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The GREEN DEAL thread
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RenewableCandy



Joined: 12 Sep 2007
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Location: York

PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:42 pm    Post subject: The GREEN DEAL thread Reply with quote

Everyone's talking about it but i've not got a Scooby what the practical upshot of the Green Deal is going to be.

So far I've heard that it's going to replace CERT, and there's £30 Bn, or possibly £30 M, behind it.

I've also heard that from April, if you want FiTs for yer shiny new PV, you'll have to have wall insulation EVEN IF YOUR WALLS HAVE NO CAVITY. This precludes most of the Vic/Edwardian houses so popular in the UK (doubly so if you're only counting the people who have enough money for a PV), it also precludes a lot of the type of housing lived in by poorer people whose places would otherwise have qualified for a "council installs and collects the FiT" scheme.

It has recently been trashed by the guys at Knaupf.

So, is there anything to recommend the Green Deal?
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cubes



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

It has recently been trashed by the guys at Knaupf.


He looks too smug for me to take this seriously Smile
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want to find out about the Green Deal go to the Greening Campaign website and book into one of their free meetings. I went to one on Tuesday and I'll do a report on it soon.
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SleeperService



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems to me that you may have a natural ally for your home insulation scheme Ken. I suspect they know how to bend government will better than us Very Happy
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

May I drop a couple of small turds into the perfunctory punchbowl? (sorry, it's a boring day here with far too much time to think Rolling Eyes ).

Firstly, it doesn't matter how much insulation you have, if you've not got a heat source because the grid is down you're still going to get cold as human body heat isn't sufficient to warm the air space of the average home (e.g., that's why people sleep in cardboard boxes -- it creates a micro-climate maintainable at a more comfortable temperature by body heat).

That's the bigger issue about mega-grids -- you don't need to lose all supply for them to collapse, you need only have slightly less supply than demand in order to trigger rolling disconnections or a complete system collapse. Consequently, whilst saving energy is a good thing, if we're still connected to systems of mass consumption then we only need demand to exceed supply by small amount to create a systemic perturbation -- be that high prices, or the power grid browning out. Therefore, whilst insulation is an important issue, you'd be far better looking at the resilience of your "home system" as a whole (e.g., in a toss-up between getting a wood burner or an extra 100mm of rockwool in the loft, the wood burner makes far more sense). Unfortunately, from the point of view of "green deals", that's not "good business" because considering such issues raises questions about the whole "business as usual" shebang, and that might affect people's confidence in their political leader's infatuation with growth economics. Crying or Very sad

Secondly, and most significantly, insulation doesn't solve the problem if bills are continually rising. We "sell" insulation to the public on the basis of the money saved, but what we should correctly say is that in future -- because prices are rising generally -- such measures won't save money compared to today's baseline but they might make costs more manageable; but even that's doubtful in the medium/long term given the scale of price rises. But again, the problem with truthfully stating the case is that it shakes confidence in "business as usual" -- people might stop being management consultants or economists and run to the hills to grow spuds instead (oh!, just a dream I know, but what a wonderful world if it came true! Laughing )

The other evening I had a couple of climate campaigners at one of my gigs. They were saying that insulation was good because it saved carbon. I countered by pointing out that with fuel bills rising at around 15% or so per year, and thus doubling every five years, the average insulation job will only "save" money for a couple of years. Ultimately, like the first point above, it doesn't matter how much insulation you have or how much carbon you save if you can't pay the bill. Strangely enough they insisted that the affordability of the bill wasn't relevant Shocked -- it was only saving carbon that mattered. Tinfoil Hat

The issue is not insulation, it's lifestyle -- the energy, carbon and resource savings from other aspects of our existence (e.g. diet, and where that food is sourced) have the potential to create much greater reductions in total impact, and synergisms that work across society as a whole to create systemic change. The present assumption within "green consumerism" is that lifestyle is a constant, and we merely change the elements which create that lifestyle in order to render it ecologically benign. In reality it's the consuming lifestyle that's the problem, and so we need to tackle consumption in general -- of which the size of house and what we fill it with is a key component. We have to deal with lifestyle as a holistic issue, and question many of the assumptions we make about what should constitute life's "essentials", rather than fiddle about with peripheral issues such as insulation.

