Thursday, October 22, 2009

Should greens buy eco-homes?

From an ecological point of view my house is rubbish. It was built 110 years ago when the ventilation to prevent rot was seen as more important than energy efficiency, it has solid brick walls, it is the northern one of a pair of semis and it is down in a dip where the sun seldom strikes when we need it in the depth of winter. We have done what we can to improve it from a carbon point of view - blocking holes in the wall, replacing single with triple glazing, doubling the attic insulation and adding some to smaller roof cavities, upgrading the boiler and putting in a solar hot water system, but I doubt the house has a better carbon footprint than a well made modern house. I have a dream of building my own zero carbon home, but the question remains, why don't I move into a well built modern home? My personal carbon footprint would be instantly cut.

The simple answer is location, location, location. I live within walking/cycling distance of the city centre in a wooded river valley where I can hear the owls cry in the night. You can't beat that on many levels.

But, more importantly, would a non-green have lavished the eco-love (and money!) on this house that it needed? Probably not, and while I was tucked up in a modern house feeling smug, someone would be sitting in this one, complaining about the fuel bill, while the inefficient boiler pumped out the carbon.

So, with a huge number of poorly performing houses out there, there is a strong argument that greens should buy houses with a huge carbon footprint and do their best to cut that footprint as much as possible, going above and beyond what a home owner would normally do. Then Joe and/or Jo Public can buy a modern house and have a lower carbon footprint by default. Everyone's a winner!

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At 9:30 PM, Blogger said...

Well done in your efforts, though I think rising energy costs are now convincing non - eco to consider energy saving.

I have below included an exert of an article that may provide a few further ideas, also there are now very effective and affordable solid wall insulating materials available.

Time for change
We’ve all grown up taking water for granted. Turn on the tap and there’s water, flush the wc, take a bath, put on the dishwasher, turn on a hosepipe. We use water without really thinking about it. We’ve never had to change our ways – until now.
We’re at the tipping point of needing to take a more active role in reducing the amount of water we use, otherwise we will ultimately suffer higher water bills.
Only 1% or the earth water is available for drinking. Governments are setting water and energy conservation targets, with many businesses already paying excessively high water bills caused by lack of regulation from water companies, billing errors, water leaks.
Domestic customers not on meters metres fail to recognise the cost of their water usage and need to understand that when you heat water you are also using gas and/or electricity, hence reducing your water consumption will in turn reduce your fuel costs, and if this isn’t a wakeup call be aware of plans for every home to be fitted with water meters.
We are more aware of our environment than ever. It’s only a matter of time before water conservation goes the same way as recycling of household waste. Both are modern-day issues: recycling came around because we needed to reduce the pressure of ever-growing consumerism and wastage. In the same way, changes in weather patterns and the effects of global warming have had such a dramatic effect on the UK’s water supply that scarcity and cost are becoming increasingly important issues for all of us.
In the home: How can I save water?
It’s easy, water-saving doesn’t require drastic measures, huge expense or big shifts in the way you do things, start at the beginning with small steps, learn and understand how much water some water-saving products will save (and how much extra money you’ll have in your pocket), then adopt even more water-saving measures.
Reduce your water usage by 9 litres a day, you can do this simply by saving the cold water that runs as your shower warms up, with a Pop-Up Bucket - and then use the water on the plants. A new product to market is Hydrasave – a clever inexpensive device that automatically diverts the cold water we typically waste waiting for hot water to reach the taps to a water butt.
Reduce your water usage by around 12 litres a day by installing a cheap water dams in your toilet cistern.
Reduce your water usage by 30 litres a day can be achieved by installing aerating tap fixtures and low flow showerheads (these can also improve your shower’s performance effectively turning a low pressured system in to a power shower, not to mention the reduces costs to heat the water
You can read the full article here

At 4:48 AM, Anonymous Dillon Brayton said...

I would love your opinion on my Green initiatives. I have been a painter all my life and I'm kinda stubborn, but we all try and make a difference in our own ways. My goal is to set the "High Bar" in my industry and have others follow my lead. Tell me what you think...


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