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The GREEN DEAL thread
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DominicJ



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
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.


ARGGHHHH!!!
No its not.
The problem is that 'ever rising fuel bills' isnt an accepted fact*.
If fuel costs were going to rise 10% per annum, it could be built into the costings.

Theres also a massive problem with unowned housing. I live in a block of four houses.
I'd struggle to find £10,000 to fund my share of insulation, I didnt need to heat my home anymore, awesome, I'll find it. The problem is, the three other houses are owned by a social landlord, who doesnt have £30,000 for essential improvements, never mind none essential improvements. Nor do the tenants have £10,000 for investing in someone elses house.

Ken, my local association is hosting "policy forums" at the moment, if you could send me through anything you have on enforced insulation scheme, I'd love to take it forward.

*And remember, thats far from clear in the short term, shale gas in the US has wrecked that trend.
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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

I can see the face of my local planners if I walked in and applied for this! That's the ultimate problem about eco-design today; building codes are written by the people who sell the energy/resource dense materials that go into making the modern "consumer" home.

You can find out more about the academics involved in this video at --
http://www.tchep.umn.edu/
-- and there's a summary at --
http://www.tchep.umn.edu/prod/groups/cfans/@pub/@cfans/@tchep/documents/asset/cfans_asset_342524.pdf

The web site of the cabin builders is at --
http://tinygreencabins.com/
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JohnB



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mobbsey wrote:
I can see the face of my local planners if I walked in and applied for this! That's the ultimate problem about eco-design today; building codes are written by the people who sell the energy/resource dense materials that go into making the modern "consumer" home.

It's a problem in the US too, where the tiny house movement seems most active. They build tiny homes on trailers, as they fall foul of their building codes, and this is a way round it. Finding ways to create tiny homes in the UK should be an interesting challenge!
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DominicJ wrote:
Theres also a massive problem with unowned housing. I live in a block of four houses.
I'd struggle to find £10,000 to fund my share of insulation, I didnt need to heat my home anymore, awesome, I'll find it. The problem is, the three other houses are owned by a social landlord, who doesnt have £30,000 for essential improvements, never mind none essential improvements. Nor do the tenants have £10,000 for investing in someone elses house.

Ken, my local association is hosting "policy forums" at the moment, if you could send me through anything you have on enforced insulation scheme, I'd love to take it forward.

*And remember, thats far from clear in the short term, shale gas in the US has wrecked that trend.


With the Green Deal there are no upfront costs and you don't need a credit rating of any sort. The costs are paid for by a charge on the house which is recouped through the electricity bills. Social landlords will be queueing up for this, I would think, as they will effectively get a free upgrade to their properties while the Golden rule ensures that their tenants don't pay any extra. There are also subsidies for those who are in fuel poverty.

Google Green Deal and read the blurb, Dominic.

There are thoughts that the UK and some European shales have different properties to the US ones and that there won't be the same "bonanza" in the UK at least.

Population density is vastly greater in the UK than the US and resistance to drilling here will be far greater and better organised. In the US the poor live in the countryside. In the UK it's the rich who live there.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Someone on the Oil Drum has done an excellent comparison of "Bonanzas" of the Gold-rush and Shale-gas/oil varieties. The conclusions are sobering.
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DominicJ



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ken
I found SIMTRA?
My big worries would of course be, what if the calculation is wrong, and the savings dont meet the bill, and as you say, what if the green deal calculations are wrong, and possible savings are missed.

My gas bill is, for arguements sake, £1000 per year, if we assume the majority of that is heating (it is) you can save £800 per year, if you insulate at a cost of £13,000, its a very long payback period.

Honestly I am on your side, but it needs a bigger punch.

Does the state of the walls matter?
For example, I need some brick work replacing, and some repointing, does your insulation render this irrelevent? Or does it make it even more pressing?
How about reroofing, could that be dont at the same time? Does it need to be? Is it cheaper to combine them?

