Eco-Upgrades for Homes

Mr. Miliband has said (4 Mar 2010) that UK homes will be made 'greener and warmer'.

The Government is committed to cutting emissions of carbon dioxide from houses by 29% over the next ten years; more evidence that our energy policy is based on targets rather than needs. Nevertheless these proposals are worth thinking about.

Approximately 10,000 homes a week will be given "eco-upgrades" to make them more environmentally friendly. The most cost-effective measures will be loft insulation and cavity wall insulation, which are relatively cheap and which decrease energy bills considerably. However, get someone knowledgeable to look at your cavity wall before filling it with foam.

There are more expensive options. Solar panels might be worthwhile if you're in a remote location and need a low current battery backup for a light or two.

Wind turbines are probably best avoided, especially near the house (my own experience with turbine blade shrapnel was not good). Get advice before spending significant sums, because the amount of energy you get from photovoltaic panels or wind turbines is very small indeed.

My own turbine supplied around 8 watts in windy periods and nothing in calm weeks; around 40 kilowatt hours annually. At a price of 30P per unit (peak rate) this is 12 per year. My site is in the Midlands, but windy.

This compares with the wholly fictitious rated output of 600 watts at 30% 'capacity factor' for 365 days - an imaginary 500 per year.

Heat pumps can be useful, turning a large amount of low grade energy into a small amount of useful heat. However get proper advice first. Heat pumps, especially those which use ground heat, cost significant sums of money.

Mr. Miliband said that households would pay about 50 per year to subsidise the scheme through fuel bills, and the cost would be outweighed by savings.

That's all very well, but I already have loft insulation, and my walls have no cavities. How do I get my 50 back?

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