks (Energy Minister). It was Malcolm Wicks who highlighted the issue of poor housing conditions and related illness 20 years ago with a publication entitled "Old And Cold".

Andrew Warren (Director of Association for the Conservation of Energy) writes a brilliant article in the October edition of EIBI and I totally support his sentiment. Andrew writes "It would surely be the cruellist of ironies were it to be he (Malcolm Wicks) of all people who had to face the judgement from the courts, that Government was in breach of the very law it had passed. And instructed to find the necessary funds to comply"

Certainly is food for thought isn't it?

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Change To £300 Warm Front Heating Rebate Scheme

Hello There,

I have just received a copy of the September bulletin from Warm Front Team.

I noticed that there appears to have been a change in the process in terms of installers who can be involved in the scheme - that will be music to some ears but not all !

I have taken an extract from the actual bulletin for you:

The WF £300 Heating Rebate Scheme went live on 14 August 2006 and is open to all householders aged sixty or over who are not in receipt of a qualifying WF benefit and who have either no heating system or one which is inoperable.

The Networking Team have been busy collating your queries on the scheme, with answers provided below. If you have any further queries please contact your local Networking Team representative or download a copy of the updated Stakeholder Guide at

Q:Will the WF contractors working on the scheme be working to an approved schedule of rates or is this a private arrangement?

A:Although the £300 Heating Rebate Scheme is part of WF, it is dealt with as a separate scheme and, therefore, it is not limited to WF registered installers, nor do WF prices apply. Any installer who is registered with Corgi, Oftec or NICEIC is able to sign up to the scheme. Any work carried out is a private arrangement between the customer and the installer concerned, with the price charged determined by the installer. It is for this reason that we supply customers with a randomly generated list of six installers working in their area and advise that quotes are obtained from more than one installer.

Q:Are all WF installers registered on the scheme?
A:WF installers are not automatically registered on this scheme, they must apply in the same way as any other installer at

Q:Is the fact that there is no heating, or that an existing system is broken, checked? Is there a survey?
A:No survey is completed at the time of application and we do not check that no heating is present in a property. All installers who register are made aware of the rules of the scheme and should confirm that the client’s circumstances meet these prior to proceeding with an installation.

Q:Can an installer make an application on behalf of a householder?
A:No. The householder must apply themselves, usually through the Warm Front Contact Centre on 0800 316 2808. It is the responsibility of the installer to confirm that the customer has a valid voucher prior to commencing with an installation.

Q:What is the timescale for the processing of voucher applications?
A:We aim for the letter and voucher to be issued within two working days of application. Vouchers are valid for three months from the date of issue. It is possible to reapply for the scheme if the voucher expires, although this is subject to funding being available.

Q:Can a householder apply retrospectively?
A:No, retrospective claims cannot be made.

Q:Is the voucher issued per property or person?
A:Vouchers are issued per property.

Q:Will repairs be carried out in privately rented properties or do standard WF rules apply?
A:Repairs, replacement and new installations can all be carried out in privately rented properties.

Q:Is Landlord Permission required? If so, how should this be obtained?
A:Landlord permission is required prior to the commencement of works. It is the responsibility of the customer to obtain this permission and show written proof to the installer before work can proceed.

Q:Is there the opportunity to use a preferred local installer?
A:Customers can specify a preferred installer at the time of registration. If this installer is not already registered, they should do so at prior to any work going ahead.

Q:If a WF eligible client does not want to wait for an installation to be carried out at standard WF timescales, can they apply for the £300 scheme?

A:No, if a customer is eligible for WF they are not eligible for the £300 Heating Rebate Scheme. To be eligible for the £300 Scheme, a customer must not be in receipt of a qualifying WF benefit.

Q:How are the installers selected to go on the letter? Do we select them randomly?
A:The letter issued to the customer lists the names of six installers who work in their area and who carry out installations using the appropriate fuel type. The details of these installers are randomly selected from those who have registered. If there are less than six installers for the customer’s particular fuel type, the names of all the installers will appear on the letter. If the customer has advised us that they have a preferred installer, and that installer is registered for the scheme, their details will be included alongside five randomly generated companies.

So there you have it - Im not sure if the Q&A re the private rented accommodation and repairs is about the £300 scheme so you may chose to ignore this or refer to it if you are looking at the regular Warm Front scheme guidelines.

