It’s rare to find a man, woman or child in a developed country that hasn’t heard the term “Global Warming.” Likewise, it’s near impossible to find a homeowner who isn’t interested in reducing energy bills. For these reasons, surveyors at Opinium Research are baffled by their findings that the vast majority of UK households don’t understand how renewable heat technology works.
Renewable heat energy has been popping up all over the media, especially since the Renewable Heat Incentive launched in 2011. So, why do homeowners know so little about this form of clean energy?
Background of the Opinium Research Study
The study surveyed 2,000 UK households about their understanding of renewable heat energy and their energy-efficient behaviours. Researchers found that most people focus on small measures, like installing energy-efficient light bulbs. Very few had considered switching to renewable energy as a heat source.
But most respondents stated their willingness to install renewable heating solutions if the annual savings reach £247 per year. Fortunately, this figure is much lower than the estimated savings that come from innovations like biomass boilers, which can save up to 45 per cent on energy bills.
Although most UK residents know the importance of reducing energy use, many do not understand the benefits of biomass systems and heat pumps, let alone how they work.
Conclusions of the Survey
Researchers found that nearly 66 per cent of UK adults could not correctly identify solar PV or wind turbines as renewable energy technologies. Similarly, one-fourth of those surveyed could not identify biomass boilers or heat pumps as energy-efficient solutions. This is particularly revealing because biomass boilers and heat pumps are the only two heat sources that are completely sustainable.
The study also showed that more than 80 per cent of UK households believe that energy consumption must reduce. However, only 63 per cent had taken steps to do so within the past two years.
Possibly the most shocking statistic is that 74 per cent of households did not know the term “biomass heating system.” Of the 26 per cent that could identify the term, less than half actually knew the purpose of the system.
More than half of respondents didn’t know the power source of biomass boilers. The majority of those that knew how to power biomass boilers did not know where to acquire the materials to do so.
Finally, about 75 per cent did not know what a heat pump does.
According to Innasol CEO Silvio Spiess, this survey is particularly revealing of how little consumers understand about renewable heating solutions. Although the vast majority recognize the importance of energy efficiency and how it can reduce energy bills, they aren’t familiar with the available solutions, let alone the Government incentives that make renewable heat energy affordable for almost any home or business.
Spreading the Word About Renewable Heat Energy
Proponents of renewable energy can’t agree on who’s responsible for spreading public awareness. Some say it’s the Government’s responsibility; others say it’s the responsibility of companies in the industry.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that a lack of public understanding is one of the major obstacles in the way of clean energy reform. According to a recent report by Environmental Leader, this is the reason why many applications for biomass energy plants fail.
The report states that there are several steps a company can take to increase the likelihood of getting their plans approved, but the first step is to rally public support. The site encourages companies to develop informational webpages, create pamphlets and send out mailers. The theory is that if the community understands the environmental and economic benefits that come with biomass energy plants, they are more likely to advocate the project.
Gabriella Johnson is the Marketing Executive at Innasol, the renewable energy supplier that commissioned Opinium's recent research into renewable heat technology.
The UK government's ‘Green Deal', which came into force in October, 2012, tries to persuade homeowners to cut the carbon footprint of their home in return for cash incentives.
This had led to one obvious query: What happens if the property is sold? Normally, the buyer would be expected to settle any loans pertaining to the property before it changes hands. The catch here is that such Green Deal loans do not count as charges, and are therefore not registered at the Land Registry.
It is the obligation of the seller to inform a potential buyer of any outstanding Green Deal loans, but what happens if the purchase goes through without the buyer being informed?
About the Green Deal
In 2011 the government announced it was allotting £200million to its Green Deal scheme. Its aim is to deliver over £1.3billion in energy savings by 2020.
Many homeowners are savvy enough to understand that improving the energy-efficiency of their homes by, say, insulating their loft or installing solar panels, creates long-term benefits and makes their home more attractive to potential purchasers.
However confusion often arises when the property is sold and the title is transferred to a new owner.
Commenting on the solicitor's approach to Green Deal loans, Fridaysmove Panel Director Tony Lilleystone said “It is the task of a conveyancing solicitor to identify Green Deal loans during preparations for a potential house purchase, but the seller is required to inform the buyer anyway.”
“The property's EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), which is made available to anyone expressing an interest in buying the property, will contain a reference to the Green Deal loan on its first page.”
In spite of this, professionals within the property-purchasing industry have expressed concerns over the ambiguous nature of a Green Deal loan. If the loan qualifies as a charge, then the seller is obliged to settle the loan before the property is sold.
