Energy Efficiency in your home or business

Jim Attenborough

The best starting point for trying to reduce the amount of energy you use is to be aware of past use so you can compare your use post any actions you have taken.  The best way to do this is via meter readings rather than estimated bills; this can be done by taking direct meter readings or, if available, using the online data many suppliers supply via their websites.  You can then inform those taking part that their actions are having an effect by producing results – people tend to lose interest unless they can see their actions are having a positive effect.

Then you will want to communicate your plans to your family / employees so you can get everyone on board and think about setting an initial achievable target (say 10% reduction) together with some sort of incentive for participants.  You may even decide to have a small fine for those caught leaving items on, like a swear jar!

The easiest and cheapest way to reduce use is to cut out waste first, ensuring that lights and appliances are turned off when not in use, doors and windows are closed in cold weather, taps are turned off and leaks are fixed.  (Even if you are not on a water meter yet, it still takes energy to produce our water and meters are being rolled out in our area.)  And don’t forget to include fuel for vehicles – adapting your driving style alone can reduce fuel consumption by up to 40%.  Using your car less, lift sharing and planning journeys better will help you save even more.

If you have a smart meter or plug-in energy meter, you will be able to find out which are the most energy-hungry appliances in your home by switching one on at a time and seeing how much energy each uses and then you can make some big savings quickly – remember every saving, no matter how big or small, adds up.  It is estimated that the UK could cut energy use by 20-25% just by cutting out waste!

You may qualify for a grant or free energy-saving devices.  Speak to your gas, electricity, water supplier and local council.  Some will at the very least be able to advise you on cutting use and you may get loft insulation, water-saving devices or low-energy bulbs for free!

Once you have been trying for a couple of months and have an idea how much money you have saved and will save, you can reinvest those savings into items that are more energy-efficient than those you already own.  If you are planning an extension or home improvements, factor energy saving in to help you future-proof your home.

Staff at Hemel Hempstead Fire Station have cut electricity use by 54% and gas use by 65% in a period of 5 years by following the simple steps outlined here, helped by the County Council reinvesting some of the savings in new boilers, LED lights on sensors, double glazing and insulation.  This has saved the taxpayer almost £37,000 and reduced CO2 emissions.  It’s a great example of what can be achieved.

Getting together with other neighbours / businesses to share best practice and ideas is also worthwhile.  Transition in Kings (TiK) ran a trial of “Transition Streets” with 34 homeowners in Kings Langley that on average saves over £500 a year for each household, saving money and helping to protect the environment, as well as social benefits such as helping people get to know their neighbours better.  Each group of up to ten neighbours had an initial meeting with a facilitator, then met every month or so to work through a handbook supplied by TiK which is crammed full of good information to help householders cut use and get grants.  Some of those groups met after completing the workbook and in the feedback said that they felt much better informed about energy saving, environmental matters and felt a greater sense of community after taking part.

A new round of Transition Streets will be starting in the autumn so, if you think you would enjoy taking part, keep an eye out in this magazine and Parish noticeboards or pop along to TiK’s open meeting at the Parish Council offices in Charter Court, Vicarage Lane on the second Saturday of every month 10-12 am.

Creating TiK’s Best Year Yet

At our monthly Open Meeting in January it was suggested we set our goals for the coming 12 months by answering questions from Jinny Ditzler’s book “Your Best Year Yet”.

Since we need time to update each other on TiK’s activities in the past month, we ended up creating our Best Year Yet over three meetings in January, February and March.

In January, we answered the first two questions: 1) What did we accomplish last year? and 2) What were our biggest disappointments?

Click on the links to see the full answers. Bottom lines: 1) We’re still here! and 2) There aren’t enough of us.

In February we looked at: 3) What did we learn? The answer might be summarised as “it’s all about people”. We also reviewed 4) What are our values? set out in Section 3 of  TiK’s Constitution.

In March there were six key questions left to complete: 5) Which areas do we want to work on? 6) Which should be our major focus? 7) What are our goals in each area? and 8) What are our Top Ten Goals?

To answer these questions we stuck flipcharts around the walls, one for each of the areas we want to work on. Of course the Food Group, GUCE, Market and the People Petal (i.e. Inner Transition) are continuing. To these we added Education and Enrolling. Since we don’t yet know enough to include KLCBS, we left this area out. So, six areas altogether.

Next, we added PostIt notes for the goals to achieve in each area. The Food Group, Market and GUCE had already set their goals, so we added their PostIts. Then we discussed the goals in other areas and added PostIts for those too.

