How did we fare with our Dept of Energy grant?

The purpose of the Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF) in 2012 was to help prepare communities in England and Wales to take action on energy efficiency and renewable energy and to take advantage of the opportunities offered by 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, prior to renovation. See the full reports of each aspect of the project from the links below.

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, digital cameras and good old-fashioned paper and pencil, then struggled with computers to produce Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). We returned to each house to deliver the EPC, with added value advice on what to do to increase energy efficiency in the hom.




“The A team” assessing Sue Roberts’ Glebe House

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% want 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).

‘Easy-win’ efficiencies are still available! Energy companies are giving away FREE insulation, but only for the next few months. Contact your energy supplier and see how they can help.

Annual savings

Save £40      Still have old lightbulbs lurking? Check your bathroom lights! 

Save £35      Is your loft insulation 270mm thick (1 ft, current building standards), or even 400mm (future                             standards)? If not, top up NOW whilst insulation is still cheap.

Save £150    Are your cavity walls filled? This is still subsidised by energy companies but WILL NOT BE                               in the future. Do it now!

Save £40      Buy 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. Some may be funded under the Green Deal to be introduced next year.

Heat-loss monitoring at Demonstration House

An in-depth analysis of heat losses at Glebe House, (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.

Read more on the Demonstration House Blog.

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. We have 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 have been looking at this for 2 years and have 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, swathes 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’. But, times might change, and there are ‘stealth’ technologies that can make turbine blades invisible to radar. We are poised and ready for action for such a time!

Mike cast the net further, to find sites near us that would not disturb the radar. There are possibilities in the vicinity of Wallingford which we will pursue in the future. 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.