If it is not, then does the buyer inherit the need to repay the loan? The buyer will, after all, be benefiting from the home improvements made by the previous owner.
Whose Loan is it Anyway?
The Government's position seems to be that responsibility for paying the loan lies with whoever is paying the bills at the property in question.
This has led to further confusion – just because you own a property does not means you live in it. If you rent it out, does payment of the Green Deal loan now fall to your tenants? This confusion about the ownership of the loan – seller, buyer or occupants – may add weeks onto the time it takes for a sale to be completed.
The fact that an EPC is generally valid for ten years means there is no guarantee an EPC has been updated to reflect that the property has a Green Deal loan attached to it.
If the information about a Green Deal loan only comes to light several weeks down the line, and the seller is not happy about having to take over the loan, then both parties will have wasted a great deal of time and money for nothing.
In summary, it seems that advice on how conveyancing solicitors advise their clients about a property where a Green Deal loan remains outstanding is sorely required.
Tony Lilleystone is Panel Director at Fridaysmove, 1-6 Speedy Place, London, WC1H 8BU, and has over 30 years experience in the Property Sector.
There's no doubt that the construction industry impacts on the environment in many different ways, from air emissions, contamination of land and waste disposal to noise, air and water pollution. However as environmental consciousness increases, government agencies and contractors are increasingly working together to come up with new ways to tackle environmental issues and minimise the effects that construction techniques have on the environment.
‘Green construction' is always a delicate balance between providing cost effective buildings without damaging the environment. By using sustainable designs, construction methods and materials we can ensure that our valuable resources are being used more efficiently to create healthier and more energy efficient homes and buildings. However sustainable construction is also determined by the quality of the site management. Encouraging contractors to make the most efficient use of their resources, increase the recovery and recycling of materials, reduce carbon emissions (from both the construction methods and transport used to deliver goods) and avoid or reduce disposal costs also makes a big impact on the environment.
Making the most of resources
When considering environmental issues, it makes sense to ensure that all materials used are responsibly sourced and that they have been created using processes that leave a light footprint on the environment, but there are other ways to reduce the carbon footprint. For example:
- Using materials which contain recycled content
- Using sustainable products such as timber from well managed and legal sources
- Using low odour paints
- Avoiding wastage of materials by only ordering the exact quantity needed
- Using suppliers who use minimal packaging
- Using suppliers who will take back materials, particularly pallets.
When we consider that:-
- Approximately 400 million tonnes of waste is produced on an annual basis in the UK; 72 million tonnes coming from the construction industry
- 50% of the cost of building a structure is taken up by building materials and yet approximately 13% of these materials end up in a skip without ever being used.
- The average cost of 8 cubic yard skip is around £150 and yet the average value of waste dumped in the skip from construction sites amounts to £1,200
It's easy to see why it makes sense for construction workers to evaluate a project prior to starting on site as this not only helps them to understand the potential impact on the environment, but leads to reduced costs by decreasing the amount of waste they produce. It's no longer legal to just dump the contents of skips into landfill and correct disposal of waste is expensive.
Noise, air and water pollution
Construction sites know the importance of ensuring that their work does not interfere with the ‘neighbours'. Many sites now take steps to minimise the impact on the surrounding area and lessen the potential nuisance of noise, vibrations, dust and emissions and odours by informing people in advance of the work commencing, erecting solid screens and using mufflers on equipment, switching off engines when equipment is not being used and using electric generators instead of petrol or diesel.
John is a ‘Self Build' project manager who helps others realise their dreams of building their own homes. When not on site, he writes articles for several construction companies including Piling Equipment Ltd.
The trend for energy saving is two-fold. Times are tough and we are increasingly looking for more ways to be that little bit thriftier, but more importantly we need to be doing our bit for the world we live in. With this in mind here are some quick tips for those who want to do their bit from the comfort of their armchairs.
Energy saving light bulbs are fantastic; aesthetically pleasing, long lasting and you get a nice bright glow as opposed to a blinding fluorescent glare. Furthermore they won’t cost the earth (pun intended) and fitting about 10 of these around the house could save you, dear homeowner, about £30 every year. But if we ALL do it…well, just think of the improvement to our national energy consumption.
Don’t Be Bored, Be…Board?
Crack out the board games. Seriously, you may laugh, especially in this age of computer games and a million or so channels, but board games are fun and interactive. We spend far too much time basking in the glow of the TV. Bring out the board games once or twice a week, reconnect with the family and give the poor beleaguered television a break.