Hope this helps to clarify some points for you - any comments please get in touch.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

First Draft Defra EEC3 Report

Hello There,

As promised in the previous post today, I am writing to outline the Defra report that was published on 29 Sept 06 - The First Draft Illustrative Mix Of Measures for EEC 2008 - 2011.

For those of you who dont wish to wade through 22 pages I have endeavoured to save your 20% by summarising key points here:

Key Outcomes: Target saving of 1.2MtC/y (approx double EEC2)

Costs increased between 2 & 2.5 times those of EEC2

Scheme still highly cost effective - net benefits of over £300/tC

Key Measures are cavity wall and loft insulation - over 3m cavities to be installed

Scenario with Priority Group (ie householders in receipt of specific welfare benefits) receiving 25% of the target score reduces overall costs by approx 20% (an alternative has also been explored with the maximum of 47% PG share)

4 scoring systems - no major variations in relative cost-effectiveness scores between suppliers

Impact of key variables such as the share of the PG and CWI industry sector - something I have posted about before as my regular visitors my recognise?

EEC3 likely to target 3 million CWI installations. Report confirms that a major assumption is that there will be very little or no social housing CWI measures left to be installed after EEC2 plus there is a slight decrease in the energy savings calculation attributed to this measure. Report also states that Defra commissioned ESD to conduct a review of the insulation industry and they concluded that the maximum capacity for the EEC3 period was 3.4 million installations. However, as Defra so tactfully put it in their report, the CWI market has not expanded recently as previously projected with approx 400,000 installations last year. Defra have therefore taken this into account by delaying the market expansion by one year which reduces the suggested maximum capacity for the EEC3 period to 3 million CWI installs.

May I just take a moment here to mention something that the report doesnt. Do Defra or the ESD take into account that by delaying market expansion by a year it will cause potentially even more meltdown in the insulation industry? One reason that we havent seen the expansion recently "as previously projected" is that the installers have been reluctant to commit to more financial risk in such a volatile environment. With no stability for their future with the energy suppliers all pulling funding and moving the goal posts so regularly, obviously monitoring their own financial commitments and understandably so, then what, pray tell, do Defra expect please?

There has to be some stability handed down from the Government to the energy suppliers and the supply chain in order to establish and generate the required resources to deliver on the EEC commitment. The other major concern is that such a delay may also put hundreds of skilled jobs at risk, jeopardising the very lifeline for EEC in the insulation industry with all the contractors already disillusioned and some under the threat of financial ruin? Will there be enough quality approved contractors left to deliver the new targets and Im sure the energy suppliers are equally concerned as they risk hefty penalty fines if they dont achieve the numbers? (If they dont meet the target scores set, they risk fines of up to 10% of their turn over).

The other issue I take with this draft report is that the installation costs Defra have used in their calculations are based on current EEC2 rates with an increase of 5% to take into account inflation. Every contractor in the land has faced increases in fuel and raw material costs - eg metals for boilers, mineral wool and fibre for insulation. Where is this reflected in the cost projections? Moreover particularly considering that such a large proportion of EEC3 appears to be centred around the insulation industry, why hasnt someone taken into account the effective industry cartel that has been allowed to operate where only two main UK domestic insulation manufacturers supply the majority of the market. And its these suppliers that have increased raw material costs by more than 30% in the last 18 months and more increases are likely within a supply chain that is also drip feeding deliveries to the contractors. Perhaps someone at Defra and the DTI could review this too? After all we know how much this Government loves its consultation processes ...

EEC3 likely to target just under 2 million loft installations with the projected breakdown of 20% virgin lofts, 15% for 250mm top up (25mm existing so not a virgin unless its 0mm existing), 35% 200mm top ups, 15% 195mm top ups (report states 75mm existing but you cant fit 195mm so you could add this into the 200mm category) and 15% 150mm top ups (nowt for 100mm top ups listed).

No supplier funding for B-A rated boilers - with approved exceptions only.

CFL funding - project around 56 million CFLs will be targeted for EEC3 (Great news for Phillips, B&Q, etc and fulfilment centres).

Projected 100% funding for fuel switches in PG sector - based on install costs average figure.

Solid wall insulation features with 60% assumed external and 40% internal.