In that respect, it's not only disingenuous of environmentalists to sell insulation as a "money saver" (actually, there's lots of arguments about the energy/carbon efficacy of insulation because of the greater economic efficiency it creates); it's also a distraction from the more serious issue of lifestyles because it creates the perception of a "solution" when it isn't. It creates a false sense of security and let's people believe that they can continue to consume as before (e.g., how many luxury cars have you seen outside houses with a large PV system on the roof? Evil or Very Mad )

Right then, digital defecation complete the punch is ready -- drink up! Wink
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DominicJ



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mobbsey
I thought the whole point of a passivhaus was that it didnt need heating?
Or needed only a very marginal amount of heating?

Insulation saves money against a none insulated, house, not against a historic cost.
Today, a house with a foot of wall insulation and three feet in the loft will cost considerably less to heat than a house with no insulation what so ever, and that will always remain the case.
I can check my gas bill against that of my neighbours (as an aggregate rather than actual direct comparisons, I have topped up my insulation (700cm at its thickest) and use 75% of the average.


Periodic grid access is also a surmountable problem.
Apparently, the average house requires a constant 6kw to maintain its temperature, but that could be 6kws all the time, or 24kw an hour, for 1 hour, every 4 hours.
If you reduce that requirement to 1kw constantly, then you can maintain temperature on a single 24kwh burst for one hour per day
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SleeperService



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll attempt to deturd the punchbowl here.

If there is enough insulation it's possible to get by with very little heat input, kenneal has done it and I'm sure others have. A wood (or coal) stove is grid independan. after all.

I don't think the justification that people use to buy things like insulation are a problem as long as they do it. It's a much better purchasing decision than a forgein holiday on the credit card or a new car to replace the 'old' two year old one outside.

As BAU ends everybody's lifestyle will change hopefully for the better if they are prepared.

Not far from me there's a house now covered with PV panels, the drive contains a huge BMW suv and a slightly smaller RAV4. They cut down a line of trees that were shading the PV panels on saturday. The panels are still shaded by the house to the south of them at the moment and I estimate will remain so until mid February. They're also at about 30 deg from the horizontal Shocked
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SleeperService wrote:
If there is enough insulation it's possible to get by with very little heat input

DominicJ wrote:
I thought the whole point of a passivhaus was that it didnt need heating? Or needed only a very marginal amount of heating?

You're not talking about the average UK house there! Most houses built in the UK before the mid-90s have pretty naff thermal performance. If you want a truly insulated envelope, like Passivhaus, then that needs to be built from scratch -- it can't be efficiently retrofitted.

We have to deal with the world as it is, not as we want it to be. As we're replacing less than two percent of the housing stock each year, it'll take many decades to even approach a sensible level of space heating in the housing stock. You're replies assume new, highly insulated housing -- that's a wholly unrealistic assumption given that both heating costs and energy supply are going to be a big issue over the next decade or two.

DominicJ wrote:
Insulation saves money against a none insulated, house, not against a historic cost.

True (as I said, choice between wood burner and extra insulation), but once you've put 250mm-300mm in the loft, and sorted windows and doors, adding extra doesn't make that much difference. Also, installing cavity insulation in some older houses is either impossible (no cavity), or it can create serious damp and cold bridging problems -- so it's not recommended to fit it to all houses. At that point you need to think of broader lifestyle options not only to manage your ecological footprint, but also to keep the rising cost of living under control.

We also have to face the face that most new "eco-style" houses cost upwards of £80k to build and market for more than £200k -- and yet I've been inside low impact homes which were little more than garden sheds, costing only a few thousand, that have been far more comfortable. As I said before, we need to question the whole lifestyle (and thus the archetypal concept of "the house", and the "modern" lifestyle that it is intended to complement), not simply the heat loss issue.
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DominicJ



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Right get you, yeah by the time you;ve got 300mm in a modern home, your pushing it. I cant go over the original 70mm in some places, simply becausen there is no space between the joists and rafters to insulate
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to get enough insulation in so that we can use our 5 kW woodburner and nowtelse but sunshine, to keep our house above, ooh, about 15 degC.

At present this is just about possible on winter evenings after sunny days, if we light up at about 4 pm. But without CH the mornings would be a total nightmare.
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In practice, I think this is the reality we have to concentrate upon:

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JohnB



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll soon be moving into about a fifth of my house. Potentially (subject to planning and building regs that probably won't allow it) four more households could do the same in the rest of it (plus the yurt in the field). I'm hoping that despite being an old stone house it will be easy to heat my bit. The walls are being lime plastered so they will dry out and be warmer, rather than being damp behind the cement. I'm building a box bed, so I can retreat to an insulated cosy space if it's really cold. I'll be adding insulation where possible, and dealing with draughts (but need an air supply for the stove). Externally insulating my bit wouldn't be unaffordable. It should end up as a cosy, cheap and easy to maintain multi-functional space.