Now We’re Cooking!
Always remember, large pans on large hobs…small pans on small hobs. Also remember to leave that oven door open after cooking…don’t let that valuable heat go to waste!
When it Rains, it Pours!
Have a shower as you normally would, but pop the plug in and be prepared for a surprise. The average shower uses just as much water, if not more, than the average bath – so don’t stay in for too long. Keep the temperature and pressure reasonably low as well.
You would be amazed at how much heating you can retain through insulation. There are many different options – cavity wall insulation, external wall insulation – but even just getting that loft insulated will do wonders. Believe me, you will notice the difference and furthermore it won’t cost much (sometimes it is even free – if you qualify for a government grant) and it could save you around £170 a year!
Hang your clothes out to dry. Even if it is cold outside the wind can dry your clothes. Furthermore using a radiator to dry your clothes will put pressure on your heating system while the tumble dryer can damage your garments – leaving them with the tensile strength of stale tissue paper!
Washing powder and laundry detergent is better than ever at cleaning clothes. So effective in fact, that you only need to wash them at 30°C these days!
Think Cold Tap!
Every time you turn that hot tap on, even if just for a few seconds to wash your hands, it causes your combi boiler to ‘fire up’…more unnecessary energy usage!
You might not believe this, but that little red standby light could be costing you about £20-£30 every year…and why? What exactly is it doing to earn that money? Turn it off. Keep your eye on plugs as well and get into the habit of turning things off at the mains.
Wrap Up, Warm Up
You live in Britain, not the Bahamas. You should not be lounging around the house in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt with the heating cranked up. You know what this country is like; even in the summer the evenings can be chilly. Saying that, I think the public’s obsession with the onesie may have cured this particular problem.
The Great Outdoors
Summer approaches (apparently) so have a few BBQ’s and give the oven a rest. Hang your clothes out to dry and get the ‘Lenor’ look! Also consider ditching the electric lights and switching to solar lighting, and finally if you have a hot tub (lucky you) then always make sure it is covered to keep the water warm.
The majority of these energy saving tips may seem small and innocuous, but if combined they could really make a difference. Give them a try; this planet, and your wallet, need a break.
Vicky works alongside http://thehottubcompany.co.uk/ who supply enviromentally friendly spas. One of her favourite simple ‘green' activities is to make sure her old clothes and other items and recycled and upcycled through local charity shops and donation banks!
Image courtesy of Flickr.
Charities have saved the world for wildlife; for the native fauna and flora. We are reminded daily about global climate change and its effect on our world. From the common plants and animals to the exotic; we are losing species at an alarming rate.
The picture of a polar bear clinging to a floating piece of ice spread throughout the internet like a wildfire. Charities whose missions include the protection of animals and the natural world include the World Wildlife Fund. Their Giant Panda mascot is recognised worldwide. They have focused on our environment since 1961, promoting conservation, restoration, and research.
Large and Small Charities
From large organisations to small organisations, the message is the same. We are losing animal and plant species throughout the world. The Aspinall Foundation's concerns extend to the loss of habitat, poaching, and pollution. Their Kent based Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks offer a variety of programmes including a Student Environmental Enrichment Course, now in its 15th year. Their activities extend beyond their Kent based Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks to projects in the Republic of Congo, Gabon, Indonesia, and Madagascar.
Charities That Look to the Skies for Inspiration
Birds have no boundaries, their habitats extend beyond countries. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) recognises that the need for bird conservation has never been greater. The RSPB knows that internationally and in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales; major threats to birds exist because of climate change, growing urban areas, increased agricultural areas, and transport infrastructure.
Charities that help people to see their world
Our environmental issues have one common denominator: people. People are the key to solving these problems. Opening the world by giving mobility to sight impaired individuals through guide dog programmes is Guide Dogs. A Lance Corporal, whose eyesight was lost in Iraq, has plans to climb Everest and visit the North Pole. He runs with his guide dog at his side.
Charities that protect the big picture
Greenpeace wants to change the world through people. Founded in 1971, they are in 40 countries. They do not solicit funds from corporations, governments, or political parties to remain independent. There are 2.8 million supporters in the 40 countries. Greenpeace promotes nonviolent, direct action to bring change. People supporting Greenpeace are working on climate change and protecting biodiversity while promoting equitable and sustainable development.
Charities are saving the world for wildlife. The international World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace organisations promote their global missions differently, but do not lose sight of the goal of saving the world for wildlife.
