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28 May 2009 09:05:05

Green home myths dispelled

Green home myths dispelled
Some of the biggest green myths about eco-homes have been dispelled, showing how homeowners can improve the energy efficiency of their homes without breaking the bank.

According to BBC presenter Dick Strawbridge, people can insulate their homes with all manner of materials, such as reused sheep fleece and recycled bottles, depending on how much they wish to spend.

Writing in the Guardian, he also noted that the UK sees plenty enough sunshine to make solar energy a viable mode of power generation - in fact, each square metre of the country has an average of about 1,000W of solar energy shined upon it every day.

Mr Strawbridge added that wind turbines can be effective on low-lying land as long as they aren't obstructed and that eco-gadgets can be extremely useful if they are used in the right way.

"In the 21st century there is no excuse for not being able to get stuck into any eco-project," he said.

"Information is readily available and all the materials you need can usually be sourced within 10 miles."

In 2006, the government launched its Low Carbon Buildings Programme, which will run until 2010 and provides eligible households and not-for-profit commercial organisations with the funds to pursue microgeneration projects.



Discussion Thread  

30 May 2009

I think the intent of this article is excellent, but please make sure your facts are correct. A Watt is a measure of power, not energy. The incident radiation at best in the UK is around 800Watts (cloudless sky, mid summer) due to our lattitude. I suspect that the article should have been 1kWh (1000Wh or 1000 watts for an hour).

1kW hour unfortunately only costs about 8p which is not (currently) enough to payback the investment in solar panels. If we are to build a credible case for low carbon energy systems we must be both accurate and realistic in our message.

hforbes wrote:

01 Jun 2009

I believe that we need to eliminate the "payback" concept from the whole discussion. The entire capitalist system that the concept belongs to values only "capital" and "labour". The environment is simply an externality with no cost associated to it. The 8p is simply not a true "cost" so the "payback" figure is nonsense. People love to buy things; it is how we have structured our society. They should be wholly encouraged to buy solar systems, insulation, wood fuelled boilers, energy monitors, anything that makes a contribution. Obviously, it is even better if they make a difference in key areas and there is a great and simple description available in David Mackay's book Sustainable Energy; Without Hot Air, which can be downloaded free of charge at

Duncan wrote:

01 Jun 2009

@nextgenheating - thanks for your comments.

To clarify - we did mean 1000W (we used . Over a year, this could mean about 1,200 kWh, or about £100 per year in wholesale electricity costs. However, the economics of renewable energy aren't quite so straight-forward.

I think you'll be interested in by The Guardian's Ashley Seager, showing that the return for his solar panels was nearly 5% - better than most savings accounts will offer.

Thanks for pointing out that the story could have been clearer - we'll endeavour to take that on board.

For what it's worth I agree somewhat with @hforbes in that I'd rather have 1,200kWh of electricity a year than £100. The cost or price of a commodity often only represents its relative value - not the true value. Come a power cut or greatly increased electricity prices, an investment in solar panels would surely increase in worth?

02 Jun 2009

The EU supported PVGIS website gives the projected output from a solar PV array, for any location in Europe: . For southern England, e.g. west Kent, output is 880 kWh per kWpeak installed array capacity per year. Rather less than David's figure; but if we get a decent feed-in tariff, ideally following the highly successful German model, PV will be affordable and financeable in the UK. And the more capacity is deployed, the more the cost falls – that is the experience of the past 20+ years.

Discussion Thread  


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