Tag: gas

Research finds that SuperHomes use 40% less energy

Detailed research into the energy use of SuperHomes reveals that, on average, they are using 40% less energy per square metre per year than the average UK home. SuperHomes are, therefore, much cheaper to run than their unrefurbished neighbours.

Chester SuperHome
Chester SuperHome. Whilst bills are similar to the owner’s previous home, that home was half the size!

The most energy efficient home in the study, whilst offering improved comfort, uses a staggering 86% less energy than the average home.

One of the participants in this research, Simon Brown, is no stranger to the benefits of retrofit. He says “After the first year, we were pleasantly surprised to find our total gas and electricity bill was slightly less than in our previous home, which was half the size.”

So, whilst low-carbon and low-energy don’t necessarily go hand in hand, this study confirms that SuperHomes excel in both respects.

The research report shows that an average SuperHome:

  • Is over 40% more energy-efficient than the average UK home in its energy use per square metre per year.
  • Consumes about 19% less total energy than the average UK home each year, despite having a larger than average floor area and a higher than average occupancy, and being older than an average house building.
  • Uses 104kWh of energy per square metre per year, compared with a national average of 177kWh/m2/yr.
  • Consumes a total of 14,722kWh of energy per annum, compared with an average household consumption of 18,100kWh.
  • Achieves an incredible average reduction of 72% in carbon emissions, based on comparisons between pre- and post-retrofit emissions

The most energy-efficient SuperHome in the survey (refurbished to the exacting Passivhaus standard) was found to use just 25kWh/m2/yr, an impressive 86% less than the national average.

Gabby Mallett, Director of SuperHomes and Households and Communities at the National Energy Foundation, commented:

“Many people assume that a low-carbon home is also a low-energy one. However, this is not necessarily the case … it’s fantastic to discover that many SuperHomes have not only gone much further than a 60% carbon reduction, but they’ve achieved great results on energy too.”

SuperHomes are older homes refurbished by their owners to deliver a carbon saving of at least 60%. The owners host free open days in September to share the benefits and the challenges of home refurbishment.

Researchers at the National Energy Foundation (NEF) calculated the energy and carbon figures for a representative sample of the existing 205 SuperHomes, by per person per year, and by per square metre of floor space per year. Using the 2012 National Energy Efficiency Data-Framework (NEED) sample, NEF was able to make comparisons between an average SuperHome and the average UK home with the same number of occupants or of the same size.

Read the Energy Efficiency Benchmarks for SuperHomes Report

Why does a real person come to read my Smart Meter?

A few days ago, I was surprised to get a visit a home from a meter reader, who had come to read my gas and electricity smart meters. Both meters had been replaced on behalf my utility company – Ovo Energy last March 2015 – with smart meters that take readings every 30 minutes!!

So why does a real person have to come to read my smart meters?

smart meter

After some investigation with the very helpful Ovo Energy Customer Service Team, I have now discovered why. After all it would seem pointless installing expensive smart meters and then employ someone to visit the house to take the meter reading. Ultimately, I as the consumer would be paying more. And the current UK government – energy efficiency policy – appears to be focused on encouraging the Utility companies to charge consumers less.

It appears that under current legislation, utility companies as part of their licence conditions to operate have an obligation to supply energy have to:-

  • check for evidence of deterioration that might affect the safety or proper functioning of the meter,
  • check for evidence of tampering or theft, and
  • take a physical meter reading to ensure accurate customer bills.

Ofgem produced a consultation paper and invited comments during a consultation period which closed in September 2015. Their position was:-

“that health and safety obligations in legislation and industry codes, and recently enhanced theft detection and billing accuracy supply licence obligations, are more effective and proportionate ways to achieve the desired policy objectives of meter inspections. We expected repealing the licence conditions would improve competition in the retail energy market. We also thought that repeal would have the greatest potential to enable cost savings from smart meters.”

Ofgem’s preferred option is to:-

“repeal the meter inspection supply licence conditions. This is because we think other regulations and policies, including safety obligations and recently enhanced theft detection and billing accuracy obligations offer more effective and proportionate protections for consumer interests.”

The full Ofgem original Consultation paper can be found here and the final consultation paper here.

These modifications would come into effect on 1 April 2016, subject to appeals made within 56 days from the date Ofgem publish the decision notices.

So home consumers with Smart Meters will no longer get a visit from a Utility Meter Reader – and perhaps bills might go done a bit?

Peter Bates

PS The Meter Reader that came out did not know how to read the Smart Electric Meter!! So how easy is this for consumers? Ovo Energy then sent me the details of which button to press to read the data collected. It turns out that this is quite comprehensive. It’s a pity their current display readers , don’t show all this information! However, Ovo Energy admit they are not as good as they expected and there are plans to upgrade these devices.

Ground Source Heat Pump – using heat from a pond

Here’s an interesting example of getting renewable energy using a ground source heat pump (GSHP) – that takes its heat from the water in a pond rather than from the ground.

The Cambridgeshire householder replaced his gas boiler with a Kensa 24kW Single Phase Twin Compressor GSHP to harness renewable heat energy from a nearby lake to provide space heating and domestic hot water (DHW) to his Grade 2 listed farmhouse.