With a number of households on site, we can share some facilities, like the washing machine and maybe vehicles, saving space and costs.

By working on a small space, it could be affordable for many people to do a really effective job without a Green Deal loan.
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is possible to make significant heating savings, 80 to 90%, by retrofitting insulation and draught proofing measures to most houses. But the installation has to be carried out to a certain standard. The Green Deal doesn't set a standard.

Another problem with the Green Deal is that there is a Golden Rule which says that all installations should be paid for out of the savings in the fuel bills. As Mobbsey says, fuel bills are rising every year so what is "economic" this year is sub standard next year. Early adopters are going to find that they have to revisit their insulation every few years to get to the optimum insulation thickness. To an environmentalist this is clearly daft but to an economist, seems perfectly reasonable.

The number of houses to be insulated, and this doesn't include other buildings, is about 25 million. If these are to be done to the 80% fuel saving required by the Climate Change Act and by the required date of 2050 that means 625,000 houses per year on average. If the installations follow a standard distribution curve, however, that number will peak at about 2 to 3 million houses per year. We can't even build houses at more than 1 to 200,000 per year and that is a much simpler job to do. With the numbers involved we need a one hit policy on each house. This will also reduce the overall costs significantly.

If the houses are insulated according to the Golden Rule in a piecemeal fashion there will be problems attaining a good envelope. Bits done here and there won't join up and it will be difficult to form a wind tight barrier essential for a low air leakage from the house. Costs will rise with each visit as site establishment, scaffolding, travel and a myriad of other minor costs mount. There would also be a huge saving in costs if a number of houses in an area were treated at the same time. None of this is allowed for in the Green Deal although the Greening Campaign is talking of communities organising to get the work done in larger contracts.

Regarding the residual heating load, if the houses are insulated to what will be Passivhaus levels of insulation and near PH airtightness the residual heat load would generally be about 1 to 2kW with 5 or so for larger and difficult to treat houses. (Mansions I'm not bothered about nor talking about.) Some form of heating, as has been discussed, would be necessary. Most houses have a chimney and most older houses have a significant amount of thermal mass, if insulated externally. This thermal mass would allow for a number of days of carryover without any alternate heat source as long as a temperature drop from 21 or so down to 16 was tolerated. As Mobbsey says, a change of life style is required! In Candy's case, with insulation and thermal mass the temperature drop over night or even over 24 hours would be negligible.

The most problematic houses would be the houses built from the early 1970s until now. This is because they are generally built with an inside skin of lightweight blockwork or sometimes a timber frame and have no thermal mass. Neither do they have a chimney so it will be expensive and imperative for the owners to install some form of alternative heating that does not rely on an external electricity supply.

As Dominic points out there are some difficult to insulate spots, such at the joint between the wall and the roof but even this is possible with a wedge of internal insulation in the right place. This would only be really necessary if a condensation problem developed at this point.

Funnily enough, I'm typing this in between finishing off the details for just such an insulation job on a 1970s house.

The high cost of modern houses is caused by the high land price which is caused by an artificial shortage of land caused by the planning system and NIMBYism. Every one wants more houses for their children but always somewhere else. The extra cost of a PH standard house is about 10 to 15% but this would be recouped in a very short time given current fuel cost inflation.

The problem isn't environmentalists it's current expectations, fuel cost inflation and, if you believe the science, Climate Change. If Mobbsey can convince people to turn their heating down from the 24 deg that is common to about 18 deg he is a better man than I. If he can persuade people to live in 200 or 300 square feet houses instead of 1000 to 2000 square feet he's the new Messiah and we should all worship him. Very Happy
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenneal - lagger wrote:
If he can persuade people to live in 200 or 300 square feet houses instead of 1000 to 2000 square feet he's the new Messiah and we should all worship him. Very Happy

{Terry Jones mode}
"The Messiah? There's a mess all right, but no Messiah!" Laughing
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JohnB



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenneal - lagger wrote:
If he can persuade people to live in 200 or 300 square feet houses instead of 1000 to 2000 square feet he's the new Messiah and we should all worship him. Very Happy

"This short video features tiny house builders Jim and Caleb Wilkins, who explain how building and living small can have a positive impact on the environment."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=znvW11O6KRM
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