Finally, everyone was given six “votes” in the form of stick-on stars to place on the goals they felt were the most important.

Afterwards, it was clear that our major focus should be on Enrolling, with the goal of “Recruit and retain”.

 

Tabulating and sorting the results revealed our Top Ten Goals:

Enrolling         – Recruit & retain
Food Group    – More volunteers
Market            – Broaden produce
People petal   – Encourage caring environment
Education       – Involve schools
GUCE               – Re-launch Transition Streets
People petal   – Welcome person
People petal   – Place people with the right skills in the right place
People petal   – Young people group
Enrolling         – Design campaign

We don’t have “Petals” for Enrolling and Education, so the next steps in those areas will be up to the Tiking Team. Each of the other “Petals” will need to decide on their own next steps.

Did you know that there is a local food market in Kings Langley every month?

John Morrish

Just over two years ago, Transition in Kings (TiK), started the local food market on the High Street to increase the availability and awareness in Kings Langley of fresh, local produce.  The aim is for villagers to be able to trace the provenance of the produce and meet the producers to learn more about their local products.  Produce has to come from within 25 miles of Kings Langley and vegetables must be truly seasonal.

When the present owners bought Redbournbury Mill from the Crown, the mill had been unused since the 1950’s.  At this stage the mill was well preserved, although it did need considerable repairs.  It was almost unique as a historical record of an early Victorian water-mill.  From crop to crust, Redbournbury Mill supplies the bread for the market.  There is a fabulous selection of breads freshly baked on the morning of the market at the mill using their own stone-ground organic flour which is milled using French Burr stones.  The mill bakery was built in 2005 within one of the barns in front of the mill.  Bread baked at Redbournbury boasts the lowest possible “food-miles” with the grain grown, milled and baked all within two miles of the mill.

Hazeldene Native Rare Breeds Farm nestles in the folds of Asheridge Vale (Buckinghamshire) barely a mile from Chesham.  The 70-acre farm has been run on traditional principles by Liz and Steve Bateman since 2006.  All livestock is naturally reared and allowed to exhibit natural behaviour.  Beef comes from English Traditional Hereford Cattle which is a very rare breed with only 1000 cows alive.  Lamb comes from Oxford Down Sheep and pork comes from British Lop Pigs which are the rarest of native pigs with only 300 sows alive.  Bred from a Cornwall and Devon pig in the 1880s, they are very docile, good mothers and produce excellent pork and bacon.  At the market, as well as the meat for sale, you will often smell burgers and sausages cooking, all of which have been made on the farm.  The giant Scotch eggs are a particular village favourite!

From Wobbly Bottom Farm deep in the Hertfordshire countryside comes a gourmet range of soft and hard goat’s cheeses made in small batches from milk produced fresh on the farm.  The farm is run by Alan and Angela, who have been developing and perfecting their cheese-making craft since 2003.  Today, Wobbly Bottom’s freshly-made products range from a simple, creamy soft goat’s cheese to cheddars infused with a delicious range of extras, including tangy root ginger, real ale and mustard, and cracked black peppercorns.  What makes Wobbly Farm special is that the people who milk the goats are also the people who make the cheese.

Vegetables are picked fresh on the morning of the market from the TiK growing area at Rectory Farm.  TiK volunteers tend the land according to organic principles with no artificial weed killers or fertilisers and plant and harvest the vegetables less than a mile from the market, so not even a food mile!  What’s on offer depends on the season, but it will always be completely fresh.  Our produce is supplemented with watercress from the River Chess in Sarratt and local eggs from Willowdene Farm.

Michael Youngman has been making honey for many years in Langley Hill and he sells his full range of local honey at the market.  A special, and unusual, treat is the ivy honey which can only be made in certain years when there is sufficient ivy pollen in September.  It has a very distinctive flavour and has a number of health benefits.

It’s a challenge to source fresh fish within 25 miles of Kings Langley!  But while the fish comes from further away, we know that is it very fresh from the sea in Grimsby and tastes just how fish should.  Derrick Cheers drives down early on market mornings to be with us with his wonderful fresh fish.

There are a number of other stalls that change from time to time and we are always delighted to welcome new stallholders so, if you would like to have a stall with local produce, please e-mail John Morrish, the Market Manager: morrishj@virginmedia.com.

We hope that this brief article has enthused you about the benefits of local produce and that we will see you soon at the market.  It’s the third Saturday of every month from 9am to 1pm on Kings Langley High Street outside where the Sorting Office used to be.