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Ecoretrofit Money saving Uncategorized Using less energy Using less water

The National Home Improvement Show

We headed off on our bikes to Olympia for the National Home Improvement Show with mixed feelings. I had bought tickets in a two for one offer a couple of months earlier and every week since they had sent me offers for free tickets so I was a bit annoyed with the organisers but the show sounded interesting and possibly more sustainable than the Ideal Home Show at least.

Cycling to OlympiaWe got there in time to see Oliver Heath talk about Smart homes and smart living. We were a bit worried that it started off like an advert for British Gas but once he was into his stride it was a really fascinating run through gadgets and devices that can make your house more efficient. Starting with heating he talked about smart meters and the difference they could make to our future heating controls. Then he moved on to discussing The Nest which is a very stylish new thermostat that controls your heating.

The Nest

So far these are only available in the US but I will keep a look out and feature them when they come to the UK.  In the meantime we have our own home grown version The Owl Intuition which I have talked about before and have at home. This gadget also replaces your thermostat and allows you to control your heating from anywhere in the world. The manufacturers are working on software that will help you to reduce consumption further by prompting when you can manage without heating. They’re also looking into a feature to notify friends or family if the hot water hasn’t been used for a long time which could be used as an alarm for the elderly.

The current version already gives great reports on your current usage and your history. Find out more about them on my product pages here.wall thermostat

Oliver moved on to talk about water-saving gadgets including the water pebble which times your shower and helps you reduce it and water saving shower heads which can reduce your water use without changing the feel of your shower. We have one at home and it certainly works. He also discussed a water pedal tap for your kitchen so you can turn the water on and off hands free when cooking, along with a kit for converting your existing toilet to low flush. I have converted my own toilet to low flush using a kit as well, further details in a blog soon.

Other sections of Oliver’s presentation covered ventilation systems and atmospheric changes such as light bulbs and paints. The section that made him most excited though had to be powering his hybrid car with the energy collected from his solar panels! If you are thinking of copying that I have found some good solar panel kits that you can fit yourself or I can arrange for a full scale installation.

If you have ever attended a home show you will know that there are many stalls and many more people! We find therefore that it is best to target a few stalls and escape.

So we visited a couple of stalls which have a wide range of low energy bulbs as I am looking to extend the range I offer on ecoalex.com and also need a few new ones around the house.

We also visited the Chimella stall. This was the launch of this product which is similar to an umbrella but is for putting up your chimney to reduce drafts and catch any dirt. The product has been designed

with great care and offers a real alternative to the chimney balloon as it can be removed if you want to use your fireplace. I hope to strike up a deal with Mr Chimella in the future as I thought it was a pretty cool product but if you want one now you can order one direct from him.

After this we were getting a bit tired so we headed off for tea and cake to chat about the new ideas we had picked up.

 

Categories
Encouraging wildlife and nature Home Surveys Using less energy Using less water

Open House Eco Highlights

I have been planning a few visits for Open House this weekend as it is a great chance to snoop around and pick up tips for future projects. I have found 3 eco homes in South London and 4 in North London so you can choose, or get up early and do them all. The North London ones are all tours with www.superhomes.org.uk and need to be booked and the South London ones you can just turn up for.

North London

London, Camden, Belsize Park Gardens, The Coach House
BelsizeT_hall-sunlight-374x294

This looks a pretty smart house with has had a lot of money invested in it. Sounds like they have a real enthusiasm and a lovely house. Includes wall insulation, LED lights and an electricity monitoring system.

London, Camden, St Augustine’s Road

A project by Camden Council to make a large house as sustainable as possible, worth a view and on the route between the others. Includes solar water heating, draught proofing and a condensing boiler.

London, Camden, Judd St, Queen Alexandra Mansions
Judd-St-374x294

A definite research visit this one, I am always being asked what you can do in a flat and I hope to pick up some tips here. Includes low energy bulbs and wall insulation.

London, Hackney, Amhurst Road

This is a house I have visited before and found inspirational when I visited. They have produced an excellent pragmatic retrofit that didn’t require rebuilding the whole house but still made a big difference to costs. This one is a little off the map from the others but I didn’t want to miss it out. Maybe have a cup of tea round Kings Cross and then head out here or visit first or last depending on where you live. Includes biodiversity features along with the usual wall insulation etc.

South London

49 Camberwell Grove, SE5 8JA, London, England

A long thin house that sounds really interesting for a nose around with some great green features including rainwater harvesting and solar panels.

3 Acorns Retro Eco-house, 2 Coleman Road, Camberwell, SE5 7TG, London, England

3 acorns

Another inspiring home that shows real practical changes you can make to any house and save. The owner is inspirational too and I left with a copy of his book last time I visited and have used it lots since, you can buy one here or probably when you get to the house. Includes solar thermal, solar panels and my favourite the ecofan.

Quay House, 2C Kings Grove (Queens Road end), SE15 2NB, London, England

Quay House

A bit further out but I hope I get time to look at this stylish and modern development.

 

Map

I have had a go at creating a Google map here there is an obvious route between the first 3 in North London and the south ones are pretty close together too.

Home surveys

If you feel inspired to change your home after your visit why not book an Ecoalex home eco audit for your house and see what you could change.