UK supermarkets and DIY chains stock up to twenty different types of energy-efficient light bulbs but most households have some light fittings that cannot use any of these bulbs. There are several hundred different combinations of fitting, shape, and power. Some internet sites, such as www.lightbulbs-direct.com/article/energy-saving or www.gogreenlights.co.uk offer a very wide range of low-energy-use bulbs including many unusual types you cannot find in shops. One problem remains: it is not always possible to tell whether the bulb you see on a webpage will actually fit your lamp holder or whether it will be the correct brightness. Light-bulb Libaries may be the answer.
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1) If you buy just one new appliance in 2010, make it a really efficient fridge-freezer. The improvements in the energy use of the best fridge-freezers have been really impressive in the last few years. If you have an old refrigerator, it may be responsible for as much as a sixth of your electricity bill. A good new machine might use less than a half as much power, particularly if it is not too large. A second benefit is that by choosing to buy a really efficient refrigerator you will be sending a clear signal to the manufacturers that energy consumption matters. An impressive new web site – www.energytariff.co.uk – allows you to compare the electricity used by almost all the appliances currently in UK shops. You can make well-informed choices from your computer.
Let’s face it: energy efficiency is boring when compared to the (relative) excitement of developing new sources of low-carbon electricity or heat. The popular science magazines are full of articles on new forms of solar panel and the latest designs for wind turbines. Improving the insulation of ordinary homes, shifting to LED lighting or increasing the take-up of heat pumps rarely command the attention of editors.
Wittingly or unwittingly, many manufacturers make it difficult to compare the electricity consumption of home appliances such as TVs and refrigerators. Although many appliances have been through standard EU tests and then been awarded a letter grade for energy efficiency, these grades are increasingly unhelpful in distinguishing between the excellent and the merely satisfactory. As in British school exams, an A grade doesn’t mean much because it covers such as wide range of performance.
(The information in this article has been updated by a more optimistic article that looks at the before and after experience of a ASHP installation in Oxford, Please go to http://www.carboncommentary.com/2010/08/03/1632)
Small heat pumps are increasingly used to provide space and water heating in UK homes. This trend is strongly encouraged by policy-makers and the government’s proposed Renewable Heat Incentive will add further financial support. The enthusiasm for this expensive technology should be moderated: for a home on the mains gas network, the savings in money will be small. Carbon benefits are probable but far from guaranteed. Moreover, air source heat pumps are unlikely to be able to heat many older homes effectively. Government, manufacturers, and installers need to be very much more cautious in encouraging the use of heat pumps and should use far more conservative payback assumptions. Heat pumps will eventually be a good investment for homeowners but probably not yet.
Tags: ASHPs, Carbon Trust, carbon reduction initiatives, Ceramic Fuel Cells, domestic, domestic heat pumps, Ecodan, energy efficiency, Energy Saving Trust, housing, Ice Energy, Mitsubishi, National Grid, Renewable Heat Incentive, technology
The budget confirmed the acceptance of the Committee on Climate Change‘s recommendation for carbon emissions in 2020. The UK will have to reduce its CO2 output by about 110m tonnes by 2020, equivalent to a 21% reduction on actual emissions in 2005 (and 34% on the 1990 figure). The proposed rate of emissions reduction is far faster than the UK has achieved thus far and the chancellor’s budget shows the government has started to recognise the scale of the challenge.
Tags: Alistair Darling, budget, carbon capture, carbon reduction initiatives, Climage Change Committee, energy efficiency, fossil fuels, Kingsnorth, London Array, motoring, nuclear, politics, power generation, renewables
In today’s Independent newspaper (London, Monday 23 February) I argue that we may need to accept some new nuclear power stations. I put forward the view that the trench warfare between the pro-nuclear groups and those that support renewables means that progress towards ‘decarbonising’ electricity generation in the UK is too slow. We probably need to invest in many different types of non fossil-fuel generation as rapidly as we can if we are to meet the tough targets for UK emissions reduction so painfully won by groups such as Friends of the Earth. We no longer have the luxury of ruling out nuclear expansion.
Tags: Areva, Areva EPR, carbon capture, carbon reduction initiatives, Climate Change Committee, corporate emissions, Council for the Protection of Rural England, EDF, electricity demand, emissions trading, energy efficiency, FGD, fossil fuels, LCPD, Mark Lynas, National Grid, nuclear, politics, power generation, renewables, ROCs, RWE, Sizewell
|Draught-excluding snake. Image source: Together.com.|
Together.com, the climate change campaigning organisation, has launched a new product for its annual campaign. It is promoting the traditional door ‘snake’ in its autumn publicity drive. Filled with insulating material, these colourful sausages stop heat leaving a warm room in winter through the gap at the bottom of the door. As part of the campaign, B&Q is selling snake-making kits for £1 on 20 October. National Trust properties are holding snake-making workshops over the half-term period.