Thursday, 23 April 2009


The unseasonably fine weather we have been enjoying for the last week has given my solar heating panel its first chance to perform this year.  We have had the boiler turned off for a week now and our family of four are enjoying daily hot showers (and the odd bath) with just the solar heated water.  There's plenty for washing up as well.  If only we could count on this lovely weather throughout the spring and summer, we wouldn't need to run the boiler again until late September.  

Combined with the solar heated water, the home energy improvements that I fitted in 2007 (efficient heating / lighting /refrigeration and effective loft insulation) have reduced our home's energy usage by 33% since 2006.  

Our total gas and electricity consumption in 2006 was 30.4 MWh and this resulted in 8 Tonnes of CO2 emissions.  In 2008, our total home energy usage fell by 10 MWh to 20.4 MWh, avoiding 2.7 Tonnes CO2 emissions.  

At current prices, this energy saving is giving me a cash return of £510 a year!  That makes for a likely payback period on my investment in home energy efficiency and solar hot water of just 12 years.  

Without the big ticket items (solar panel, condensing boiler), many households would see a payback within 2-3 years on simple investments like top-up loft insulation, heating controls, efficient light-bulbs and replacing outdated fridges and freezers with the most energy-efficient modern units.  So what's stopping them?  I suspect they simply don't realise how much energy their homes are wasting and how much it is costing them!

In my last post, I said that I hoped to arrange local screenings of "The Age of Stupid".  The producer, Franny Armstrong, has now set a start date for licensing such events of 22 May.  
Visit to calculate the license fee and register for your screening.

I hope my children's schools will agree to show the film and I will try to get some inspiring speakers along to give the audiences some big ideas for cutting their greenhouse gas emissions.  I shall also use these occasions to advise anyone who has yet to start making their home more energy efficient that they could save around £10 a week on heating and electricity bills, with just the basic energy-saving home improvements.

We also need a national campaign to persuade millions of voters to lobby their MPs about Copenhagen 2009, where the nations of the world will come together to agree a successor to the Kyoto protocol from 2012.  The Age of Stupid website is promising just such a campaign - Pete Postlethwaite signed their pledge in front of Ed Miliband, on stage at the film's Premiere in Leicester Square in March.  More details coming soon at