Does that £13,000 include VAT?
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DominicJ wrote:
if you insulate at a cost of £13,000

What! Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

I think I spent a couple of hundred on insulation and materials!

The greater issue is that there's a limit to potential savings on space heating, and as the greatest component of that is ventilation losses (~30%) the work on the fabric will never have a sensible "pay back" (unless you fit heat recovery, which raises its own issues about sustainability and systemic complexity). It's far more effective in terms of pay back to turn the heating down (saves ~10% for each degree) rather than re-engineer the fabric of the building.

In any case, why value things in terms of their "pay back". Do people value their cars in terms of pay back, or mobile phones and games consoles? The reason you provide "heating services" to you home is because you don't want to be cold. The issue isn't whether that makes savings -- and I think green/energy groups are dead wrong to promote it on that basis. The reason you undertake insulation work is to minimise costs; the savings, especially as prices are rising, are irrelevant to the necessity to provide heat. That's also why fuel prices will keep rising -- because, like the necessity to eat and drink, people have no option but to pay.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In any case, why value things in terms of their "pay back".
A very good question in general, but we're talking about a system here that relies, for its running, on installations paying back their costs, so that the costs can be paid using the price of the energy saved.

Dom has very neatly pointed out another flaw: it saves a fortune if any types of building-work can be co-ordinated (the cost of scaffolding, for example, is about £1,000 a throw, and so it should be, to protect the people working on it). This process, difficult as it is already, is not going to be made any easier by having to faff around with (probably understaffed) bits of HMG. Installing any type of insulation or airtightness-improving measures without first dealing with any ongoing damp problems (most UK houses have these) is a definite no-no.
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DominicJ



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mobbsey

But if I can be warm by spending £1000 a year on gas, or £100 a year on Gas, I would sensibly choose the £100.
But not, if it costs £50,000 to make the improvements to get me down to £100

Its not the same as a car. Because a car is a recreational spend as much as a practical one.

I have done my loft, my walls are already done, but quite badly, and my house is as draft proof as possible.
I believe kens arguement is to add a third layer to my double brick build, outside.
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RenewableCandy wrote:
Quote:
In any case, why value things in terms of their "pay back".
A very good question in general, but we're talking about a system here that relies, for its running, on installations paying back their costs, so that the costs can be paid using the price of the energy saved.

I would argue that we're dealing with a system of consumption; and just as is the case that some people drive an old Ford whilst other people drive new Audis or BMWs, so some people "consume" solar PV or wind turbines for reasons other than the pay back (and in reality, I see an awful lot of houses with big PV arrays which also have an Audi or BMW in the driveway Evil or Very Mad ).

The real issue here is not pay back, its the long-term viability and resilience of our choices today -- and in a climate where such longer-term options are not on the agenda, perhaps because they philosophically negate the whole "conspicuous consumption" paradigm, the "pay back" measure is leading people to make some seriously dodgy choices. E.g., if we move to a situation where power cuts become more common (which is the norm for the majority of those with electricity supplies in the developing world) will the adoption of micro-generation be purely an issue of pay back?; and if grid reliability falls, will people be buying the gadgetised grid-synchronous systems that are the norm today or will they prefer a battery-backed-up grid independent system?

On that note...

DominicJ wrote:
Its not the same as a car. Because a car is a recreational spend as much as a practical one.

And the level of, or source of home heating is not?

I don't drive, and that's always been a conscious choice on my part (hence no driving licence). In terms of my work that's brilliant because people pay my travel expenses. How do you assess the "pay back" of that decision? You can't, because that's a lifestyle change that can't readily be reduced to a common measurement. E.g. how would you put a monetary value on my hatred of insular metal boxes?

Likewise, when we're looking at the difference between solar thermal/PV or gas, or installing heat recovery rather than having a leaky house, whilst we can create a more readily apparent common measure, it still can encompass the varied reasons why we might adopt certain issues.