Installation-montage-2-570x267

pond mats consisting of slinky pipes attached to corrosion resistant stainless steel frames into the lake on a closed loop system. They connected the system up to the heat pump which is housed in an annex building via pipes running under the lawn up to the main house. This method removed the need for large amounts of drilling or digging, thereby reducing the cost and duration of the installation.

slinky pipes

More details of this case study

A GSHP is eligible under the UK government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) – which means that the householder will receive quarterly payments over a seven year period that are likely to cover the capital costs of the installation. Plus the householder is likely to pay less for energy bills.

In order to claim back under RHI a Green Deal Assessment is required. We (pjb Associates) can provide a Green Deal Assessment before or after the installation of a renewable solution like a GSHP. Get an Assessment We can now cover the whole of East Anglia.

Solid Wall Insulation – Unlocking Demand and Driving Up Standards

In November 2015, the chief construction adviser to the government Peter Hansford published his recommendations aimed at restoring the credibility of solid wall insulation (SWI). The report “Solid Wall Insulation – Unlocking Demand and Driving Up Standards” provides a roadmap for the way the industry needs to go to improve standards and quality of work, embracing best practice and restoring consumer confidence that will stimulate the uptake of these measures leading to improving comfort, health and well-being as well as carbon reduction benefits.

SWI Report Nov 2015

The UK has a legally binding commitment to reduce carbon emissions from 1990 levels by a massive 80% by 2050. Accordingly, the Construction 2025 strategy has set the ambition of achieving a 50% reduction in emissions across the built environment by 2025.

Given that there are around 26 million existing homes in the United Kingdom and over eight million of these with solid walls, adopting solid wall insulation as a solution for much of  existing UK housing stock makes good business sense. The UK Green Construction Board commissioned Peter Hansford to carry out this review. Its purpose is to leverage the latent possibilities in the construction industry to unlock innovation and increase demand for solid wall insulation.

BISF type system-built home

Benefits derived from treating properties with SWI, in addition to the carbon reduction benefits, include -improving comfort, health and well-being; supporting fuel security by reducing overall energy demand; addressing fuel poverty;improving fabric and reducing maintenance costs; regenerating neighbourhoods; and contributing to GDP and tax revenues. The economic case for the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock is also strong.
However, current demand for SWI is depressed for a variety of policy and technical reasons. At the same time, SWI has developed somewhat of a poor reputation due to numerous examples of inadequate installation and poor workmanship. The report considers that if  SWI is to be promoted as an effective retrofit solution, these areas need to be addressed with urgency.Orlit type system-built home The Green Construction Board is therefore keen to see increased demand for SWI and better standards of design and installation, so as to significantly reduce carbon across the domestic sector of the built environment.

With so many property archetypes existing, there is no single solution that would apply to all properties. This adds to the confusion by householders of what is the correct solution for their individual properties.

To make matters worse, the building physics for some types of property is not widely nor perhaps fully understood. This has resulted in many instances of an incorrect solution having been applied, which in some cases has caused damp, mould or poor air quality. Little wonder then, the reluctance of homeowners to spend money retrofitting their properties if the outcome cannot be assured.
To overcome these problems, a higher level of expertise is needed in assessing the correct solution for a particular property and in ensuring that it is installed properly.
The top 12 domestic property archetypes in the UK account for approximately 15.5 million homes. They represent around 60% of the total UK housing stock and 57% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Of these 15.5 million homes, around 3.5 million (some 23%) are suitable for SWI. SWI therefore has the potential to benefit a significant number of homes and play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the UK domestic housing stock.
From this group of 3.5 million homes suitable for SWI, 75% are owner occupied (2.6 million); 10% are owned by Local Authorities or Housing Associations (340,000); and 15% are private rented (550,000). Nearly 1.2 million of these homes (34%) are categorised as containing ‘vulnerable households’.
The report offers recommendations to address the issues above, and proposes:

  • Taking a co-ordinated and holistic approach to insulating solid wall homes;
  • Policy measures which Government may wish to consider;
  • Focusing research on areas that are not fully understood;
  • Review and revision of standards and measures for statutory compliance;
  • More robust accreditation of assessors and qualified installers;
  • Development of guidance for assessors, designers, supervisors and customers, in language appropriate to themselves;
  • The role of a Retrofit Co-ordinator;
  • An awareness campaign with a simple message, so as to increase uptake;
  • The creation of a Retrofit Hub as a technical centre of excellence; and
  • Leadership arrangements for making these recommendations happen.

The report also contains a number of case studies of different property archetypes.

Get the full report

Additional article “Retrofit Coordinators to be mandatory for all SWI projects” – CoRE

What’s so smart about smart meters?

According to veteran environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt, replace your old gas and electricity meters with natty new digital ones and you could be helping to tackle "the biggest single challenge that humankind has ever faced" - global warming. This is quoted in an article by - which addresses the question - What's so smart about smart meters?

smartmeterdisplay

Wall argues that smart meters are not just about saving a few quid on your gas and electricity bills to save people money but are being rolled out in many developed nations around the world to promote more competition, more innovation, and change the way the global energy industry works.

The aim of the UK government is to install 53 million of them by 2020 in homes as well as businesses. Smart meters will increase competition by making it easier for new suppliers to enter the market, says Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB, the body responsible for publicising smart meter roll-out.

Read the full BBC article