There is an assumption made in the Defra draft report that at the end of EEC2 there will be little or no social housing PG CWI work left to be installed. Therefore the focus will be very much on the private sector and we all know that finding private sector PG customers can be an issue with more marketing cost and more canvassing resources needed. Furthermore finding eligible householders who are willing to have the measures installed - even if they are free - can be very difficult too. The report does mention that the involvement of "new ways", for example working in partnership with third party organisations may be developed to help target PG customers.

I throw my hat in the ring to be one of those "third parties" now. Hope you have found this summary interesting and if you have any comments or questions please by all means get in touch.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Save Money This Winter

Hello There My Friends

This is a photo of me taken in Oct 05 at the launch of Bolton MBC's Affordable Warmth Strategy Launch. Bolton have achieved major changes in one year and long may it continue.

Its sadly ironic that this year has been much more of a struggle as the utility funding that was abundant this time last year is now very much reduced. I understand there are small pockets of energy supplier funding around but nothing like some of my customers were able to benefit from last year.

They say time flies when youre having fun !?!

The Illustrative Draft Mix of Measures for EEC3 2008 - 2011 has just been published by Defra. I will post a separate entry about this as I feel its going to be a long one !

(PS the freephone number in the photo doesnt work for this scheme anymore as we changed it to the local EEAC to field calls from householders instead from April 06).

Thank you for visiting and take care

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Monday, October 02, 2006

New Money For Renewables In UK

Hello Friends,

BWEA, The British Wind Energy Association, has welcomed the announcement of a new initiative from the Carbon Trust to increase the pace of development of renewables in the UK, which has been backed by £10 million funding from Defra.

The Carbon Trust's ‘Partnership for Renewables’ (PfR) will partner with private sector organisations to develop and manage onsite renewable energy projects with local authorities, health trusts and other public sector bodies.

PfR plans to develop 500 MW of renewable projects, primarily 3-5 MW wind projects, over the next five years.Meanwhile, as part of demonstrating Government’s leadership on sustainable energy and driving forward the carbon market, Environment Secretary David Miliband has announced £10 million funding for the scheme, commenting that this investment has the potential to unlock up to half a billion pounds in private investment, producing electricity equivalent to the needs of a quarter of a million homes at zero cost to the environment.BWEA Chief Executive Maria McCaffery MBE added her welcome to the announcement, saying: “This will be welcome news to our members working in onshore wind who are leading the way in delivering the Government targets for renewable energy by 2010. There are many good examples of wind energy already developed on public sector land, at schools, hospitals and council buildings, and Partnerships for Renewables, aided by Defra’s support, will catalyse further development of this exciting new sector.”

BWEA is the UK’s largest renewable energy association, with over 300 company members. Formed 28 years ago, BWEA is at the forefront of the development of the UK wind industry, representing the sector to Government, business, media and the public. Wind energy will be the single greatest contributor to the Government’s renewable energy targets with onshore wind alone delivering nearly half of the 2010 target.Existing examples of public sector developments at schools, hospitals and local councils can be found at the BWEA site.

Its interesting to note that we have the EST, BWEA, NEF, REA (not to be confused with the REF) STA and other renewable industry organisations but there doesnt appear to be one unified industry body acting as a trade organisations that covers all the technologies ? If Im wrong, please by all means let me know as Im really interested to see if we have a consortium already or if theres a gap in the market? I too am learning new stuff all the time.

Thanks again for visiting my site - any comments please feel free to drop me a line.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Save Your 20%

Hi - hope you are well and have had a good day.

In preparation for Energy Saving Week promoted by the EST, I have signed up to the commiment to save my 20%.

I have added a picture of my favourite place in Scotland and also a photo of my Dad in his favourite place (with his favourite tot of whisky inside him last year)!

I would encourage all my friends to sign up to the commitment and help to each save atleast 20% of energy in the home. Its a great way to spread the word and helps everyone see how easy it is to save money and energy and carbon - and ultimately the planet and the places we love.

Please sign up and add your photos - you have to register on flickr and upload your images which can take some time - otherwise you can pick a photo from the flickr site and leave a message.

Take care - come back again soon and thanks for reading and hopefully supporting the EST campaign.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Biomass Energy

Hi - hope youre well.

I had promised in an earlier posting to talk about biomass energy so here goes:

Biomass Energy - Biomass is a collective term for all plant and animal material. A number of different forms of biomass can be burned or digested to produce energy. Examples include wood, straw, poultry litter (chicken poop is a good one) and energy crops such as willow and poplar grown on short rotation coppice system (fast growing so they can be coppiced every 3 - 4 years) and miscanthus (perennial grass - also switch-grass - producing a high yield of dry matter).

