Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Energy conservation report

My energy supplier offers a free energy efficiency check on our home, by questionnaire,which implied that I would find out where I am and how I can reduce my energy requirements by taking simple measures.
It arrived today and frankly, I was disappointed, It gives our house an energy efficiency rating of 40% ( 100% being maximum ). The measures that increase efficiency are considered to be as follows :
1. Loft insulation
2. Double glazing of windows
3. Low energy lighting
4. solid fuel closed room heater
5. dryline the walls

Doing all of these would increase my rating to 70 to 80% and here is the interesting bit, see if I got that right:

Estimated potential running costs would come to £ 860 per year and my annual savings would be £ 490 per year which to me means that it is actually going to cost me £370 more than I am spending now. Maybe compared to another person’s home that makes sense but I was hoping to become more energy efficient without it costing me more each year. Was that unrealistic?

It did however include a leaflet for warmfront who will provide a grant to make your home warmer if you qualify. Central heating probably increases the value of your home, I am told by the local estate agent that ‘ people expect it’. I would love to have central heating but even if it is installed I wonder whether it is practical to have it running when ‘people expect it’.

My question is this, how does gas central heating make environmental sense? What heating other than solar or wind powered at the moment makes environmental sense? Currently we use logs to heat our stove in the living room and a gas stove which heats our water and does our cooking and also provides heat in winter in the kitchen.

I decided to explore on wikipedia and came up with this, an article about the environmental cost of wood, and yes it appears that it has an environmental cost.

Wood is said to be a greenhouse gas lean form of heating since the combustion of a tree releases the same amount of carbon dioxide as is bound up by a growing tree. Therefore, for this to be true, the resource must be managed accordingly. As far as the carbon dioxide released from the energy used in the processing and transport of heating wood, it does contribute to global warming.

Taking this into account, wood is a low cost energy, which is renewable if you manage a forest nearby and you do not need to travel far with the energy source. The reason for us using wood is that it grows on our land, and for every tree we cut, we plant another one.
Against that would be the use of gas and other fuels but the costs of manufacturing, transporting and delivering these is higher because they get delivered by road.

Electricity appears to be the most energy efficient but the cost of it is the highest.
A calculator can be found here.
So my thinking is as follows :

I have wood available, so I might as well use it,as long as I manage the amount I use and replace what I am using with new trees.
Electricity can be produced by using solar panels which is what I am investigating at the moment.

If you have any suggestions on how to deal with the cold ,apart from central heating, why not share it?

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