The most basic feature of any "pay back" calculation is the assumption of stasis -- the idea that the conditions or our values today will be the same in the future. But more importantly "pay back" has become the justification for change for many of the campaign groups and policy wonks who want to market an ecological view of the world which is devoid of any critical content; it's a faux version of change which represents no significant change at all, and therefore doesn't address the root causes of the reasons why people carry it out. In reality, and considering the likely changes in the supply capacity and stability of our energy systems, stasis is the last thing that you should assume when making a choice on what to buy today.

E.g., air-source heat recovery systems are very nice pieces of DODGY, and can cut energy consumption significantly which gives them a fairly good payback; but they're also extremely complex systems that require a number of specialised parts to function. Therefore, in the event of technical complexity unravelling, they're more risky than, for example, a micro-hydro or micro-wind option which are more easily maintained/rebuilt using basic engineering skills and tools. However, the price of failure for a house with heat recovery is higher still, compared to other options, because of the very high leak proofing these systems require to function effectively -- if the system fails and can't be fixed, or you can't get enough power to make it function, the air quality of the house will quickly fall and after a prolonged period will reduce the liveability of the house.

So, how do you reduce the complexity of that issue to the simplified common valuation of a "pay back period"? Confused That ultimately is the flaw in pay back as a value in decision making.

DominicJ wrote:
I believe kens arguement is to add a third layer to my double brick build, outside.

Battoning and clapboarding the outside of a house, especially one without a cavity, makes a significant difference to heat loss; and if you've got a porous brick/stone and lime mortar envelope it can make a big difference to damp/rain infiltration too (I wanted to do it here, but was told no because this is a "conservation area").

Even though wooden cladding a very effective and relatively low impact option compared to rebuilding with dry lining, planners don't like it because it "looks different". And I bet that the new "presumption in favour of sustainable development" doesn't change that outcome either! Rolling Eyes
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DominicJ wrote:
Ken
I found SIMTRA?


I'm not sure what that is, Dom. I've Googled it and found half a dozen separate references to different things.

Quote:
My big worries would of course be, what if the calculation is wrong, and the savings dont meet the bill, and as you say, what if the green deal calculations are wrong, and possible savings are missed.

My gas bill is, for arguements sake, £1000 per year, if we assume the majority of that is heating (it is) you can save £800 per year, if you insulate at a cost of £13,000, its a very long payback period.


That's my problem with the Green Deal and why I want a slightly different system. If the government funded it and collected the money, in effect by a tax on the house, it could adjust the repayments for all sorts of reasons, be it fuel cost variations or a desire to put more or less money into the economy.

As it stands at the moment external insulation on a cavity walled house won't be covered because the Golden Rule will apply and, as you say, it can't be repaid "economically". To get solid walled houses insulated there will be a special extra fund to subsidise the cost. I haven't found out yet whether this subsidy is in the form of a loan or a grant. Also there is no insulation standard set, as yet, so we don't know what level of insulation will be paid for.

There is another strange bit in the GD in that they are going to collect the repayments only through the electricity bills when most people's savings are going to be on the gas bill. People will see their electricity bill rocket while their gas bill goes down initially. The gas bill will then fluctuate as the wholesale gas price moves.

Quote:
Honestly I am on your side, but it needs a bigger punch.


Thanks, I agree.

Quote:
Does the state of the walls matter?
For example, I need some brick work replacing, and some repointing, does your insulation render this irrelevent? Or does it make it even more pressing?
How about reroofing, could that be dont at the same time? Does it need to be? Is it cheaper to combine them?

Does that £13,000 include VAT?


Ideally, a parge coat should be applied to the exterior walls to seal them so the existing state of the walls doesn't matter. The pointing is important without an external covering as this is what keeps the rain water out of the brick joints so this should be attended to if you're not going to insulate.

