esther.barlow's blog

Five more tricks to make the most of your heating

Read part one in this series: Five no-cost tricks to make the most of your heating

So, you’ve mastered the central heating timer and stopped the sofa from blocking the radiator. Still wearing ski gloves in the living room? Let’s take this to the next level!

These heating tips are a bit more advanced than the last lot, but they're still cheaper and easier than insulating. And you’ll definitely notice the difference!

Clean power target: the Lords giveth...

Remember the Energy Bill we wrote about a few weeks ago? After coming up a few votes short in the Commons, we hoped the House of Lords would add a strong clean power target for 2030.

Sadly the amendment didn’t pass (it was another very near miss), which means the target is off the table till 2016. We're really disappointed, but the Lord's did give us a small consolation prize. They voted to close a loophole that had exempted old coal power stations from cutting their greenhouse gas emissions.

So although we fell short on the target, it wasn't a total loss.

One day, energy labels will make sense. Until then, you'll need this guide

Picture the scene. You’re walking through Currys looking for a new fridge. You want to cut carbon and save energy, so you go for a nice one with an A+ energy efficiency rating. Planet saved, milk cooled, everyone wins, right?

Well no, because it turns out A+ is quite middle of the road when it comes to fridges. These days, the top grade is A+++!

Sounds like grade inflation gone mad, doesn’t it? It’s happened because a few years ago the EU, who set the ratings, realised that technology has moved on and most new appliances met the A grade standards. But instead of just moving the ratings down so that A was still the best, they added a ‘beyond A’ category.

How not to future-proof your rating system

Pretty confusing. And it doesn’t stop there, because the labels aren’t uniform across products either. A TV with grade A is still pretty decent, and an A-rated oven is positively cutting edge, but a fridge with an A grade would actually fail to meet minimum standards set by the EU.

Yep, you read that right: an illegally inefficient appliance can get an A rating for energy efficiency.

See the old houses that became homes of the future

Dave Raval at his Superhome in Hackney. Photo: Superhomes

28 Bridge Street. Built 1894. Think unexplained creaking floorboards, wind whistling through cracks in the walls, cobwebs in every corner. Lightning cracks through the sky. The occasional ghost floats past.

28 Bridge Street. Built 1894. Think underfloor heating, internal wall insulation, energy saving appliances. Sunshine glints off the solar panels. Not a ghost in sight.

Which would you rather visit on a Saturday afternoon?

Through September and October, 54 of Britain's greenest homes are opening their doors to the public. These once-draughty old houses are part of the Superhomes network – a group of otherwise normal homes transformed by their owners into energy saving exemplars. Every Superhome has cut its carbon footprint by at least 60%, and these open days are your chance to come inside, meet the owners and find out exactly how they’ve done it.

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