The Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF) in 2012 was to help communities in England and Wales to take action on energy efficiency and renewable energy, and to take advantage of current Government policies such as the Green Deal, Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed-In Tariffs. Sustainable Wallingford was of the successful community-led organisations sharing £9.2 million from the Department of Energy and Climate Change
The team gave energy advice to 273 households, developed community energy schemes, and oversaw a complete energy assessment of a typical 1960s house before renovation.
Energy Assessments of 300 homes
A Sustainable Wallingford team of five underwent boot-camp speed-training in energy-assessments, tramped around 300 houses, with laser measures, portable ladders, and digital cameras to produce Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). We returned to each house to deliver the EPC, with added value advice on how to increase energy efficiency in the home.
Most homes score a ‘D’ on the energy efficiency spectrum, the average for British houses. Wallingford households came up trumps, exceeding expectations on their willingness to make improvements: 26% wanted to engage with the Green Deal (25% predicted), 11% to install renewables (10% predicted); and a massive 78% to take up ‘easy-win’ energy efficiencies (25% predicted).
Annual savings potential
Save £40 Any old lightbulbs lurking? Check your bathroom lights!
Save £35 Loft insulation should be 270mm thick (1 ft, current building standards), or even 400mm (future standards)? If not, top it up
Save £150 Are your cavity walls filled? This is has been subsidised by energy companies. Do it now!
Save £40 An extra jacket for your hot water cylinder, and lag hot water pipes.
Save £50 Block all the draughts.
More savings to be made
More complex and expensive changes would save even more: upgrading non-condensing boilers, insulating solid walls, double-glazing, putting in solar panels.
Heat-loss monitoring at typical house
An in-depth analysis of heat losses at the typical 1960s house pictured above, showed the walls and windows to be the main culprits, and losses through the floor to be relatively small.
Dataloggers on the inside and outside of the walls (connected via small holes through the window-frame) measured the difference in temperature between inside and outside, which correlated to heating use.
Additionally, the Green Factory did a full Passivhaus analysis of the home.
Making energy and money
How can we generate money and electricity for our town?
Sun Sun Sun: Community Photovoltaics?
Paul Sims surveyed Wallingford and Crowmarsh community buildings for their solar potential. There were 33 that could house as many as 4640 solar panels! At a cost of £2.5 million (estimated), we could generate enough electricity to meet the needs of 250 households.
The Answer is Blowing Through the Wind Turbine
Mike Blanch of BVG helped us out with a feasibility study of wind turbines on Cholsey Hill. The Cholsey wind group had been looking at this for 2 years and had a year’s wind-speed data. Sophisticated modelling of this by Met Office Consulting showed that the hill has sufficient wind (our first question): 6.4 metres per second at 80 metres hub height.
Unfortunately, much of eastern England cannot take turbines at this time, as they interfere with radar. RAF Benson would be unlikely to be able to cope with turbines so clearly in their ‘radar shadow’.
Mike cast the net further, to find sites near us that would not disturb the radar. There were possibilities near Wallingford to investigate. The first step will be to see what the landowners’ opinions are.
Keeping in touch
The Department of Energy and Climate Change(DECC) were very keen that we should publicise our activities on this Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF), and encourage the local community to reduce energy use and develop microgeneration schemes.
We held four public meetings, two in collaboration with Citizens Advice Bureau to launch the project, one in Cholsey, as the Wind Turbine Meeting and the Final LEAF meeting celebrating our findings with 50 attendees, with Brightwell wines, Appleford beers and East Oxford Indian foods!
We gave two radio interviews at Radio Oxford, the first, introducing ‘LEAF’, and the second, on door-blower testing! These were enabled by a helpful introduction by Oxford’s Low Carbon Hub.
An overall report back to DECC was made in April 2013.