Biomass is a very versatile material and can be used to produce heat (for space and water heating), electricity and a combination of heat and power (electricity). The UK has some of the largest examples of the use of Biomass to generate electricity in Europe.

Energy from Wood:

In order not to increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere it is important that the wood burned as a fuel comes from sustainable sources. This means that as trees are felled to be use as a fuel, more trees should be planted. That way, the carbon released during the combustion of the wood is reabsorded by the new trees growing and the process is carbon neutral. Other examples of sustainable sources of wood include forest residues (what is left over after timber has been extracted), tree surgery waste and other wood residue.

Wood can then be used as logs, wood chip and wood pellets in wood/pellet burning stoves or wood chip/pellet boilers for space and water heating.

I was at a friend's house on Friday evening and she has a wood burning stove which I love to build up and create. Within half an hour of the fire starting we were both asleep on sofas in her lounge - such was the cosy atmosphere, the smell of the fire, the comforting warmth and the crackling of the logs (plus the champagne we had had before dinner!). The next house that I buy will have a log burning or bio mass stove - they are fabulous. And I will plant new trees to make up the balance and only use logs farmed for purpose from sustainable sources just as my friend does now.

Other bio mass sources are agricultural waste products and municipal and industrial waste products. However many of these products need outlets for the heat they can produce so that they can be economically viable. Moreover, some forms of municipal and industrial waste can be described as biomass - such as waste food and waste wood (from the construction industry, for example). Whether the burning of other types of municipal waste to produce energy can be described as "renewable" is a matter of some debate. There can be environmental benefits if these wastes are used to generate electricity and/or heat such as the reduction of the demand for landfill space. However care has to be taken with emissions and residues as they can cause environmental issues.

So chicken poop, logs, wood pellets or dry grass then anyone? If someone could create a form of anaerobic digestion to convert cat poo into methane to run a gas stove or heating system I know most of my current neighbours would be almost totally carbon neutral with a seemingly never ending supply base!

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Solar PV

Hello There,

In response to a comment posted onto one of my earlier entries I have written about solar PV today to try and give more information.

Solar PV (photovoltaic) technology uses energy from the sun to create electricity to run appliances and lighting. PV requires only daylight - not direct sunlight - to generate electricity.
So yes there is sufficient daylight to operate these systems even in the UK !

How it works:

Photovoltaic systems use cells to convert solar radiation into electricity. The PV cell consists of one or two layers of a semi conducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers, causing electricity to flow. The greater the intensity of the light, the greater the flow of electricity...PV systems generate no greenhouse gases, saving approximately 325kg of carbon dioxide emissions per year - adding up to about 8 tonnes over a system's lifetime - for each kilowatt peak (kWp - PV cells are referred to in terms of the amount of energy they generate in full sun light).

PV arrays now come in a variety of shapes and colours, ranging from grey 'solar tiles' that look like roof tiles, to panels and transparent cells that you can use on conservatories and glass to provide shading as well as generating electricity. As well as enabling you to generate free electricity they can provide an interesting alternative to conventional roof tiles!

Solar PV and your home - You can use PV systems for a building with a roof or wall that faces within 90 degrees of south, as long as no other buildings or large trees overshadow it. If the roof surface is in shadow for parts of the day, the output of the system decreases. Please note Solar panels are not light and the roof must be strong enough to take their weight, especially if the panel is placed on top of existing tiles. Very importantly Solar PV installations should always be carried out by a trained and experienced installer and the LCBP grants can only be accessed when using approved contractors.

Cost and maintenance:

Prices for PV systems vary, depending on the size of the system to be installed, type of PV cell used and the nature of the actual building on which the PV is mounted. The size of the system is dictated by the amount of electricity required. For the average domestic system, costs can be around £4,000- £9,000 per kWp installed, with most domestic systems usually between 1.5 and 2 kWp (so thats between £6,000 - £18,000). Solar tiles cost more than conventional panels, and panels that are integrated into a roof are more expensive than those that sit on top. If you intend to have major roof repairs carried out it may be worth exploring PV tiles as they can offset the cost of roof tiles. Grid connected systems require very little maintenance, generally limited to ensuring that the panels are kept relatively clean and that shade from trees has not become a problem. The wiring and components of the system should however be checked regularly by a qualified technician. Stand-alone systems, i.e. those not connected to the grid, need maintenance on other system components, such as batteries.