If the house needed reroofing that would not be covered by the Green Deal. It could be done at the same time by arrangement with the contractor, if the contractor was a general builder rather than a purely insulating company. It would be cheaper to do both lots of work together as the contractor would already be on site and the scaffolding would be up to do the job.

If the insulation was to be fitted between and over the rafters for some reason, e.g. there's a room in the roof, which would necessitate the removal of the roof covering that would be part of the job. That type of job is unlikely to come under the Golden Rule because of cost so would be unlikely to be part of the GD.

Because of the interest rate being charged by the money providers for the GD, the supermarkets, DIY chains and banks, it will be cheaper for you if you can finance it yourself through your Building Society or by paying cash, if you have it. I don't think it then can be charged to the house so you would have to be sure that either you were going to stay in the house long enough to get your money back or that you would get your money back in any future sale of the house.

Not sure about the VAT treatment at the moment. If charged, the insulation materials would be charged at 5% and the labour at 20% I think.
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kenneal - lagger
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mobbsey, I agree with you over the long term unsustainability of heat recovery ventilation systems (MVHR) but not that a well sealed house can't exist without them. You can fit a passive stack ventilation (PSV) system instead which will work without any power input or complicated electrical bits. You will lose about 1 to 1.5 kW of extra heat over a MHVR system on an average 3/4 bed house.

By fitting the full PassivHaus (PH) levels of insulation and airtightness you will bring the total heat load on the house, even with only PSV, down to the level where it can be heated with a 5kW wood burner in the colder weeks of the year. Much of the rest of the time no heating would be required at all. This will be very important in a fuel poor future as it brings home heating within the realms of sustainable wood supply.

Without this level of insulation the sheeple will cut everything down in sight to try to maintain current heating levels while wearing only a t-shirt. There was a program on the box tonight about fuel poverty and one couple was sat there being interviewed while wearing t-shirts and complaining about the cost of gas!! I shouted at the screen!! Never mind. Yes, people's expectations must be drastically modified.

We're not going to get significant numbers of houses done before the economy collapses but the more we can do the better. Those houses which have been insulated will end up full of people while many of the larger, badly insulated houses will end up abandoned. I would think that once the system goes there will be a lot of ad hoc insulation jobs carried out using whatever is available without any sort of permission being sought or given. Large stocks of insulation materials would be a good hedge in place of PMs.

Planners are coming round to accepting, well in Lewes, Winchester and Basingstoke anyway, that houses will change from brick elevations to other coverings as insulation requirements are upgraded. I have had planning applications for external insulation on 1970s brick built houses passed in those areas after some persuasion and I can sell anyone the Design and Access Statement that did the persuading if they require it.(Sorry about the blatant AD - Not, but it took a lot of research to write)
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's all so complicated. TEQs would be far, far simpler and, leaving all the decision making to individual households, far more efficient in delivering the goal of carbon reduction.
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mobbsey



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

biffvernon wrote:
TEQs would be far, far simpler and, leaving all the decision making to individual households

But there's a big difference between the economic imperative of higher prices and the economic imperative of artificially maintained higher tax/lower allowances (even if the politicians would implement them). You can't avoid higher prices, whilst you can avoid higher tax -- and consequently higher prices are a far more effective means of rationing than tax (e.g., look at the changing trend in UK driving since 2002/3!).

The TEQ's idea is great if you have a rationally operating and balanced market -- but now, and certainly in the future, we don't.
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PS_RalphW



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Discussion on radio 4 this morning, discussing the parliamentary review of the UK renewable energy / low carbon investment policy and its costs.

The review found that average household energy costs had risen by £450 a year in 6 years, but only 16% of the rise was due to renewable energy investment.

The policies in place would cause average bills to rise by a further £100 a year in the next 9 years on top of this, but most households could save at least this much through efficiency measures.

No mention at all was made of energy security, or asked why fossil energy costs had risen by £400 per household or even note that at that rate of increase household bills would raise by a further £900 by 2020.

By 2020 renewable energy at 2011 prices is going to look very cheap.
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