Friday 9 September 2011

Opening Up

The TN bloggers below demonstrate the same level of determination that I have witnessed in many a householder over the years. It’s a certain steely look that comes into the eyes when a fuel bill drops through the letter box and a quiet satisfaction in seeing the bottom line gradually reduce, month after month.

This, of course, comes after the homeowner has been busy improving the energy efficiency of his home, often with the meticulous rigour of a scientist. Watch out for a certain obsession with thermostats and energy monitors and an ability to sense a draught at a 100 paces that would have bypassed us lesser mortals.

But I take my hat off to these pioneers. For although they do it for their own conscience, self-sufficiency and, eventually, their pocket, they lead the way for the rest of us. The research they have done, the lessons they’ve learn't and the contacts they’ve made, can give us all the confidence to follow their lead. Which is why, every September, CPRE Norfolk politely asks these homeowners if they would open up their doors so that hundreds of strangers can come by and ask their advice. And wonderfully…they do!

Here’s the link to the event - you need to book, so don’t delay. There are all sorts of homes taking part, throughout the county, including terraced houses, farmhouses, bungalows, cottages, barn conversions and off-grid smallholdings. You can see examples of solid wall insulation, wood burners, cob and straw bale building, as well as many types of renewable energy technologies in action. We’ve also included a few pioneering business premises and community buildings for those looking to invest in other areas of their life.

Although the Green Buildings in Norfolk – Open Days event was the first of these ‘open eco-home’ style events in the country, similar schemes have now sprung up in places such as Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, North London and Stroud. Surveys from around the country show time and again that these events lead to action, giving people that extra bit of confidence to spend money or do things differently to save energy. To quote a statistic, 83% of visitors said that after attending events in Norfolk, they then went on to apply measures to their own home or to change their energy usage habits. Pretty impressive!

It is this kind of evidence that has made the Government look seriously at how open eco-home events could link with the ‘Green Deal’, the nationwide scheme to be launched next year, whereby all householders in Britain will be able to access funding to apply energy-efficiency measures to their own homes. The Sustainable Energy Academy (SEA) has also now launched a network of SuperHomes - existing homes which have already reduced their carbon emissions by 60% and will be regularly open for visits all year round. I imagine some of the homes featured on this blog will be well on the way to that kind of statistic ... I can hear the calculations taking place as I write.

See you on the Open Days - James Frost

1 comment:

  1. Im in an old property which is not suitable for solar panels or usual additional measures so am just about to supplement two wood burning stoves and one small night storage heater with a judicious use of gas-fired central heating, on the principle that a constant low level of heat from various sources is better than hammering on the wood supply and still feeling very cold. comments welcome.

    david in the Waveney Valley