Monday 5 September 2011

It's not about the building

This week's blogging will feature transitioners showcasing things we have done to our homes to help us be lower carbon users.

As I write this, my trusty woodburner has been dormant for several months, and seeing it in the photo here, makes be look forward to the cooler and colder times ahead!

Lance Armstrong, the cyclist from Texas, famously wrote a book entitled 'It's Not About the Bike'. As I reflect on what I have done in my own home, and looked at the energy bills steadily tumbling, I realise that this has been achieved as much through my own behaviour change as through doing small technical bits and pieces to my house. Or more precisely, it is through the relationship between the technical bits, and me as a person.

So....when I installed a standard water butt (30 quid) to feed my loo with rain water,( featured in a previous blog) I began to become much more aware of water usage generally, and found myself doing things which I had not thought of before - often simple things like capturing the run-off when running my hot water tap, rather than let it down the drain. The overall result is that I pay £5 a month for my water.

I live in a typical Norwich mid-terrace Edwardian house, sometimes regarded as a nightmare for 'greening up'.
However, given most of us are not in a financial position to build our own, we're faced with looking at what we have, and what we can do....and the solutions are sometimes surprising.

That rather large window you can see there in the bay - sadly modified in the great 60s rush for demolishing all things past - does now in fact have a retro-fitted sealed double glaze in it. So rather than replacing the window - which is what many a double-glazing company try to sell you - I replaced the glass in the existing frame. For the technically minded it is a 'stepped double glaze' unit, with argon filling and K-float on the inner glaze. Because it is south-facing, in the low winter sun, I find that the room now warms to a nice 18 or 19 degrees from solar gain, when the outside temperature is only 1 or 2 degrees, with no internal heating on. That is helped by the underfloor insulation I have installed under the floorboards.

So... for the rest of this week, we will be hearing from Mark on the subject of sheep's wool insulation and Council grants, Simeon on how he managed (with his parents) in no less than a listed building, John on the vagaries of dealing with a 1970s bungalow, and James, as guest blogger on the CPRE Green Buildings open days as a whole. James Frost of CPRE has been the inspiration in setting up the Open Days which showcase individual buildings of a huge variety throughout Norfolk. It has been so successful, that other regions are looking to replicate the model - James will be writing about this on Friday. (See : On Saturday Charlotte will be reflecting on the world of Transition interiors and looking at Stefi Barna's (Magdalen Street Celebration) retrofitted house in NR3 and a strawbale designed and built by Carol Hunter and John Preston from Downham Market and Villages in Transition.

As a blog reader, please get the questions and comments flowing, as there will be some nice juicy, gritty, practical stuff coming up this week!

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