Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sustainable Cottenham Group

With the end of winter almost in sight, we will stop thinking about heating bills, recover from the Christmas giving crunch, and probably have discarded another diet plan. But while matters hot and cold are still foremost; remember the environment and prepare your pocket before next winter. If your energy bill has been stressing you out, read on.
my best foot
The Sustainable Cottenham group was created to implement the goals of the Sustainable Parish Energy Partnership (SPEP) which helps parish councils support residents and communities to reduce energy bills, tackle climate change and build sustainable communities. The Cottenham group's main project at the moment is to get Cottenham insulated via the Eastern CRI Scheme.

The Sustainable Cottenham Group, has partnered with Cambridge Carbon Footprint who are guiding us in doing home surveys intended to help us find poor insulation, drafts, and other problems in our homes. Consisting of volunteers and some steerage from our councilors I would urge those interested to engage with the group via a councilor or group member. Not only are Cambridge Carbon Footprint arranging learning sessions which take homeowners through the technology, attitude change and available help sources, but they have also made a special thermal surveying camera available to Sustainable Cottenham and other groups. With these tools we can visit your home on request, and help you get started keeping your home warmer, bills down, and eventually greener too. A visit typically takes an hour, and we can help you find the exact cause of the cold air leaks you suspect are there but cannot find. We will show you ways to heat your home more efficiently without spending any money to start with.
my letter slot is letting in the cold

At the moment, thermal insulation surveys done can be particularly effective because cold air leaking into your home is so much colder and easier to detect, so you may want to hurry. A winter survey must be done in the cold of the evenings, with the house being heated at the time. The walk-through starts downstairs, moves upstairs, and then to the outside. Although recently built homes are well insulated, typical problems found are:
  • a gap under the front door?
  • gaps where door insulation has come away?
  • radiators hidden behind large furniture?
  • insulation disturbed by recent wiring or plumbing?
Get a check list tailored to what is going on in your home, and formulate your own family energy sustainability plan. Then move on to the structural changes and have Eastern CRI quote you on cavity wall and ceiling insulation.

The Sustainable Cottenham group plans to re-show the Age of Stupid DVD and to arrange a visit to the Donarbon recycling center. Energy monitors are available on loan for the power wizards amongst us; please contact Cllr Kelso for further information.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sustainable Cottenham Group

Probably the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to take steps to reduce permanently, without affecting your lifestyle. People will always reject long term sacrifice, a major reason why all diets start in January and fail in February, so better insulation and appliance use in your home (about a third of your footprint) can reduce impact long term. The Cottenham group are encouraging villagers to take up an offer to insulate your home based on a standardized quote and work order. This has been set up in conjunction with local councils to simplify getting insulation installed and reduce the cost to homeowners.
For anyone using this scheme, a referral portion is given back to the Parish Council through the Sustainable Cottenham Group.
See also -Community escapes big British Freeze and Thermal Imaging for Insulation.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A different community

Last night I met up with a different community, an obscure underground movement that challenges the educational values held by the captains of democracy. They call themselves happy hackers.
Technology has become more affordable to the mass-market, but at the same time more accessible. You can perform scientific observations, investigations and home learning now, more than ever before. It's a bit like open-source, but for education.

For more on what they do, visit my e-journal.
For that that find this prospect scary, do not visit my techno blog/journal.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Community escapes big British Freeze

Well to be honest, the whole county seems to have escaped the horror stories about the entire United Kingdom. There has been the good-natured grumble, the dismayed grumble, and then defense of Councils and the Highway Agency maintenance of our roads. The gritty part of this story is how the state has now gotten involved in what is really a day-today matter of letting a tiny team of often overlooked men, women and their machines get out there and grit the roads. Ok, it's not that funny - seriously; why do we need to get salt imported from the mainland in such a hurry? Are the 'food-miles' out of proportion with the emergency? That's not going to do my carbon footprint any good at all.
Talking about carbon, I wonder how green we can make our websites?
I have lost count of the internet interests in the village I live in. For 2500 households, we have at least 10 websites, all doing different things, for different reasons, many looking a bit Web 1.0. Sure, sites link to each other, we have to do this kind of thing to survive, but are we just surviving, or are the geeks in the community actually going somewhere with all this computing power.

I got a newsletter recently, one of the Cambridge professors has a plan to make PCs greener, perhaps things like desktops that shut off when not in use, servers that go into sleep mode when not used; I'm probably breaking some patent law by just talking about this. So where are you going today Conrad? (Wow, this journal is looking like a blog, suddenly I'm talking to myself)
Greener printing, greener load-time web pages, in short greener conscience.
In more pertinent news, an update on a new plan to start a Cottenham e-newsletter circulation will be up next. The site is still blank, but it won't hurt to get some early visits.

I should get ready for my big interview tomorrow. Ciao.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Thermal Imaging for Insulation

Our village has been awarded some funding recently by peoples ITV millions program for our community center. It meant we had to get together and vote for our village via phone over a single day. The number of telephone votes proved, that the village has a lot going for it, and a lot of spirit.

Hopefully the Sustainable Cottenham project will see similar support. The part of the program that interests me is energy saving, in all it's forms.

The interesting bit for me at the moment is thermal insulation surveying, and a cool tool called a Thermal Imaging Camera - sometimes used in firefighting, electrical fault detection, and in building inspection.

The picture  left is the kind of thing the camera does. There are a number of conditions that need to be right for the survey to be effective, and even tools that can assist in amplifying the leak detection opportunities.
Aspects like:
  • Rain
  • wind
  • Sunshine
  • Heating not actually running
All mess with the survey, meaning it has to be
  • Cold at night, or
  • Overcast
I can only imagine, this survey - although lots of it is done indoors too will be a lot of hard difficult work. The survey is being assisted by the loan of the device from 'Carbon Footprint'.