Category Archives: TiK Energy news

Energy initiatives from Transition in Kings

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.

Press Release

Kings Langley Christian Aid and Transition Group meet MP Mike Penning to urge the Government to act on climate change


‘Wake up to Climate Change’

Four members of Kings Langley Christian Aid and Transition in Kings met with MP Mike Penning on 31st October to urge him and the Government to take urgent action on climate change. This follows the 2015 Paris Agreement, signed by 87 parties, to take the necessary measures to restrict the rise in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees centigrade.
The local group said they were encouraged by the Government committing to ratify the agreement but said that it was now imperative that specific measures were taken to meet this vital objective. Climate change is already affecting millions across the world by rising sea levels, floods and droughts as well as unpredictable weather patterns which impacts on harvests.
When asked what his view was on this and other environmental concerns Mike Penning said it was time to ‘Wake up’ to this issue and respond in a way that shows we understand that we are tenants of this planet. He agreed to write to the Secretary of State and ask when the agreement would be fully ratified and what measures would be taken to reduce our carbon emissions.
In the discussion the group also urged the Government to help communities and individuals play their part in by providing financial support for renewable energy and incentivising the use of solar panels.
Paul Tucker, one of the Group said: ‘We were really pleased with the reception we got from our local MP and that he understands the importance of taking action on climate change. We are now eager to hear how this will be taken forward and the ongoing support he can provide.’
Paul Tucker
Chair, Christian Aid Kings Langley

christian-aid

Sustainable Kings Langley

John Ingleby – Secretary of Grand Union Community Energy Ltd.

The Sun delivers more energy to Earth in an hour than we use in a year from fossil fuels, nuclear and all renewables combined

For the scientifically minded:
Solar energy reaching planet Earth every hour = 174 quadrillion kWh (kilowatt hours)
World annual energy demand = 0.174 quadrillion kWh ( A quadrillion has fifteen zeros.)
In other words, a thousand times more! Of course, if it’s cloudy only a tenth of the sunlight reaches Earth’s surface, and none at all in the night. But you get the idea. So if you worry about how Britain will keep the lights on without nuclear power, just remember the vast amounts of energy available every day from that great nuclear reactor in the sky.

Moreover, the sun shines everywhere! If we want a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren, this very ubiquity points to a need for widespread social developments, and not just more technology.
In any case, technology already provides well-proven ways for harvesting solar energy. On rooftops and alongside motorways we see solar photovoltaic panels generating electricity, even on cloudy days. The sun’s warmth heats solar thermal systems. Giant turbines, like Kings Langley’s M25 landmark, harness the winds that blow from the sun warming large areas of Earth’s surface.

Solar energy is called “renewable” because it doesn’t consume coal, oil or gas (known as “fossil fuels”) which are extracted from the Earth. Solar energy is also “clean”, unlike fossil fuels which emit carbon dioxide and methane gases which are driving climate change.

Technology has also given us systems for producing renewable heat energy by burning biomass, and anaerobic digestion of plant and animal waste. However these systems do produce polluting gases, so they are not so “clean”, but they are considered “renewable” because they absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide when their fuels are created. Another source of heat, geothermal energy, is both clean and available for millions of years to come.

The sun and winds are intermittent, but continuous “base energy” could be obtained from the tides in which the British Isles abound. It has been calculated that ten tidal barriers around the coast in places like Swansea Bay could produce as much base energy as three new nuclear power stations, without hazardous waste.

In a further move to overcome the intermittent nature of sun and wind, electric battery systems are becoming available (including in electric vehicles) which will store surplus solar energy and then release it when needed.
Turning to the social point of view then, “sustainability” means meeting our needs today without jeopardising the needs of future generations. Renewable energy is therefore an essential component of sustainability. (Another essential component – sustainable food supplies – will be discussed in a future Parish Magazine article).
Apart from the tides, nearly all forms of renewable energy are generated close to their point of use. This is radically different from our present energy system, which is based on a small number of very large plants supplying us with electricity and gas through the national grid.

Renewable energy therefore means local energy, and this has enormous significance for Kings Langley. It provides the means to develop our own local energy solutions, which will also contribute to the future for our children and grandchildren.

It is not widely known that the Localism Act 2011 provides the legal basis for communities like ours to plan for our own sustainable future. In other words, we have the right to plan our use of land and buildings, and develop local renewable energy and fresh food supplies. Transition in Kings (TiK) are very pleased to be working with the Parish Council Vision Project towards a Parish Plan, which we very much hope will eventually lead to a statutory Neighbourhood Plan.

Models for such plans are now well established, and over 1,600 neighbourhoods like ours have started working on their own plans, including 35 in Hertfordshire. A further aim of these plans is to develop the local economy by creating new businesses, thereby circulating more money locally. Community energy groups like Grand Union Community Energy (GUCE) are demonstrating how a local energy business can be co-operatively owned and run, while TiK’s community farm in Rectory Lane is in its second year of producing and selling local fresh food. As these schemes develop they will provide more opportunities for employment and reduce our dependence upon giant (often foreign-owned) companies.

Could it be that Brexit expresses a desire to rediscover the community spirit which older people recall from WWII and its aftermath? Perhaps we can use this “reset” in relationships to find common ground for working together to achieve changes on a similar scale.
I certainly hope so.

References:
1. Solar FAQ’s – Sandia National Laboratories
2. Rob Hopkins – TED Talk 2009
3. The Burning Answer – a User’s Guide to the Solar Revolution
4. Friends of the Earth – A Severn Barrage or tidal lagoons?