Your role in all of this good work
Raising awareness among citizens of the plight of animal welfare issues, specifically those animals that become endangered is something that we all must do. One way to take a step in the right direction is to consider adopting an animal online, a number of charities offer virtual adoption schemes where for a small monthly fee you will adopt an endangered animal. Your funds will go towards helping the organization to manage programmes designed to protect the welfare of the animals in the habitats that they live in throughout the world.
|License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://depositphotos.com/3994187/stock-photo-Two-polar-bears-close-together.html?sqc=20&sqm=7060&sq=1aih55||License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://depositphotos.com/2568586/stock-photo-Leopard-seal-on-ice-floe-in-Antartica.html?sqc=4&sqm=7060&sq=1aih55|
Christopher Seale is a freelance journalist who loves animals. He writes for the charity and travel sectors, and his other interests include traveling.
The world of energy is changing. As worries about the environment grow, the necessity for more environmentally friendly, efficient and sustainable forms of fuel becomes even more urgent. Across the globe the majority of governments have now set targets to reduce the use of fossil fuels and in many cases this includes encouraging a more eco-friendly approach on a domestic scale.
In the UK, several councils have worked hard to promote new forms of energy, for example by providing householders with a grant to increase their insulation or install solar panels. Although solar panels and to some extent wind and water turbines are now well-known methods for producing eco-energy, Biomass energy is currently developing a reputation as one of the most efficient ways to centrally heat a home and looks set to overtake even solar panels in the popularity stakes.
What is Biomass?
Biomass fuel can refer to several different kinds of stored energy. These can include animal litter, organic waste, sewage sludge, energy crops, straw and wood. Whilst solar panels produce significantly less carbon monoxide than burning fossil fuels does, with Biomass, energy is created through burning – so how can it be more environmentally friendly than coal or oil?
The scientists who developed Biomass fuel concentrated on the ‘lifecycle’ of emissions producing this type of fuel would create. Whilst burning fossil fuels does release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the volume produced is offset by the CO2 that’s absorbed when Biomass fuel is grown.
Why the UK Needs Biomass Heating
In the UK, almost 50% of all carbon emissions are caused by heating. The government’s climate change act set out legislation which aims to reduce CO2 emissions across the country by 26% over the next seven years. By 2050 the target is an 80% reduction.
In order to meet these targets, households throughout the UK will need to make changes to improve the efficiency of their homes, including reducing the volume of fossil fuels they use. According to government projections, this will mean that by 2020 more than 14% of the nation’s heating will need to be sourced from renewable energy, which implies that a rapid and dramatic transformation in the way the UK is heated could be on the cards, especially when you consider that at present the share of energy gleaned from renewable resources stands at just 1%.
The Beauty of Biomass
Whilst solar panels and wind turbines are presently the most popular form of eco-friendly domestic heating, they can both be notoriously unreliable and very expensive to install. Biomass is a quicker, cheaper to install and more convenient way to reduce CO2 emissions throughout UK homes over the next seven years. The method for creating energy is one of the most efficient, eco-friendly and cost effective ways available to produce heat. What’s more, the introduction of Biomass heating into an area can even help create jobs, stimulate the local economy and utilise resources that would otherwise end up in landfill.
Image courtesy of Flickr.
Corinne Jones is a fierce advocate of renewable energy and has written for a number of pro-eco websites. She also works closely with renewable heating solutions provider Innasol in the UK to promote the use of biomass in the mainstream.
The Details – Fly Tipping
This careless and immoral behaviour is an ever increasing occurrence that is causing serious issues, both financially and environmentally. It refers to the general dumping of waste material, in all forms ranging from general household waste to toxic by-products on land that is contrary to the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Frequently this distribution is made upon private land, which can be both residential and industrial. Once left upon this land, it the owners responsibility to dispose of it correctly. If the waste is dumped on public land then it is the local authorities’ responsibility to clear it up. It is estimated that this costs the local authorities over £37.4 million each year. Without any sufficient evidence as to the perpetrator’s identity, there is not a lot that the legal system can do to protect you or your business from this happening.
What Can Be Done to Capture these Criminals?
To identify the people who are breaking the law and engaging in illegal fly tipping, footage of them caught in the act is essential. A successful route to take to achieve this is to make contact with a reputable private investigator that will be able to discuss the service that they can offer which are appropriate to the case. On Many occasions their methods have been successful at covertly capturing the criminal’s identities.
Private Investigators offer a series of Surveillance services that aim to obtain clear footage of the activity taking place. The most frequently utilised method in this situation is the installation of a CCTV camera. This device offers a continuous insight into the behaviour that is happening around the given location, and can provide clear images that are admissible in court proceedings. This method allows for a particular area to be monitored, and can be adapted to suit the individual case. The footage itself is monitored by the investigator, and has proven to be hugely successful.
Another method they can offer if CCTV recording is not appropriate, Is a method known as static surveillance. This incorporates the presence of human monitoring, whereby a specialist operative will covertly monitor the suspected area with the help of a recording device. This method allows for a wider area to be viewed and be as equally successful in capturing the perpetrators and can again offer sufficient evidence in a court situation.
There are many other services that a private investigator can include with the surveillance methods above that could assist in a fly tipping case, such as background checks into suspected individuals and GPS tracking. These services can be shaped to fit each individual case, as they will all be different in some way or another, and are all complementary in obtaining the results needed. No-one should have to undergo the stress of fly-tipping alone, and seeking help with an experienced expert may be the best way to move forward. Private investigators are highly trained experts who have access to highly evolved technology that can aid in these situations. With their help you could get the results you need.
Private investigator Charlie Hodgson has been fighting in the war against criminal waste for many years and in his efforts he has helped some of his clients gain evidence and then compensation from the criminals. In some cases the criminals have been given a custodial sentence. It is often necessary that Charlie work with other private detectives such as Private Detective Leeds to gain the evidence required. For more blogs like this visit http://www.glasgow-privatedetectives.co.uk
A marine wildlife charity is calling for a new campaign on litter after a survey showed a massive increase in litter on British beaches, with rubbish associated with smoking doubling in the year to 2012.
The number of cigarette butts discarded on our beaches doubled according to the survey. Other smoking detritus was also up massively, with discarded lighters and the numbers of cigarette packets thrown away on the sand up by 90%.
Other litter was also up, but by much smaller amounts. Plastic litter, including confectionary wrappers, was up by 3% in the study carried out by the Marine Conservations Society (MCS) and called beachwatch big weekend.
Plastic rubbish leads the way
The charity is particularly concerned that 65% of the rubbish found in the snapshot survey was made of plastic, which does not biodegrade and can stay for decades causing damage and injury to coastal wildlife. Each 1,000 yard of beach studied contained 75 drinks bottles.
MCS is calling for a new campaign on littering to tackle the increase in rubbish.
The charity says that the huge rise in smoking-related rubbish may be because of the smoking ban in enclosed public places.
Effects of the smoking ban
The smoking ban in England came into force on July 1, 2007, as part of the Health Act 2006. It followed earlier bans in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, making it illegal to smoke in any enclosed work places in the entire UK.
The ban marked the completion of a phased process. The first ban was on smoking in all NHS and government buildings in 2006.
The law bans lighting up in any public workplace. Attempts to exempt private members’ clubs and public houses were defeated.
However, there are some exceptions to the rules, including bus shelters, some hotel rooms, prisons and even tobacconists where sampling of cigars and pipe tobaccos is allowed.
All kinds of litter increased
While cigarette littering was up massively in 2012, items related to smoking were not the commonest found in the MCS survey. That honour goes to unidentified pieces of plastic, followed by crisps, sweet wrappers, pieces of string, drinks bottle tops, pieces of polystyrene and drink bottles.
The survey was carried out by volunteers, who looked at 240 beaches amounting to 56 miles of the British coast line. The charity records the number of pieces of litter per kilometre – this figure was up from 1,741 in 2011 to slightly more than 2,000 pieces of litter in 2012.
The dirtiest beaches in Britain
Only one-fifth of the litter came from the sea. Northern Ireland had the dirtiest beaches, in England the worst area was the south west, while in the north west of England the amount of litter actually fell by 60%.
While smoking has been decreasing for decades in the UK, the smoking ban has pushed people outside.
One of the alternatives to smoking people are exploring are e-cigarettes. These were first sold in China in 2004, before hitting international markets in 2009. According to Ash, the UK anti-smoking charity, estimated the number of UK e-cigarette users – or vapers – at 700,000 in 2011, and predicted that in 2012, that number would rise to 1million. If smokers are switching to cheap e-liquid e-cigarettes as an alternative that can only be good news for MCS. E-cigarettes don’t leave butts or ash, and typically users buy refillable machines which last for a long time.
Derek Devlin is a vaper and an advocate of the green solution – he has written a variety of articles on cigarette butts and the environment and finds e-cigs from http://enjuice.com/blog/posts/2012/march/what-makes-enjuice-e-liquid-special/ the cleanest option
Image courtesy of Flickr.