Payback period:

Very much dependant upon the cost of the installation - on average around 30 years to recoup the total financial investment but this is based upon todays electricity rates. If rates increase the payback period is reduced, and as the market grows competitive influences may also effect the installation costs?


Manufacturers/installers are offering warranty periods ranging from five years to twenty years on average with regular maintenance checks required (rather like servicing a central heating boiler to maintain the manufacturers' warranty).

Planning considerations:

Some local authorities require planning permission to allow you to fit a PV system, especially in conservation areas or on listed buildings. Always check with your local authority about planning issues before you have a system installed. Obtaining retrospective planning permission can be difficult and costly.Interested in introducing a renewable energy technology into your home? The low carbon buildings programme will provide grants towards installing this technology.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

The Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme

Hello There,

Still on the renewable technology theme, I would like to talk about The Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme that has been set up in conjunction with the Inland Revenue, DEFRA and the website is produced by the Carbon Trust.

The Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme (ECA Scheme) enables businesses to claim 100% first year capital allowances on investments in energy saving technologies and products. Businesses are now able to write off the whole cost of their investment against their taxable profits of the period during which they make the investment.

Enhanced Capital Allowances will encourage businesses to invest in low carbon technologies.

There is an Energy Technology List comprising of approx 9,000 products that meet Government prescribed energy efficiency criteria and its this list that companies are encouraged to check when considering purchasing energy efficiency equipment. To qualify for the ECA the product must be on the Energy Technology List.

There is also a virtual exhibition hall where consumers can view the products and some of the suppliers that are on the Energy Technology List.

And if you go onto the DEFRA website check out David Milibands blog !

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

The Solar Trade Association

Hello There My Friends,

Hope you enjoyed your weekend. Interesting to note that on the BBC Breakfast Money Minute slots last Thursday, the Chief Exec of B&Q was being interviewed about their plans to stock wind turbines and solar thermal panels. However he hasnt got any on his home - yet (he did say he lived in a conservation area).

Today I would like to mention The Solar Trade Association - their annual conference & exhibition is this week (Wednesday 4th October 06) in Milton Keynes.

According to their website, The Solar Trade Association Ltd. (STA) is a company limited by guarantee, having been formed in 1978 to serve as a focal point for organisations with business interests in the Solar Energy industry. Those interests cover thermal applications, such as the production of domestic or industrial hot water or the heating of swimming pools. The STA endeavours to connect people with the sun, promote widespread use of solar energy technology and encourage excellence within the UK solar energy industry.

The STA website goes to to say that in addition to regulating the activities and standards of its members, the STA serves as an enquiry centre for the public, industry and governmental bodies. It provides information to enhance the general understanding of the advantages derived from solar energy systems and to encourage potential purchasers to use STA members. The members are made up of the producers of solar collectors and associated equipment and the installers of systems which cover the thermal solar business in the United Kingdom. The STA endeavours to influence opinion and facilitate widespread acceptance of all types of solar technology and provides information to its members on a regular basis concerning national and international standards, public enquiries, new legislation and advances in technology.

It takes part in standards committees and has a regular dialogue with Government Departments.The use of solar energy spares the use of conventional fuel and is non-polluting, thus being kind to the environment and reducing running costs for the user at the same time. By choosing a solar energy installation via STA members, you are assured of the highest quality and support.

Im surprised to see that atleast half a dozen well known and reputable solar thermal suppliers and installers that are not STA members listed on their site? I will attempt to investigate if there is a reason for this - I would have thought that everyone should subscribe to this and would actively encourage people to do so.

There is an annual membership fee and the cost is dependant upon the size of company (eg sole trader or SME - 10 employees or more, large company such as an equipment supplier or an energy company and a level in between). The membership charge starts from £100 per annum (+VAT).

The STA do scrutinise all membership applications which begin with the completion of the registration form by the applicant. The STA look into the financial stability of the applicant, their track record and their local trading standards background. They also check references. The applicant doesn't necessarily have to be a Clear Skies approved installer but most members are according to the STA.

Apparently this weeks event is so popular, the STA have had to book another room at the conference facilities - I hope they have an excellent AGM.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel